SageTV HD Theater can record Hulu too

December 24, 2008 at 8:49 pm Leave a comment

SageTV recently released the fabulous HD Theater (A.K.A., the HD200).  This device can replace a dedicated PC when it comes to playing back video content from a SageTV server.  The surprise feature in the HD200 was that it can run as a standalone media player.  Using the remote that comes with it, you can navigate shares on your local network to watch your content from the comfort of your couch.  Included in this was the ability to connect to UPNP servers to play that media also.  There are a few of these you can get for free, and some appliances come with them (like the ReadyNAS NV+).  Basically, UPNP is a dead-simple way to share your media.

A $30 Windows program called PlayOn extends the UPNP concept even further.  It runs a UPNP server, but rather than serve your content, it serves content from Hulu, Netflicks, and other streaming content providers.  It actually transcodes the content on the fly from the proprietary format of Hulu, etc. to a format that your media player can handle (like MPEG), all in real-time.

Back when I first got my HD200 appliance, I explored PlayOn through the HD200’s UPNP browser.  I found that it includes an unusual feature “Copy to Library”.  I tried it out, and it prompted me for a network location to save the file.  Intrigued, I gave it a place to save it, and waited.  I’ve not actually timed it, but it seems to be converting it in real time, writing the file (along with the Hulu embedded commercials) as the seconds tick by.  When it was done, I hurriedly navigated to the location via the HD200, excitedly selected it, then found that it could not play the resulting file.

I wasn’t too upset about it, so I sort of forgot about it for a while, but my thoughts recently came back to it.  I wondered if perhaps the resulting file was not 100% mpeg, but close enough that a tool could automagically fix it for me.  So, I went through the process again, today.  Once it was done saving the file off, I opened it with MPEG Streamclip.

And there it was.  In the MPEG Streamclip window.  I hit play, and it played.  I jumped around to various scenes, seeing commercials mixed in with them, and the whole episode was there.  Next, I hit File -> Convert to MPEG and gave it a new location to save the resulting file.  After a few minutes of processing, it was done.  SageTV could now read it, skipping ahead and back just like any other file.

Now, admittedly this process is a bit much to go through for every file that you want to see.  But, if it can be done this way, we’re surely only a hop, skip, and a jump from someone automating the process (using a different tool other than an HD200 to save the file off).

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Entry filed under: General, Mac.

SageTV HD200 and PlayOn SageTV HD200 with Playon – Improvements…?

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