Linksys kills MC extender line - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 05-18-2009, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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http://www.engadget.com/2009/05/18/l...-anyone-notic/

Well, we all knew how successful VMC was in the home, and now it appears that extenders weren't taking off as an answer for the lack of softsled.

SageTV still makes great extenders though, and SageTV client is what softsled's advocates were hoping for. At least there is still a vendor that caters to our community...
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post #2 of 27 Old 05-18-2009, 10:49 AM
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well maybe if they dropped they prices and played all formats...

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post #3 of 27 Old 05-18-2009, 10:51 AM - Thread Starter
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well maybe if they dropped they prices and played all formats...

These things were on sale a lot in the last 6 months. Less than $100 often times. Playing all formats makes sense, but MSFT never required that since MC didn't play all formats unless you "modified" it.

Too bad, because the hardware is pretty capable. Maybe someone will hack them into a decent standalone box since they will be available for cheap now.
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post #4 of 27 Old 05-18-2009, 12:35 PM
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I thought the engadget article seemed a little uninformed. I don't think an xbox isn't a replacement for a media extender in most people's minds.

Jim Hillegass / JRiver Media Center
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post #5 of 27 Old 05-18-2009, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I thought the engadget article seemed a little uninformed. I don't think an xbox isn't a replacement for a media extender in most people's minds.

Nor in my mind either. The only reason they keep it around on the xbox is because it doesn't cost anyone extra to use it. If they charged for that support, it would have gone the way of the linksys boxes too.
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post #6 of 27 Old 05-18-2009, 12:44 PM
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I thought the engadget article seemed a little uninformed. I don't think an xbox isn't a replacement for a media extender in most people's minds.

what they were saying was an xbox can do all the extender did and more, which doesn't justify the high cost of the extenders.

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post #7 of 27 Old 05-18-2009, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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what they were saying was an xbox can do all the extender did and more, which doesn't justify the high cost of the extenders.

Yes, and the more part includes a lot of heat and noise too. My sage HD200 extender runs about 2-5W when in use, and always seems to be cool as a cucumber. It's as quiet as a cucumber too - no fan at all.
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post #8 of 27 Old 05-18-2009, 12:53 PM
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Yes, and the more part includes a lot of heat and noise too. My sage HD200 extender runs about 2-5W when in use, and always seems to be cool as a cucumber. It's as quiet as a cucumber too - no fan at all.

well yeah, the extender isn't a computer...like the xbox.

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post #9 of 27 Old 05-19-2009, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Looks like HP has announced they are killing off their extender line as well:

http://www.missingremote.com/index.p...=3489&Itemid=1
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post #10 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 05:56 AM
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Very annoying for those of us in Europe - we had hoped that H264 Live/Recorded TV support would be added to the Linksys models, so that we could watch HD - and in some cases SD - digital TV on our extenders now it is supported in Windows 7 Media Center and on the XBox 360.

Given that the DMAs support H264 file replay we had hoped this was a trivial firmware update.

Now it appears they've killed the product line and we won't be able to extend H264 on anything other than a noisy, power-hungry and large XBox 360, with inferior picture quality. (The 360 never seems to be be as good in picture quality terms as a hardware based extender IMHO - and the levels don't seem right)

How long before MS finally implement Softsled ? It surely makes sense to allow us to stream Live TV between PCs rather than just from a single PC to extenders, as with things like the Mini-ITX Ion platform they'd sell an extra Win 7 licence for extending...
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post #11 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

Very annoying for those of us in Europe - we had hoped that H264 Live/Recorded TV support would be added to the Linksys models, so that we could watch HD - and in some cases SD - digital TV on our extenders now it is supported in Windows 7 Media Center and on the XBox 360.

Given that the DMAs support H264 file replay we had hoped this was a trivial firmware update.

Now it appears they've killed the product line and we won't be able to extend H264 on anything other than a noisy, power-hungry and large XBox 360, with inferior picture quality. (The 360 never seems to be be as good in picture quality terms as a hardware based extender IMHO - and the levels don't seem right)

How long before MS finally implement Softsled ? It surely makes sense to allow us to stream Live TV between PCs rather than just from a single PC to extenders, as with things like the Mini-ITX Ion platform they'd sell an extra Win 7 licence for extending...

i have another thread trying to find a solution, as i don't want and extender i want to use an existing computer, i can't believe Microsoft does see the need for this, unless they are hoping to push xbox sales...

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post #12 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 07:22 AM
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I can only think there are DRM issues involved in streaming to a PC - which is more open than an XBox 360 or hardware extender - or it is a legacy of MS trying to protect the extender environments.

