Life with a Plugin, Episode 18: SageTV - Sage Pro for HD200 Extender

Feb 19 2009

New on the SageTV scene is the first custom user interface for the HD Theater extender. This UI is designed exclusively for use on the extender in stand alone mode and is based on the Sage Pro theme for SageMC. This theme (stv in the Sage world) does a great job of cleaning up the look and feel of the extender in stand alone mode.

Overview

Sage Pro for the HD Theater Standalone is a graphical alternative to the stock user interface for the Sage HD Theater Extender. It only works in standalone mode (not in SageTV extender mode). Sage Pro is also purely a graphical overhaul of the user interface. It provides no new functionality and does not alter the location of the buttons in the user interface. So everything works exactly as before, just looking nicer.

Sage Pro Standalone Main Menu

While the new theme doesn't really change the functionality of the Sage HD Theater in any way shape or form, it certainly provides a much cleaner asthetic (in my opinion). 


Above & Beyond

It's the stock UI functionally, just better looking! Seems like this is something people chat about a bit over in the Sage forums, so it should fill a niche.


Falling Short

There are really no issues with this theme at all. I would like to see another version that reorganizes the location of the the stock UI buttons, etc on the detail pages of movies, music, etc. Currently, the detail pages are extremely similar to the existing ones. Since the theme basically just replaces images and backgrounds the biggest change on detail pages is the lighter background and new icons in the buttons on the left hand side.

Those problems I did run into are more based on the extender itself rather than Sage Pro Standalone. I ran into the first issue during install. I had to follow the install directions twice to get the STV to take on the HD Extender. For some reason, the extender did not remember the new theme being applied after powering it down and back up. The second issue to be mindful of is if you are loading the theme onto the HD Theater using a USB drive. Since the HD Theater has no local storage, the USB drive must stay connected or the images for the theme will not load. The one way around this is to load the theme over the network. For most people this will solve the problem since the extender is probably working off of a server anyways. If you don't have a server that can host the theme, I would recommend buying an extremely cheap thumb drive. The theme only occupied about 17MB of space so any old $5 USB drive should do the trick.


Grade: Everyday Use

This is replacing the stock UI on my Sage HD Theater. Easier to read, and better looking there is absolutely no reason not to be running this for those few times that I pop into standalone mode. However, there is still definitely room for improvement with a full fledged theme that re-orgs the detail pages. Works fine on my little 20" CRT in the bedroom, I'm sure it won't have any issues on larger screens.


Product Vitals

Website: Download and Instructions - Forum Discussion

Creator: Gerry Plasky

Price: Free

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