Blogs

Aug 25 2011

Blog - Turning an Unfinished Third Floor into a TV Room: An Introduction

Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a room that is 12ft x 10ft. You might be thinking to yourself that this room would make a nice guest bedroom. I’m sure that’s what the builder thought when he designed the house. Now I want you to fill that room with a love seat, an oversized chair, a coffee table and an entertainment center that houses a 40” LCD TV, PS3, Wii, Surround receiver, a sub woofer and of course, my home theater PC (HTPC)--my rear speakers are actually hanging from nails. Nails. But there is hope.

Ever since we moved into the house I have been waiting for that magical confluence of money and spare time that would free me from this claustrophobic impostor of a TV room. Well, that time has finally arrived and I am in the process of building out an unfinished third floor for this purpose.

Aug 22 2011

Blog - SageDCT Updated For SiliconDust & Hauppauge DCT

SageDCT 1.5It just took a couple tweaks to get SageDCT working with the Hauppauge and SiliconDust Digital Cable Tuners previewed last week.  With all the testing we've been doing to evaluate the tuners in their "native" environment (Windows Media Center) there hasn't been much time to really guarantee 100% support in SageTV, but it does work and with the Prime starting to show up on your doorsteps I thought it best to keep the torch burning by releasing this tonight.

Aug 22 2011

Blog - Welcome SageTV and CableCARD Forums

If you've been perusing the Forums today you will notice a couple of new additions. The first is probably an obvious one, a CableCARD forum. With the growth of number of tuner devices being released we want to make sure there's a clear home to ask any and all questions you may have about this technology.

The second is actually a group of forums, specifically for SageTV users. With the acquisition of SageTV by Google earlier this year, we saw the request for a new permanent home from its users. We have launched the SageTV Forum group with 5 sub-forums, and will expand as needed. We hope everyone finds this useful, knowing that MissingRemote is not going anywhere!

More improvements coming in the near future, so hope everyone is enjoying them!

Aug 22 2011

Blog - LG BD690 Blu-Ray Player OOTB Install

So my wife took the kids to grandma's and I finally had some time to open and install the LG BD690 she'd given me for my birthday. I had my eye on the LG BD590 for a while because of the built-in disk drive. IMHO, it just makes it a more functional and hackable device in the long run, and being able to pre-download a movie helps avoid any possible network hiccups. But, I'd been holding off since the BD590 didn't support Amazon, and with the Amazon Prime free streaming option, I wanted to find something that could stream HD video. Unfortunately, due to ridiculous copyright restrictions, Amazon/Vudu/etc.. can't stream HD movies to any PC, including an HTPC. That, and the fact that my experience with ArcSoft TMT has been less than stellar, I've been looking to pick up a standalone player that can do both Amazon and Vudu. I was very excited when I saw the BD690 make Amazon's VOD list of compatible devices. The fact it can also do 3D is meaningless to me, since my Pioneer Kuro 141FD isn't going anywhere soon, and it's still hard to find anything out there that beats the 2D picture. But the 3D feature does increase the resell-ability when it's time to move on.

Installation

So let's start with the obligatory box shot:
Hmm..  it says it's a BD player...

Aug 21 2011

Blog - CableCARD Installation: It's Getting Better

CableCARD

Having just installed my second CableCARD product, I thought it would be good to share my experience. Last December, I posted about my experience installing the Ceton InfiniTV 4. Back then, I had to pay a $75 installation fee and schedule an installer to visit my home only to hand me the CableCARD and call in to have it activated. Meanwhile, set-top box users had the less expensive option of self-installing which hardly seemed fair.

Fast-forward to today when we now have a mandate from the FCC that has brought the self-installation option to CableCARD users. A quick call to my provider, Cox Cable, had a self-installation kit drop-shipped to my front door the next day. I am now required to pay a $20 activation fee which is fair and reasonable. For $20, I get the kit shipped to me and a free return shipping label is included. All the cables needed for installation are also included along with the CableCARD, tuning adapter and installation guide.

