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BigScreenGlobal By Remote Beta Update

If you have been reading the blog you will know that I have been evaluating both of the current remote scheduling applications available for Media Center in Windows 7.  I am currently using BigScreenGlobal’s By Remote so I was excited to see that there is a new updated beta.  If you have not tried it out its definitely worth it.  I will write up a review / thoughts on the update in a few days.

Here is the announcement:

** Big Screen ‘by Remote’ Beta Program Announcement **

We are very proud to announce that a brand new beta version of Big Screen ‘by Remote’ (v0.6a) has been launched – and now available for download from thebigscreenglobal.com website.

The new version adds to the great functionality of the previous beta – and extends the Beta expiry date for another 3 months to 1st October, 2010 (previous v0.5x beta’s are set to expire on July 1st, 2010).

Some of new features in this v0.6a release include :-

  • A new Silverlight v4 Desktop/Browser Client (previously written for Silverlight v3). The new client has an enhanced look + feel – and makes the most the faster and leaner Silverlight v4 engine. The OOB (Out of Browser) client is also enhanced to utilize the new borderless windows and ‘trusted’ installation features.
  • Along with the extended Expiry Date (to 1-Oct-10) is a new Serial Number based activation system (found in the other Big Screen products) – which now gets the expiry date from the bigscreenglobal.com server – rather than being hardcoded into the program itself (as was done with earlier beta versions). This will allow us to further extend your expiry date in future without you having to reinstall anything (and just requires you to run the ‘reverify’ function built into the software).
    Please Note: As we have now launched Big Screen EPG – the By Remote product requires you to register for a Unique ‘By Remote’ Serial Number (which is free for all account holders on bigscreenglobal.com – and can be obtained quickly and easily from the By Remote download page).
  • Mobile Search is also now available in the XHTML and IUI (iPhone/iPad) client. Providing a basic and advanced search capability (with filtered matching – much like what is available in the Silverlight Client) – this allows you to locate programs even faster from your mobile devices. 
  • The new Local EPG Data Caching feature (available in the Silverlight client) allows you to cache EPG data on your client mchines using Silverlights Isolated Storage capabilities – making browsing even faster than before – and saves you loads of bandwidth and roundtrips back to your server. The new cache settings dialog allows you to enable/disable caching as well as configure cache expiry times, view cache details, wipe the cache and adjust the actual size of the local cache.

We’d love for you to come and check it out – so please stop in to the product page at http://bigscreenglobal.com/bgproduct.aspx?PID=BSRV1 to find out more – and signup + download the new release. (Registration is completely free!).

You can also check out some screenshots of the new version – and read some more detailed information at our blog page – http://mobilewares.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!78533A1A2E078194!8124.entry – or follow us on the twitter account ‘niall_bigscreen’ to get instant news as it comes to hand.

Remote Potato v0.85 – Hands On Review

All I can say is Wow!  The latest release of Remote Potato is a huge step forward.  If you are not running this on your media center you need to go install it right now.  Here is the link: Remote Potato

I really thought that Big Screen EPG By Remote was going to make me forget about Remote Potato but I was definitely wrong.  Even though By Remote had some performance issues I thought the features were far enough ahead of Remote Potato to warrant a switch over so I did.  With this latest release I am definitely back with Remote Potato and I may be staying for good (especially since its free).

So let’s get into the good, the bad and the interesting.

The Good

  • Silverlight UI – The new Silverlight UI is amazing.  I say amazing in the context of having used the Silverlight UI in By Remote.  By Remote was slow and a little clunky.  Remote Potato’s Silverlight UI is snappy, looks great and loads the EPG data with great speed which allows you to easily pop in and set a show to record.  If by chance you do not like the Silverlight UI the regular HTML interface is still there. 
  • Custom Guide – I have a highly customized guide and the early versions of Remote Potato could not represent my exact guide in the browser.  I could still record but it was hard to navigate based on what I was use to.  That is no longer the case.  I now have a Remote Potato guide that looks just like my Media Center guide including the logos.
  • Streaming is back! – So most of us know that Windows 7 allows for streaming of content over the internet.  Well I have only gotten it to work correctly once and it also has the restriction of having to have a Windows 7 machine on the receiving end.  Remote Potato now has streaming through the browser enabled which means it works on any web browser with Silverlight.  My first test was a little rocky but it worked!  Of course this is only for DRM free content.

