August 29, 2008

Review: Definitive Technology Mythos SSA-50 Speaker System

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We've said it before but there's nothing sexier than a speaker bar for your flat screen speaker system. Given our love for that type of speaker setup, we're pretty interested in this review of the Definitive Technology Mythos SSA-50 Speaker System from Home Theater Mag. The review is pretty positive and wraps up:

At first it might seem sacrilegious or, at the very least, silly to listen to two-channel music through a single-cabinet speaker system designed to trick you into believing there are speakers all over the room. But it turns out that the Mythos SSA-50 is exceptional at reproducing music as well as movie soundtracks. I listened to several cuts by Anonymous 4, a female a cappella group that performs primarily medieval music. The distinct placement and layering of voices was quite amazing for a set of speakers packed together in such a small cabinet. Another impressive trick is how well the Mythos SSA-50 created a soundstage that was wider than I expected, considering how relatively close the left- and right-channel drivers are to each other.

Is the Mythos SSA-50 (and its partner in crime, the ProSub 800) the death knell for high-performance multi-speaker discrete home theater systems? Hardly. The technology still hasn't been developed that can totally fool you into believing there are honest-to-goodness speakers producing sound behind you in your room. On the other hand, this is by far the best-sounding single-cabinet system I've heard to date, not only when it comes to watching action-packed Hollywood multichannel blockbusters, but also with more intimate two-channel music. If I can't have the real deal, I'll take this deal anytime.

The Definitive Technology Mythos SSA-50 Speaker System is a touch pricey at just under $1500 with the subwoofer but it sounds like might be worth it.

At HomeTheaterMag.com

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August 28, 2008

ReQuest Unveils Intelligent Media Client

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ReQuest announced today that ReQuest iQ and F-Series media servers owners can now purchase a network add-on that brings local DVD, video, and music playback and archiving to multiroom systems, According to the press release:

The ReQuest Intelligent Media Client includes a slot-loading DVD drive to deliver local playback of DVDs, as well as the ability to archive movies to the host system's iQ or F-Series media server. Once archived, music, movies, and videos become part of the server's library, available for search, instant recall, and enjoyment in any room of the house via ReQuest's powerful yet simple graphical user interface (GUI). Movie playback, whether local or archived, is upscaled to 1080p by the IMC for near-HD image quality via its HDMI and component outputs. The IMC also acts as a gateway to online media and offers access to millions of videos from YouTube. In the near future, ReQuest plans to integrate many more services like YouTube for streaming and downloadable content of music, video, and photos.

The release also states:

Setup is equally easy: The IMC requires just a standard Ethernet CAT5 connection to the home network, and is quickly configured using the HD TV GUI. The IMC provides high-definition video output up to 1080p via HDMI and component video simultaneously, allowing installers to display HD on the local room's TV or projection system while distributing the same HD content throughout the house. Connections for optical digital audio output are supported for the local home theater or stereo audio installation.

The press release states the device is affordable at just under $2500 but for an add-on but it's still a little rich for our blood.

At HomeToys.com

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August 28, 2008

Logitech Unveils the Squeezebox Boom

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It's been a few months since we've had any real news on the Squeezebox but here's something but here's something exciting. Engadget says that the Squeezebox Boom will be available next month. According to the report:

Yeah, it's basically a standard-issue Squeezebox with a built-in amp and speakers, but that's a pretty solid idea, especially since we're guessing the 24-bit Burr Brown D/A converter and bi-amped 3-inch woofers and 3/4-inch tweeters will offer up some decent sound. Everything else is regular Squeezebox kit -- 802.11g WiFi, SqueezeNetwork, optical and S/PDIF out, VFD display, 10/100Base-T Ethernet -- so if you're looking to expand your system, this is probably a pretty solid way of getting it done.

If you will already have a Squeezebox, you may not want to invest the $299. If you haven't got a Squeezebox yet, you may want to check out the Boom box when it hits the streets next month.

At Engadget.com

Logitech Squeezebox at Amazon

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August 27, 2008

Hands-on Review: Grace ITC-IR1000 Wireless Internet Radio with Pandora Radio Support

One of the great things about technology is how much it evolves. One of the things that sucks about technology is how much it evolves. As technolgy devices become more evolved and complex it usually means you need a degree from MIT to hook up some of these devices that are coming out. So when we get a device here at NAV that is easy to hook up and does exactly what it's supposed to do, we get a tad excited. We'll start out this review of Grace ITC-IR1000 Wireless Internet Radio by saying it fits right into that "easy to use - but powerful" genre.

We told you about the ITC-IR1000 last month after we found out that the radio could also play Pandora radio streams. You've heard us here at NAV mention a few times that we're big Pandora fans, so we were pretty excited about getting our review unit.

ArrowContinue reading: "Hands-on Review: Grace ITC-IR1000 Wireless Internet Radio with Pandora Radio Support"

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August 26, 2008

First Look: Pioneer Elite BDP-09FD High-End Blu-Ray Player

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As Blu-ray players continue to drop in price, Pioneer is trying to buck the trend with the high-end Pioneer Elite BDF-09FD. Recently IGN go to get a up close look at the BDF-09FD and they seemed pretty impressed:

Pioneer had a string of tables with various pieces of hardware on display, the most notable of which was the Pioneer Elite BDP-09FD. The BDP-09FD is Pioneer's latest Blu-Ray player offering and the first to feature BD-Live connectivity. But this beautiful piece of hardware isn't your average, garden-variety Blu-Ray player. The BDP-09FD is host to some of the most complex on-board audio processing we've seen on a standalone BRD player. Fortunately, Pioneer's Chris Walker was on hand to elaborate on the player's enhanced audio processing capabilities. Walker informed us that the BDP-09FD was capable of decoding 7.1 DTS and Dolby signals using a dedicated digital-to-analog signal converter for each corresponding channel. From there, the signal is directed to either the BDP-09FD's 8 gold-plated RCA or HDMI outputs.

The idea, Walker explained, was to create the purest audio possible by decoding the signals at the source. In order to further ensure the purity of the signal, Pioneer went all out in terms of the BDP-09FD's physical design. To combat degradation and unnecessary noise, the BDP-09FD had no visible wiring, each of the player's connections was mounted directly to its base--a solid metal beast with a total weight of 50 pounds.

Of course at $2200, the BDP-09FD is going to appeal to a small niche while making the rest of us drool.
At IGN.com

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Review: Earforce X4 Xbox 360 Wireless Surround Sound Headset

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We here at NAV are huge wireless headphone fans. One thing we've noticed is that most standard wireless headphones just don't cut it when gaming. We've been eyeing the Earforce X4 Xbox 360 Wireless Surround Sound Headset ever since it came out and now Gizmodo has a decent review. The review states:

It should be noted that these "surround sound" headphones are really transposing a 5.1 channel signal into two stereo speakers, but the results are excellent all the same. In Call of Duty 4, I could track a helicopter's proximity to me perfectly (with exception of just behind my head). And in Project Gotham Racing 4, cars whizzed by ears with aggressive speed.

As for the chatting, it's a complete pleasure in the X4s. Not only do both sides of the conversation benefit from improved audio clarity, but you hear your own voice mixed in with the game audio. This audio loop is to help keep you from shouting, and I think it works in practice. Plus, the mic's wire is supported by a pliable but durable metal skin--it feels 100x better than the stock 360 headset mic, like production-level gear.

$200 seems like a lot to drop on a pair of wireless headphones but if you take your gaming seriously, you might want to start saving your nickels.

You can also check out this video on the Earforce X4:

At Gizmodo.com

Earforce X4 Product Page

Earforce X4 at Amazon

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August 25, 2008

Sony to Deliver Free Streaming Music Videos to the PS3

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It seems almost everyday there's something new coming out that turns the PS3 into a full-fledged media server. Sony has announced free music videos for the PS3. According to the press release:

Leipzig Games Convention, 20th August 2008: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) announced today that VidZone™, the online destination for music videos, will deliver their free streaming music video service to PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™). The trial service is scheduled for launch in early 2009 for Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and is sure to be a hit with music lovers everywhere. VidZones service allows PS3 owners to watch the best new music videos for free on their PS3 or streamed to their PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable) via Remote Play.

VidZone is one of Europes leading online music video services, streaming a full playlist of videos from hip-hop to punk and heavy metal to classics. Music lovers can build their own playlists and personalise their VidZone experience to be whatever they choose. All these features and more will be included in the PS3 service, including the option to download songs, music videos and ringtones to a mobile phone for a small charge.

SCEE will be launching a comprehensive film, TV and music download service at a later date.

Hmmm..Play games or watch music videos? Decisions suck!

At Playstation.com

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Acova VIP Music Edition Arriving September 4

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Ready for a high-end voice-activated music control system? Then you'll be interested in the Acova VIP Music Edition which will debut at this years CEDIA Expo on Sept. 4th. According to the Acova press release:

Avoca Semiconductor Inc. (Avoca), a leading designer of voice-enabled user interface solutions, will launch its new VIP Music Edition™ at the CEDIA Expo in Denver, Colorado, Sept. 4th, 2008. The new Avoca system is an extraordinary residential music control system designed for living rooms and fast, convenient, transparent use. It turns a CD collection into a fully, immediately accessible digital library through a unique touch-and-talk interface that delivers the best available system for conveniently operating and enjoying home music collections.

So how does the Acova work?

The VIP Music Edition consists of a VIP Music Player, a wireless VIP Music Companion (MC™), and the unique Say it-Play it™ control interface. The Music Player plays CDs on a slot-loading, front-panel CD Player, stores a copy in lossless digital format in its built-in hard drive, and plugs into any stereo or audio system via RCA or optical cable connections. Once a CD is loaded into the Music Player's disc storage, building a digital library becomes as easy as simply listening to the music.

The VIP Music Companion is a wireless handheld controller equipped with Avoca's touch-and-talk interface and a large, bright 3.0 x 2.25-inch touch-screen. The screen provides a portable browsing list of its owner's music library by genre, artist, album, or track. By touch or voice, users can control their audio environments, from anywhere in a home, without depending on a direct line of sight to the Avoca Music Player, or to the TV to see a music list.

The Say it-Play it Interface on the MC Controller responds to simple, intuitive voice commands like: "Play The Eagles," "Play the Boss," "Set volume to 8," "Display by Artist" and "Queue Yesterday." The responsive voice control makes browsing music collections fast, convenient and fun, while bypassing the menu trees and avoiding the delays of traditional interfaces. Users can also attach nicknames or shorter names to music items, making them even more convenient to select.

The Acova sounds like an incredible device but be ready to shell out around 4 grand for the system. What we love about the Acova VIP system is how the Say it-Play it™ control interface is really an iPAQ PDA. Hey if it works, go for it right?

Acova Press Release at News.eCoustics.com

Acova Vip Music Edition Product Page

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August 22, 2008

Sony Introduces the S-Airplay Wireless System

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Recently we gave you our review of the Mint 220 Wireless iPod Dock, now another player has entered the wireless iPod dock fray. Sony has announced the S-Airplay Wireless Multi-Room Audio System. One thing we'll say about the S-Airplay is the sleek glossy design is beautiful. The Sony press release starts out:

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 21, 2008 - Sony today took the wraps off its new wireless, multi-room audio system for listening to iPod® players.

The new S-AIRPLAY™ system features Sony's S-Air™ technology, which provides a practical, wireless multi-room solution without complicated setup requirements. Wireless audio can be transmitted from the system's main docking station in one room to various rooms throughout the home -- up to nearly 164 feet--simply by plugging a separate S-Air wireless speaker into a power outlet.

"This technology makes it easy to listen to music from a compatible iPod without carrying it from room to room," said Andrew Sivori, director of marketing in the personal audio group at Sony Electronics' Digital Imaging and Audio Division. "It's an easy, inexpensive way to get multi-room audio without professional installation."

S-Air technology delivers audio wirelessly to the included speakers without interfering with other household devices. The system comes with one docking station and two S-Air wireless speakers, but it can transmit to up to 10 speakers simultaneously (additional speakers sold separately).

Equipped with an AM/FM tuner, the S-AIRPLAY system's dual source feature lets users listen to music from the iPod player or from a radio station. Listeners in one room can hear their favorite radio station, while listeners in another room can enjoy music from the iPod at the same time.

The S-Airplay looks pretty sharp but since the MSRP comes in at $400, we'd recommend taking a peek at the Mint 220 which comes in at $179.

At Sony.com [via UberGizmo.com]


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August 21, 2008

Need to Set-up a Home Theater System? - Call AT&T

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This is kind of interesting, AT&T is going to compete with Best Buy's Geek Squad by offering in-home tech services. According to CNET.com:

Move over Geek Squad, AT&T is launching a new in-home support service that will do everything from setting up home computers and Wi-Fi networks to installing home theater systems.

On Thursday, the phone company announced the new service called AT&T ConnecTech, which will be in select markets across all 50-states. The company described the service as an "all-encompassing home services care program that is designed to take customer service, and the company's own support capabilities, to the next level."

The service, which is available only to residential customers, provides customers with a slew of services from home theater planning and consultations to new hardware installation and notebook repair. Specifically, AT&T technicians will be available to mount flat-panel TV's on walls, install and set-up new PC or Apple computers, including setting up email and virus protection; repair computers, including parts and hardware replacement; and install and trouble shoot home networking issue. The service will be offered both in-home and over-the-phone with next next-day service installation available seven days a week.

The rates are expensive but still cheaper then the big-box electronic stores. Still we're not convinced we really want the phone company touching our high-end entertainment system. What do your think?

At CNET.com


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An Incredible Unboxing of the Samsung I900

Okay, we don't usually cover cellphones here at NAV but we had to show you this incredible video we found at the DivX Labs of the unboxing of the Samsung I900. Trust us, it's worth watching the whole minute and a half video.


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August 20, 2008

CMI Introduces the SYVIO-200 HD player

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CMI has just introduced the SYVIO-200 HD player, a device that's really similar to the Popcorn Hour Media Hour Streamer. Here's the basic specs:

  • The latest HD player, SYVIO-200 is featured by its HDMI 1.3Version,1080P reolution supported. It allows to pull in digital video, audio and photos from various sources for your enjoyment on customer's HDTV or home theater setup
  • Can stream or playback customer's digital media content from a variety of sources, such as your PC, NAS, digital camera, USB mass storage devices (flash drive, HDD, DVD drive), internal HDD and even directly from the Internet via the media service portal
  • It also serves as a NAS and a BitTorrent peer-to-peer down loader to eliminate the need to switch on a PC or other device for this purpose
  • The SYVIO-200 supports the latest high bitrate video formats (MPEG2 MP@HL, H.264 HP@L4.1, VC-1 AP@L3 in TS of at least 40Mbps) to give you up to 1080p high-definition videos
  • In recognition of advances in Internet TV, the A-100 supports peer-to-peer Internet TV streaming technology from SayaTV, as well as popular unicast Internet TV such as YouTube, Google video and metacafe via the media service portal
  • The A-100 firmware is upgradeable to support future media containers, codecs and features
  • HDD not included

We don't know much else about this device but we'll get you more details as they come in.

[via Engadget]

SYVIo-200 Product Page

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TiVo Series2 80-Hour for $37.95 After Rebate

If you've ever thought about getting a TiVo, you might want to jump on this deal at Amazon.com. The TiVo Series2 80-Hour is $187.95 but includes a $150 mil-in rebate bringing the cost down to $37.95.

TiVo Series2 at Amazon

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August 19, 2008

Kensington Announces The World's First Wireless USB Universal Docking Station

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We at NAV really hate wires so we're pretty excited about the Wireless USB Docking Station for Kensington. According to Kensington's press release:

The Kensington Wireless USB Docking Station is a universal docking station that works with all Wireless USB-enabled notebook PCs. It has five USB ports, a DVI-I, and a speaker port to connect to peripherals, an external monitor and speakers. The wireless connection between the dock and Wireless USB-enabled notebook brings wireless connectivity to the home or office environment, empowering users to stay connected to their devices. There is no complicated set up required and cable clutter is eliminated.

"Our entire smart made simple design philosophy is about giving users the easiest, most intuitive computing experience," said Frederic Frappereau, Global Product Manager, Kensington. "We're especially proud to be the first to introduce a universal wireless docking station because nothing could be easier or more intuitive than having your accessories spring to life as you approach them with your notebook. We know that Wireless USB notebook users are extremely busy mobile professionals who appreciate every efficiency they can gain, so they can stay productive at all times."

The basic specs break down like this:

Features

  • Access an external monitor wirelessly, for greater productivity
  • Print, use your keyboard and mouse, access your external hard drive and more, wirelessly
  • Five USB ports let you connect your most used peripherals
  • Wireless connection gives you the freedom to work in comfort anywhere you want within the 15 foot range of the docking station
  • Audio out port for external speaker
Specifications
  • 1 DVI port
  • 5 USB 2.0 ports
  • Stereo out port
  • Works with widescreen monitors up to 1680x1050 and standard size mornitors up to 1280x1024
  • Compatible with Certified Wireless USB enabled adapters and computers running Windows® XP or Vista®; 32 bit versions only

Of course the Kensington Wireless USB Docking Station won't do you much good until you get a Wireless USB enabled computer but you have to start somewhere, right?

The device will be shipping in a few weeks at around $230 bucks.

Kensington Wireless USB Docking Station Press Release atKensington.com

Kensington Wireless USB Docking Station Product Page at Kensington.com

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August 18, 2008

Is Pandora Radio Out of Time?

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We've mentioned a few million times in the past about how much we love Pandora radio but even our love may not be enough to keep Pandora afloat. For the last few years, internet radio has been on a pretty shaky ground due to the ridiculous licensing fees but it looked like Pandora might make it through. Now according to TheStandard.com:

Pandora, the excellent music recommendation and streaming service, may be closing its doors in the near future over royalty fees paid to SoundExchange, an organization that represents artists and record companies in royalty negotiations.

Founder Tim Westergren told the Washington Post the company was "approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision." Pandora will pay 70 roughly of its projected revenue of $25 million in music royalties, a level which Westergren says is unsustainable. "We're funded by venture capital. They're not going to chase a company whose business model has been broken," he says.

There is some hope that a last minute deal can be negotiated by Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) but we're not real hopeful. So if you're a Pandora radio fan, you may want ot lock yourself in a room and lsiten until Pandora goes silent.

At TheStandard.com

Pandora's Website

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August 15, 2008

Madden NFL 09 Video Gameplay Review for Consoles

Man, I love the Madden football series, as I know most gamers do! There's been a lot of excitment about the new Madden NFL 09 and we've found a 8 minute in-depth video review of the features and gameplay.

Overall the graphics look a lot like Madden 08 but there's quite a few new featrues mentioned in the review that you may want to check out. We know it just came out a few days ago but If you've gotten Madden 09 yet, drop us a comment and let us know what you think.


Madden NFL 09 Xbox at Amazon
Madden NFL 09 PS3 at Amazon
Madden NFL 09 PS2 at Amazon
Madden NFL 09 Wii at Amazon

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August 14, 2008

Unbox: D-Link DSM-330 DivX Connected HD Mediaplayer

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If you weren't aware, the first DivX Connected media player hit the market last month. We recently received our review unit and wanted to give you a quick unboxing before we go on with the review. We'll start with the features as listed at D-Link's website:

High Definition DivX Video
DivX Connected™ finally makes HD on your TV a reality with high-quality DivX video playback at up to HD 720p. Use HDMI (included) for the best quality or S-video, component or composite cables for your standard definition TV or HDTV.

Power to the PC
Leverage your PC power and enjoy fast, smooth, stutter-free video, music and photo playback in a rich, remote-controlled TV interface1, and add new functionality with a quick update to the DivX Connected server software. The DSM-330's only function is to stream media to your TV, making it infinitely scalable with add-on services3 and plug-ins.

Easy Setup
The installation wizard helps you connect the DSM-330 to your network and TV, as well as set up and scan your media. It comes with all necessary cables and DivX Converter--a simple software program4 to convert videos to the DivX format on your PC.

Foundation of Your Digital Home
Add the DSM-330 to your wired or wireless home network and access media from all your PCs, hard drives and the Internet. Stream music, photos and video using wireless 802.11g or an Ethernet connection and enjoy the high-quality media experience in your home theater.

We're currently working on the review but here's some images of the unboxing:

ArrowContinue reading: "Unbox: D-Link DSM-330 DivX Connected HD Mediaplayer"

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VUDU Offering $0.99 Summer Movie Rentals to Beat the Heat

Looking for some cheap movies this summer? You might want to check out the new offering from VUDU. For those of you not familiar with VUDU, it's an HD media streamer that delivers DRM content to your TV for a fee. According to VUDU press release:

VUDU, the company that brings instant access to 1080p HD entertainment to the living room, today announced a summer movie extravaganza that will let viewers rent recent blockbuster hits and cinematic classics for just 99 cents from VUDU's groundbreaking service.

Extended Rental for $0.99: Starting immediately, the VUDU service will allow viewers to renew any standard definition video rental for just 99 cents within seven days of first viewing a film. The 99 cents video renewal is a first in the digital delivery category and guarantees that VUDU owners receive the most generous rental renewal policy in the industry. The rental of high definition movies can be extended for $1.99.

99 for 99: Simultaneously, VUDU launched a movie channel called "99 for 99". Its editorial team selected 99 blockbuster films each available to rent for 99 cents. New films will be rotated into the channel to ensure that new mega-hits are always available throughout the year.

We're not sure what the quality of the $.99 cent movies will be, but hopefully there'll be content for the whole family.

Press Release at VUDU.com [via EngadgetHD]

VUDU at Amazon

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August 13, 2008

Unbox: ZvBox HD Video Streamer from ZeeVee

There's been a lot of excitement over the ZvBox from ZeeVee, a unique type of media streamer. What makes the ZvBox so unique is the how it interacts and distributes your media as we mentioned in a previous article:

  • The box itself converts the video from the PC's VGA port into a high-def channel and sends it out to your home's coax cable network.
  • A PC app acts as a launcher for all the good PC-based internet video clients, like Hulu, Joost and even Microsoft's own Media Center.
  • The remote controls not just your TV, but the app on the PC too, giving you decent control over the otherwise PC-locked experience.

The idea of sending your PC content over you home cable setup to any TV in the house just boggles the mind. We've recently received our review unit and we'll get it setup and let you know what we think but we'll start you off with a quick unboxing.

ArrowContinue reading: "Unbox: ZvBox HD Video Streamer from ZeeVee"

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Hands-on Review: Mint 220 Digital Music Station

If you're an iPod user, you've probably noticed iPod docks are a dime a dozen. Once in awhile, an iPod dock comes along that go above and beyond the call of duty. The dock we're talking about is the Mint 220 Digital Music Station, a dock and wireless speaker system all in one. Before we start the review, let's look at the features list:

  • The Mint 220 Digital Music Station offers the highest fidelity digital audio, using Texas Instruments' PurePath Digital audio amplification for optimal performance.
  • Wireless 2.4GHz lossless audio streaming from your Mac or PC with the included Mint USB Wireless Transmitter
  • Mint's Di-Fi™ digital-sound is delivered from your PC or Mac wirelessly, with no loss of fidelity, up to 45 feet or 15 meters
  • Careful craftsmanship, acoustic engineering and sealed enclosure design offer precise audio usually found only in much pricier systems
  • Two 3.5" full-range Peerless® transducers for big speaker sound and compact, mini-speaker versatility.
ArrowContinue reading: "Hands-on Review: Mint 220 Digital Music Station"

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August 12, 2008

Vatata Introduces Technology to Stream P2P To Your HDTV

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While there's a lot of legal problems with P2P content, wouldn't it be sweet to stream P2P to your HDTV? Well it might be possible soon with a streaming technology developed by Vatata. According to TVSnob:

Vatata, a Chinese P2P solutions provider, has developed a set-top box solution that brings streaming peer-to-peer video content straight to your HDTV. Right now set-top boxes featuring Vatata's Vakaka P2P streaming platform are headed for China where three providers have licensed the product for use including TV maker Skyworth and set-top box maker Himedia. Not only does the platform allow access to the Vakaka network, but also public P2P networks and protocols such as Gnutella and BitTorrent.

Vatata says that the product is legal but that is would be up to the licensing companies to control content. That statement alones makes it hard to believe that any U.S. companies want to test the legal waters with on their own device. Still, a device with the technology should be in China soon and we sure would like to see it arrive in the U.S. We'll keep you posted if anymore details come in.

At TVSnob.com

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soundmatters Announces the SLIMstage40 Soundbar

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We here at NAV just love sleek speaker systems that blend in with your home theater system. We're really impressed with the look of the SLIMstage40 Soundbar from soundmatters. According to the press release:

The industry's first high-performance, low-profile all-one-surround speaker/amplifier/processor console, SLIMstage40TM is now available to consumers who demand an engaging 5.1 surround experience without complicated a/v receivers and unsightly speakers.

SLIMstage40, by soundmatters, inc., features 170 Watts from eight internal amplifiers, yet it measures a scant 3.3" (H) x 3.4" (D) x 39" (W). SLIMstage is slimmer than most wall-mounted plasma and LCD TV's, and at only 3.5" tall - provides a less conspicuous surround sound alternative to traditional oversized surround bars. Demonstrable benefits over other single-box surround consoles, include convincing, detailed surround sound from both stereo and 5.1 signals without reflecting walls, and real, articulate bass - making an external subwoofer an option, not a requirement.

Here's a shot of the SLIMstage40 in action:

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Starting at $899, the SLIMStage40 might be a good investment for really adding a touch of class to your home theater system.

Press Release at PRWire.com [via Engadget.com]

SLIMstage40 at Amazon

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August 11, 2008

How to Get the Most Out of your Wi-Fi Network

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Probably one of the greatest inventions ever has to be the Wi-Fi Network (If you don't count the Flowbee). Want to get the most out your Wi-Fi network? Be sure to check out this article at Techprone.com that starts out:

How can I extend the range of my home Wi-Fi network?

First, make sure you are getting the most out of your current Wi-Fi router: Mount it in a central location in your house, preferably high on a wall; make sure that other 2.4-GHz devices such as cordless phones, baby monitors, wireless audio speakers, Bluetooth gadgets, and microwave ovens are not causing interference; and separate your router from your neighbors' router on the Wi-Fi spectrum. If they are using channel 1, for example, try channel 12 to minimize the chance of cross-channel interference.

If you still get a poor signal, consider upgrading to a router that incorporates MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) or draft-n technology. These routers not only provide far greater range than standard 802.11b/g routers, but they also boost speed by as much as ten times.

The article covers these topics:

  • How can I extend the range of my home Wi-Fi network?
  • What's 802.11n? Do I need to upgrade my router?
  • How do I share a printer or game console over a Wi-Fi network?
  • Can I add a network hard drive to my Wi-Fi net?
  • Can I use VoIP over Wi-Fi? What kind of quality will I get?
  • How do I stream audio and video from one room to another via Wi-Fi?

Overall it's a simple but imformative article to help you get the most out of your Wi-Fi network.

At TechProne.com

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

DVR Expanders - The Answer to the Overstuffed TiVo?

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Ever spend an hour trying to figure out what to delet from your TiVo so you'll have enough room to record a classic episode of "Simon and Simon"? Well you might want to check out a DVR Expander. According to an article at USAToday.com:

TiVo fills up even faster when I record programs in high-definition. HD claims roughly 10 times the amount of space as standard-definition recordings.

The Iomega DVR Expander Drive and Western Digital My DVR Expander drive I've been testing promise to increase your DVR's storage capacity, so you won't have to fret about it for a long time.

The Iomega and Western Digital boxes both cost $200 and have 500 gigabytes of storage, equaling about 300 extra hours of standard-definition or up to 60 hours of high-def programming. By adding the Western Digital drive to my TiVo, I upped its capacity to up to 927 standard-definition or 98 high-def hours. You'd have to watch an awful lot of TV to exhaust that much storage.

The important thing the article points out is why a typical external harddrive may not be the answer:

You may ask: "Why do I need a DVR expander when I've got an unused external PC hard drive? Couldn't I just plug it into the DVR's USB port?"

It's not that simple. The USB ports on TiVo, for instance, cannot be used for external storage. Instead, the DVR expanders connect to a different port, called eSata, which TiVo says is more reliable and robust. (I use the USB on my TiVo for a Wi-Fi adapter.) If you do have an eSata drive, you can probably make it work with TiVo by employing an easily found online hack -- except there are no guarantees, and you won't have TiVo's blessing.

At around $200, it's a drop in the bucket to be able to save every episode of the classic "Simon and Simon".

At USAToday.com

Iomega DVR Expander Drive at Amazon

Western Digital My DVR Expander at Amazon

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 8, 2008

QTV Turns PS2 into Streaming Media Center

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Here's an interesting bit of news out of the Digital Hollywood Conference in San Jose this week. You can now use a use your PS2 to stream content to your TV. According to TheStandard.com:

QTV by BroadQ uses a $30 piece of software to repurpose a PS2 as a digital media set-top for a TV or home theater. All users have to do is pop the DVD into their PS2, turn it on, and they are ready to either stream local network content or Internet shows like Revision3's Digg Reel without leaving their sofas. With almost 50 million PS2s sold in North America, BroadQ's product already has a significant hardware install base to take advantage of.

QTV is able to stream pretty much any non-DRM content to a TV including photos, videos, and music as well as assorted news and Internet radio stations.

$30 to turn that aging PS2 into a streaming media player? Sounds like a pretty good investment to us!

At TheStandard.com [image source: TheStandard]

QTV Website

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 7, 2008

PCMag Lists the Best media Extenders on the Market

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It seems every week a new media extender hit's the streets so it can get a little overwhelming deciding which one to get. We ran across a decent article at PCMag.com the gives a breakdown of the major media exteners on the market. Here's a list of the devices they mention (Click the links below to see what we here at NAV had to say about each device):

Overall, they did a good job with the list so be sure to stop by and see what PCMag has to say about the best media extenders on the market.

At PCMag.com

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Netflix Testing Increased Rates For High-Def Movies

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Here's some news that'll make some Netflix users unhappy. If you prefer Blu-ray DVDs from Netflix, you'll probably start paying more soon. According to Information Week:

Netflix on Monday confirmed that it's testing premium pricing for subscribers who want access to the DVD renter's high-definition library. While the company hasn't said when or how much it would charge for Blu-ray disc rentals, a Netflix spokesman said it is in the process of trying to determine a pricing model that would be palatable to customers.

"Netflix is testing prices around Blu-ray right now, and we don't have anything else to report," company spokesman Steve Swasey said. "There's nothing being done across the board."

Swasey declined to give details, but tech site Engadget reported that some Netflix subscribers have said they are being charged $1, and sometimes $2, a month more for access to Netflix's Blu-ray disc movies.

A dollar or two more a month seems reasonable to us but we're sure some will still complain. Do you think Netflix has the right to charge more for Blu-ray? Leave us a comment and let us know your opinion.

At InformationWeek.com


William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 6, 2008

Iomega Introduces New Screenplay TV Link

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Looking for a streaming media player that's totally portable. You might want to check out the new Screenplay TV Link from Iomega. According to Iomega's press release:

Iomega, an EMC company (NYSE: EMC) and a global leader in data protection and security, today announced the new Iomega(R) ScreenPlay(TM) TV Link, making it convenient and affordable to access multimedia content on any high-definition television or home theater system. Complete with full-function remote control, the new ScreenPlay TV Link features an easy-to-use USB port for attaching compatible storage devices and enjoying high quality movies, music and photos from the best seat in the house.

Smaller than a deck of playing cards, the new Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link is based on the same display technology as Iomega's ScreenPlay HD Multimedia drive, introduced in April 2008, and offers the same audio and video quality with upscaling to high definition. While the ScreenPlay HD Multimedia Drive features a fully-integrated 500GB hard drive solution, this latest addition to the ScreenPlay product family gives users the flexibility to connect their own USB external storage devices to the ScreenPlay TV Link and play back the media content on an attached TV.

The result is an affordable, easy-to-use multi-media solution that can utilize different storage devices when friends, family or co-workers drop by with a media file to share. Compatible USB devices with the new ScreenPlay TV Link include flash drives, hard drives, and Iomega's REV drives.

While the Screenplay TV Link is lacking some features, we could definitely see a place in our briefcase for this $99 device.

Iomega Press Release

[via Engadget]

Screenplay TV Link at Amazon

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

LG Offers Sneak Peek of the BD300 Netflix-Streaming Blu-ray Player

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Last week we mentioned the BD-300 Netflix-streaming Blu-ray player and there seems to be a lot of buzz out there for the device. Recently the media got a sneak peek of the BD-300 and according to TVSnob.com:

LG has given a sneak peak of its BD300 Netflix-streaming Blu-ray player to a select few in Manhattan and now we know exactly what to expect when it's available this fall. In a nutshell, using the BD300 is pretty well identical to using Netflix's own Roku player. Any Netflix subscriber with the $8.99/month plan or better can stream movies from the 12000-title-strong Watch Now library just by adding the LG Blu-ray player to their account. Simple and fast. Other networked features include music and photo streaming via PC's or any other device that will connect to the BD300's USB port.

As we mentioned before, we're pretty jazzed about the BD-300 and can't want to check it out. We'll keep you posted.

At TVSnob.com

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 5, 2008

Sonos Introduces the Sonos Zoneplayer 120 and Sonos Zoneplayer 90

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We've got some exciting news on some new Sonos ZonePlayers. According to a new Press Release:

Sonos®, Inc., the leading developer of wireless multi-room music systems for the home, today introduced two new ZonePlayers to deliver a state-of-the-art multi-room music experience. With innovations in both wireless technology and amplifier design, the Sonos ZonePlayer 120 (ZP120) and the Sonos ZonePlayer 90 (ZP90) make Sonos the ideal system for music lovers who want to enjoy all the music they love, all over the house. The new ZonePlayers are available starting today at all Sonos authorized retailers and at www.sonos.com. The two new Sonos ZonePlayers give music lovers the ability to add music to absolutely any room. Connect speakers to the amplified ZP120 and place in the bedroom or the backyard. The non-amplified ZP90 can be connected to a home theater or stereo, allowing customers to make use of the audio equipment they already own. "Sonos' mission is to fill every house--and every room--with music," said Phil Abram, President & Chief Operating Officer, Sonos, Inc. "These new products continue Sonos' heritage of blending the latest technology, software and user experience to create an unmatched music experience in the home."

The new ZonePlayers incorporate SonosNet™ 2.0, our latest wireless mesh network technology, which doubles the wireless range of the Sonos Multi-Room Music System. SonosNet 2.0 uses Sonos' mesh network combined with state of the art MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) wireless technology which uses 3 antennas to send and receive music. SonosNet 2.0 helps assure the music gets to all the right rooms, near or far, at the right time - creating perfect synchronization of music without all the wires. The extended range works between any mix of ZP120s and ZP90s and is compatible with all previous generations of Sonos ZonePlayers, Controllers and ZoneBridges.

Here's the basic details of each system:

SONOS_ZP120_left.jpg
Sonos ZonePlayer 120

Advances in power supply design, digital amplifier engineering, industrial design, and mechanical engineering make this the smallest, lightest, most powerful amplified Sonos ZonePlayer ever. The incredibly efficient amplifier and power supply, combined with the fan-less design of the aluminum case, allows the ZP120 to operate silently. The ZP120 delivers 55 watts per channel RMS at 8 Ohms. With measurements of THD+N < 0.02%, 20Hz-20kHz, the ZP120 delivers powerful low distortion audiophile quality sound to every room of the house. The ZP120 can be connected to speakers and discreetly placed on a bookshelf, under furniture or beds, or hidden in cabinets with connections to in-wall speakers.

The ZP120 will retail for $499 individually. It is also included as part of the Sonos Bundle 150 (see accompanying press release) for $999.

SONOS_ZP90_left.jpg
Sonos ZonePlayer 90

The Sonos ZonePlayer 90 allows music lovers to play all the music they want, all over their house, on all of their favorite audio equipment--a home theater system, powered speakers, a premium table top radio such as a Bose Wave® Radio, and more. It is the easiest way to integrate existing audio equipment into a multi-room music system.

The ZP90 will retail for $349 individually. It is also included as part of the Sonos Bundle 150 (see accompanying press release) for $999.

Since we're big fans of Sonos products, we can't wait to check out these systems. We'll keep you posted.


Full Press Release at Sonos.com

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Top 20 Hacks for Apple TV

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One of the great things about devices that run on mainstream operating systems is the awesome ability to add features or "hacks". The Apple TV is one of those great devices that has plenty of hacks to get the most out of your device and an article at the Top 100 Directory list the top hacks and plugins for Apple TV. Here are a few of both categories:

Plugins:

  • Apple TV RSS Plugin - Configure and read various RSS feeds right on your Apple TV.
  • ATVLoader - Install many plugins from a large database. This one is great for those that want a simplified and easy way of installing plugins without a lot of hassle.
  • nitoTV - The biggest and best plugin of them all. Network and USB mounting, mplayer, and DVD playback with VIDEO_TS files or ISO files.

Hacks:

  • Firefox - This hack shows you how to get Firefox up and running on an Apple TV, step by step.
  • Component to RGB - How to convert from component to RGB for TVs that don't have component ports.
  • How to Play DivX From a NAS - Explains how to play DivX files on your AppleTV from a network storage device.

So if you're looking to tweak the heck out of your Apple TV, be sure to check out the complete list.

At Dir100.com

AppleTV at Amazon

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 4, 2008

D-Link Offering Green Wi-Fi Home Networking

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We've seen a lot of talk of going "Green" lately but now we're about to see "Green" Wi-Fi routers. According to a press release that D-Link put out a few days ago:

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., July 28, 2008 -- D-Link today became the first manufacturer to produce Green home network Wi-Fi routers capable of saving up to 40 percent in power usage.

The end-to-end networking solutions provider for consumer and business, D-Link is expanding its Green Initiative by adding eco-friendly features to its award-winning Xtreme N™ line of Wi-Fi Internet routers to decrease energy costs by reducing power consumption without sacrificing performance.

The Wi-Fi routers integrate D-Link® Green Ethernet™ technology, an innovative energy-saving technology that automatically detects link status and network cable length, then adjusts power accordingly. The D-Link routers also feature Wi-Fi scheduling that allows customers to easily program when the Wi-Fi radio signals are turned on and off to further save energy consumption. Now shipping and incorporating the Green technology are the D-Link Xtreme N Gigabit Router (DIR-655), D-Link Xtreme N Duo™ Media Router (DIR-855), and the D-Link Xtreme N Gaming Router (DGL-4500).

The great thing about the D-Link "Green" routers is they start around $150 buck which is a great low-cost way to help the environment.

D-Link Press Release

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Popcorn Hour Offers A-110 and B-110 Available for Preorder

One of the most popular products we've ever reviewed here at NAV was the Popcorn Hour Networked A-100 Networked Media Tank. That being said, we expect a lot of excitment now that Popcorn Hour has announced that you can preorder the A-110 and B-110. The specs on both according to Popcorn Hour:

a-110.pngPopcorn Hour A-110

The Popcorn Hour A-110 is a enhanced version of the popular A-100 model. It adds support for 2.5"/3.5" SATA HDD and USB Slave functionality to improve connectivity and transfer rates.

HDMI has been updated to the 1.3a spec, allowing full support of HD Audio pass-through for DTS HD-HR, DTS HD-MA, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD. The ports on the device have also been reconfigured, with a USB port moved to the rear panel, optical S/PDIF replacing the co-axial S/PDIF and a hardware reset button to allow for easier use of the device.

b-110-b.pngPopcorn Hour B-110 Baseline (Analog Stereo Audio)

The Popcorn Hour B-110 Baseline Home Theater Motherboard (HTMB) is designed with the AV enthusiast in mind. With support for HDMI 1.3a, optical and coaxial S/PDIF connectors ensures that the user will not be lacking in connectivity options to their AV Receiver/TV. HD Audio pass-through is support for DTS HD-HR, DTS HD-MA, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD.

On the hardware and network side, the B-110 Baseline HTMB sports 4xUSB2.0 host ports, 2xSATA, 1xIDE, 10/100 Ethernet and mini-PCI WiFi support (WiFi card not included). It's mini-ITX form-factor allowing it to be placed in any compliant casing. All these options combine to ensure that the user has the flexibility to customize the device to their preference.

Great News! We really like the B-110 because it gives you a head start on building the multimedia powerhouse PC you've always dreamed of. You may want to get your preorders in now.

At PopcornHour.com

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

August 1, 2008

July 2008 Monthly Round-up for Networking Audio / Video

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Is July already over? We'll be really glad when this super humid summer is over. Anyway, we had quite a bit of exciting news and reviews in the Month of July.

If you missed it, you'll want to check out our review of the Mediagate MG-450HD and our introduction to the LG BD300 Blu-ray player with built-in Netflix streaming.

So grab a cup of coffee, take the phone off the hook, and catch up with Networking Audio / Video.

Apple TV

Audio Devices

Audio Streaming

Game Console Streaming

General

Home Networking

Home Surveillance

Home Theater

How To

IPTV

Image Streaming

Internet Radio

Internet Video

Media Extender

MediaGate MG-450HD

Netflix Streaming

News

PS3 Streaming

PSP Streaming

Popcorn Hour

Press Release

Roku Netflix Player

Slingbox

Speaker Systems

Speakers

Storage

TV Streaming

Video Devices

Video Streaming

Wired Home

Wireless HDMI

Wireless Speakers

Xbox Streaming

William Hungerford Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking
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