March 31, 2008
March 2008 Monthly Round Up for Networking Audio Video
Here we are once again, at the end of another month and looking back on what we covered. We got a couple very cool new devices
in house to test out which has kept us very busy over the past month. We have a bunch more devices scheduled to be showing up next month so we are up to our necks in hands on reviews. April should be a good month for us, besides some new products coming in for review we have a couple fun ideas for our avid readers like some product giveaways and whatnot.
Hopefully everyone is excited for Spring coming and for more new media streaming devices being released onto the world. Make sure to check back as we'll be having some cool new reviews this month. On deck is in depth coverage of our experience with the Mvix 780HD as well as the D-Link DSM-330 DivX streamer plus a special surprise review so stay tuned.
Continue reading: "March 2008 Monthly Round Up for Networking Audio Video"
March 30, 2008
D-Link DSM-750 Finally Shipping
Well after a lot of waiting the DSM-750
is finally shipping. This was announced awhile ago
and those of you waiting for the latest media center extender can finally have your wish and own the newest extender on the market. The 750 sports the fancy new 802.11N wireless protocol so streaming hi-def content won't be a problem. We did read though that you can only expect to get 1080i via the HDMI cables so that is a bummer. The 750 can be used in one of two ways. Either acting as an extender for your Windows Media Center or as a standalone D-Link MediaLounge player. They have reduced the price down to $329.99 from $349.99 that they originally announced. It supports the usually bevy of media formats
and should cover just about everything you could want( sorry, no FLAC ).
If you are in the market for a media extender to add to your new fancy Media Center PC then this might be a great addition. Covers the basics and adds ultra fast wireless N speeds. There are a lot of cool things you can do with these media extenders and we have definitely seen an upsurge in the amount that are getting produced. If anyone has been using one of these we would love to hear from you. Everyone has different needs and tastes and we want to hear what you think about media extenders in general.
Grab one from Amazon
March 28, 2008
Hauppauge Jumping on the DivX Connected Platform Bandwagon
Hauppauge, one of the biggest players in TV capture cards and all things video, has an agreement with the people over at DivX, Inc
to create a new device based on the DivX Connected Platform. Currently only the D-Link DSM-330
has the Connected Platform installed so this is a very good sign for the future of the Connected Platform. We love what the guys at DivX have created and we are excited to see this getting added to another device. The DivX Connected Platform was designed so that people could extend it by writing plug-ins for it, thus keeping it constantly fresh and new. There is a very vibrant user community
already in place creating great content to add to the Connected Platform. In our testing with the DSM-330
we have been very impressed with just how well thought out the whole system is. We have reviewed more devices then we can count and this is one of the few that had us saying wow on a regular basis.
We are interested in seeing what video veterans like Hauppauge can do with this. There is no info on when this device will see the light of day, but since the announcement just came out we would assume it will be a while, maybe CES 2009. For now the DSM-330 is the only place you will be able to find the DivX Connected Platform running in a device. If you want to play around with it you can download a standalone client/server setup here
March 27, 2008
Tekkeon NavDock: TV Integration for your iPod
from Tekkeon is an iPod extender that allows you to use the supplied remote control to view the contents of your iPod on your TV. They have re-skinned the OS so it works with their remote and looks OK on a TV. You can listen to your music and watch your videos off of your iPod all from the comfort of your couch. These types of systems are great for people that carry around their entire media library on their iPod. This way you get home, plunk it down in the dock, and you can now access all of your media via your TV. The only real problem we can find with this is that it doesn't upscale your content so you will have to deal with watching your videos in the same crappy resolution you used to jam them onto the iPod. If it upscaled then we would be talking about a killer iPod accessory that everyone should own.
March 26, 2008
Creative's New X-Fi X30 iPod Dock Coming Soon
Creative is getting ready to launch a new X-Fi
device next month for all of you iPod owners out there. We had reviewed a few of their other products in the past, here
, and they always seemed like very cool products. Creative is a great company and they usually produce quality products. The X30 should be no different as it will allow you to hook up your iPod to your stereo system as well as letting you watch your videos on your TV. According to the review we read on Engadget
there will be no wireless media streaming options with the X30 as you will be limited to only pushing audio and video to the TV/Stereo that you are directly connected to. The video will be transmitted over S-Video which might actually look halfway decent considering the original quality of the video you will be dealing with. Videos on the iPod are already very compressed so using high end HDMI or Component will not really gain you much. S-Video should be all you need. We aren't exactly sure what is used to stream the audio, but we would guess it would be either optical or RCA. Both would be good options of this device. This is set to release in Europe next month and so far no mention of a US release date. As always we will keep our ear to the ground and let you know if we hear anything.
