Microsoft Surface Computing

Just as I prepare to leave for the airport I saw the press release on Microsoft’s new Surface Computing product.

It looks a fantastic user interface and at first it expected to be used in public places like Casinos. I can see that when the product becomes more mainstream that it would be great in the home, control Home Automation, Windows Media Center etc all from surface control.

Checkout the video on Channel 10

Extract from Microsoft’s Press Release

Microsoft Launches New Product Category: Surface Computing Comes to Life in Restaurants, Hotels, Retail Locations and Casino Resorts

First commercially available surface computer from Microsoft breaks down barriers and provides effortless interaction with information using touch, natural gestures and physical objects.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — May 29, 2007 — Picture a surface that can recognize physical objects from a paintbrush to a cell phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. Today at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer will unveil Microsoft Surface™, the first in a new category of surface computing products from Microsoft that breaks down traditional barriers between people and technology. Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, dynamic surface that provides effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. Beginning at the end of this year, consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.

The intuitive user interface works without a traditional mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information on their own or collaboratively with their friends and families, just like in the real world. Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that small groups can use at the same time. From digital finger painting to a virtual concierge, Surface brings natural interaction to the digital world in a new and exciting way.

“With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology,” Ballmer said. “We see this as a multibillion dollar category, and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror. Surface is the first step in realizing that vision.”


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Off on holiday

For the first time in a long time I am going on holiday (vacation for US readers!) so there will be little if any posting, I will not be completely disconnected, I am taking my Samsung Q1 UMPC with me. I am looking forward to switching off for a while, and putting my faith in my Media Center PC to record all the things it’s set to record.  While I am away checkout the forums on and have a look at some of the videos I have recorded.

See you soon!

The Media Center Show – Coming Soon

Listen Here

The Media Center Show is taking a break and will be returning June 14th and when it returns there are a ton of great interviews coming up. From the Media Center world we have in-car Media Center PC systems, Microsoft’s Jessica Zahn, Sony on their XL3 plus shows on UMPCs, Windows Mobile and Home Automation

As ever I will have your email, all the Windows Media Center news and great competitions

Keep your email coming to: show [at] and checkout the forums


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New AOpen miniPC

As I blogged about Apple discontining their Mac Mini yesterday and I said forget about the Mac and look at AOpen’s min pc. Well today I read on Engadget that Aopen are launching a new Santa Rosa based mini PC

As Chris Lanier points out in the comments Apple TV is Apple’s Media Center type device but as a HTPC I don’t think its that good and a PC like the new AOpen would be a brilliant HTPC and paired with a Windows Home Server would make a great Media Center system.

From Engadget

Given all the buzz surrounding Intel’s new Santa Rosa platforms for laptops, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before some company would get the bright idea of re-purposing it for use in a pint-sized desktop PC. From the looks of it, AOpen is the first to go that route (though we somehow doubt it’ll be the last), recently introducing its Santa Rosa-based miniPC Duo MP965-VDR. While complete specs are still a bit light, you can expect much of what we’ve been seeing in Santa Rosa laptops as of late, including Intel’s 965GM chipset, support for the latest Core 2 Duo processors, 802.11n WiFi, and an Intel Turbo Memory cache card to speed things up a bit further. Still no word on pricing or availability, unfortunately, though we wouldn’t expect AOpen to hold out too much longer on that.


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Music in 5.1 DTS surround sound

As readers may know last year I bought a Denon AV receiver and it’s connected to my Xbox 360 via optical cable and matched with Mission speakers . I love watching movies in 5.1 surround sound and also live music concerts are great too. But recently I got the new remastered and 5.1 mixed Genesis box set and listened to A Trick Of the Tail in 5.1 DTS (at 96k) and it sounds fantastic. I have listened to the original version of this album many times but listening to it in 5.1 is amazing. You can hear sounds that you never really noticed before and it’s an truly amazing experience, the Mellotron strings on "Dance on a volcano" sound out of this world.

The Xbox 360 makes a great player too, I am totally in love with the music again!


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The Media Center Show #109 – Jason Alinen

By Ian Dixon (19.7mb 56mins 07sec)

Direct Download Link  – Subscribe via iTunesGet the RSS feed HERE

This week on the show MCE Integration’s Jason Alinen returns to the show to talk about Media Center integration and his companies Ice House Media Center Jukebox. I have an update on the prize packing (including my book "Using Microsoft Windows Vista Media Center"). The show will be taking a break for two weeks while I take a holiday/vacation , so it will be back June 14th

The Media Center Show with Orb Networks

Win this lot!

Show Times:

00:50 Coming up this week
01:20 Email – Update on the Vidabox keyboard given away on show 97
02:03 Email – Does the Media Center Keyboard work with Media Center
03:05 Email – How good is the Palm Treo 750?
04:43 Media Center Keyboard – Missing
05:15 Ricavision Sideshow device
06:38 Media Center components, Hardware forums on The Digital
08:01 New Media Center systems news from CE Pro
08:57 New Media Center PCs from Exceptional Innovation
09:39 Yanza’s free Home Automation Software
10:05 Win my book "Using Microsoft Windows Vista Media Center" and prize pack
10:52 A Message from One Voice
11:59 Welcome back to Jason
14:00 Icehouse Media Center Jukebox
18:43 Touch screens
22:30 HP TouchSmart
25:28 AV Installers
26:54 Extenders
31:33 Home Automation
35:44 Media Center Support
40:00 Using the 10 foot version of Orb
45:31 UMPC as an Extender – see this video
49:00 The Microsoft Digital Home
52:00 Thanks to Jason, back in a couple weeks (June 14th)

Music by Ian Dixon

Technorati tags: Windows Media Center, podcasts

Media Center Components Database

Chris Lanier pointed to a new web site called Media Center Components that aims to create a list of components that play nicely with each other. You can upload a system component list (or manually enter the information) and rate your system this is them stored in a database.

It looks like a good idea, when you are buying a new component like a TV card its good to know what works well with Media Center. In fact I had this exact idea back in January and created a forum for Media Center users to post there hardware experiences and I used this information to help me pick a TV card for Vista.

So I hope the site goes well and don’t forget the database on The Digital



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New Media Center PCs from Niveus, Interset and Exceptional Innovation

Over on CE Pro there are two posts about new Media Center systems coming out.

Niveus are planning to come out with a lower cost Media Center system designed to fill the gap left by left by HP discontinuation of it’s Digital Entertainment Center (see this story from CE Pro), designed for multi dwelling units (apartments and hotels)

Niveus CEO Tim Cutting says that, in the past, the company has not had a down-scale product because, "in our circle (custom installation) we’re not trying to reach everyone like HP." He adds, "but in other markets like MDU (multi-dwelling units such as apartments, condos and hotels), sometimes they really do want to work with one vendor for both their high-end suites and their other units."

The post continues on to say they Interset may be planning a similar solution.

On another post CE Pro reports that Exceptional Innovation are to ship 5 new Media Center PCs, this is their first venture in to the hardware business. They are shipping 5 models called Lifemedia. They are planning five Lifemedia models, starting at $4,500 and including CableCard.

Its great to see a company like Exceptional Innovation coming in to the Media Center market and for more details checkout the post on CE Pro

Exceptional Innovation to Ship 5 Media Center PCs

Niveus, Inteset Plan Entry-Level Media Centers


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