2012: Looking Backwards and Forward

Well, it’s that time again, 2012 is almost completely behind us. As with every year, there is a lot that’s happened in the home theater world, some good, some not so good. We’d like to take a moment to reflect upon everything that happened and narrow down some of our favorites–what did we love most, what disappointed us most, and for 2013 what are we looking forward to. Hope you enjoy!

2012 Things We Loved  
  • Ceton Echo & Ceton Companion
    4 Watts and a Media Center Extender that will actually be supported. Frequent updates continue to make the experience better & better.
    • “having a solid media center platform that wouldn’t require me to run a dedicated HTPC and have to support it day in and day out.”
    • “I love the ability to quickly scan for new show premieres and manage my Windows Media Center using the Ceton Companion wherever I am.”
  • Cases, Cases, Cases
    It’s been a great year for HTPC chassis, from tiny to huge, there has been passive low profile cases from Streacom and Wesena, and then Fractal Design and Lian Li have made some great larger cases to suit your needs. For the HTPC being dead, there sure are a lot of options to build your own!
  • Dish Hopper 
    It would take A LOT to get me to give up the convenience of CableCARD + HTPC, but the Hopper is a step in the right direction. Not only because it provides a decent amount of storage, but also because it’s the first mainstream DVR solution that makes ads optional – something that we’ve enjoyed for years. Of course the studios objected, so litigation is pending, but it’s nice to see some MSO validation for something so critical to how my family consumes TV.
  • Rasberry Pi
    This diminutive DIY computer has stirred up a ton of interest in the maker community and among hobbyist developers. The Raspberry Pi has been pressed into service for arcade cabinets, custom routers, and even a supercomputer, but one of the most exciting applications has been to turn the Raspberry Pi into an XBMC-based media streamers. The next version of XBMC will come with official Raspberry Pi support, and with projects such as Xbian, Raspmc, and OpenELEC all in development to provide a turnkey XBMC solution, a fully-capable XBMC streamer can be had for the price of a Roku.
  • Home Automation Products
    “Growth in affordable, simple and low-power home automation products that can be controlled from any computing or mobile device.”


2012 Disappointment  
  • Ceton Echo
    Botched launch and initial 3 week period
    • Josh – “…not supporting new codecs, not speeding up performance when compared to the Xbox 360 and having major 1080i and color space issues made the Echo a non-starter for me.”
  • Windows 8
    Nail in the coffin for Media Center? Most of us have access to upgrade to it for free and still haven’t….for us WMC users the question would be, why bother?
    • “If you haven’t seen this animated review: it’s worth watching and reminds me of the Evisceration of the Phantom Menace it that the salient points are really undeniable (Another video worth watching if you haven’t seen it )
    • “From a usability perspective, I feel like Windows 8 is an immature expression of what it could be. Sadly, Windows 8 really doesn’t bring anything new to the table for Windows Media Center users which is a major departure from Windows Vista and 7.”
  • Ceton Q
    We should have known that it was too good to be true when Ceton promised to give enthusiasts an ecosystem capable of everything – TV, Movies, OTT content – from a single device, and around the house (when used with an Echo of course). Unfortunately that didn’t happen in 2012, with the project canceled on hold uncertain it’s hard to hold out hope that we’ll ever get it but it was nice to dream; at least for a little while.
    • “…CES 2012 showed off the Ceton Q in all its glory and we have yet to see it come to light.”
  • Apple TV
    Time and again, I have cast my eye out across the media streamer landscape, seeking the one player to rule them all. The Roku streamers probably come the closest, but none shows more potential than the Apple TV. The introduction of the third generation Apple TV, with 1080p support and a revamped interface that seemed designed to support apps, was one of the more exciting product launches of 2012. However, the app support never came. There may be fantastic business reasons behind Apple’s reluctance to open up the Apple TV platform to developers, but it’s like a poke in the eye for users.
  • Intel Ivy Bridge HD4000 Graphics
    Between lack of 0-255 support and the pedantic HDCP implementation, it’s just not useful in a high-end HTPC.   Hopefully all the problems are driver related, but I don’t have much hope for seeing them get fixed.


2013 Looking Forward To…  
  • Ceton Echo with Android
    Oh the potential! Expanding beyond WMC while still being able to leverage the TV capabilities…let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint! 
  • 4K 
    This is a tough one because 4K won’t be ready this year, and it will be expensive but I’m excited for more pixels because it means we might finally get bigger consumer displays – and who doesn’t like a larger TV?
  • DLNA Certified Live TV Digital Media Servers
    Whether DLNA Certified Live TV Digital Media Servers will have a major impact this year may be an open question, but there is little doubt that we will be hearing a lot about such devices this year. Silicondust has already announced that the HDHomeRun will be gaining support for the fledgling spec, and more companies will follow, seeking an opportunity to jump into households that want to distribute live TV to an ever-growing range of IP-connected devices, not the least of which will probably include the next-generation Xbox if continued rumors of a DVR-capable version of the forthcoming console prove true.
  • Potential for a True Android Whole Home Audio Platform
    Something that can take what Airplay is to Apple and bring build upon it on the Andriod platform. I am also interested in seeing if more home automation takes off, seeing cheaper and more available thermostats, light controls and control platforms. 

What do you guys think? What did we miss or what were/are your favorites for 2012 and 2013 to come?! Let us know in the comments below…

  • Thanks for the Windows 8

    Thanks for the Windows 8 review link.  I’ve only played with Win 8 briefly, but I think Brian Boyko hit it on the head with his review.  I opened up an Internet Explorer window and couldn’t figure out how to close it when I was done.  There is absolutely nothing intuitive about using this OS.  I think there were just a lot of software developers sitting around in Redmond with nothing better to do so they dreamed up this POS and decided to call it Windows 8.  Epic fail, IMHO.  There is absolutely no way I would ever consider using this for a Media Center HTPC.

    I’d also have to agree on the botched Echo release as I am/was involved in the beta testing program.  Unfortunately, the unit I received had its own set of issues and had to be replaced.  At least now it’s working like an extender should.  Kudos to Ceton for extending the warranty and exchange period for early adopters and beta testers.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a company do this before.  It’s pretty clear Ceton wants to do whatever it takes to please their customers.  OTOH, I’m still waiting for playback of mkv files of ripped Blu-Rays and DVDs to work since this was the primary reason for getting the Echo in the first place.

    • captain_video wrote:



       OTOH, I’m still waiting for playback of mkv files of ripped Blu-Rays and DVDs to work since this was the primary reason for getting the Echo in the first place.


      I am waiting for it to be what I want to see and then I will be purchasing.. but mkv is one of the features I need before the lets buy it phase. Since I was the only one, maybe not, on missingremote staff not to be choosen for the beta I get to wait out the storm.. I like the progress..

  • Not a bad year, but not

    Not a bad year, but not great.

    • All for a new extender option finally hitting the market, though its intro has been a bit rocky.
    • Windows 8 did nothing for the WMC crowd and actually manages to break a number of community developed add-ons. Not a great deal even for free, but worse when you’re paying. Don’t count on support. You’re paying for the licensing of the various tech.
    • The cable card tuner options have matured quite a bit. The DLNA announcement is promising and could finally open up support well beyond WMC assuming people get behind it and the content providers won’t be trying to throw the initiative off track.