Tuning Adapter

The installation guide (attached) is straight-forward and easy to follow. I am positive that even technology luddites could successfully follow the guide. That said, I did run into some snafus in the process.

Aug 11 2011

Blog - Intel i3-2100T and i3-2100: Heatsink and Fan Differences

In many cases, it may not make a lot of sense to purchase the 35W Intel Sandy Bridge T-variant parts because they are typically more expensive than the slight power savings and heat differences can justify in real-world usage. One aspect where the parts shine though is in small form factor (SFF) installations. When it comes to SFF, the height of the heat sink-fan (HSF) is often a concern and an aftermarket solution is typically sought. 

I recently put together a system with an i3-2100T and was pleasantly surprised by just how slim the HSF is. Unfortunately, back when Andrew reviewed the i3-2100T, he did not have access to the retail HSF so you can see it in all of it's glory here. Note that this is not the HSF Intel is working on for SFF installs that we learned about from the DH61AG board review.

The measured height from the top of the board to the top of the HSF is 1-7/16" for the i3-2100T whereas the i3-2100 is 2-1/8". The AA cell pictured is 2" in height. You'll also notice the fan design is different with the i3-2100T fan being slimmer with 11 blades compared to the i3-2100 fan with 7 blades.

Hopefully, you'll find this information useful if you're planning out an installation in a tight space. Photos after the break.

Aug 10 2011

Blog - Catching Up with SiliconDust: A Q&A with President and CEO Theodore D. Head

SiliconDust

With the introduction of the SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME digital cable tuner (DCT), there are a good number of questions both from the Missing Remote staff and more importantly, our readers. Thus, we took the initiative to seek answers to those questions in an effort to clear up as much uncertainty as possible. Thanks to Theodore D. Head, President and CEO of SiliconDust, for taking the time to respond to our queries.

 

Q: For those unfamiliar with SiliconDust, tell us a bit about the company. When was it established & what have you made your mark on the market with?

 A: Silicondust USA Inc was established in 2007 with the consumer launch of the HDHomeRun Dual Digital Network Tuner - taking the TV tuner out of your computer and putting on the home network via your router. Allowing the freedom to watch pause record Digital over the air or unencrypted cable anywhere in your home on any windows, mac or linux device - we are the innovators of the Network attached TV Tuner for computers.

 

Q: We saw an announcement from Elgato on Mac compatibility, how did that come about? How's the feedback been so far? Is this any indication that Mac support might come to your CableCARD tuners?

Aug 07 2011

Blog - ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 Updated

ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5

If you've been following the development of ArcSoft's Total Media Theatre 5 (TMT5), then you are aware that a beta version of the software introduced automatic refresh rate switching to the rate contained in the content natively based on display capability. There have been a few issues with the beta such as the Windows Media Center version of the player being unable to automatically switch. With the new release of 5.0.1.114, this problem seems to have been resolved at least from my experience.

Coupled with the latest updates to the Sandy Bridge platform, my personal 24p experience through a home theater PC (HTPC) has never been better *champagne cork popping* Smile. If you're unsure of why 24p is such a big deal, check out our primer on the subject, 24p: What You Should Know

While ArcSoft still considers the automatic refresh rate switching a beta feature, I have not encountered any issues with the latest 5.0.1.114 release. Give it a try and let us know what you think of the release.

Cheers!

