Description: Blu-Ray Players Rock! Netflix Players Rock! What happens when you put the two together? Since Rock-Rock sounds silly, we'll just say super-duper cool! If you're looking for a high-end device for your awesome home-theater system that comes in at under $350, you'll want to be sure to look at the LG BD300.
Feature Details from LG:
Blu-Ray Disc player with BD Live and BonusView
Netflix instant streaming ready with Netflix subscription
Full HD 1080p output via HDMI with Cinema mode at 24 or 60 frames per second
Superior audio performance with 7.1 channels with Dolby Digital Plus & TrueHD & dts-HD
LG Simplink connectivity of other LG products using HDMI connection
Description: While the MvixUSA 760-HD Wireless Media Center isn't one of the newest media streamers on the market, it's still one of our favorites. While it's not the most powerful streaming device out there, it still packs a punch and is one of the easiest media streamers to set up. Be sure to check out our review link above for more information.
Feature Details from Mvix:
Mind-blowing viewing experience: A digital file player that offers true brilliance in hi-definition video output with vivid views and colors. The embedded processor (Sigma EM8621) decodes high resolution video so you can enjoy movie theater quality video on the big HD screen. It supports resolution of 1920 x 1080 Progressive Scan video output to produce crisp and clear picture quality.
Movie Library at your Fingertips: Mvix™ technology allows you store your home videos and movies all in one place. Simply install a Hard Disk drive (not included) in the Mvix MX-760HD Media Center and you have hundreds gigabytes of video content - all within one compact unit. You can fast-forward, rewind or pause at any time, just like using a regular video or DVD player. And... as they say, the possibilities are endless.
Flexibility, Scalability and Portability: For movies, TV shows, camcorder footage and more, the MX-760HD is capable of decoding dozens of digital media files and formats including DivX® (3/4/5), Xvid, MPEG 1/2/4, WMV-9, ASF(WMV9), DAT, DVD(IFO, VOB), ISO, HD-level TP, TS, TRP, MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, PCM, AC3, DTS decoding including down-mixing, DTS pass through, BMP, JPEG/JPG, PNG etc. The Media Center is completely Scalable - you decide what HDD-size suits you!
360-degree Access Capability: The Mvix Media Center is fully equipped with almost all possibilities of Input-Output options. It allows PC connectivity via USB2.0, Wireless (802.11G or MIMO), LAN (10/100 Mbps) and even USB-Host ports. For output, Display Devices can be connected via DVI, Component, Composite and even the traditional 3-pin RCA ports. Oh! and did we mention that the MX-760HD offers Digital Optical-Audio port for our audiophiles.
Lately we've been giving our readers quite a bit of news about Boxee, the software that allows you to watch Hulu content on your Apple TV. Now it looks like Boxee has obtained the funding to become a true powerhouse in media streaming. According to LaLaNews:
And now they've got the funding to continue on that track, thanks to a $4 million first round from Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures. This money will be used not only to entice current and future content providers such as Hulu, CBS, Netflix and BBC to put their goods on the service, it'll also provide the means to persuade the increasingly important set-top box manufacturers to include the Boxee software.
One could easily imagine Boxee running on something like the Roku box (which is currently looking for partners beyond Netflix) or maybe even something like the Vudu box. Of course, if Boxee could convince cable box manufacturers and cable companies to use the software, that would be a win for everyone.
We don't know if it will be because of Boxee or another company but we're just dying to get Hulu on our Netflix Player. Maybe soon, huh?
Not too long ago, we told you that Netflix would be providing some "Instant Que" content in HD to the Roku Netflix Player. Well it looks like Xbox 360 owners have lucked out and get HD content first. According to the Netflix press release:
LOS GATOS, Calif., Nov 18, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Netflix, Inc. , the world's largest online movie rental service, today announced that Netflix members can have thousands of movies and TV episodes instantly streamed to the TV via the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system when the New Xbox Experience premieres nationwide tomorrow. Adding to a growing number of Netflix-ready devices, the Xbox 360 is the only game and entertainment console that lets users instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix to the TV. There is no additional monthly fee for Netflix members who are also Xbox LIVE Gold members.
