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📄 Contents

  1. Digital Lifestyles Reference Guide
  2. Home Audio
  3. Audio Standards
  4. Dolby Surround Sound
  5. DTS Surround Sound
  6. THX
  7. MP3
  8. Windows Media Audio (WMA)
  9. Advanced Audio Coding (AAC)
  10. Digital Rights Management (DRM)
  11. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  12. Books and e-Books
  13. Online Resources
  14. Audio Analog/Digital Components
  15. Receivers
  16. DVD-Audio Players
  17. CD/SACD Players
  18. Making Your Decision
  19. Books and e-Books
  20. Online Resources
  21. Audio Component Integration
  22. Standalone Components
  23. Internet Radio Receivers
  24. Connecting a PC to Your Home Stereo
  25. Making Your Decision
  26. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  27. Books and e-Books
  28. Online Resources
  29. Home Video
  30. Video Standards
  31. DVD versus VCD
  32. MPEG-1 and MPEG-2
  33. DTV
  34. HDTV
  35. HDTV Buying Tips
  36. Video Out: Composite, Component, and S-Video
  37. CSS Explained
  38. Making Your Decision
  39. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  40. Books and e-Books
  41. Online Resources
  42. Video Components
  43. Playback Components
  44. DVD Players
  45. Personal Video Recorders (PVRs)
  46. VHS
  47. Laser Discs
  48. Media Center PCs
  49. What's New in Media Center 2005
  50. Video-on-Demand (VoD)
  51. Screens
  52. Making Your Decision
  53. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  54. Books and e-Books
  55. Online Resources
  56. A/V Integration
  57. Home Theater
  58. Component Integration
  59. Universal Remotes
  60. Combining Home Theater with Home Computing
  61. Making Your Decision
  62. Books and e-Books
  63. Online Resources
  64. Home Theater PCs
  65. Uses for an HTPC
  66. Components of an HTPC
  67. Windows Media Center PCs
  68. Build Your Own HTPC
  69. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  70. Books and e-Books
  71. Online Resources
  72. Rear Projection Televisions
  73. CRT Projectors
  74. DLP Projectors
  75. LCD Projectors
  76. LCoS Projectors
  77. Choosing the Right RPTV Technology
  78. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  79. Books and e-Books
  80. Online Resources
  81. Multimedia Networks
  82. Connecting Your PC Network to Your Home Theater System
  83. Investing in Media Center Software
  84. What if Your PC and Home Theater are in Different Rooms?
  85. Media Center Extenders
  86. Multimedia Appliances
  87. Making the Connection
  88. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  89. Books and e-Books
  90. Online Resources
  91. PVRs, Consoles, and Media Extenders
  92. Finding the Right PVR
  93. Types of PVR Solutions
  94. Set Top Box PVR
  95. Portable PVRs
  96. DVD-Recorders
  97. Making Your Decision
  98. Getting the Most from Your TiVo
  99. Networking Your TiVo
  100. Transfer Video from TiVo to PC at Home
  101. Transfer Video from Your PC to TiVo
  102. Transferring Video from TiVo to a PC Anywhere
  103. Burning DVDs of TiVo Recording
  104. Watch TiVo Shows on a iPod Video Or Sony PSP
  105. Software PVR Solutions
  106. Required Features
  107. Optional Features with Advantages
  108. Software PVR Options
  109. Conclusion
  110. 10 Things You Didn't Know About the Xbox 360
  111. Xbox 360 Networking Tips
  112. Mobile Computing
  113. Notebook Computer Audio
  114. USB Audio
  115. FireWire Audio
  116. PCMCIA Audio
  117. Making Your Decision
  118. Books and e-Books
  119. Online Resources
  120. Broadband
  121. High-Speed Internet Options
  122. Cable
  123. DSL
  124. Cellular Data Services
  125. Satellite
  126. Wireless ISPs
  127. Making Your Decision
  128. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  129. Books and e-Books
  130. Online Video Subscription Services
  131. Today's Options
  132. Making Your Decision
  133. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  134. Books and e-Books
  135. Voice over IP
  136. Softphone VoIP
  137. InformIT Articles and Sample Chapters
  138. Books and e-Books
  139. Home Automation
  140. Home Automation Applications
  141. Types of Home Automation Systems
  142. Automation Features
  143. Making Your Decision
  144. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  145. Home Automation Security
  146. Making Your decision
  147. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  148. Books and e-Books
  149. Online Resources
  150. Books and e-Books
  151. Online Resources
