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

I'm hoping most of you reading this are familiar with, 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)
  • 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.


Jul 06 2011

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




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!!

Jul 05 2011

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

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 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.


  • 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


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 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).


Jun 01 2011

Blog - PowerDVD Ultra 11 Contest for Facebook/Twitter

PowerDVD 11



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.


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.


May 12 2011

Blog - Contest - CyberLink PowerDVD 11


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.

Apr 29 2011

Blog - Game of Thrones on HBO

Game of Thrones Title

I finally managed to find some time to sit down and watch the first two episodes of Game of Thrones.  As it has already been renewed for a second season, my hopes were pretty high.  Full disclosure:  I have never read any of George R. R. Martin's books, upon which this series is based, so I have zero familiarity with the story.  Let me say, right off the bat, that I absolutely am enjoying the show thus far.  As with my previous review, I am going to avoid spoilers to the best of my ability.  My intent with these reviews is to get people interested enough to want to check out the show or avoid it at all costs.  Once again, I will begin with a show summary, this time from Wikipedia:

Game of Thrones chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among the kingdom's seven noble families for control of the Iron Throne; as the series opens, additional threats from the snow and ice covered region north of Westeros and from the eastern continent across a narrow sea are simultaneously beginning to rise.

Apr 28 2011

Blog - NASA TV for Media Center v2.1

NASA TV for Media CenterAlmost two months ago we brought you NASA TV for Media Center in honor of the final flight of Space Shuttle Discovery.

Tomorrow Space Shuttle Endeavour embarks on mission STS-134, taking off from Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A at 3:47 p.m. EDT.  As a reminder for you space geeks out there we've updated NASA TV for Media Center to a higher quality (still not great) feed and added a few additional feeds.  This is also the 2nd to last shuttle launch which occurs in June so don't miss it.

Apr 27 2011

Blog - AMD 5 Series GPUs Support 3D Blu-ray


I haven't had a chance to go through AMD's driver release notes to find out when they snuck frame sequential 3D Blu-ray support in for their 5 series cards, but I can can confirm that it works, at least for the 5550.  This page indicates that the whole lineup is supported, starting with the 5450.  So if you have a modern AMD GPU and a HDMI 1.4 HDTV looks like you're good to go - too bad there's not more content.


Had an interesting conversation with Shane Parfitt today that brought up some information that wasn't on the 3DBD support page.  Probably the most important, is that MVC decoding is not handled by the GPU on 5xxx cards, which means that a competent CPU is required to get decent playback.  The second, and something that many have suspected because AMD released 67xx which are essentially rebranded 5 series, is that the UVD2 HWA decoder can actually handle MVC but would require an updated video BIOS to support the feature in hardware (something that probably won't happen).

While I'd love to have full support for my 5550, it's hard to be upset about a "found money" feature - of course now we'll have a good reason to bug AMD about getting some 6xxx GPUs in for review Smile

Apr 26 2011

Blog - Upgrading my HP WHS MediaSmart EX495 to Windows Home Server 2011

Those of you who have been following our MissingRemote Podcast are familiar with the dilemma I have been facing for the last few months--do I dare take the plunge on my one and only Windows Home Server system, based off of an HP MediaSmart EX495, and upgrade to the new and "improved" WHS 2011? After much deliberation and non-stop harassment from, well everyone, I decided it was time. The process was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated but the results are certainly mixed. Obviously this upgrade is not supported by HP given that the EX495 is long since discontinued, but migrating it to WHS 2011 would hopefully be worth the upgrade.

This is not another how-to guide, but more a look at the experience. Unless I'm alone here, I imagine there are a lot of HP MediaSmart users out there pondering the exact same thing I have been. As such I will be focusing on the effort and results, and see if all this was worthwhile.

Apr 25 2011

Blog - Spring TV Guide Listings updated

Not sure who all out there has seen our Spring/Summer TV guide we put together last week but head over there to see if your favorate tv shows are on the list (if not hit us up so we can get it added). Anyways I just noticed that American Choppers: Senior Vs. Junior second season premeires tonight.


It is one of those "guilty pleasure" shows that I still watch. So if you are like me, make sure you set your DVR tonight. Until then head over to our guide listing and see what other guilty pleasure shows are out there for you.

Apr 20 2011

Blog - Contest - SageTV HD300 Theater Media Player



The prizes and giveaways continue, this time up, courtesy of the fine folks at SageTV, their awesome HD300 Theater Media Player!


We took an in-depth look at the HD300 back in August and this thing is just awesome. This little box can connect to any TV in your network and is one of the best "extender" type products on the market, with virtually no limitations from what your full blown SageTV box can do.