The Bad

  • XMLTV Files – Remote Potato still relies on XMLTV files instead of the native guide data.  It takes some work to get the guide data setup but it can be automated so it’s  one time setup.  It would be A LOT better if it was leveraging the guide data that you already are using within Media Center.  By Remote found a way to do so its probably only a matter of time before Remote Potato does it too.
  • Logos – Remote Potato has support for using your "My Channel Logos” logos within Remote Potato.  It makes the process very easy to get logos in or so I thought.  There were still a number of channels that My Channel Logos had been able to reconcile that Remote Potato did not pick up on like the local affiliates for example.  My Channel Logos assigned the NBC HD logo to WCNCDT but for Remote Potato I had to create a copy of the logo with the filename WCNCDT.png.  Small annoyance but it can grow depending on the number of channels you have to fix.  I tried to use the logo mapping file in conjunction but did not seem to do anything.

The Interesting

  • Mobile UI– The mobile user interface works great on my Blackberry.  It also solves the biggest gripe I had with the WebGuide mobile UI in that it let’s me easily jump to a specific channel.  I am interested to see if there is an iPhone specific mobile UI coming like the one By Remote has.  That one is slick and works great.
  • Streaming – I did not think I would care to have this back after the option to stream from Windows 7 was announced but after having used both I want it back.  This new feature took my surprised as I did not think anyone would invest the time to try to get it working again.  Nice to see that I was wrong all around.  I am definitely interested to see how this progresses.
  • Recorded TV List – The list is sorted based on when shows were recorded.  Why can’t we choose to also sort based on show title?  I use to use WebGuide to clean up my Recorded TV because it was so much easier and I could do it from anywhere at anytime.  I can do that here too but I cannot sort by Series in the Recorded TV section.

Remote Potato Screenshots

That’s all for now.  Look for more info later.

Remote Potato Updated

After what has felt like a “Remote Scheduling” drought of epic proportions for Media Center users we are now being flooded by two great remote scheduling applications: Big EPG ByRemote and Remote Potato.    ByRemote has been getting a lot of press lately but Remote Potato has not been sitting on the hands either.

Ian Dixon over at the Digital Lifestyle just reported on an update to Remote Potato and I must say that it’s really looking good.  Check out the screencast below:

 

So will all of these advances by the community stifle an official Microsoft effort or is there still a chance that WebGuide will come back?  Time will tell I guess.  In the meanwhile I am enjoying trying out Remote Potato.

Remote Potato – A Second Look

Today has been the first chance I have had to try Remote Potato outside of my own home network and I must say “What a Difference!”. The app runs at a very acceptable speed. Not sure why its so painfully slow on the home network, but hitting it from the outside provides great results!

We will be keeping an eye on the app and I will work on a video tonight.

Remote Scheduling is the new hot thing

We just talked about Remote Potato yesterday and today we already have a new player in the space with Remote Wizard.  The Missing Remote posted today about a new app that works off of a Windows Home Server which most people already have online with remote access. 

It’s still early so I am not sure if I will be installing it on my Home Server yet.  It still has the same limitation of not having direct access to the Media Center guide.  The app has to rely on its own guide and then submit a record command using channel name, channel number and time.

If anyone try’s it out and wants to write a guest post let me know.

Remote Potato First Impressions

I installed Remote Potato this evening to give it a try.  Remote Potato is a utility for Windows Media Center that allows you to do remote scheduling via a web browser.  It also lets you see what you have scheduled  to record and a list of the shows already recorded.

I was not expecting much since its still in Beta and because it does not actually pulling the guide data from Media Center. Remote Potato is using guide data downloaded and saved in an XMLTV format.  This limitation makes the application run extremely slow.  I was accessing the web app on my local network and it would take about 25 seconds for pages to come up.  It’s not ideal but it works and is better than the alternative.

I was also concerned that the application would fail to record shows on my setup because I have remapped almost every channel in my guide and the guide data is not coming from Media Center.  To my surprise the recordings worked just fine.

There are a number things to like about Remote Potato and it’s coming along nicely.  If the developer could somehow figure out the API to get the guide data directly from Media Center then it would be freakin awesome.  At this point its cool and worth watching.  At the very least remote scheduling is back!

Remote Scheduling is Back

Windows 7 has delivered the best version of Media Center to date but in doing so removed one of the best features of Media Center in remote scheduling and WebGuide.  WebGuide was something that everyone installed, used and showed off to friends when they got their Media Center.  I personally have been with out remote scheduling for about 8 months now but that looks like it will change today.

Ian Dixon is reporting on The Digital Lifestyle about a new Media Center utility called Remote Potato.  It has just been updated with a number of changes and I will be installing it this evening.  I will report back as to how it works.  I am so grateful that someone stepped up and filled the gap but I still hold out hope for an updated version of WebGuide.  C’mon Microsoft your move.