Sunday, February 27, 2005

Nearly One Million Units Projected for Mac mini

An analyst for Banc of America has raised first year sales estimates for the Mac mini from 305K units to 900K units. Source.

iFlicks 1.1 Has Been Released

iFlicks has returned from exile with new features. There is a demo but it has a limit of five movies that can be put in the library. iFlicks does not recognize .vob or .m2t files. iFlicks does not provide a VIDEO_TS launcher.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Apple Will Not Buy TiVo

This deal was recently rumored. Such an acquisition does not make sense. Apple has the R&D to make its own hardware and software to market a Mac-based PVR. If Apple releases the rumored HD hub, it would facilitate a Mac-based PVR. Such a hub would have to be HDCP and 5C compliant and ensure plug and play connection to a consumer HDTV display. The HD hub would also be a step toward the rumored iMovie Video Store.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Early Adopter Woes

I have tried connecting a new JVC HM-DH5U digital recorder to the Samsung HLN507 using an HDMI to DVI cable. Both components are HDCP compliant but the handshake fails. Certainly, Hollywood feels no shame for frustrating consumers. For now, I am using the component connection to view the few D-Theater movies I have.

Being an early adopter has its risks as newer HDTV displays have HDMI connections.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Tattered Flag

It doesn't look too good for the Broadcast Flag team as two out of three judges on the appellate panel spoke disapprovingly of the FCC's effort to foist the flag. U.S. Circuit Judge Harry T. Edwards lectured the Federal Communications Commission in saying it "crossed the line'' by requiring the new anti-piracy technology in digital television devices such as the EyeTV 500. The judge went on to say, "you've gone too far.'' "Are washing machines next?''

However, another appeals judge on the panel questioned whether consumers can challenge the FCC's rules in the courtroom.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Using a Bluetooth Remote on Everything

Well, just about everything that can be controlled by an infra-red remote control. iRed can be used with Salling Clicker to turn your compatible Bluetooth device into a powerful remote control.

A USB transmitter/receiver by IRTrans properly placed and aimed at your non-Bluetooth A/V components can be controlled, for example, by your Palm Zire running Salling Clicker to ultimately control your A/V components.

This reminds me of a line from LotR: "One remote to rule them all..." or something like that.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Blu-ray Is Around the Corner

Blu-ray can store over 2 hours of HDTV on a 25GB disc and about 13 hours of standard-definition television (SDTV) on a 25GB disc. A dual layer Blu-ray disc or BD-ROM can hold 50GB. Today's DVD can hold 4.7GB of data or about 30 minutes of HDTV.

A Blu-ray player should be able to read a BD at up to 54Mbps. Videophiles should take notice. Some pre-recorded HDTV movies under the DVHS D-Theater format are clocked in at 28Mbps. We should see pre-recorded HDTV BDs by early 2006. We should see BD burners/players by the end of 2005.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

About This SIte

Finally getting around to administrative stuff, an entry about this site is due. I have been using the Mac to timeshift over FireWire since January 2004. At that time, Comcast started providing the Motorola 6200. However, there was no way to schedule a recording on the Mac. I stumbled into the idea of using iCal and AppleScript to schedule recordings. The Mac has been in my living room since then.

The purpose of this site is to present tips and news about the integration of the Mac in the living room for home theater. There are links in the sidebar to relevant vendors and resources. I hope you will choose to bookmark this site.

In the "why not" department, I have included Google generated ads that relate to HDTV. Please click on those links. We might get a nickel or two; but importantly, it does not come from your pocket. On the other hand, there are Amazon links to certain neat things to have. If you want to buy what is featured here, please click on the related Amazon link here. We might get a dollar or two from your transaction. I hope you will consider to support this site.

Friday, February 18, 2005

DVHSCap and Editing

You can record copy-freely or, if you are so lucky, 5C-free content to your DVHS deck and edit it on your Mac. You can use the EyeTV 1.7 editor or MPEG Streamclip to remove unwanted portions from the transport stream. The trick is that you use DVHSCap from the FireWire SDK 19 from Apple to import the transport stream from the DVHS deck.

After making the edits, the transport stream can be exported back to tape for later playback on your DVHS deck.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hardware-Accelerated Video Processing Is Coming

From Apple's Tiger Preview of Core Image:

"Core Video, joining Core Image in Mac OS X Tiger, delivers a modern foundation for video services, providing a bridge between QuickTime and the GPU for hardware-accelerated video processing. This highly optimized pipeline for video presentation increases performance and reduces CPU load, freeing up resources for other operations.

And Core Video allows developers to apply all the benefits of Core Image to video — blazingly-fast performance of filters and effects, per-pixel accuracy and hardware scalability."

When Tiger is delivered, this will be a significant feature. Apple Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger should ship by the end of the first half of this year.

Beat the Flag!

On February 22, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals will hear oral argument on the legality of the FCC's broadcast flag rules. The FCC has had a bad appellate track record of late. Hopefully, our fair use rights will be upheld. The EFF provides a good background on the flag.

In the meantime, beat the flag by getting an elgato EyeTV 500.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Toast 6.0.9 Update Is Now Available

Roxio has released the 6.0.9 update to Toast 6 Titanium.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Let's Have Popcorn

We are Finding Nemo. With Popcorn by Roxio, we would not have to worry about Finding Nemo. The kids caused the DVD to fall in between the cracks where the brand new floor meets the wall before the baseboard was installed.