As the 360 is a non-starter for many as an extender (too noisy) - there has to be a different solution.

At IBC in Amsterdam last September, MS were promoting the networked home with Media Center stuff, and they now make sharing of Recorded TV across networked PCs trivial in Windows 7. Surely streaming of video, audio, subtitles and interactive data can't be that difficult? (Sage, Myth, GBPVR etc. all do it...)
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post #13 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 08:51 AM
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the two problems I see with using a pc as an extender are the recordings aren't synced and you can't stream live tv.

the live tv problem can be solved by installing tuners in the extender.

the syncing of the recording guide is a little more difficult to solve, though. One idea I have is to create "virtual" tuners that would mirror your real tuner configuration in the main system. another program would sync the scheduled recordings between the extender(s) and the main pc so that the extender pc(s) would record the same shows as the main pc, but only on virtual tuners that don't actually record. the actual recording would be on the main pc.

on the extenders, you would add the recorded tv folder on the main pc so you can see the actual recorded shows.

would this work?
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post #14 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 09:05 AM
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Softsled would be much simpler. It "should" use the exact same RTP protocol that Hardware extenders use right now, and will use the local video card for display/decode/rendering.

When you set Media Center for "softsled mode", it would connect to the parent MC and behave exactly like a hardware extender.

Of course, I doubt MS would actually release softsled.
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post #15 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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the two problems I see with using a pc as an extender are the recordings aren't synced and you can't stream live tv.

the live tv problem can be solved by installing tuners in the extender.

the syncing of the recording guide is a little more difficult to solve, though. One idea I have is to create "virtual" tuners that would mirror your real tuner configuration in the main system. another program would sync the scheduled recordings between the extender(s) and the main pc so that the extender pc(s) would record the same shows as the main pc, but only on virtual tuners that don't actually record. the actual recording would be on the main pc.

on the extenders, you would add the recorded tv folder on the main pc so you can see the actual recorded shows.

would this work?

Adding tuners to extenders to deal with live TV seems like a really poor solution. That might be OK for cable users with QAM tuners (I guess that's now officially supported by MSFT), but for OTA it's a hard and even worse if you have an encoder card hooked to an STB. It means you can't centralize all the tuners and STB's in one location, and just hook everything up via ethernet.

That's what my SageTV environment is like. The server sits in the garage, has 6 tuners, both QAM and STB's, and the extenders and clients are just connected via CAT5. Makes it easy to add locations and move stuff around the house too.

I think folks should probably realize that MSFT is not building products for our community. They're OK with us using their stuff in non-standard ways, but they seem to have given up on this space as near as I can tell.
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post #16 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post


I think folks should probably realize that MSFT is not building products for our community. They're OK with us using their stuff in non-standard ways, but they seem to have given up on this space as near as I can tell.

since when does a company do something for a community? I'm not defending MSFT, but if there was a legitimate market, they'd be on it.

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post #17 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 10:46 AM
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Two solutions I can see, possibly three.

1. Softsled - effectively a software implementation of the Media Center Extender environment on a PC. Same network protocols etc. - just general purpose gear not dedicated hardware. This would require Microsoft to do some work...

2. Virtual Tuners - effectively a "tuner server" that sits in a garage, rack etc. that provides virtual tuners to individual Media Center PCs - conning them into thinking that they have tuners of their own. Downside of this is that you can't see clashes when you schedule recordings etc. Not perfect - but this could be implemented by third parties - just as HD Homerun does.

3. A combination of the two approaches - not using Media Center Extender protocols, but still streaming from a central Media Center install. This could be implemented or merged with Windows Home Server?

I'm sure there WILL be a demand for this - though it may not be mass market. However at the moment MS are SO close to a good system - but they are forcing people to use MythTV or SageTV to do this at the moment...

I'm particularly annoyed as I've got two Media Center PCs and bought a DMA 2200 because it had H264 file replay - and I naively assumed Live TV would be added when Win 7 supported it... Oh well - live and learn.
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post #18 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 11:01 AM
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That might be OK for cable users with QAM tuners (I guess that's now officially supported by MSFT), but for OTA it's a hard and even worse if you have an encoder card hooked to an STB. It means you can't centralize all the tuners and STB's in one location, and just hook everything up via ethernet.

good point. since I use cable, I completely ignored that aspect.
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post #19 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
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since when does a company do something for a community? I'm not defending MSFT, but if there was a legitimate market, they'd be on it.