  152. Digital Photography
  153. Digital Cameras
  154. Megapixels
  155. Camera Bodies
  156. Batteries
  157. Zoom Lenses
  158. Auto Focus vs. Manual Focus
  159. LCD Screens
  160. Exposure Settings
  161. White Balance
  162. Storage Formats
  163. Wi-Fi-enabled Digital Cameras
  164. Purchasing the Right Digital Camera
  165. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  166. Books and e-Books
  167. Online Resources
  168. Digital Photo Editing Tools
  169. Photo Organizers
  170. Photo Editing Suites
  171. Deciding Which App to Use
  172. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  173. Books and e-Books
  174. Online Resources
  175. Digital Photography Tips
  176. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  177. Books and e-Books
  178. Editing Digital Photographs
  179. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  180. Books and e-Books
  181. Online Prints From Digital Images
  182. Making Your Decision
  183. Digital Video
  184. Camcorders
  185. Camcorder Features You Shouldn't Be Without
  186. Recording Formats
  187. DV Camera Tools
  188. Books and e-Books
  189. Online Resources
  190. Digital Video Editing Tools
  191. Features to Look For
  192. Popular Video Editing Software
  193. Books and e-Books
  194. Online Resources
  195. Using Video Vault to Port Content to Portable Media Players
  196. 10 Tips to Improve Digital Video
  197. Weblogs and Podcasting
  198. Overview of Weblogs
  199. Blogs as Text
  200. Blogs as Pictorials
  201. Blogs as Audio
  202. Blogs as Video
  203. Getting Started
  204. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  205. Books and e-Books
  206. Online Resources
  207. Blogging Tools
  208. Hosted Services
  209. Desktop Tools
  210. Hosting Your Own Blog
  211. Making Your Decision
  212. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  213. Books and e-Books
  214. Photo Blogging
  215. Photo Blogging Services
  216. Hosted Services with Photo Support
  217. Making Your Decision
  218. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  219. Books and e-Books
  220. Audio Blogging
  221. Blog By Phone
  222. Recording Your Own Audio Blog Posts
  223. Audio Hosting Services
  224. Podcasting
  225. Making Your Decision
  226. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  227. Books and e-Books
  228. Recording and Distributing Podcasts
  229. Recording Software
  230. Before Recording
  231. Recording Your Podcast
  232. Publishing Your Podcast
  233. Podcasting Features in Apple's iTunes
  234. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  235. Books and e-Books
  236. Online Resources
  237. Video Blogging
  238. Video Blogging By Webcam
  239. Creating a Video Blog From Scratch
  240. Video Hosting Services
  241. Distributing Video Blogs
  242. Making Your Decision
  243. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  244. Books and e-Books
  245. Online Resources
  246. Attracting Traffic to Your Blog
  247. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  248. Books and e-Books
  249. Blogging Rules for Revolutionaries
  250. How Blogging will Change the World
  251. Create a Link to This Site Campaign
  252. Meta Tag Your Revolution
  253. New Comment Posted
  254. Coordinate Your Efforts
  255. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
  256. Portable and Handheld Devices
  257. Motorola ROKR: iTunes on Your Phone
  258. ROKR iTunes Features
  259. Cell Phone Standards
  260. Making Your Decision
  261. Manufacturer Resources
  262. Sony PSP
  263. PSP Navigation
  264. PSP as a Gaming Platform
  265. PSP for Movies
  266. PSP for Music
  267. Wireless Networking
  268. Bottom Line
  269. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  270. Online Resources
  271. Portable Digital Audio Players
  272. Types of Players
  273. File Formats
  274. Popular Models
  275. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  276. Books and e-Books
  277. Online Resources
  278. Integrating an iPod with a Car Audio System
  279. Auxiliary Line In Connections
  280. CD Changer Connection Integration
  281. Custom Integration
  282. Making Your Choice
  283. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  284. Online Resources
  285. Portable Entertainment Centers
  286. Screen Sizes
  287. Hard Disk Space
  288. File Formats
  289. Video Recording
  290. Battery Life
  291. Connection Options
  292. Additional Accessories
  293. Making Your Choice
