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June 27, 2008

Google releases Media Server


Google Media ServerYesterday, Google released the Google Media Server:

In the old days, we used to watch a simple device called a television. Nowadays, all the stuff worth watching and listening to tends to be stored on or accessed through a computer. To help remedy this, we are pleased to release the Google Media Server.

Google Media Server is a Windows application that aims to bridge the gap between Google and your TV. It uses Google Desktop technology such as Desktop gadgets for the administration tool and Google Desktop Search to locate media files. All you need is a PC running Google Desktop and a UPnP-enabled device (e.g. a PlayStation 3).

And then you can play all your PC media files (videos, music, and photos) on your TV as well as the unique features of displaying Picasa Web Albums and playing YouTube videos through your TV.

If you are having a hard time breaking the code, UPnP is the acronym for Universal Plug and Play and Google Media Server running on your PC is technically a UPnP AV MediaServer which can send audio-visual data to "UPnP media render hardware" (the UPnP-enabled device above) which also includes the Xbox 360, HP MediaSmart LCD televisions and various networked media players.

If you have one of the right gadgets you probably already know it, but this all seems rather needlessly complex:

Imagine a world where your computer, cellphone, games console, storage devices, media streamers and other hardware all play nicely together, so that, for example, music, photos and video can reach the television or Hi-Fi no matter where in the home it originates.

That world is one which the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), an industry consortium backed by big name consumer electronics, computer and mobile device manufacturers such as HP, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung, is aiming to create through support for the UPnP (Universal Plug ‘n’ Play) AV standard. For end consumers this means that any ‘DLNA certified’ device should, in theory, be able to share or access media on the same home network — a message that DLNA members have largely failed to communicate, which is especially sad considering that many people already own a number of compliant devices …

Someday, I suppose it will all work, but unless you have a Xbox 360 or a PS3 you’ll have to do your homework to get it all working.


Posted at 6:00 pm. Filed under Companies, Google, Internet, LCD TV, Music downloads, PS3, Television, UPnP, Video Downloads, Video Games, Xbox 360

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December 23, 2006

Xbox 360 video download buzz


Ben Fritz at Variety reports that the Xbox 360 video download service announced in November may be a surprise hit:

In a topsy-turvy year for the digital download biz, a videogame service in just a few million homes is ending 2006 with more momentum than the world’s biggest e-tailer.

The relative success of video downloads on Microsoft’s Xbox Live and disappointment of Amazon.com’s Unbox point to two factors that differentiate Xbox from Amazon and its many other competitors — consumers who download a movie want a simple way to watch it on their TV, and those with high-def TVs want high-def content.

Thanks to the Xbox 360′s direct connection to a TV and the console’s focus on HD content, Microsoft can deliver both. Though exact sales figures aren’t available from any Web site or studio, insiders agree that it’s the most, and maybe only, positive story in digital movie downloads this year.

Many in Hollywood had high expectations that Amazon’s strength in DVD sales would spur the nascent Web download biz. But the Netco faces the same problems as competitors such as Movielink, CinemaNow, Guba and AOL that launched before it: It’s difficult for consumers to burn downloads onto DVD (save for a few titles on CinemaNow), and it’s tricky for all but the most tech-savvy to watch downloads on a TV.

Part of it is the tech savvy Xbox 360 demographic and part is the ease of watching a movie on a box already connected to a TV (which says something about where Windows XP Media Center systems are installed). There aren’t really any hard numbers, but the buzz is that despite the limited audience, Xbox 360 download numbers are equal to any of the PC download sites. While that’s certainly good news for Microsoft, it also illustrates the current sad state of Internet video downloads.


Posted at 10:00 am. Filed under Amazon, AOL, CinemaNow, Companies, Guba, Internet, Media Center PC, Microsoft, Movielink, Video Downloads, Video Games, Xbox 360

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August 23, 2006

Xbox 360 version of Madden NFL 07 gets a passing grade


Microsoft and Electronics Arts launched Madden NFL 07 for the Xbox 360 with a lot of hoopla yesterday and Matt Slagle of the Associated Press delivers a review:

Football video game junkies have been anxiously waiting for this week’s release of “Madden NFL 07″ by Electronic Arts Inc. The annual release of this video game franchise has become an event in itself.

But is this year’s supposed latest and greatest any good? After all, spending $59.99 on a new E-rated Xbox 360 version of the game is asking a lot — especially if you were burned by last year’s crummy version, which lacked many of the key features found in the older consoles.

A lot of annoyances remain, and there’s plenty of room for more polish and refinement. But at least the only “next-gen” console on the market finally has a decent football game.

Hit the link for the details, but there are some evident graphics problems that are overshone by the controls:

These issues aside, anyone who’s played sports video games can tell you that the graphics don’t matter if the controls stink.

Fortunately, this is where “Madden 07″ shines.

The controls are probably going to be a bit overwhelming to newcomers, but they become incredibly precise with practice.

Much more by following the link. Not exactly an A+ grade, but at least a B.


Posted at 6:48 pm. Filed under Companies, EA, Microsoft, Video Games, Xbox 360

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