March 25, 2008
25 Million Home Theater PCs Installed Worldwide by 2013
We came across a great article over at ehomeupgrade
referencing a study saying that by 2013 there will be 25 million home theater PC's installed worldwide. At first we thought this number seemed pretty low until we realized they were talking about only PC's and not streaming devices. There has definitely been a lot of products that we have seen that are mini-PCs that are used primarily for media streaming: the Fiire
is one that comes to mind. With advances in CPUs using less power and generating less heat we can easily see PCs moving more and more into the entertainment center. The biggest problem having a PC in your entertainment center is the noise from the fan used to cool the PC and the noise of the hard drive spinning. We have a couple of devices in our cabinet that have hard drives and you can really hear them. With the progress that is being made in solid state disks we should see the next couple of years produce a bunch of new devices that are ultra quiet.
One benefit of having full fledged PCs as your main media streamer will be the functionality. Most of the current generation of media streamers are very low powered devices usually running a low powered Sigma chip. If the noise and power levels of embedded PCs can come down to a reasonable level then we could see some amazing devices entering our living room soon. One of the limiting factors on most of the devices we test out is they don't have the raw horsepower to really knock your socks off. Take for instance the Mvix 760HD that we are so fond of. It is using an older Sigma chip and can't do H.264 for instance. So we can only imagine that there are some great things in store for all of us in the coming years. The media streaming market is just starting to take hold. 2008 is going to be the watershed year for these devices and by 2010 they should be as common place as DVD players( call us crazy, but we are always the eternal optimists ).
March 24, 2008
Myka Media Streamer Adds BitTorrent to the Mix
There has been a flood of new streamers from companies we have never heard of lately and we have mixed feelings. On the one hand it is great that so many people are jumping into the media streaming world. The more competition in the space the better. On the other hand, for every great product that is released there are ten others that are pretty crappy and it can be hard for someone thinking of buying their first media streamer to know what is the right device to get. Now that we got that off of our chest we can talk about this new product we just came across: the Myka
media streamer. This guy has the form factor of a Mac Mini
and the specs of a pretty bad ass little streamer. The main draw of the Myka is the fact that it has BitTorrent built right into the device. This isn't being billed as an extra, but rather the main reason to own the Myka. This box seems to ditch the traditional idea of a media streamer and put all of its eggs in the BitTorrent basket.
Looking over their site the seem to have some grand plans for this device. They say that they are in talks with a bunch of major studios and television networks so that you can use the Mkya as your one stop destination to download all of your favorite movies and shows. They are going directly up against AppleTV and they admit it. They are touting that the fact that they are open will allow them to make a better streamer and ultimately a better experience for the viewer. While we love the idea of companies opening up their devices so that we can all tinker with them we can't see any studio signing on unless they have strict assurances that their content won't just be pirated off the box. The reason studios sign up with Apple is because they have a decent security system set up so that it is very difficult for people to take the content out of iTunes and share it with everyone.
This is set to release this Summer so you can bet that we will be all over it when it comes out. If we here anymore info about this we'll update you. Check out after the jump for different connection options and supported formats.
Continue reading: "Myka Media Streamer Adds BitTorrent to the Mix"
March 21, 2008
AirLive AirMedia 3000 Internet Video Streamer
So here is an interesting device. The AirLive
AirMedia 3000 is a device that will allow you to view all kinds of Internet videos on your TV. They have figured out a way to ditch the interface that hampers so many of these devices that just scrape the video from the web and are able to play the raw flash movies sans interface. To be honest we don't see the appeal of this. The guys over at Engadget hit the nail on the head with this choice quote: "chalk it up as one of the easier ways to watch dogs ride skateboards on your TV". Currently there is very little quality content on the web that you would want to stream, but if you are into browsing YouTube videos incessantly then you may be interested in checking this guy out.
We reviewed a media streaming hard drive from these guys awhile back; you can check it out here
March 20, 2008
D-Link's DPG-1200 PC on TV Media Player
soon to be released DPG-1200
takes an interesting approach to media streaming. Instead of building a device that has the ability to play all the different formats and having to deal with the development of such a complex device, they have opted for the pass the buck approach. They claim that you will be able to stream anything that you can see on your PC. There are no images of the interface so we aren't sure how this exactly works. For connection options they offer standard Ethernet or 802.11g( with WPA/WPA2 support ). There is no HDMI option sadly, but they do offer Component and Composite for the video connection. It ships with a very cool remote that has a trackball on it so you can control your PC with the remote. This would seem like just screen sharing to us and we aren't sure how this would look or work, but it they do it right it could be very cool. One of our biggest complaints about photo streamers has always been the poor implementations that most of them have. If you can just use your PC's resources on the TV you can have access to a bunch of software that can handle photos in a much more elegant way.
