October flew by and we saw a lot of very cool products get annouced. We are excited for November as we are due to get a lot of these in house to review. Stay tuned for the cool new reviews next month. Hope you have enjoyed the start of fall and the beginning of a new holiday device blitz.
Well our friends over at LG have a very cool contest going on right now. You make a short youtube video of why you think "life is good" and you could win up to $30,000 worth of prizes. Unfortunately we are a little late on reporting this as the deadline for submitting a video is November 10th, but you still have time.
Here is a good example of what some people are doing.
The main site can be found here and the youtube page can be found here
Hopefully one of you guys will be lucky enough to win some of these cool prizes. If anyone does decide to make a video we would love to hear about it so drop us a line and share your video.
We are always on the lookout for great deals on anything that can help us with our media streaming. Well as anyone that has spent any time on this site knows, we are storage junkies. We keep buying more and more storage. We have never maxed out our home storage network and we intend to keep it that way. Well as we were looking around we came across some great deals on a Maxtor NAS. This sucker has a lot of great things going for it. It comes with a Gig network hookup, 7200 rpm 320Gb hard drive and two USB ports to allow for expansion whether it be another hard drive or a printer to share with the rest of the computers on your network.
What makes us like this drive even more is that it supports UPnP so it will play nice with all of our media streamers in the house. We love the idea of having a low power device serving up all of our media so we can keep our power hungry PCs off. Even if you don't intend to use it to stream media you can enjoy the fact that this NAS device will add 320Gb of storage to your network in a snap. Just plug it in and you have instantly added a nice backup solution for all of your media. It comes with some one touch software so you can have it backup certain folders at the push of a button. If you don't already have a backup solution this would be a perfect fit.
We have been seeing more and more boom boxes come out as of late that have added the ability to stream music from your home network from anywhere in your house. The WAC2500D acts as a normal boom box with FM tuner, CD player and the like. It even adds the common new addition of having an iPod hookup. Where the WAC2500D sets itself apart from most other players is that it has a USB hookup, an internal 80GB hard drive as well as the ability to stream music from your PC either via a wired connection or wirelessly. With the addition of the USB ports you can keep all your music on external USB drives and never run out of space for your music collection. You can just take the WAC2500D and the drive wherever you go and you have a very nice sounding entertainment center on the go.
The addition of letting people stream music from their home netowrk to WAC2500D really opens things up. Now you don't need to modify that huge collection of digital files you have on your home server. Just stream them to the boom box like you would any other media streamer. We are very excited to see companies allowing us to stream our audio on more and more devices. When we first got into streaming media we had to search out products that could accomplish this for us. These days you can't go a day without finding another product has been released that will allow you to stream some sort of media.
Well enough of our rambling, read on for more specs.
We've been using the Best Buy in-house brand
Rocketfish Wireless Multimedia Bluetooth Keyboard and Laser Mouse over the past few days, and think this is a pretty amazing product. At $99, the Rocketfish™ - Wireless Multimedia Bluetooth Keyboard and Laser Mouse is perfect for using with a large screen TV because of the Bluetooth wireless media functions, and dedicated media player controls on the keyboard and mouse. It's also really solid when paired with our Dell XPS laptop on a stand. What we really like is the fact our laptop didn't have Bluetooth, but now it does - which allows for faxing - wireless headphone use and other neat Bluetooth networking features.
Comes packed in a combo box that includes the Bluetooth dongle,
mouse, and keyboard - all wireless.
Up to 60' wireless range
104 keys and 10 one-touch multimedia keys let you conveniently work, surf the Web, or control digital media
Laser mouse features 4-way scrolling, 4 multimedia keys and ergonomic rubber side supports for quality functionality and comfort
Acts as a Bluetooth hub, so you can transfer digital media to and from your computer or Bluetooth device (Bluetooth adapter included)
Includes USB Bluetooth adapter, CD driver, User manual, 4 AA batteries (2 for keyboard; 2 for mouse)
OK, so we have seen a lot of products over the years that we thought went over the top, but the media streamer from Linn might take the cake. They have released an audio streamer for the low low price of $20,000. That is right, $20,000 for a device to play your digital music. We aren't sure what sector of the audiophilie crowd this is appealing to, but we can only assume that someone out there is going to buy it. We have reviewed other high end streamers like the transporter in the past, but those we could actually see people buying. It offers very good quality for the price. We aren't sure what kind of components could possibly be inside the Klimax that pushes the cost up so high, but the only thing we can think of is that everything is made out of solid gold.
Linn makes great products in general, but on this one we think they went a little nuts. There is no way that any media streamer is worth this much money. Anyone that is buying this has no concept of money.
