Can Ceton Rejuvenate Windows Media Center? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 04-18-2012, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Can Ceton Rejuvenate Windows Media Center?
By Julie Jacobson
Ceton shows Windows Media Center Extender with built-in Web browser and DTS audio technology at NAB 2012, complementing its InfiniTV 4 USB multistream tuner.

Just when you thought Windows Media Center was dead, Ceton Corp. and DTS announce a new Media Center Extender that delivers streaming media from a Windows 7 PC to multiple TVs in the home.

The product, called Ceton Echo, is being introduced at the NAB show 2012 this week.

Windows Media Center has fallen in and out of favor as a DVR and streaming media system. Proponents like the extensibility, the user interface and the lack of monthly fees; detractors say that PCs are too unstable as an entertainment solution, and that solid support for CableCards is lacking.



Microsoft itself has fallen in and out of love with the platform - first building up the aggressive eHome group for Media Center development, and then dismantling it a few years later.

So-called Media Center Extenders were manufactured by several mass-market producers such as Linksys, as well as niche provider like Niveus. Now, it seems the only extender left is the Xbox.

Click here to continue.
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post #2 of 21 Old 04-18-2012, 10:50 AM
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Oh dear lord... It's time Mircosoft just come to the realization they can't do cool when it comes to media or PCs... perhaps they should just focus on what they are good at so they can hold onto the market-share they still do have... or perhaps since they are not cool, they create a new brand of media products (not just software) using their technology without mentioning it's Microsoft or Windows... HELLO!!!

I'm an Apple & Windows user and I still use my Windows machines 10 to 1 over my Mac... so I'm not one of these Apple-heads. That said, the only hope Windows has of making an impact with a product people want to buy it is for Apple to screw up and loose the "cool-factor".

They have been hopelessly bringing wanna-be cool stuff to market for years; only to get their butts handed to them. Often times it has nothing to do with lack of innovation; they just aren't cool... the Mac ads from 2/3 year back really hit the nail on the head.

I will give MS this... the new IExplorer commercials are quite good... perhaps however, they should have saved a bit of marketing for their new "cool" media center stuff instead of advertising a browser... I mean are people really going to IE9 because of a commercial? lol.
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post #3 of 21 Old 04-18-2012, 01:25 PM
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I stopped reading at Windows Media Center.

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post #4 of 21 Old 04-18-2012, 02:30 PM
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I really have had next to zero problems with Windows Media Center 7 as a DVR with both HDHomerun ATSC and CableCard tuners (for the last 2 years). Using 2 Xboxes as extenders, myself AND my wife are much happier with the WMC7 experience than we ever were with the Comcast Cable boxes. Interface and speed is far superior. Centralized recording means that we can watch in either location and not have to worry about what is set to record where. I also just refuse to pay $40+/mo for HDDVR rental fees and HD fees to Comcast(something I don't have with the CableCard). I also refuse to pay Tivo's monthly fee.

It isn't perfect by any stretch but since I'm a fairly hardcore gamer and already had 2 Xboxes where they needed to be (though also have been using them for Netflix streaming for years), it was a no brainer. I haven't explored every option for this type of setup but from what I've read, this is probably the best approach with WAF considered. I'd like to hear other opinions on that if there is something better out there.

Hopefully this Ceton box is on the cheap side as I think that was one of the main issues with the original extenders....they were expensive and didn't do much else. My Dad is building a similar setup to mine after seeing how well it works but instead of Xboxes (which he has little use for), I told him to wait for these Ceton boxes to come out. If they are also "other media" streaming devices, then that is a plus but not required (looking at the specs, I didn't see "apps" or Netflix mentioned).

WMC Setup:

Quad-Core Micro ATX PC, 6 GB RAM, 3 TB storage (headless)
HDHR Prime, HDHR DUAL (5 total tuners)
2 Xbox 360 Extenders/Cable Box Replacements
60" Sony SXRD/52" Sharp LCD
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post #5 of 21 Old 04-18-2012, 06:01 PM
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Cool? I love chatting about all the things we talk about here at avs forums....CIH front projection, tv calibration with tristimulus meters, media streaming devices, hdcp..... somehow I doubt any of these oozes of the same kind of cool that Samuel L Jackson does.