Jul 27 2011

Blog - 67 Easy Steps to a W7 Media Center Reinstallation

I started this blog posting back in February, and about the same time took over the management of the start-up I was working for, so while the blog post lingered, I continued to use it for my own purposes to track the changes I made to the system. There are definitely a number of useful nuggets in here, especially if you want to use an SSD for recording and then move them to a NAS device. I know some people on this site believe this is a bad idea, but I've been doing it for two years now without a problem, so I figured I'd finally clean it up and post what I had. The last thing I wanted to do is create and maintain a complete inventory of all the software on the machine as I was doing here. I found a very slick free program called WinAudit which generated a nice CSV file for me which I then had to pivot in Excel (not using the pivot function, which doesn't handle text well :(

Jul 26 2011

Blog - Crackle

     Interested in more streaming content to consume? Well Sony’s Crackle has managed to fly under the radar of many streaming fans, but offers a good service for free! Crackle has a collection of Sony films and some TV content that they own the rights to, available for streaming on the PC and through apps for iOS and Android. If you’re in the market for more streaming content and you don’t mind not paying for it (legally) give it a stream on the PC, iOS or Android.

Crackle

Jul 25 2011

Blog - New Affiliate Links to Support This Site

Hi folks, just wanted to take a moment to update folks on what keeps the site alive, beautiful wonderful affiliate advertising. The Amazon, Newegg and any other product links you see throughout the site help support the costs associated with running this website (whenever you purchase something that you clicked through to the store from our site we earn a small percentage of that sale).

As we are now using Skimlinks our links have changed, so please update your bookmarks if you had saved them for Amazon and Newegg to reflect the new ones. Thank you to all for your continued support!

Jul 15 2011

Blog - Congratulations RKWRIGHT, Winner of the Fractal Designs R3 Chassis!

Just did the drawing for the Fractal Designs Define R3 Chassis and the winner is RKWRIGHT!

RKWright, you should have received an e-mail from me by now and have 48 hours to get in touch with me.

Thanks to everyone who participated and good luck with our future contests!

Jul 14 2011

Blog - Are you technical and interested in writing for MissingRemote.com?

I'm hoping most of you reading this are familiar with MissingRemote.com, we are a website that caters to most of the folks on AVS here, and we do blogs, reviews, news and the like.

Thanks to our readers we have been growing lately and have the opportunity for someone who is interested in writing for the website. This is a partially paid gig (but it's not a ton, so you seriously will want to love this stuff). We are looking for someone passionate about home theater and home theater computer parts, but also someone that is technical and can put all that into words.

Here's what we are looking for in terms of commitment from this person:

  1. Minimum 2 News Posts per week
  2. Min. 1 Blog per Month
  3. Min. 1 Guide or Review per month

So what will you receive? Certain articles you will be paid for, and then you will also have access to some very cool hardware units which you would review, and then possibly would keep. If you're curious what types of items we review, just click the "reviews" tab at the top.

How to apply:

  • E-Mail mike (at) missingremote.com
  • Tell me a bit about yourself, your history, where you frequently post
  • Any links to any blogging or other reviews
  • And then a writing sample of minimum 400 words. You can just pick a device in your home and basically just write a review for it, so we can get a feel for your writing and technical style.


Thanks!

Jul 06 2011

Blog - Contest - Beat the Summer Heat and Enter to Win a Cool Define R3 Case from Fractal Design

 

THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING, THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED!! WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON!!

 

The prizes and giveaways continue, this time up, courtesy of the fine folks at Fractal Designs we are giving you all the opportunity to win a DEFINE R3 Chassis!

And since Fractal Designs rocks, this contest is open to US AND CANADA readers of the site!!

http://babgvant.com/images/r3/teaser.jpg

Jul 05 2011

Blog - Congratulations Stardog Champion - Winner of the Bruins Stereo Headphones!

http://www.missingremote.com/sites/default/files/imagepicker/14/thumbs/1722_2f2876e10b.jpg

Congratulations to our latest winner, Stardog Champion, who won our latest contest for the Boston Bruins Stereo Headphones!

Stardog, you will receive a PM from me with additional information. You have 48 hours to reply and accept.

Thanks to all who participated!

Jun 24 2011

Blog - Contest - Boston Bruins Stereo Headphones

THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED! Winner will be announced soon!!

The prizes and giveaways continue, this time up, courtesy of the fine folks at Coloud.com we have a set of their Boston Bruins NHL branded Stereo Headphones!