This is not yet available, but we would be very interested in seeing how it works. If the price is right this could be a great option for people wanting to watch Internet videos or look at photos from their latest trip on their big TV. As always we'll try to find out more and keep you posted.
March 19, 2008
Inteset Vana VA6420-Si Media Extender Says Bye to HD DVD
Now that the format war is over, Inteset
is releasing a new media extender
that comes only with Blu-ray and ditching its old idea of a having both formats on the box. This is basically a PC that comes includes a remote and keyboard and acts as the hub for your entertainment center. It comes with a beefy 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo processor and a whopping 2GB of RAM. Those specs are a lot better then most peoples home computer. This will be able to grab your content from just about anywhere on your network and stream it to your TV over either DVI or HDMI. There is also room for a CableCARD if you need it. They don't list a price, but we have to agree with the people over at engadgetHD
that this is going to be pricey. They will be offering a smaller version of this that we would hope is cheaper. They are located a few towns away from us so we will see if we can get some more information out of them as their press release is kinda light on the fine details. Stay tuned.
Press release here
March 18, 2008
ezSpace UFO - Truly Space Out your Adaptors
Given the amount of streaming audio and video devices we have packed into our media cabinet, it's nice to see a new type of surge protector that accomodates all of our adaptors. A surge protector called the UFO - Uniquely Formed Outlets (looks like a flying saucer with a cool blue middle from ezGear) solves the problem of fitting multiple adapters for all of our media gear into one space. It can accommodate 4-6 plugs of any size without blocking, avoids bulky adapter boxes from protruding, and the adapters do not interfere with each other or overlap the outlets themselves.
We think this is also a perfect surge protector for a mixture of an Apple AirPort Express, power adaptors, and regular plug in devices. This makes a device like the AirBase Desktop Stand for AirPort Express a bit pointless.
At UFO Easy Gear and ezSpace UFO 6-Outlet Surge Protector
March 17, 2008
AudioEngine AW1 USB Streaming Media Solution
has released a pretty cool little hardware setup that we thought you might be interested in. The AW1 comes with two modules, one to connect to your PC the other connects to your stereo. With no software to install the AW1 removes all of the hassle of having to deal with getting wireless streaming setup in your home. They use their own proprietary connection technology so it would seem that they are able to find each other rather easily. The site is a little slim on details on how this all actually works, but it seems that you plug one dongle into your computer and then plug your audio out into that dongle. The second dongle plugs into battery pack/wall plug and then using the supplied RCA cables you plug it into your stereo. This would seem like a nice way to make audio streaming in the house about as simple as possible.
They claim to be able to work 100 feet apart and offer "CD-quality HD stereo sound with no reduction in audio quality". And because this is just passing the audio out to your stereo you don't have to worry about which audio formats it supports, it will do them all. This will work with your PC or your Mac and they are selling for $150 at their website
March 15, 2008
TVMini HD Express Lets You Enjoy Your TV on Your Mac
The TVMini HD Express
is a cool little product that we just stumbled upon. This little device hooks up to your cable feed and will let you enjoy TV via your Mac. With all the features you have come to expect from a PVR like pause, rewind and record, the TVMini seems like a sweet little product for the Mac readers out there. With the built in record function you can record all of your favorite shows to your mac to watch whenever you have time. Devices like these are becoming more common as companies realize that people want to be able to take their TV on the road with them. The TVMini will save in a format that will let you play it back via iTunes so you will not need to install any other software other then the basic Tube software that it ships with. With its small size we can see this become a very popular device for people that use their Mac as their primary TV interface. My brother-in-law( hi Clint ) has a similar setup where he has a LCD mounted on the wall hooked up to his Mac Mini. He then watches all of his TV via iTunes. So a device like this would be perfect for his setup since it would allow him to schedule recordings and not have to buy everything from iTunes. It seems like it is only available in the UK, but we will keep digging.
March 14, 2008
Ziovia C615 HD Network Media Streamer Is Coming
In going over some saved articles we had lying around we found a gem that the good people over at Gizmodo
had reported on a few months back. The C615 is the newest creation out of the Ziovia labs and from the Gizmodo report it looks like it keeps up with the high standards that their previous products had set. We had reported on the CS505 awhile back
and where extremely impressed with what we saw. The new C615 takes their products to the next level with a new design and a new approach. In the past most of their products included a DVD drive so you could not only use it as your media streamer, but also as your everyday DVD player. Well the new 615 moves away from that and becomes more of a true streamer by ditching its DVD player and relying completely on network content.