File and codec support is very impressive with most every codec and file format I can think of being supported.  I did not get a chance to test each file/codec type on the list but everything I threw at it (including a Level 5.1 H.264 MKV, FLAC, M2TS, MKA and many others) played without issue.  On the audio side there are several differences compared to the STP-HD200, the biggest is that as an HDMI 1.3a device the STP-HD300 supports HD audio bit streaming with a compatible audio video receiver (AVR), but for those not using an AVR also has the ability to decode all of the Dolby and DTS variants (including TrueHD and DTS-MA when a core audio track is present - containers that do not support HD+core tracks will still require a separate AC3/DTS track to decode to PCM) to stereo PCM when configured to do so.

Apr 18 2011

Blog - 2011 Spring/Summer TV Guide Listings

Inspired from our friend Brent over at Geek Tonic, I have put together a 2011 Spring/Summer TV Guide Listing. The spreadsheet shows all new tv shows, all finales, mini series, made for TV movies, anything that might peak your viewing intrests.


The guide is ever evolving and updated, if we missed something leave a comment and we will try and get it updated as soon as possible. We are aslo working on links to reviews of new shows as well as those SageTV users working on linking tv shows to your local Sage server.

We plan on making this a regular seasonal post so please let us know what you think.

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Apr 17 2011

Blog - Congratulations to the Amulet Remote Winner - sbrown23

Just wanted to take a moment to announce the winner of the Amulet Devices Voice Remote Control contest....sbrown23!!


You will be receiving an e-mail from me which I'll need some info within 48 hours.

Apr 13 2011

Blog - Camelot on Starz

Camelot CoverThe wife and I just finished watching the two episode premier of Starz's original series Camelot this past weekend and, before I accidentally read any other reviews or forget what I saw, I thought I would share my own thoughts.  Before delving into my own opinion (which will NOT contain any spoilers!), here is what Starz has to say about their show:

In the wake of King Uther’s sudden death, chaos threatens to engulf Britain.  When the sorcerer Merlin has visions of a dark future, he installs the young and impetuous Arthur, Uther’s unknown son and heir, who has been raised from birth as a commoner. But Arthur’s cold and ambitious half sister Morgan will fight him to the bitter end, summoning unnatural forces to claim the crown in this epic battle  of control. These are dark times indeed for the new king, with Guinevere being the only shining light in Arthur’s harsh world. Faced with profound moral decisions, and the challenge of uniting a kingdom broken by war and steeped in deception, Arthur will be tested beyond imagination. Forget everything you think you know…this is the story of Camelot that has never been told before.

Click the "Read more" link to continue...

Apr 11 2011

Blog - Birth of an A/V Snob - Part II

Rethinking the DVR

Continued from part 1...
While living with TiVo DVRs for a few years, I considered building a Home Theater PC (HTPC) to solve some of the issues my TiVo setup had. I had been following the development of MythTV and was impressed with what you could do with what basically amounts to off the shelf commodity hardware. While some like to measure twice, cut once I am more the measure a dozen times, cut once... maybe. While I found the Linux-based MythTV interesting, it just seemed a little too daunting as I was looking for something a little more “plug-n-play.”
Eventually I decided to play around with this new high definition television development and with my future wife we decided that our new home would get a plasma display panel television, the time seemed right. Again, I took a look at MythTV and while it would do what I wanted, I was still a little apprehensive about making my first HTPC a Linux-based one. I had also been following the developments of Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) and by this time OEM/System Builder versions were readily available. XP MCE Service Pack 2 enabled the reception and recording of ATSC HD Over the Area Broadcasts so this looked like a great option to me as I was much more comfortable with a Windows-based solution.
I wanted my first HTPC to be a special build so I went all out and got a premium case for it--an Origen AE X15e with an internal 7” touch screen LCD.


Apr 06 2011

Blog - Contest - Amulet Devices Voice Remote Control

Thanks for participating, this contest has ENDED!!


We once again have a great prize to give away. Please note, we've modified the entries a little bit, so please read carefully how to enter below!

This time up, courtesy of the fine folks at Amulet Devices, their Voice Enabled Remote Control for Windows Media Center!

With an MSRP of $149 and continuing to have their software improved, Amulet Devices have developed the best way to control your Windows Media Center HTPC--simply pick up the remote, speak the command and voila!

We took an in-depth look at the Amulet Devices Remote Control and really loved how easy it was to use.

In exchange of extreme universal devices functionality and a touch screen Amulet provide you instead with voice controls to help you navigate--basically what touch screen buttons would do anyways. The big key here is whether the programmable buttons on the Amulet device are sufficient for your needs. In my case my setup was simple--a TV, AVR, HTPC and Xbox360...the Amulet will more than satisfy the universal needs while also providing me the ever crowd pleasing voice commands. Honestly, I could even see music aficionado opting to own both a universal remote like the Harmony and purchasing the Amulet if only for its dominance with managing music libraries. 


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