Aaron Ledger's blog

Nov 20 2011

Blog - TiVo Goes HTPC

When choosing the perfect chassis for a home theater PC (HTPC), something that is more "consumer electronics" (CE) looking is often desired. Missing Remote reader, Kirby Baker, didn't just buy off the shelf in his quest. He modified a TiVo Series 1 chassis and built an extremely capable HTPC inside. Kirby did an awesome job and it is a lot of fun to think about the possibilities of old CE chassis!

You can check out his original thread in our forums. After the gallery, is the system build list and description of the steps involved to modify the TiVo Series 1. We would love to see more of these creative re-uses so let us know if you've come up with something.

 

Here is the hardware list:

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!

Feb 01 2011

Blog - Behind the Broadcast of Super Bowl XLV

If you didn't know already, Super Bowl XLV is just a few more days away and FOX will be handling the broadcast honors this year. It's not every day that I get to peek behind the scenes of the biggest broadcast event of the year so I jumped at the opportunity to meet Jeff Rozak of Calhoun Satellite Communications, Inc. and take a look inside his mobile uplink truck.

Jeff and his truck are going to be playing a critical role in bringing this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV broadcast to your home by linking up Cowboys Stadium to FOX production facilities. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the uplink truck and get an overview of how the broadcast will make its way to your TV.

Jan 28 2011

Blog - LG Optimus V Android Smart Phone

I realize this is only loosely related to home theater, but I picked up the just released LG Optimus V smart phone for Virgin Mobile. This isn't the best spec'd or sexiest phone out there, but it packs a lot of value for $149.

Jan 27 2011

Blog - Hauppauge Colossus Q&A

Update 4/1/2011: Hi Everyone, Michael has some other priorities right now so I am going to take over his efforts with the Colossus. I should be getting the card next week and will try to get a working setup in the next couple weeks to continue on with this thread.

I currently have a prototype Hauppauge Colossus HD PVR in my development HTPC and wanted to start a Q\A thread here at Missing Remote.

Hauppauge Colossus HD PVR

Jan 06 2011

Blog - VUDU – Video On Demand Perfected?

I recently took a look at VUDU’s high-definition (HD) video on demand (VOD) service by viewing Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster, Inception. While watching using my Samsung TV’s built-in VUDU app, I experienced something amazing. Was it a dream or a dream realized?

VUDU promotes itself as a premium, instant and “eye-popping” 1080p streaming VOD service with day-and-date release and the most HD titles. VUDU has also recently announced their carriage of 3D content which is welcome in today’s 3D-starved content market. A quick check of their catalog reveals more than 3600 titles available in VUDU’s HDX streaming format.

Note: The pictures here don't capture the true detail offered by VUDU

What is this HDX you ask? HDX is VUDU’s top streaming quality tier featuring 1080p resolution and a Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack. Viewing Inception in HDX was eye-opening, to say the least. Internet streaming video, while convenient, is often associated with poor quality video and audio lacking surround. HDX is a bright exception to that notion. HDX has different levels of streams with the minimum being 4.5 mbps and the maximum being 9 mbps. I had the good fortune of watching at the highest HDX bit rate as indicated by the VUDU app.

Dec 18 2010

Blog - 2011 CES - We'll Be There!

Hey folks, both Michael Welter and I will be attending the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this (well, next) year which kicks off January 6th. We'll be there on the 7th and 8th and try to update you on anything interesting we find out as it happens.

If there's a particular subject or vendor you would like us to take a look at, let us know in the comments below and we'll do our best to find out for you.

Dec 12 2010

Blog - Ceton InfiniTV 4 Installation Tip and Experience

Yesterday was a big day in my household as I installed the long-awaited Ceton InfiniTV 4 CableCARD tuner into my HTPC (see mikinho's review here). My cable provider, Cox Cable, still requires a technician to come out and install the CableCARD, though, this will be optional by summer of 2011 thanks to the new FCC rules mandated in October.

Prior to my appointment, I installed the InfiniTV with the latest driver and decided to wipe my Windows Media Center (WMC) database of old tuner and guide information. Unfortunately, after wiping the database, WMC was not finding my InfiniTV tuner. With the technician showing up right at this point, I was a bit worried that I would need to reschedule the installation if I didn't get the CableCARD paired.

Fortunately, I found that Ceton provides an excellent utility to pair and troubleshoot the InfiniTV outside of WMC. After inserting the CableCARD into the InfiniTV, I brought up the following screen:

 

Clicking "More Info" brings up a browser-based diagnostic page:

 

The Cox Cable technician asked me to click the "Cisco CableCARD Host ID Screen" which brought up this tab:

 

The technician called in the information so that the pairing could be performed. I then brought up this "CableCARD" tab in the Ceton diagnostic tool:

Nov 23 2010

Blog - 24p: What You Should Know

Background

Long ago, filmmakers decided to standardize shooting film at 24 frames per second (FPS) primarily due to the high cost of film and state of the technology at the time.  Film became popular worldwide and every piece of production and distribution equipment was made to support this frame rate.

When television came into existence, the cathode ray tube (CRT) display technology was used.  CRT design at the time used a multiple of the power line frequency which is 60Hz in North America and 50Hz in Europe. The National Television System Committee (NTSC) standard developed in the United States in the 40’s and 50’s actually ended up slowing down the CRT refresh rate by 0.1% to 59.94Hz to compensate for some distortion that occurred due to the nature of the way NTSC transmits information.  Later, the Phase Alternate Line (PAL) standard was developed in Europe and had no such anomaly.

It should be noted that the refresh rates of PAL and NTSC are field rates because PAL and NTSC transmit frames using interlacing which is essentially a means of compression.  In other words, it allows more lines of resolution in a given amount of bandwidth, albeit at a slower frame rate.  When a frame is interlaced, it is divided into two fields with each field representing half the frame.  The fields are then transmitted in alternating fashion such that the frame rate is equal to half the field rate.  Thus, the frame rates of PAL and NTSC are 25fps and 29.97fps, respectively.

Naturally, people wanted a way to take film content shown in cinemas and display it on their televisions.  However, this presents a problem because film and video frame rates are different.  To compensate, “telecine” was created which is the general term used for “pulling down” film frames into video.

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