ImageHere's some info on these cool looking (assuming you like hockey) headphones with an MSRP of $40:

The Coloud Twelve headphone is a thoroughly tested headphone model proven to work fantastically. It’s a one-size-fits all headphone with a neutral sound and a snug fit.

Features:

  • Team logo printed in 3D rubber patches give headphones a unique feel
  • Adjustable headband provides a perfect fit
  • Features 3.5mm jack for maximum compatibility including iPod

HOW TO ENTER

Jun 16 2011

Blog - ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 Update

In our first look at ArcSoft’s TotalMedia Theatre 5 (TMT5), we found the updated version a huge step forward; however, there were a few outstanding issues we highlighted that were stopping TMT5 from attaining feature parity with stand-alone players and media streamers available on the market.  Since that time, CyberLink has responded with an updated revision of their popular PowerDVD (PDVD) software, bringing it closer to the level of polish and overall user experience offered by TMT5.  In that context, we’ve been given the green light to share some exciting news about an update that should be going into public BETA within the next few days.

Jun 16 2011

Blog - Facebook-Twitter Cyberlink Contest Winner Announced

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Facebook-Twitter contest to Win a copy of Cyberlink's PowerDVD 11 Ultra! The winner is....from Twitter, Louis Davidson!!!

Unfortunately Louis never claimed his prize...so we re-drew and the winner is, from Facebook, Candiss 'n Mark Terborg! So congratulations to you, and same deal, 48 hours to claim the prize or we will re-draw.

Congratulations Louis! Feel free to reply to this thread or shoot me a pm, I'll tweet this out of course as well!

And remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook if you haven't already!

Jun 13 2011

Blog - The Beginnings of a Home Automation Addict

ImageWith all of the home automation talk lately (Android @home) and the fact I have been addicted to home automation, slowly turning my entire home into a fully automated system. I figured what better time than now to start a home automation series blog.

About ten years ago when I went over to a relative's house warming party. The first thing I noticed was all of the light switches in their home were not "normal" light switches. A few beers and several hours later I was enthralled with his home automation setup, and wanted to learn anything and everything I could about it. That is when my home automation addiction began. At that time his setup was pretty simple, all X-10 devices, and only controlled the lighting. A few years later he had switched to Insteon and that is when the system went beyond controlling just lights. The system was fully automated, with two way control, controlling the thermostat, lawn irrigation system, and even home theater equipment. Every time I visit I learn more about what I can do and gather tips and tricks on how to integrate what he did into my own setup.

Jun 02 2011

Blog - WHS V1 woes... maybe time to upgrade to WHS 2011?

After an extended weekend vacation I came home to the dreaded "red box" notification icon reporting that two of my systems on my network had failed to back up. So for the past 5 days that I was gone my main HTPC and my office pc had failed to backup. While I am grateful nothing had happened in those 5 days I was worried at what was causing my backups to fail.

Digging into the WHS console wasn't much help, it was saying the backups had failed to read a specific file.

Unexpected error 0x17 from ReadFile on D:\folders\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4}\BLACKMAGIC.C.VolumeCluster.4096.dat: Data error (cyclic redundancy check).

After a little discovery and digging further into what the issue was, I found a drive was potentially going bad. Logging into the WHS Console again, I ran a hard drive SMART monitor and lo and behold I had a few drives with some pending bad sectors. Running a check disk (chkdsk /f /r on the C and D drives) on all of the drives in my WHS still didn't fix my issue.

I ended up having to remote desktop into my WHS box directly, open Windows explorer, dive into the D: drive, follow the path of the bad .dat file and delete the file completely. After that, I rebooted my WHS box, logged into the WHS console again, trashed all the failed backups, did a repair and cleanup under Settings > Backups and performed a manual backup. The initial backup took longer than most backups, as it was rebuilding all the system files, but it didn't fail, which was my ultimate goal.