Sansa is set to release a very cool new product that seems so simple yet we wonder why we haven't seen something like this before. It is basically a USB memory stick that you load with videos from your PC, plug into a dock that hooks up to your TV and then with the supplied remote you can watch those videos on your TV. It sounds simple, but no one until now has come out with anything to do this as simply as this.
What we like about the TakeTVTM is that it doesn't mess around with encoders or decoders, it just streams the data to its base station which then just passes the infomation on to the TV. Having to deal with encoding and/or decoding really taxes these small devices and it usually is a bottleneck in performance as well as a big bump in price.
The TakeTVTM will let you display your videos on your TV with a resolution of 720x526 so we aren't talking HD, but it is still very nice for such a small and conveinent device. It will let you view files that are encoded with
And choose either 16:9 or 4:3. Now this is a Windows only device so no Linux or Mac support expected. There is no release date or pricing yet but we can't imagine this will be too expensive based on what we have read. Also no word on capacity, but you can expect it to come in a few different version from say 4GB to 8GB. We will be sure to update you when we find out how much and when.
We had brought you news of an earlier product from Olive awhile back called the Opus Nº3 and we were very impressed by what we saw. A high end digital media player that catered to the audiophiles. It had a lot of very high end internals like a 24-bit/192 kHz Dac by Burr-Brown to deliver a rich sound from your digital media among others. Well they have a new product out now, the OPUS Nº5
As with all of their products these devices have a CD tray so that you can rip your music directly onto the internal hard drive. The new Nº5 comes in two models with either a 500GB or 700GB internal drive. Using either a wired or wireless connection you can stream music from your PC as well. Add to that the USB ports allowing you to hook up external drives and you now have a self contained music jukebox that has no limit on storage.
When you insert a CD into the Nº5 and choose to rip it the system will automatically gather all the necessary information and tag it appropriately. This really takes the hassle out of doing that yourself. One thing we wonder though is how they prevent mistakes. The online databases always seem to have multiple entries for a lot of the CDs we rip so we aren't sure how this unit picks the 'correct' one, but i guess the internal database they use must have gone through a heavy amount of testing and tweaking. We haven't heard any major complaints about this aspect so we can only assume that it is working well.
The major drawback of these devices is the price. The Nº5 lists for $3500. That is a lot of money to expect someone to plunk down for what they could probably get for a lot cheaper. Just look at the Transporter from Slimdevices, that retails for $2000 and from what can tell matches up very nicely with this unit minus the CD tray. We haven't seen anything in the Nº5 to separate it from the rest of the high end streamers on the market so we can't say this is a must buy, but if you are in the market for a device with all of these features, with the high end components, with the internal storage and auto CD ripper, than it could be worth a shot. Olive constantly gets great reviews on their products and this one is no different, we just wish the price wasn't so high.
We are constantly on the look out for the coolest devices to stream media around the house. They are typically proprietary devices from the likes of MvixUSA or Apple or Netgear and they are closed systems. Well as much as we like these systems( and own a few ) our hearts are with the open systems. Devices that use software that can be modified by the user, have additions developed for it and basically be totally customizable. We have reviewed MythTV in the past and as much as we love it it usually tends to be a complete pain in the ass to setup. Other companies have released pre-configured MythTV boxes, but nothing like this.
Well the good people over at Fiire have released what could be our dream media streaming device. They have taken Linux MCE( basically a souped up version MythTV ) and put it into a very quiet and attractive case to make a great media streaming system for even the most discerning of media geeks. One of the biggest issues to consider when putting a media streaming computer in your entertainment center is noise. We won't go into all the features of Linux MCE, just check out their site here and a good video of the system in operation here, but needless to say it is cooler then you could imagine. The fact that someone has bundled this all together in a pretty sweet package brings a large smile to our face. They have a bunch of offerings from the main beefy server you could keep in the basement while you use one of their smaller offerings to be the client that you keep in the media cabinet. They even have a product that attaches right to the back of your LCD TV so there are no cable lying around and no ugly devices sitting around.
These products don't come cheap, but they do offer you something that very few products do, the ability to configure the software completely. If you were so inclined you could modify the code yourself since this is all open source stuff. Another great thing about this is since it is based on MythTV you can separate the functions of your setup so you could use that beefy server you put in the basement to do all the heavy lifting like encoding and decoding while that nice and quiet system you put next to your TV just takes care of the streaming the media up.
We see these boxes for geeks that have some extra cash, really enjoy the complete package that Linux MCE offers and don't mind doing some tinkering from time to time. We will come back with another review about performance and usability after we have done more research and/or get a system in house so stay tuned.