  294. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  295. Online Resources
  296. PDAs
  297. Fancy Features
  298. Palm OS or Pocket PC?
  299. Palm OS Models
  300. Pocket PC Models
  301. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  302. Books and e-Books
  303. Online Resources
  304. Smartphones
  305. Different Types of Smartphones
  306. PDA/Phones
  307. Phone-Based Smartphones
  308. Cool Ways to Improve Your Windows Mobile Smartphone
  309. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  310. Books and e-Books
  311. Online Resources
  312. Cellular Network Technologies
  313. FDMA
  314. CDMA
  315. TDMA
  316. GSM
  317. iDEN
  318. PCS
  319. Dual Band and Dual Mode Phones
  320. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  321. Books and e-Books
  322. Online Resources
  323. Hi-Speed Wireless Data Plans
  324. Cingular Plans
  325. Verizon Wireless Plans
  326. Making Your Decision
  327. Low-Tech Alternatives to Cell Phone Feature Overload
  328. High Tech Watches
  329. Smart Watch Technology
  330. MSN Direct
  331. Popular Smart Watches
  332. Other Types of High-Tech Watches
  333. Books and e-Books
  334. Online Resources
  335. Portable Audio Recording
  336. Features
  337. Editing Features
  338. Effects
  339. Devices
  340. Making a Decision
  341. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  342. Books and e-Books
  343. Handheld GPS Receivers
  344. GPS Features
  345. ABCs of GPS
  346. Making A Choice
  347. Books and e-Books
  348. Online Resources
  349. Portable Gadgets for Holiday Giving
  350. PDA Accessories
  351. Portable Music Players
  352. iPod Accessories
  353. Headphones and Earbuds
  354. Other Cool Portable Gadgets
  355. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  356. Books and e-Books
  357. Online Resources
  358. Automobiles
  359. Satellite Radio
  360. How Satellite Radio Works
  361. XM Radio Programming
  362. SIRIUS Satellite Radio Programming
  363. XM Radio Receivers
  364. SIRIUS Receivers
  365. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  366. Books and e-Books
  367. Online Resources
  368. Satellite Navigation Systems
  369. How GPS Works
  370. Doing the Math
  371. Using the GPS Data
  372. Popular Automobile GPS Systems
  373. Books and e-Books
  374. Online Resources
  375. In-Car Computers
  376. Software
  377. Cases
  378. Power Interface
  379. LCD Screen
  380. Human Interface Options
  381. Storage Media
  382. Networking
  383. Audio
  384. Video
  385. Bluetooth
  386. Making Your Decision
  387. Online Resources
  388. E-Commerce
  389. Find Free Music — Legally
  390. Record Label Sites
  391. Blogs
  392. Podcasts
  393. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  394. Books and e-Books
  395. Subscription Audio Services
  396. Making Your Decision
  397. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  398. Books and e-Books
  399. Digital Wallets
  400. The History of Digital Wallets
  401. What is a Digital Wallet—and How Does It Work?
  402. Who Offers Digital Wallets
  403. Books and Online Resources
  404. Identity Theft
  405. How Your Identity Can Be Stolen
  406. What an Identity Thief Does With Your Personal Information
  407. Preventing Identity Theft
  408. What to Do If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
  409. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  410. Books and e-Books
  411. Online Resources
  412. Online Shopping Fraud
  413. Why Online Shopping Is (Generally) Safe
  414. Reporting Online Shopping Fraud
  415. Top Ten Tips for Safer Online Shopping
  416. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  417. Books and e-Books
  418. Online Resources
  419. Online and Desktop Mapping
  420. Web-Based Maps
  421. Desktop Maps
  422. Making Your Decision
  423. eBook Formats and Readers
  424. Formats
  425. eBook Hardware
  426. Sources of eBooks
  427. Making Your Decision
  428. 10 Google Maps Hacks
  429. Robotics
  430. Robots You Can Buy (or Build) Today
  431. Toy Robots
  432. Home Automation Robots
  433. Do-It-Yourself Robots
  434. Industrial Robots
  435. Informit Articles and Sample Chapters
  436. Books and e-Books
  437. Online Resources
  438. Additional Resources
  439. Predictions for 2006
  440. Jake's Digital Lifestyles Reading List
  441. Jake's Top Ten Digital Lifestyles Web Resources
  442. 10 Things on the Digital Lifestyle Holiday Wish List
  443. 2006 Consumer Electronics Show Preview
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Beyond TV