Netflix members simply add movies and TV episodes from a growing library of more than 12,000 choices to their instant Queues at the Netflix Web site. Those choices are automatically displayed on the TV screen via the Xbox 360 and, once selected, will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds.
"This is an important and exciting moment for Netflix and Xbox," said Netflix Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Kilgore. "We believe the New Xbox Experience -- with thousands of choices available to be streamed instantly from Netflix as one of its key enhancements -- offers consumers a great at-home entertainment option and provides terrific value as a holiday gift idea."
Netflix also said it is taking the first step in instantly streaming movies and TV episodes in high definition with the introduction of approximately 300 HD choices that will play with standard definition audio via the Xbox 360. The company said it intends to increase the number of HD choices available and will eventually add multi-channel audio. Classic, adventure, musical, foreign and comedy movies now available to watch instantly in high definition include "La Vie en Rose," "Flawless" and "Heroes."
All Netflix members can rent from over 100,000 titles on DVD. They can instantly watch movies and TV episodes from a growing library of choices on their PCs and Intel-based Macintosh computers, as well as on their TVs via one of the Internet connected Netflix ready devices sold by Netflix partners.
About Netflix, Inc.
Netflix, Inc. is the world's largest online movie rental service, with more than eight million subscribers. For one low monthly price, Netflix members can get DVDs delivered to their homes and can instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed to their TVs, PCs and Macs, all in unlimited amounts. Members can choose from over 100,000 DVD titles and a growing library of more than 12,000 choices that can be watched instantly. There are never any due dates or late fees. DVDs are delivered free to members by first class mail, with a postage-paid return envelope, from 55 distribution centers. More than 95 percent of Netflix members live in areas that generally receive shipments in one business day. Netflix is also partnering with leading consumer electronics companies to offer a range of devices that can instantly stream movies and TV episodes to members' TVs from Netflix. For more information, visit http://www.netflix.com/.
Netflix HD content goes live for Xbox 360 owners tomorrow, so be on the lookout.
Basically you plug in the FMT into the headphone jack of your device (stereo, TV, iPod, etc.) and the audio will stream to any FM stereo in your house. Here's some details from Amazon:
Transfers virtually any audio to any FM Receiver.
Features Digital Phase Lock Loop for drift free tuning in full stereo.
Has exceptionally good frequency response.
The FM Transmitter is simple to use. Just plug the Transmitter into the line out or headphone jack of any audio device and set it to the frequency of your choice (88-108 MHz). You're now free to listen to your MP3 player, portable radio, or computer audio--virtually any audio device--in another room and without the need for headphones. C. Crane's FM Transmitter also:
Offers highest Quality, full stereo on any FM Frequency of your choice.
Transmits any audio, from MP3s to streaming audio or guitar songs to a home or car radio.
Transmits audio from your computer on your kitchen radio.
Plugs it into the earphone jack or line out of any audio device and set the frequency of choice.
What we really like about the FMT is how handy it is and it comes in at under $70. If you're looking for a great stocking stuffer for the audiophile on your list, be sure to check out the FMT.
If you've got an Apple TV, there's no reason not to have Boxee since it really opens up the availbility for lots of free streaming content. If you're ready to install Boxee, we found a great tutorial to help you get the most out of the software over at Gizmodo. The tutorial starts out:
What You'll Need:
• Apple TV with software version 2.0 or higher
• A USB flash drive 512MB or larger
• ATV USB Creator [download: 1.0.b7 version - Mac only, for now]
• An invite into Boxee's semi-public alpha (use this link especially for Giz readers to jump the line a bit)
Prepare Your USB Drive
Just like the iPhone, the Apple TV is basically an OS X computer (running a 1GHz Intel processor), so Boxee installs just like a regular desktop app in the Applications folder, which is hidden normally. Why Apple hasn't opened up the Apple TV to third party developers is anyone's guess, but thankfully, with a prepared USB stick it's all pretty painless.