Sony is set to release a rather unique product dubbed the HDMS-S1D( great name we know ). This puppy is a self contained digital photo archiver. There is an internal 80GB hard drive that can store roughly 50,000 images. You can import your photos various ways whether it be by flash drive, USB or Ethernet. It will hook up to your TV via HDMI, Component, S-Video, or Composite. With this output ability anyone can hook this up and start enjoying their digital photo library on their TV. Full specs aren't out so we aren't sure if the Ethernet port will allow you to house your photos somewhere else and stream them or just be able to copy over your network to the device. Either way this looks to be a really slick device. You can use either:
to load photos so this should jive with just about everyones style. It also looks like you could plug your camera directly into the device via a mini-USB port and push pictures to the hard drive.
Along with just the basics of being a place to hold all of your photos it also offers some minimal editing, you can also rotate, delete and group photos. This should be available sometime this month for $400. We are going to try and get our hands on one and let you know how it works. Sony has released some questionable products in the media streaming world, we are curious where this ranks.
Well we just got the D-Link DSM-320 media player in house and we are looking forward to putting it throught its paces. This is one of the first major players that D-Link came out with to compete in the digital media streaming department. D-Link has really made a push in the recent years to establish themselves as one of the major players in the this space. They have continually released newer and better products of the years and they are slowly cementing their name along side Apple, Sony and Netgear as the major providers of quality streaming products.
We have just begun our testing, but so far it looks like something that is right up our alley. Setup was a snap and the fact that it works with so many media servers like TwonkyMedia and TVersity really makes us happy. We love that device manufactures allow their products to be open to other media servers and don't force you to use theirs. There is no worse feeling for a techie then to purchase what seems to be a perfect product only to realize that the people that developed the software were morons. The fact that D-Link gives you the option to use their streaming software or any of the other popular ones gets two thumbs up from us.
We are in the process of testing it out and we expect to have more info for you guys soon. Stay tuned for our in depth review.
We here at Networking Audio Video love a good rumor and/or a promise of the next great new device. Well as were were doing our daily scouring of the net looking for great information to bring you we came across something that peaked our interest. In a couple of days( October 15, 2007 ) Popcorn Hour will launch what could be our newest favorite product. They are rumored to be releasing a product that hits all of the features we here at Networking Audio Video dream of.
There isn't much info now since the site doesn't go live for another 2 days, but what we do know is very interesting. Supposedly, we are looking at a media center streamer that acts not only as a NAS server, not only as a BitTorrent server, but also a device that can stream in HD. As anyone that has read our blog for any length of time knows is that we love a solution that allows us to download and share media without having to keep our main power hungry PC on all the time. One of the main advantages of having a device like this take the BitTorrent downloading and NAS storage away from your main computer is that this is a low power device. You can leave this on over night and not see a huge spike on your electric bill.
So it looks like with the limited amount of information that is available that you can expect to stream content at 1080p resolution which isn't that common among media streamers.
We aren't sure what to actually expect, but all will hopefully be revealed in a few days and then we can update you on what could possibly be our dream NAS/Streaming device.
We have played with the Orb media streaming server for awhile now and it looks like we might just finally get it. When we were first playing with this free software we were intrigued for sure, but we didn't really see the major benefit to it. We have tons of devices that stream all kinds of media around our house, what does this software do that makes me want to play with it?
Well one thing it does really well is it opens up your entire media library to you anywhere you are with a net connection. After you install the software on your PC and you allow it access through your firewall you tell it where are all your media lives. It then starts indexing everything and adding it to your private Orb web page. You then just need to log into your Orb page to be able to have access to all of your favorite media.
Now you can make a playlist out of your entire collection of music at home or create a slideshow of pictures you recently took, or better yet, watch that TV show that you recorded and didn't have a chance to watch before you left the house.
Continue reading:"Review of the Orb Media Streaming Server Software"
Well we have had the Hava Wireless HD by Monsoon Multimedia in house for a few months now and we have been won over. As we mentioned before we have never really seen why so many people love these placeshifting devices. Well after a few months with the Hava Wireless HD we really can't imagine a world where we don't have the ability to watch our TV anywhere. The ability to provide access to your Tivo anywhere you are still seems amazing to us and the fact that these placeshifting devices exist and work as well as they do is really impressive. Even with the slow networks in this country the quality of the picture that is streamed is very high quality.
One of our favorite audio streamers, the Sonos Music System is about to get a nice update in the form of a network extender. One of the complaints people have had with the system is that if you are spreading it out over a decent distance you need to buy the expensive wireless receiver to accomplish it, even if you don't need a music player at that location .
