Tag Archives: windows media center

Apple drops a bomb

So, after suing folks who published ‘rumors’ of upcoming Mac products, his Steveness decided to do some rumor-mongering of his own today with a classic ‘one more thing’ during today’s announcement of iTunes 7 and the new feature films on the ITMS. Flying in the face of the Apple-PR bible, he confirmed the existence of an unreleased product well in advance of release: a Macintosh set-top-box optimized to connect directly to HD tv sets. Codenamed ‘iTV’, (and priced at $299) the new box is due in Q1 2007, and will be 1/2 size of Mac Mini, built-in power supply (no brick!),

  • Networking: 802.11, Ethernet (not sure what flavor of 802.11, though)
  • USB2
  • Video: HDMI connector for the best HD goodness or component RGB
  • Audio: Analog via RCA jacks or optical digital

Steve also shows off the UI, a very slick and more 3-D treatment of the existing Front Row interface for the new device and wows the crowd by playing an HD-quality flick. At root, this completes an ecosystem – rather like ITMS and the iPod did for music, you now have a STB device (the iTV), a storefront (Showtime in ITMS/iTunes7), and a portable outlet. If they can bring more content aboard, this has a good chance of taking a strong foothold.

Problems I see – no TV tuner or information on how this might take incoming video from your existing cable or satellite vendor. It’s also unclear if this is going to have a hard drive at all, or provide any kind of DVR features. And I’d worry about the stability of the wireless connection for HD video content (I know my Windows Media Center and 802.11pre-N network struggles with SD at times). I suspect that the lack of a tuner and possibly of a drive are quite intentional – you’re probably less likely to buy flicks and shows on the ITMS if you have free alternatives like ripping content off the cable and saving it to your drive. That sucks. But if this provides access to HD movies, I’m sure I’ll be buying one as soon as it’s available.

[itvt] on CNN Enhanced

Since the February launch of the CNN Enhanced interactive television product, there has been very little trade coverage of what I think is one of the most interesting and widely distributed domestic ITV projects around – it reaches over 11 million Echostar Dish Network households with constantly updated, 24/7 news content. Interactive TV Today,aka [itvt] has just published a lengthy interview with myself and Kevin Cohen, SVP at Turner Broadcasting who was the main sponsor of the project. I worked on this project for over a year before it launched, and I’m quite proud of what it achieves.  Here’s my favorite quote from yours truly:

Trotz: At CNN, we try to make practical and logical reuse of things that we create for one medium in others. There are probably several dozen syndicated products that use the feeds from CNN.com–whether those products are on mobile or on other Web sites or are RSS feeds or what-have-you.

We’ve essentially taken that same approach with this new interactive TV application–this approach of repackaging the content that we produce for CNN.com. The site has nearly 25 million unique users per month, and it’s updated every minute of the day. So we want to make that broad array of constantly updated content available to viewers on EchoStar, and–later, hopefully–on various cable platforms. And we want to do this in such a way that it’s accessible while they’re watching our bread-and-butter core product, the CNN US linear network.

Update: PaidContent.org’s Rafat Ali has also linked to the interview.

Yahoo! Releases MCE Competitor

Just weeks after closing their deal to buy Meedio, a software developer of a ‘roll-your-own’ digital entertinament solution akin to Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition, Yahoo! has put a branded version of the software out for free download. called Yahoo! Go. Download the software here and give it a spin. It includes features to access video, music and photos on your local PC, as well as TV tuner integration should you have one, including DVR features. I do wish the Flickr piece was a bit more feature-rich; currently there’s no way to select your own photos or specify a tag to view, it simply includes a half-dozen or so pre-selected tags/groups to view as slideshows. One nice bit of integration is the ‘Video’ area – with Yahoo video content presented alongside your own, as well as search features for other video content. Overall, a very nice UI with a ton of features.

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Cablecard Cometh to MCE

Important news last week to position Microsoft as an ever-increasingly established competitor to the Motorola and Scientific Atlanta (nee Cisco) set-top box makers. Microsoft has struck a deal with CableLabs, the non-profit cable industry technology consortium, to allow Windows PCs to view HDTV content from cable providers, including premium networks. The technology should be shipping before the end of 2006.I’d like to hear what the upgrade path will be, if any, for current MCE systems.
The agreement includes efforts to qualify MSFT’s digital rights management under the OpenCable standards, and paves the way for the Microsoft Media Center Edition (and then Vista), to receive the full spectrum of content from the cable industry. The announcement also touches on the ability for consumers to share this content throughout the home on compliant network devices – including the Xbox360. And while the CableCard is a one-way device (no interactive TV, EPGs, etc which require 2-way comms), having a PC with broadband connectivity on one pipe and HDTV coming in the other should further expand the impact of Microsofts eHome stratgegy, long before IPTV establishes a significant footprint.

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