I'd prefer to be tech savy than cool, which is probably why I never buy apple. I want to make a device do what I want it to do, not what someone at apple wants it to do....oh yeah, I'm also cheap...very very cheap.

I've been using mediacenter with mediabrowser and gamebrowser.....so far I love it. I may take a look at media portal as well but mediacenter seems to be supported better and I don't worry about a windows update screwing it up.

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post #6 of 21 Old 04-18-2012, 06:18 PM
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Ten Ton...

Quote:


I really have had next to zero problems with Windows Media Center 7 as a DVR with both HDHomerun ATSC and CableCard tuners (for the last 2 years)...

I agree with you regarding the actual performance; WMC works as well as anything else. I actually run the Crestron-imaged WMC (ADMS) and it works mostly great. A lot of what is built into the Ceton is based on their partnership with Crestron developing the ADMS...

The problem with most MC devices are not the MC per say but rather the wrapper that PC manufacturers add to "Improve" WMC to make it their own. My HPs for instance have this terrible version.

Heck, even my $10,000 Crestron ADMS doesn't allow me something as basic as access to any internet radio via their interface... instead I have to use the browser (which the browser itself totally sucks I might add) to navigate to various Internet radio and hope the station I select doesn't require a plug-in (which the ADMS will not let you download)

As I said before, don't tell them it's Microsoft and perhaps something a bit more closed-source would also help.
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post #7 of 21 Old 04-18-2012, 08:56 PM
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by some of the comments here, I think the popularity of Media Center is greatly underestimated. I think M$ themselves underestimate their popularity as well. When Ceton first put out their multi-tuner cable-card devices, they really underestimated the market for Media Center and it took them over a year to catch up.
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post #8 of 21 Old 04-19-2012, 04:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenTonHammer View Post

I also refuse to pay Tivo's monthly fee.

Me too. And I own two TiVos. I take advantage of TiVo's lifetime subscription. Yes it increases the price of the device, but when I tried to build a comparable PC based DVR, it was more expensive and a lot more work.

To each their own. But it irritates me when people make statements like this. And yes, I'm a TiVo fanboy. I wouldn't be if I could have figured out a easier and cheaper solution for my OTA DVR.
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post #9 of 21 Old 04-19-2012, 06:01 AM
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I absolutely love Media Center. I leave my computer on for months at a time (occasionally do manual updates).

My Movies and Netflix UI just rock.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

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post #10 of 21 Old 04-19-2012, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by mjh View Post

Me too. And I own two TiVos. I take advantage of TiVo's lifetime subscription. Yes it increases the price of the device, but when I tried to build a comparable PC based DVR, it was more expensive and a lot more work.

To each their own. But it irritates me when people make statements like this. And yes, I'm a TiVo fanboy. I wouldn't be if I could have figured out a easier and cheaper solution for my OTA DVR.

I acutally really like Tivo. I had one basically from when it launched until HD made real inroads (Tivo was a bit behind on that curve) and it blew my mind/changed everything as far as my TV media consumption.

Don't really want to get into a debate about it as I'm sure Tivo/WMC wars have been fought plenty of times here before. It's a personal choice and WMC has less cons for me personally. Yes, to each their own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HCCDesignGuy View Post

The problem with most MC devices are not the MC per say but rather the wrapper that PC manufacturers add to "Improve" WMC to make it their own. My HPs for instance have this terrible version.

Go it, was unaware of this as while I do have a "big name" pre-built PC, I installed Windows 7 Ent fresh and clean so I apparently don't have any of those quirks. It's unfortunate and if it causes issues, MS should just flat out disallow it frankly.

I think the strength of WMC is it's flexibility (add tuners, storage, extenders fairly easily) but the big cons in the past have been:
  • Adding tuners used to be costly and a pain to do (before adequate USB/Ethernet tuners became available and cost effective).
  • The cost of taking advantage of extenders. The Xbox is a great extender but at $200 and the fact that you really have to have a gold sub to get the most value out of that (all of the premium media apps are gold only), makes it a bit cost prohibitive for somebody that just wants to watch TV/stream from apps. The previous non-Xbox extenders didn't offer a very good value proposition either.

Now that the first item is pretty much a thing of the past (at least on the HDHomerun side), I'm really hoping that Ceton can come in at around $100 for their extender (if not lower). Much more than that and I'll probably suggest an Xbox....just wish MS would remove the requirement for Gold sub in regards to Netflix/Hulu, etc. If you are using Xboxes, and want to use it for other things besides the extender, then getting the family gold sub plan (which I get for around $75/yr for 4 accounts) makes the most sense.

WMC Setup:

Quad-Core Micro ATX PC, 6 GB RAM, 3 TB storage (headless)
HDHR Prime, HDHR DUAL (5 total tuners)
2 Xbox 360 Extenders/Cable Box Replacements
60" Sony SXRD/52" Sharp LCD
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post #11 of 21 Old 04-19-2012, 02:19 PM
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I really hope Ceton is successful with this product. I want to see WMC continue to evolve in the future and the only way that happens is through continued interest by consumers.

I plan on picking up one of Ceton's pieces, so Ill do my part. I hope they can make the transition to Win 8. I think making WMC its own app gives us that do use it a chance to speak with our dollars. And when that happens, it shows there is a real reason to invest in improving and building on it for the future.
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post #12 of 21 Old 04-19-2012, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by trooper11 View Post

I really hope Ceton is successful with this product. I want to see WMC continue to evolve in the future and the only way that happens is through continued interest by consumers.

I plan on picking up one of Ceton's pieces, so Ill do my part. I hope they can make the transition to Win 8. I think making WMC its own app gives us that do use it a chance to speak with our dollars. And when that happens, it shows there is a real reason to invest in improving and building on it for the future.

Hey trooper, you post at the TXB boards too, don't ya? .

Didn't realize that it was an app for Win8. I have the preview and it's built in just like in previous versions...that may just be because it's a preview though. I'm willing to spend a one time app fee for this for sure. I'm going to push anybody I know that wants to use WMC who is not a gamer to these Ceton boxes...providing they are a good product/value (I've heard very mixed reviews about the InfiniTV4 USB product).

WMC Setup:

Quad-Core Micro ATX PC, 6 GB RAM, 3 TB storage (headless)
HDHR Prime, HDHR DUAL (5 total tuners)
2 Xbox 360 Extenders/Cable Box Replacements
60" Sony SXRD/52" Sharp LCD
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post #13 of 21 Old 04-20-2012, 04:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenTonHammer View Post

Don't really want to get into a debate about it as I'm sure Tivo/WMC wars have been fought plenty of times here before. It's a personal choice and WMC has less cons for me personally. Yes, to each their own.

I wasn't trying to re-start any long standing flame wars between WMC and TiVo. Honestly, I didn't know that they existed. I have a WMC + HDHomeRun dual setup that works well. Frankly, I think that WMC has a much better architecture than TiVo to enable a central server that collects programming and distributes it to any TV in the house.

I was just complaining about the idea that TiVo forces people into a monthly contract. They don't.
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post #14 of 21 Old 04-21-2012, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjh View Post

Me too. And I own two TiVos. I take advantage of TiVo's lifetime subscription. Yes it increases the price of the device, but when I tried to build a comparable PC based DVR, it was more expensive and a lot more work.

To each their own. But it irritates me when people make statements like this. And yes, I'm a TiVo fanboy. I wouldn't be if I could have figured out a easier and cheaper solution for my OTA DVR.

The WMC device does more than Tivo. If you want it to be nothing more than a glorified central DVR then there's lots of options out there. For us, it serves the purpose of feeding TV to 5 TVs, storing all our music for WMP and iTunes, storing home movies and about 125K pictures. Since every PC in my house saves media to that machine first, I can rest at night knowing that the pictures from our camera won't be lost to a failed hard drive. Having everything in one safe location is a great way to provide protection of that media. Tivo won't offer you nearly the number of options that Windows 7 will provide (disk mirroring, RAID, Carbonite.com...). There's a reason why many people wanted to see Windows Home Server turned into a Server class Media Center.

