It appears that SageTV somewhat quietly released a new version of their HD extenders called the HD Theater. The specifications and features are a little bit vague at this point, despite the ability to purchase this product on-line…right now.
The old SageTV HD Extenders (HD100) required a SageTV server on the back-end, or they would not function. My guess is that this device is their answer to other stand-alone set-top-boxes (STBs) that do not require server hardware. It appears that this device will work without a back-end server to handle much of the functionality (your own pictures, videos, music, DVDs, on-line content, etc). However, if you want DVR functionality, THAT will require the SageTV back-end server.
If I’m right on this, it certainly opens up the doors for SageTV and their market. No more will users need to be savvy enough to set up a computer in their garage in order to get some of the nice features SageTV offers. As well, it opens up the likely possiblity that SageTV will be soon supporting the likes of Netflix Watch Now, maybe other sites such as the increasingly popular Hulu, etc. My question is, will my HD100 get this new functionality as well, or will I be forced to upgrade? Hmmm…
I have to question their marketing, however. Despite the cool features, there’s really nothing that would draw a new customer to purchase. Their “screenshot” is flat out basic and not very attractive, so it doesn’t appear they’ve made any improvements on this somewhat sore spot for their product (it’s still “Interface 1.0”). There are plenty of other products out there (XBMC, Boxee, AppleTV, Media Portal, etc.) that don’t do what SageTV does nearly as well…but they DO look nice and draw people from a marketing perspective with their “Interface 2.0” designs. I hope SageTV spends some serious time on this in the future…not just with their product, but with their website.
Despite this, I’m still a huge (HUGE) SageTV fan and hope this product does well for them (and maybe me if I figure out enough about it to decide if it’s worthy of upgrading to).
This is a screenshot provided via the SageTV website, credit SageTV.
For more information on SageTV, visit their website or read one of my previous articles on the topic.