Popcorn can put movies from your hard drive on a backup DVD. With a dual layer DVD burner, there is no compromising quality. With a single layer DVD burner, you can have a copy for the kids knowing that scratches or anything worse will not set you back another $20 for replacement. Or you can still be Finding Nemo.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

FireWire HDTV Recording

There are three ways to record HDTV on the Mac. Two are outboard while the other requires an expansion slot. First, if you have a FireWire-equipped set-top-box (STB), you can use iRecord to capture programs. Second, you can leverage your antenna and/or cable connection in using the EyeTV 500 to capture OTA and/or cable programs not restricted by the 5C copy protection scheme. Third, there are now drivers available for the DVICO FusionHDTV 3 PCI cards.

Watch HDTV on your terms...

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Does That Mac Have a Hemi?

Some people ask whether a Mac has the power for HDTV. Well yeah. A Mac with a G4 1.25 GHz or better processor running EyeTV 1.7 can play 720p and 1080i files with plenty of CPU usage leftover, 25% to 40%. The recent 10.3.8 OS update included improvements that optimized playback of HDTV files. Since more power is better especially when it is available, the minimum recommendation is the Mac mini G4 1.42 GHz with 512MB RAM, though maxxing out the RAM to 1 GB is preferred.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Go DLP!

There have been HDTV articles in the mainstream press about what display to get in time for the Super Bowl. These articles gush over the form factor and status symbol nature of the plasma. Save some money for the rest of home theater gear and furnishings by going with a DLP. For the price of a ho-hum 480p plasma which is not high definition but rather enhanced definition, a 720p DLP can be purchased which is high definition.

A DLP is a great performance value for the money and would make a great display for your Mac in the living room.

Monday, February 07, 2005

DVD Software Toolkit

Certainly, you have Apple DVD Player. However, there are two other programs that should be in your applications folder. They are Matinee and MacTheRipper.

Matinee provides a nice interface for all those VIDEO_TS folders you created when you ripped the DVDs you own to your hard drive using MacTheRipper. These two programs offer convenience and protection in playing and safely storing your DVDs.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Serving HDTV Transport Streams

You can serve HDTV transport streams to your HDTV or HDTV set-top-box using your Mac for playback. This website provides all the info you need. This solution will work if your HDTV or set-top-box has FireWire connections. A little known Apple sample program, VirtualDVHS, is used to pull this off. The linked website provides some scripts I wrote to work with iCal, VirtualDVHS and your HDTV or HDTV set-top-box with FireWIre connections to record on your terms.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Is Your HDTV Centered?

This is not a philosophical question but rather one about geometry. There are no axioms to remember. This is about aligning the center point of the video with the center point of the screen on your HDTV. You can use Digital Video Essentials to run some test screens to center the image on your screen. You might be able to access a user menu to do this or, if a relevant user menu is not available, the service menu. If your HDTV is still within its warranty period and it is necessary to access the service menu, have a service tech do this.

If you are not faint of heart, you can get instructions to access the service menu of many different makes and models of HDTVs at AVS Forum or Home Theater Spot.

I recently corrected the H-Shift and the V-Shift by a half-inch and a quarter-inch, respectively, on both of my sets. On the 26 inch set, the corrective effect was much more pronounced than on the 50 inch set. Doing this is useful as a preliminary step when trying to set up a customized resolution on the Mac to display the desktop on the HDTV.

Friday, February 04, 2005

DVI and HDMI Switchers

Say you have a DLP with the DVI input taken by the HD cable box and you are left with the PC input for the Mac. That PC input is high resolution but analog. If you want the digital experience, then you will need, for convenience, an HDMI or DVI switcher, depending on the specs of your HDTV display. Examples of these switchers are found at the Digital Connection website. Recommended are those switchers that are HDCP compliant unless you do not want your HD cable box to show a watchable picture.

HD cable boxes require HDCP compliance. Your display also needs to be HDCP compliant for the HD cable box to provide a digital picture as opposed to snow. Most, if not all, DLP displays are HDCP compliant - so no worries here. Without an HDCP compliant display, you would have to use the high resolution component or RGB (PC) inputs which are analog.

Connecting your Mac mini to Component Inputs

Not everyone has an HDTV with digital inputs or even RGB inputs. If your set only has component inputs, then Audio Authority has a solution. You may still have to use a custom resolution program like SwitchResX or DisplayConfigX to send a 1280 x 720 signal to the display, for example.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

What is your frame rate?

Are you the least bit curious about the performance of your Mac when playing HDTV files? Use Apple's Quartz Debug from the XCode Developer Tools Package. Quartz Debug has a nifty speedometer that you can drag onto any window that is playing an HDTV file. The speedometer provides the frame rate for that window.

XCode is a free download in the developers section on Apple's website.

720p content has a frame rate of about 60 frames per second while 1080i content has a frame rate of about 30 frames per second, Use elgato's EyeTV player software when testing. It is a free download too from elgato's website.

The Free Mac mini Quest

Okay, I have joined the ranks to get a free Mac mini. Oh why not. My referral link is this web page and it takes about ten minutes of your life to complete.

There is an easy deal to complete and it is aptly titled, "Complete Home." You have to click about a dozen "no" radio buttons to get past a dozen ads before you get to the list of offers which include the "Complete Home." It costs $1 and you get a $20 Lowes gift card. You have to be a member for at least seven days before cancelling so that the completed offer counts. Make sure you have pop-up blocker disabled and cookies enabled when completing an offer.

Thanks!