Snapstream was one of the first companies with a robust PVR solution. Beyond TV 4, the latest version of their software boasts support for unlimited tuners, although I’m sure there’s some theoretical limit based on hardware constraints. The latest version records to DivX format video, which provides a substantial storage saving over the more traditional MPEG-2 recording common to software PVR solutions. Category browsing is an interesting way to search for content, although searching is still one area Beyond TV could improve. Broadcasts with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround are fully supported. HD over-the-air broadcast and recording is supported. One area Beyond TV does well is in offering convenient ways to convert content for playback on portable devices within the Beyond TV interface. Snapstream dramatically improved configurability of the guide in this version making it easier to eliminate channels and display the times on screen. Beyond TV is compatible with Beyond TV Link, which provides remote playback from other PCs across a network. One new feature I haven’t tried is the backcapture option, which starts recording a show from the beginning even if it already started. Windows 2000 or XP required.

GB-PVR

GB-PVR supports a shorter list of TV tuner cards than the commercial offerings on this list, but it’s also free. The software includes standard guide and recording features which are functional but not as robust as commercial offerings. The guide is available in several different views, providing more or less detail, ranging from show title only to show title and detailed description, but lacks some of the customization found elsewhere in this product category. A long list of extended features including RSS feeds, weather, IM, theater listings, FM radio, email, music and photos make GB-PVR a full fledged media manager. Windows 2000 or XP required.

Meedio

As an onscreen interface, Meedio looks like a virtual clone of Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition. It’s infinitely more configurable, with a number of different styles customizable to your favorite colors, look and feel and even the sound effects you hear when clicking on specific items during navigation. Meedio comes in three flavors, although the Meedio Essentials package isn’t worth mentioning in this context because it lacks television support. Meedio TV is the basic package with PVR functionality for recording your favorite shows, but lacks other features like browsing photos and music on your hard drive. If what you want is something like TiVo, Meedio TV is exactly what you need for a very reasonable price. Meedio Pro combines Meedio TV with Meedio Essentials to give you PVR functionality and a full-fledged home theater PC. Meedio TV offers what I consider among the best navigation interfaces in the PVR category. Meedio falls short in the search options because it’s optimized for remote only use, not the keyboard. Windows XP required.

SageTV

SageTV is among the more recent entries in the PVR and home theater space. The program guide is easy to navigate and schedule. It seems to do a better job of avoiding duplicate recordings than other apps in the space. SageTV offers both TV output and support for network playback of video and music as part of the standard package. Record in MPEG-2 by default and will record MPEG-4 or DivX if you have one of the approved tuner cards. SageTV offers one of the best search experiences in the media manger interface. In addition to recording favorite shows, SageTV does an effective job of recording programming based on favorite actors and categories. Over-the-air HD support is included with unlimited tuners. SageTV seems to do a decent job recommending shows with its intelligent recording and scheduling feature, which works much like TiVo’s recommended viewing option. A 15-day free trial is available. Windows 98SE, Me, 2000 and XP supported.

Windows XP Media Center Edition

Media Center remains head-and-shoulders above the rest of the class in many key areas. Over-the-air HD is supported. External DVD changers are supported for interfacing a large library of DVD media. Up to 4 tuners (a maximum of 2 HD tuners) will record and playback your television in Media Center. Extender solutions provide hardware options for playing back audio and video or browsing your photos from any room with an Extender. Media Center includes a plug-in architecture with dozens of third-party applications for things like weather, RSS, home automation and file conversion. One area Media Center falls short is ease of portability. The only way I can easily take my recorded television with me is by having a Windows Media compatible device. This is great for some cases, but iPod and PSP owners need a hack for effective portability which leaves out a large percentage of the market.

MythTV

Most of the PVR solutions are Windows based. MythTV is the one major exception, offering a Linux solution for PVR and home theater PC options. MythTV is somewhat challenging to configure and install if you aren’t a geek. And in some cases, being a geek is only a slight advantage. Finding compatible parts is a little more complicated, although support for the major tuner manufacturers is consistent with the product category. The guide interface is less configurable than virtually every other competitor, which comes with being free. One interesting option for MythTV is to download an Ubuntu Linux live CD, which makes it possible to boot any Windows PC into the PVR solution without installing anything.

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