Well the good people at Sonos have listened and are releasing the ZoneBridge to allow for extended network range without having to fork over big bucks for a device that you only need part of. So one good use is to hook it up to your router which may be in the basement and far from where you want audio. Then in the room with your stereo you can hook up a proper ZP80 or ZP100 to connect up to the ZoneBridge and actually stream the music.
We think this is an excellent move on the part of Sonos and we would expect going into the holiday buying season this will turn more and more people onto the wonderful world that is Sonos.
OK so we know there are a lot of people out there that still have huge collections of LPs and savor the times they listen to them. Having an old school sound system is almost a religion to some people. Sure the sound quality from some of these LPs is richer and fuller then what you will find in a digital media like the CD, but there are so many difficulties in keeping and using a large collection of them. First off storage, where the hell are you going to store 100s of LPs so that they don't take over your house. Sure this isn't the biggest concern since anyone that is that passionate about their music has probably already covered this, but it is still something you have to deal with. The main problem will this is portability. Say you have a great Miles Davis record that you want your friend to hear. Well you now need to get the LP to their house and if they don't have a record player then you need to bring yours. Sounds fun right?!
Well that is where the FALTIMA 010 comes into play. This handy device will allow you to transfer all of your LPs to a digital format whether it be an actual CD or hard drive or USB stick. The beauty of this is that you can keep your impressive collection of records, but now be able to enjoy them( albeit at a lower quality ) anywhere you want. So this gives you the best of both worlds.
Unfortunately this is only available in Japan currently, but one never knows, this may make it West one day if it turns out as very popular purchase.
So NEC is upping the ante in the video streaming world with their newly demonstrated HDTV streamer. NEC is really pushing the limits of the what can be done with these recorders. The one they showed off at CEATEC was able to record two HDTV signals while streaming two other signals around the house. Add to that Slingbox like features and you have one very powerful machine.
We have been seeing the evolution of technology to deal with the vast amount of processing power needed to deal with the HDTV signals. The fact that this box can record two streams while still having horsepower left over to decode and stream out two other streams is very impressive. We aren't sure what they are packing under the hood on this one, but you can bet it is a couple of very beefy CPUs.
No word on price yet, but we would assume that they would be fairly pricey. Considering the amount of hardware that will be needed to go into this box keeping the price point where mere mortals can afford it is going to be very difficult. This is slated for release next year so we will keep our eye on this and see what comes of it. Stay tuned.
In the past we had seen devices that allowed you to stream music from your computer to your stereo without having to worry about formats because it just forwarded on the data and didn't have to deal with decoding anything. Well now Addlogix has come out with a product that does the same thing for video.
The InternetVue 2020 hooks up to your TV and can connect to your computer network wirelessly. Without having to worry about codecs you can open up your entire library to your TV. With component hook-ups you can get a very high quality picture. Of course since this connects over 802.11b/g you can't expect to get HD content, but it should still be near DVD quality.
They are on sale now for only $250 which if you think about isn't that bad. You can basically use your computer as your main media center and be able to pump your video across to your TV. We can think of a lot of fun ways this can be used and added to our setup. If we end up getting one in house we will report back and let you know what we think.
We have been reporting a lot lately about the Xbox and PS3's media streaming abilities, but we have basically left the Wii out in the cold in our reviews. Well it looks like the Wii just got some more loving in the media streaming department. X-OOM has software that will aid in getting your media content streamed via the Wii.
X-OOM's software supports streaming the following formats:
Granted you have to buy this software, but for close to $60 it isn't that bad a deal. If you didn't already have a streaming solution and you owned a Wii then you could be saving yourself a bunch of money not having to buy a new device.
We aren't sure how it will work and how good the Wii will be as a streamer, but it is good to know that people are thinking of ways to utilize this cool little piece of technology to bring the digital connected home to more people. If anyone buys this and tried it out we would love to hear from you. Post in the comments your experience.
Hot off the heals of the big news of being acquired by EchoStar, Sling Media has released the Slingbox SOLO, a mid-level offering that is geared toward people that only care about viewing one input. The Slingbox PRO is their higher end model while the Slingbox AV is their base unit.
We have completely seen the light when it comes to placeshifting TV as of late and if you were ever curious about trying this out the SOLO might be perfect. One thing we love is the ability to be upstairs in the office while watching our TV that is downstairs. If you had asked us 4 months ago if we would recommend one of these to people we would have been luke warm. Now after having played with it for awhile we can't talk about it enough.
The other great thing about these products is if you happen to travel a lot and would like access to your stored shows on your Tivo. With the Slingbox and some fiddling with your home network you can do it. For $180 it isn't a bad deal at all and we think you will wonder why you didn't jump on this bandwagon earlier.