My last Windows phone was a Motorola Q back in 2007. It was a good phone and the Windows Mobile software was ok at best. But there were things you could do with it that you couldn’t on any other platform. This was way before anybody ever heard of the iPhone or Android, though if memory serves, the iPhone had officially been announced. When the iPhone finally made it to the market, just like everybody else, I had to have one. As a matter of fact, iPhones were handed down in my family like precious heirlooms. First me, then Shauna, then Colby. Shauna was probably the first to own an Apple product when she received an iPod for Christmas one year. Then came the iPads, etc. Since that time in 2007, I’ve always had an iPhone and an iPad. And overall, I’ve been very pleased with them. Since I work in the IT field, they’ve been awesome tools. I haven’t always been pleased with Apples propitiatory philosophy and I absolutely hate iTunes. Then something happened in late 2012 that changed everything. Windows 8! We seen a lot of potential with Windows 8, especially if it was ported to the mobile phone. iOS and Android had a huge jump on Microsoft in the mobile phone market, so the chances of Windows 8 (mobile) becoming an instant success were dim. But it did eventually hit the market and slowly but surely, began to make it’s mark. First with the tablets and RT tablets and finally with the mobile phones. My Windows 8 tablet immediately made my iPad 2 feel like a dinosaur and it slowly took the place of my iPad as a significant tool. Once my desktops were upgraded to Windows 8, it became a no brainer that it was time to dump Apple and buy a Windows phone. The sync capabilities alone were enough to lay down my iPhone and buy a Nokia Lumia 1520. And though I’ve only had it a couple of days, I’m more impressed with it than I was the first time I picked up an iPhone. So the iPad has been sold and the iPhone is up for sale. Moving back to Windows has been a smart move…..
Some times I come across a great app that I just have to share, whether it be a Windows app, Apple app or Google app. As a lot of you may know, I’m always tinkering with my Media Center setup. I’m currently running Windows Media Center and XBMC on a Zotac Zbox pc with a bunch of addons. Anyhow, I’m not a big fan of remotes, one for the tv, one for the pc, one for the xbox, one for the blu-ray, one for the Apple TV, etc. I’ve been testing a few remote apps on my iPad/iPhone and my Windows 8 machines that all work pretty good. But since I use XBMC 13 (beta) as my primary media center, I finally came across a remote app for my Windows 8 tablet and pc’s that is a far cry above the rest. It’s simply named XBMC Remote and it’s available on the Windows Store. It costs $2.49. Very reasonable for what it does. [Read more…]
The Gyration Gyroscopic Media Center PC Universal Remote Control and Compact Keyboard Suite is my first choice for the ultimate Media Center remote. This nifty combo consists of a compact wireless keyboard and the star of the show; the not so compact gyroscopic media remote. There are no drivers included, for the simple reason that neither peripheral needs any. Thus installation is a simple as one could hope: in true plug and play fashion, you simply plug it in, press the buttons to connect each device through RF, and you’re ready to go. If you’ve ever used a Wii controller, then you’re already familiar with the Gyration remote. In fact, Gyration is actually the unknown mastermind behind the Wiimote’s very gyroscopic system. I won’t go into great detail about this combo only because it’s no longer made and very hard to come by. If you’re lucky, you may find just the remote itself on eBay for around 80 dollars and most of the time, it’s missing its needed usb dongle. However, if you are lucking enough to find one intact, grab it! It’s like gold. Of course, it’s programmable as well, so it can easily be setup to control your tv and other auxiliary devices. I’ve used this particular combo for many months, but unfortunately, just last week, they gyro in the remote failed. But the keyboard still works like a charm and hopefully I’ll get many more years use out of it. When my Gyration remote failed, I’ve been forced to use the ever popular official Microsoft Media Center remote. Don’t get me wrong, this is an awesome remote and if you have one with the TV button on it, consider yourself lucky. But for me, I want and need a controller with a built in gyration mouse. You’d think there would be plenty of brands selling such an option, but the fact of the matter is, there aren’t. This option is very, very hard to come by. Is the gyration mouse necessary? Absolutely not, most media center remotes work flawlessly with your media center, but for me, the optional mouse control is invaluable. Once you use it, you’ll know why. Which brings me to my new remote. A Dell Premium Remote (Dell XPS M2010 Media Center Remote). If you compare the two in the attached photo, you’ll quickly see the similarities. The key layout is pretty much identical, it also gives your hands on control of your audio files through its integrated LCD screen. Like the Gyration remote, it too is programmable. I’ve just started using this controller tonight and so far, I’m very happy with it, especially since its backlit. Unfortunately, like the Gyration controller, this particular remote is no longer made and can be very hard to find. It was never bundled with the keyboard like the Gyration was, but it was bundled with the Dell XPS M2010 media center laptop. However, you can still find it on eBay for around 80 dollars. Dell still makes a media center remote (RC61R), minus the gyroscopic mouse. [Read more…]
Ok, this is the last update on this until I have a significant change in the setup. Picked up an Apple TV 2 today and incorporated it into the setup. Still have some issues with Time Warner Cable (because they suck). Will hopefully work out the bugs with Time Warner this week and finally have everything working the way that it should. So far, very happy with the setup minus the Time Warner issues!
I’ve spent some time the past few weeks updating our Media Center with software and hardware and the necessary apps to run on your idevice. Again, I’ve built this with a minimal amount of money and most of the parts are off the shelve or end of life parts that just needed some upgrades. If you’re interested in building your own Media Center, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll help you out the best I can…! It’s a great holiday project! Click on the image to expand it, then right click on it to save locally to your pc.
A lot of you have been asking about setting up your own Media Center PC…I’ve included a post that I did about this time last year, however, the only thing that has changed is how I do my cable tv setup. Instead of using a Hauppauge 1800 internal TV tuner, I’m now using a Silicon Dust HDHomeRun Prime. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I get asked a lot about building a media center pc at a reasonable price. What are the benefits of having a media center pc and how does it integrate with other equipment. There really is no simple answer and I can assure you that there probably aren’t any two media center setups identical. It really doesn’t have to be an expensive project either. You’ll just have to take your time and shop around. Since I hardly ever throw anything away that has to do with pc’s or servers, I had most of these parts on shelves and in drawers. So, I’ll explain my setup (which is always changing) and maybe it’ll give you some kind of idea of what to do in case you want to build your own media center pc. A lot of money can be saved by going with a Linux distro and media center software for Linux, neither will cost you a dime. I’m a Windows person, so that’s direction I took. I’m using Windows 7 Ultimate and the license isn’t cheap.
Looking for a great Christmas gift for your tech savvy significant other? This may just be the ticket. The Silicon HDHomeRun Prime is a cable TV tuner for computers – Ethernet attached. Once the cablecard tuner is connected to your home router you can access the HDHomeRun Tuners from any computer, anywhere in your home. HDHomeRun PRIME supports CableCARD™ conditional access, providing access to the premium cable channels from your PC. Insert an M-Card cablecard from your cable provider and you’ll be able to watch and record all the digital cable channels you subscribe to, including HD and premium channels in 100% digital quality. [Read more…]