Tivo might be cheaper, but you get so much more with WMC and if you expand your requirements to safeguarding the rest of your family's media, it becomes a no-brainer IMHO.
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post #15 of 21 Old 04-21-2012, 12:22 PM
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As for the extenders, we're close to seeing the Xbox 360 @ $100 or less. Maybe a year or so. When they announce and launch Xbox Next, it won't make the current Xbox 360 any less of an extender that it is today. I expect there to be a pretty decent long tail for the current Xbox at bargain basement prices attached to WMC7. Now, Windows 8 and Xbox Next might provide some compelling advantages, but that doesn't make Windows 7 + Xbox 360 a non-working system overnight.
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post #16 of 21 Old 04-21-2012, 08:35 PM
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i've been using MCE since the first version, current setup is Win7 + Ceton PCIe quad tuner. it's been flawless for about 1.5 years now, doesn't skip a beat. I use Xbox 360's as extenders all over the house instead of cable boxes.

The IQ with the Ceton tuner is excellent with Verizon FIOS as the source. I project onto a 142" screen with a JVC RS55, source flaws are easy to see with this setup. I couldn't be happier with the Ceton/FIOS combo.

thanks to Ceton for their great products.
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post #17 of 21 Old 04-22-2012, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Kressilac View Post

Tivo might be cheaper, but you get so much more with WMC

Sure. Wasn't trying to compare features between TiVo and a PC based solution. TiVo clearly loses. Was just trying to state that I think that the statement "TiVo requires a monthly subscription" is wrong.
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post #18 of 21 Old 04-23-2012, 11:50 PM
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I'd love some sort of Media Center extender that supported media center plugins. Sadly the only platform that will do that is an actual PC running Media Center.
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post #19 of 21 Old 04-24-2012, 07:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HCCDesignGuy View Post

Oh dear lord... It's time Mircosoft just come to the realization they can't do cool when it comes to media or PCs... perhaps they should just focus on what they are good at so they can hold onto the market-share they still do have... or perhaps since they are not cool, they create a new brand of media products (not just software) using their technology without mentioning it's Microsoft or Windows... HELLO!!!

I'm an Apple & Windows user and I still use my Windows machines 10 to 1 over my Mac... so I'm not one of these Apple-heads. That said, the only hope Windows has of making an impact with a product people want to buy it is for Apple to screw up and loose the "cool-factor".

They have been hopelessly bringing wanna-be cool stuff to market for years; only to get their butts handed to them. Often times it has nothing to do with lack of innovation; they just aren't cool... the Mac ads from 2/3 year back really hit the nail on the head.

I will give MS this... the new IExplorer commercials are quite good... perhaps however, they should have saved a bit of marketing for their new "cool" media center stuff instead of advertising a browser... I mean are people really going to IE9 because of a commercial? lol.

Uverse PVR/STB's run MSCE and most people don't even know it. AFAIK, apple is cool to the point of being over-hyped and over-priced.

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post #20 of 21 Old 04-25-2012, 08:30 AM
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I first used a DVR with the superb ReplayTV (I still have it).
Next a bought a TIVO and expanded it with a one GB HD. I like it almost as much as my old RTV.
Last year I bought a SiliconDust Homerun HD Prime, I use a multistream CableCard from Verizon and get 3 channels. I use WindowsMediaCenter and an XBox 360.

Quite frankly whenever my TIVO hits a hardware problem I will NOT get another but will use WMC for all my DVR needs.

This new Ceton looks like a big contender in this space.

Quite frankly I can not understand why anyone would prefer to buy a new TIVO and have to pay for the electronic guide. WMC has it beaten hands down.

Ian
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post #21 of 21 Old 04-25-2012, 07:27 PM
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Depending upon the price point, I would love a good (working) WMC extender

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