I guess you are saying that even though SageTV, BeyondTV, Myth and Mediaportal all build products for our market it's not legitimate? It may not be big enough for them to care about, but that doesn't mean we're illegitimate...
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post #20 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 11:32 AM
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It may not be big enough for them to care about

That what i meant by legitimate.

who knows maybe they are going to drop a bombshell on us for with win7... us content Vista MC owners need a reason to upgrade right?

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post #21 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 12:25 PM
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good point. since I use cable, I completely ignored that aspect.

Yep - for those of us in Europe with free-to-air satellite and OTA, it makes a LOT more sense to have a single PC with 4 DVB-S and 4 DVB-T tuners (which is just two PCI-E cards - as there are a couple of 2xDVB-S, 2xDVB-T models around - I've got one in my Win 7 RC machine) in it, and all the LNB cabling from a Quad LNB and rooftop aerial/antenna, going to a single location, and then just Cat 5 (or WiFi for SD) to feed extenders etc. around the house.

Routing separate aerial and LNB feeds to each room, and then having to arrange for recordings to be split across the machines around the house, is no way to work. Far better to have a central machine co-ordinating Live/Recorded TV and streaming?

Of course if the extender client is a PC you then have the ability to play BD and DVD ISOs etc. over the network from a server as well, with no need to convert to an intermediate format (like m2ts, mkv, wmv etc.) either...
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post #22 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

Yep - for those of us in Europe with free-to-air satellite and OTA, it makes a LOT more sense to have a single PC with 4 DVB-S and 4 DVB-T tuners (which is just two PCI-E cards - as there are a couple of 2xDVB-S, 2xDVB-T models around - I've got one in my Win 7 RC machine) in it, and all the LNB cabling from a Quad LNB and rooftop aerial/antenna, going to a single location, and then just Cat 5 (or WiFi for SD) to feed extenders etc. around the house.

Routing separate aerial and LNB feeds to each room, and then having to arrange for recordings to be split across the machines around the house, is no way to work. Far better to have a central machine co-ordinating Live/Recorded TV and streaming?

Of course if the extender client is a PC you then have the ability to play BD and DVD ISOs etc. over the network from a server as well, with no need to convert to an intermediate format (like m2ts, mkv, wmv etc.) either...

its possible that Microsoft didn't see the need which the influx of extender hardware, but now... they may have to do something...

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post #23 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Yep - for those of us in Europe with free-to-air satellite and OTA, it makes a LOT more sense to have a single PC with 4 DVB-S and 4 DVB-T tuners (which is just two PCI-E cards - as there are a couple of 2xDVB-S, 2xDVB-T models around - I've got one in my Win 7 RC machine) in it, and all the LNB cabling from a Quad LNB and rooftop aerial/antenna, going to a single location, and then just Cat 5 (or WiFi for SD) to feed extenders etc. around the house.

Routing separate aerial and LNB feeds to each room, and then having to arrange for recordings to be split across the machines around the house, is no way to work. Far better to have a central machine co-ordinating Live/Recorded TV and streaming?

Of course if the extender client is a PC you then have the ability to play BD and DVD ISOs etc. over the network from a server as well, with no need to convert to an intermediate format (like m2ts, mkv, wmv etc.) either...

SageTV extenders can play files from a BDMV folder or ISO as well. You don't need a PC to deal with DVD and BR rips... You do if there is physical media you want play in a locally attached optical drive - that's why I have one PC client left, so netflix rentals can be played by my wife in a local drive.
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post #24 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

...then having to arrange for recordings to be split across the machines around the house, is no way to work.

you misunderstood my idea. all recordings happen on 1 box - the main pc. the extender pcs only think they are recording. if you add or remove a recording from an extender pc, it automatically gets pushed to the main pc.

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Far better to have a central machine co-ordinating Live/Recorded TV and streaming?

I agree completely, but media center extenders are limited.
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post #25 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 12:49 PM
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another thought. could the scheduled recordings file on the extender pcs be changed to a sym link that points to the real file on the main pc?
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post #26 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Derek K. View Post

another thought. could the scheduled recordings file on the extender pcs be changed to a sym link that points to the real file on the main pc?

You're getting the extender architecture all wrong. There IS NO local recording file or anything. The extender logs onto the main MC using a Remote desktop "like" session, albeit using the RTP protocol. The Guide/Recording schedule that you see on an Extender IS the one that's on the main MC, not a copy or a sym link or anything.

Edit: Never mind. I just realized you're talking about a "PC" as the extender. Sorry.
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post #27 of 27 Old 05-20-2009, 01:07 PM
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Edit: Never mind. I just realized you're talking about a "PC" as the extender. Sorry.

exactly!
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