So now I have two potential drive failures which leads me to the question of the day.... should I take this opportunity to get some new hard drives and move over to WHS 2011? Or, should I stick with the tried and true WHS V1? What are your thoughts? Give me a good reason to move over to WHS 2011 (other than network performance).

-Josh

Jun 01 2011

Blog - PowerDVD Ultra 11 Contest for Facebook/Twitter

PowerDVD 11

THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED!! THANKS TO ALL FOR PARTICIPATING!!

 

Something new to spice up the work week, this time around the contest is EXCLUSIVELY FOR FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!

Courtesy of CyberLink, we are giving away another copy of PowerDVD 11 Ultra, the brand new Blu-ray and movie playback software!

We took an in-depth look at the latest iteration of PowerDVD 11 Ultra and were really pleased at their improvements throughout for a quality movie experience for all home theater PC users...especially now that it supports your backed up Blu-rays!

Taking a first look at the standalone application, PowerDVD 11’s roots are quite evident with little significant change in the layout and presentation of the user interface (UI) compared to previous versions.  While PDVD 11 looks the same there are some significant differences lurking beneath the skin, most notably the return of BDMV (Blu-ray folders) playback.

HOW TO ENTER

Jun 01 2011

Blog - When Mythtv Servers Go Belly Up

Oh, the irony.  A little over a week ago I found myself thinking that I hadn't written a blog post in quite a while and I realized that it was because my setup was running so smoothly.  There was just nothing to write about because I hadn't needed to do anything with it for quite a while.  Little did I know, that was about to change.

It all started off like any other night.  Things were running smoothly and it was time to sit down to a bit of TV watching.  After thinking to myself how well things were going, I thought that I would log into my Mythtv server and see how long things had been running between reboots.  This is when things got a little funky.  First, I tried VNC to get a remote desktop:  Connection Refused!  This happens every now and then, no big deal.  I figured that I'd just log in over SSH and relaunch the X-server.  Unfortunately, that didn't work either.  Uh oh.  That's not normal.  At this point, I was starting to feel a bit concerned.  As casually as I could, I headed off to the server to see what was up.  Normally, I would just hit the reset button and connect to it remotely again but this time I decided to pull out a keyboard and mouse for some direct access.  Anyone want to guess what I saw?  That's right, garbage:  Major screen corruption.  OK, whatever, I could just reboot it and everything would be fine.  That's what I thought at first.  After hitting the reboot everything appeared to be running fine.  The system booted right up without a sweat.  But, as soon as it got to the login screen, it shut off.  What the...?!  So, I hit the power button again and this time it lasted for about two seconds before shutting off.  I hit it again and it lasted about one second.  No good!  Something was obviously wrong here.

May 31 2011

Blog - Congratulations to our last 2 winners (SageTV HD300 & PowerDVD 11) - PluckyHD & Castyl

I wanted to apologize for the delay in drawing the winners of our last two contests, but we had some site issues that it caused them. But worry not, we have drawn the winners!!!

  • SageTV HD300 Extender winner is...PLUCKYHD
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 11 winner is...CASTYL

Congratulations to both of you and thank you to all who participated!

Reminder to the winners, you have 48 hours to respond to the e-mail (or this thread) to accept your winnings and provide your information.

Thanks!

May 12 2011

Blog - Contest - CyberLink PowerDVD 11

THANK FOR PARTICIPATING, THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED!!!

Are you getting tired of free stuff? We're not either! This week we have a copy of CyberLink PowerDVD 11 Ultra, the brand new Blu-ray and movie playback software!

PowerDVD 11

We took an in-depth look at the latest iteration of PowerDVD 11 Ultra and were really pleased at their improvements throughout for a quality movie experience for all home theater PC users...especially now that it supports your backed up Blu-rays!

Taking a first look at the standalone application, PowerDVD 11’s roots are quite evident with little significant change in the layout and presentation of the user interface (UI) compared to previous versions.  While PDVD 11 looks the same there are some significant differences lurking beneath the skin, most notably the return of BDMV (Blu-ray folders) playback.

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