One of the pioneers in the media center software market has shut down and are selling all their assets.
ShowShifter was one of the first true media center softwares out there. And the first package that I used in my living room. I still miss the usability of the Music Library in that package. They had truly excellent navigation and a very easy possibility to make playlists from the remote.
They also supported offline recompression at a very early stage and had a great user community making plugins and enhancing the product. They did some bad mistakes and was simply too late featuring a proper electronic program guide and support for hardware encoding cards.
Now you can buy the remains of the company, the source code and probably their database of users.
So if owning a mediacenter is not enough, buy yourself a complete company. Or you can support the best brains from the users. They would like to purchase Showshifter and make it into a project run by the community: Help save Showshifter!
Because hardware changes fast it is difficult to make a list of recommendations that will last more than a couple of weeks. But people keeps asking, so here’s a quick list of some good equipment if you want to build yourself a home theatre computer.
The expensive but perfect:
The cheaper one:
Silverstone LC03 (review)
Silverstone ST30NF (review)
Nvidia GeForce 6600GT (review)
I don’t know if this card fits in any of the cabinets recommended here. My main message is: choose a Nvidia GeForce 6600GT that is as silent as possible but still will fit into the case you choose.
As powerful AMD Athlon 64 as you can afford. The AMD processors has a “cool’n quiet” technology that makes them perfect for HTPCs. Lately people have also started using Pentium M processors in HTPCs. The selection of mainboards that support the Pentium M is not big, but this processor is perfect for a silent computer for your living room.
at least 512 MB (preferably 1 GIG)
As large as possible. Cool. Quiet. In general the seagate Barracuda 7200 disks has been quite good. The best qolution is to mount the disk in a 5 1/4″ bay in a special silencer to avoid vibrations. The Nexus DiskTwin is a good choice.
Fans and coolers
Zalman has a good selection of silent coolers and fans
Hush Technologies has fanless HTPC systems
In Norway a company caled Vendur can deliver complete fanless systems
For small media servers Mini-ITX.com is a good source
Niveus media has some beautiful and expensive systems
Voodoo Media Centers are also worth a look
But these things change fast and you should always do a bit of research before buying. Some good resources:
Good Media Center Blogs
People keeps asking me what I would recommend for a home theatre PC (HTPC). LCD or Plasma? In general I would recommend a good LCD. I know that the problems with burn in have been close to eliminated on the best plasma screens. Still, I find the crisp and clean LCD picture with absolutely no burn in problem preferable. A quick roundup:
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)
First of all, it is perfectly OK to use your old tube. A standard cathode ray tube (CRT) connected to a PC through S-Video or even composite video should work fine if you adjust your screen card and use a proper media center software. The whole point of these softwares is to give you a front end from your computer that looks good even on low resolution television screens.
A quick trouble shooting tip: if you get a black and white signal from your PC when connecting through S-Video you probably have to select the correct output (S-Video ro Y/C) in your screen settings. If you get black and white when connecting through composite you probably have to take a look at the video format settings. Choosing NTSC when you have a PAL television could give you a black and white picture.
Liquid Chrystal Display (LCD)
LCD has been used for computer screens for some time. For the last couple of years they have been able to produce them big enough for use as television sets. Only half a year ago it was a problem that the contrast ratio (the difference between black and white) was too low. Resulting in loss of detail in dark and bright scenes. Now, that is about to end. Some of the vendors has introduced LCDs with contrast ratios of 3000:1 and 5000:1. Earlier that was only possible for Plasma displays. Another problem was response time. Bad response times could result in problems with fast moving video. Now, most LCD screens have a response time of 8 milliseconds or better. That should be enough for most people watching video or playing games on their screen.
Plasma screens traditionally gives better contrast ratio, a more correct black level and in general a slightly more soft picture. Half a year ago a good plasma would without doubt outperform a good LCD in quality for watching movies. Right now that have changed because of better LCD panels. In general you have to pay more for a proper high resolution plasma compared to a high resolution LCD (a resolution of 1280 x 720 or more).
And for the people that want more than a quick round up:
Wikipedia: CRT, LCD, Plasma
Comparison: Plasma vs. LCD TVs
And yes, the pictures in this post are all super close ups of the described technologies. With compliments to my new Canon S2 IS!
Today there is an article about media centers in the norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. They have asked me about different solutions and give a quick overview of what all this is about.
I will also attend to a net meeting at dagbladet.no on tuesday 14th at 1300 CET. This meeting will be in Norwegian.
Please also feel free to post any questions or comments on this post in my blog.
To make it easier for Dagbladet’s readers I will give you a quick roundup of some media center links and advice:
– The complete list of software solutions
– A quick roundup of some of the systems I have tried
– An update with links to other articles as well
– Converting DVR-MS files from your media center
– Placeshifting, your media everywhere!
– Remote control your music collection in MCE
– Everything in the HTPC category
The Goatse joke was already taken, so I chose to wear my BoingBoing tee. 🙂
Link to the story on dagbladet.no (Thanks, Jon)
A friend of mine has just put the space for his MSN Display Picture up for sale on eBay.
He is selling the space for the rest of 2006 and the highest bidder will be able to place an ad in the space. You will reach his 50 MSN friends on a daily basis. As he puts it in the auction:
This is a new and great opportunity for one-to-one marketing !
I have over 50 active friends in my msn and I actively talk to many of them each day ! My friends are in the typical generation X segment and might be hard to reach with traditional channels. Another thing with my friends is that thay are highly educated and have a high income.
Okay, he is selling a private piece of ad space. But, is he selling his friends? Should I be angry as one of those 50 persons that will be the target for this ad?
…I don’t think so, but the idea and the auction is interesting and I will for sure see how this turns out.
Link to the auction: “My Display Picture” in MSN is for sale!
And this is how it looks like on my computer when Mykle logs on right now. If you buy this ad space you will have your logo exposed on 50 computers each time Mykle logs on…
I was in a meeting at Ullevaal Stadion last friday. It’s Norways biggest football stadium, and during winter it’s obviously not in use.
Out on the field I discover this guy:
The problem is that he was alone. It looks like he is in for quite a bit of work…
I have now posted all the original pictures that I used to make my little time lapse experiment.
Who knows? There might be more creative ways to utilize 46 pictures of the same frame taken over one whole year…?
The pictures I have posted are the ones that I have adjusted to show the exact same framing. Unfortunately I lost the EXIF-information while editing the pictures in Photoshop. I used layers and didn’t plan my work good enough. All the pictures ended up with the EXIF info from picture number one…
If there’s any interest I can post the original files from the camera as well. They’re not perfectly adjusted, but have the original EXIF-info. In other words, they are stamped with the exact time and date taken.
For the people that want to make flash animations, print outs, web sites and whatever, here are the links:
1. Gallery with all the pictures, possibility for single picture download
2. All the pictures in one 90 MB ZIP-file
They are protected by the Creative Commons license on eirikso.com
So, use them for whatever non commercial project you want as long as you credit eirikso.com and give your new work the same open creative commons license.
For commercial use, please contact me: