Life With a Plugin, Episode 13: TVTonic Olympics

Aug 02 2008

Ok, so I know that I just recently covered TVTonic , but then they went ahead and released probably the coolest and well implemented plugin in all of Media Center--Olympics!! If you haven't already noticed, Vista Media Center (U.S. only, sorry international folks) now has under it's Online Spotlight, a central icon for the Olympics. Clicking on that link entered me into the most seamless plugin installation ever for Media Center! Just as a teaser, I was able to install the plugin with just my remote!

Overview

If you read my review on TVTonic, then you will probably find some of these screenshots redundant, as it shares the similar controls and UI of the regular TVTonic. Additionally, by installing the Olympics plugin, you are automatically given the latest TVTonic package as well, whether you want it or not.

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Your Channels hold all your sports
Browse and Add your favorite Events

For years, people have been clammoring for a plugin which offers enticing material, at a price that's reasonable. Well, welcome to TVTonic's Olympics, because they aim to bring you actual Olympic event footage for whatever event you are interested in (oddly enough, Wrestling was not yet available). Add the sport of interest to your "Channels" just like you would an Vidcast, and voila, it will automatically download the events for your convenience....without needing a TV Tuner! 


 

Above & Beyond

TVTonic continues to impress me, but it's not even the actual Olympic Events that have me excited (this is where the geek in me takes over the jock). What really had me floored and smiling ear-to-ear, was the INSTALLATION!! Yes, I said installation. For years I have been BEGGING Microsoft and all its developers, to make installing plugins EASIER, and 10 Foot--meaning, let users install plugins without having to get out their keyboard and mouse.
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Finally! An easy install 10' Option!
Remote can still control the popups

As you can see from the screenshots, they are still not on the same level as Meedio had regarding the gorgeous 10' installations of applications but, considering that NO other plugin I have ever installed has even come close to this, I was still floored. I was able to complete the entire installation, from start to finish, with just my remote! So now even your grandparents will have no excuse to not have the plugin installed and be able to watch as much trampolining as they want.

Falling Short

Not really falling short since it is really light years ahead of other plugins, but to do the installation, the Media Center screen was changed to half screen. Once the installation was over, you can resize the Media Center screen to full screen by clicking the Green Button twice.

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Doh! Not exactly 10' still, but so close!
Monitor the install

Grade: Approved for Everyday Use

If you have even a mild interest in the Olympics, you have to install the TVTonic Olympics plugin! It's arguably the biggest leap Microsoft has taken to make a wildly appealing application exclusively for Vista Media Center, and best of all, for FREE! I hope the installation process catches on to future plugins, as I honestly believe that 10' Installs will dramatically increase usage strictly for the ease of use factor.

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Allocate hard drive space sport by sport
Nothing yet, but events soon to come!


In addition to the very refined and easy to use TVTonic channels and guides, the list of sporting events you can download for free is impressive. I already added Basketball, Boxing and Swimming, and will keep my eye out hoping for Wrestling. Adding sports is one button, and you are able to view the exact event for the exact sport that you want. Might sound "duh-worthy", but if you have not lived through an Olympics with Media Center before, you will learn that NBC televises events in 4 hour blocks (at least), and then mentions ALL of the events covered. So if you just want one track race, you need to record the entire 4 hours!! 

The Olympics plugin will not only make sure you don't miss a single event, but also will save you hard drive space as well. Picture quality was very acceptable as well. While of course it won't be as high as a high definition feed through your digital tuner, for anyone that might forget to record, or is traveling, or simply doesn't get TV reception, then this is a MUST HAVE!

Overall, this is easily approved for Everyday Use, so enjoy it while it lasts. Remember, the Olympics start on 8/8/08 and won't be going forever, so take advantage of this fantastic plugin for Media Center while you can!

Product Vitals

Website: TVTonic.com

Creator: Wavexpress, Inc

Price: Free! 

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