Continue reading: "Ziovia C615 HD Network Media Streamer Is Coming"
March 13, 2008
March 12, 2008
Brando Wireless Keyboard with Built-In Touch Pad
Currently we use our Macbook Pro to control our Mac Mini on our 40" Sony LCD TV. It's a pretty good solution, but you don't always want to flip open the Macbook Pro to play a movie each time, or browse the web. Finally there's a solution (though we're not sure if it's Mac compatible - the Brando Wireless Keyboard with Built-In Touch Pad. The Wireless USB Keyboard with Touch Pad leaves comes fully equipped with 11 hot keys, including buttons for quick access to your browser, email, as well as a plethora of built-in media controls. To save on battery power, you can also set it up to function via USB when your within PC-reaching or on a USB adaptor. All of this is only going to set you back $57, and the bummer for us is so far it only works with Windows XP and Vista.
Via Gizmodo at Brando Wireless Keyboard with Built-In Touch Pad
March 11, 2008
Sling Media Slingbox Solo Arrives for Review
We've just received the Sling Media Slingbox SOLO
to review. Why are we excited? How about SD and HD all in one little box, with a new improved user interface and setup over the older Slingbox we've reviewed. We can tell you right now, besides a few issues setting up the ports on our network to watch TV remotely, the Slingbox Solo has been really easy to set up. We have it currently hooked up to our monster 500gig TIVO Series 1 (yes - Series 1), and find ourselves remote scheduling a ton of things because we can now access the device with the TV off. Very cool. We'll have a full review soon.
At Sling Media Slingbox SOLO
March 6, 2008
Logitech Squeezebox Duet Reviewed by CNET
We had reported
that the Squeezebox Duet
was finally available for sale and we have been looking around for a hands on review. Well C|Net labs
played with a Duet for a while and they came away with exactly the feeling we thought they would: It rocks. Slim Devices
has constantly produced top notch music streamers and we had no doubt that they would hit a home run with the Duet. The review over at C|Net is very detailed and very thorough. They come away with the conclusion that while the Duet is very similar to the Sonos
the fact that it costs so much less and basically has the same functionality it comes out ahead. We are working on getting a review unit in the office so we can compare it with the Sonos that we tested out as well as see how much of a leap this is from the old Squeezebox we have here. We'll let you know if we end up getting our hands on one of these.
March 4, 2008
Video Download Battle Royal: Xbox 360 vs Vudu vs AppleTV
We here at Networking Audio Video have always been about finding the best way to stream media around your house. We love the idea that you can load all of your Videos, Pictures and Music onto a server and play them anywhere in your house. While we always will love the idea of owning content we can't help but see the writing on the wall and realize that renting content or subscribing to content on the web is probably going to be the next step for many people. Devices like the Vudu
haven't really interested us much since they only allow you to view/buy content that they have on their servers. Well we realize that we may have to get with the times and accept that content in the cloud is probably going to be the media streaming choice of the future.
The god people over at gizmodo have done a nice round up of 3 of the best known devices that allow you to rent/buy content from the web: the Xbox 360
, the Vudu and the AppleTV
. They end up leaning towards the Vudu
as the overall winner, but they had a lot of good points as to why the Xbox 360 and AppleTV
should be considered right up there with them. They did a fairly thorough review of the three units and we think it seems like a great resource for anyone trying to figure out which device is best suited for them. You can check out their review here
We would love to hear any of your feedback or comments on their findings. We haven't had first hand experience with the Vudu yet so we don't know what that service is like. Anyone want to give us their impressions?
March 3, 2008
ISTAR Mini: Another Media Player Using the Networked Media Tank Software
After just reviewing the new Popcorn Hour product
we came across this other device that uses the same middleware stack: the ISTAR Mini Networked Media Tank Player
. A company called syabas
writes the middleware and sells it to device manufacturers to install in their device. This is a pretty standard deal these days as more and more of these products that we come across use 3rd party middleware.
The ISTAR( their caps not mine ) has a better looking case in my opinion then the Popcorn Hour
. It is sporting a different connection scheme on the back then the Popcorn Hour though. The ISTAR has an HDMI port along with VGA and composite while the Popcorn Hour has HDMI, composite, component and S-Video. Another difference between the two devices is that unlike the Popcorn Hour this can use a SATA drive for its internal HD. But I have to say that after looking at their site it just reeks of something that was slapped together to get a product out the door. The site sports all the buzzwords that is so common with media streamers today. With the Popcorn Hour you get the sense that while they did use another companies middleware to power their device they really want to create a great product for their customers. We could be totally off base here and the ISTAR could be a great device, but since we had never head of it before and there is no real 'meat' on the site letting us know anything special about the device we figure it is just a slap together.
If anyone owns one of these, knows someone who owns one or even works at the company making these wants to correct us we are all ears. We would love to be wrong and welcome another top notch media streamer to the party, but our guess is that this guy won't be invited.