So what's the future of Boxee? According to the tutorial:
Eventually, Boxee wants to be in set top boxes and on every platform (Windows is coming before the end of the year)--since it supports practically every audio and video codec known, it's aiming to be the Firefox of multi-platform connected AV setups, featuring plug-ins and add-ons of its own. It doesn't support DRM of any kind, so don't hold your breath for Boxee to be picked up by any of the majors. Fine with me.
As usual, Christmas is coming upon us way too fast! If you haven't started shopping yet, you better get going. We here at Networking Audio and Video have put together a short list of our favorite products to get you going. What's great about the products on this list is that most of them are devices to get the most out of your home entertainment system, thus saving you a bunch of money since there's no reason to go out of the house. So not only are you giving gifts that only cost a few hundred dollars, you going to help that special someone save some entertainment money. Talking about doing your part during these rough economic times!
So what's the must have give this year? For us here at NAV, it has to be the Roku Netflix Player. Where else are you going to get so much entertainment value for $99 bucks. Be sure to check out our information on the Roku Netflix Player at the end of this list.
Here's our list starting at $400 and going down from there. Please note these prices are the MSRP, so you should get a better deal just by clicking on the "Purchase" links below. Enjoy!
Description: There's a lot of DivX nuts out there that swear DivX is the only way to watch a movie (We won't go that far!). If you've got one of those types around the house you'll want to check out the D-Link DSM-330 DivX Connected HD Mediaplayer. Quite simply, the DSM-330 allows you to stream HD DivX content from your PC to your HDTV. How sweet is that?
Feature Details from DivX:
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.
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.
You've probably notice that we here at NAV are big fans of the Roku Netflix Player. Now it appears that Blockbuster is jumping into the set-top box fray. According to HomeMediaMagazine.com:
Blockbuster is planning to bow for the holidays a set-top box that would deliver movies on demand from its Movielink download service. The Dallas-based DVD rental chain next year also will bow a Blockbuster-branded widget on Intel-manufactured chips imbedded in IPTV monitors.
Chairman and CEO Jim Keyes, who made the announcement Nov. 6 during a call with investors, offered no additional information on the set-top box, including manufacturer, price and availability.
Analyst Edward Woo with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles said the set-top box device sounded ambitious, but wondered how consumers under pressure from the current economic downturn would receive it.
As exciting as it will be to see what Blockbuster offers, we're confident it won't come close to competing with Netflix. We found an article entitled Blockbuster's Set-Top Box Will Flop at Mashable.com that we believe lines up with our views pretty well on the subject. Be sure to check the article out.
As HD streaming picks up steam, it appears that broadband internet providers are starting to get worried about bandwidth usage. AT&T is the latest company to be testing metered bandwidth according to Money.CNN:
AT&T says it will have tiers ranging from 20 GB per month to 150 GB per month with a $1 per-gigabyte overage fee for new customers. Later this year, existing AT&T High-Speed Internet customers in Reno will become a part of this trial if their monthly usage exceeds 150 GB in one month. These customers will receive a usage amount of 150 GB per month.
Metered bandwith worries us here at NAV because the bulk of our TV viewing is through streaming video. We're especially worried about bandwidth when Netflix starts streaming HD over the Netflix Player. According to the same article, Netflix has it covered:
Roku, the maker of the Netflix Player set-top box, said over the weekend that it "will be using Advanced Profile encodes which will deliver HD at substantially lower bit-rates than what Xbox is offering." This reinforces what the company had told us before -- that it's not concerned about bandwidth caps because new technologies allow for higher-quality at lower bit-rates. These advanced compression techniques, however, will have some impact on the quality and whether the content will truly be in HD.
Wow, that sure is good news! Let us know if you're being capped on internet usage where you live.
One of the biggest frustrations with streaming media can be the constant rebuffering. That's why it's so important to have the right devices and wireless equipment to get the most of your setup. We found a small but informative article at MediaSmartHome that starts out:
Everyone knows that for best wireless performance with a digital media receiver, especially when streaming HD video, one has to use an wireless "n" router. What people usually don't know is that a wireless router needs to meet requests from all clients (including the legacy b, g, and a devices) so any client with a legacy receiver (say a printer with wireless "g", or a laptop with wireless "b") can in effect slow down or downgrade your overall performance.
one of the tips in the article:
You connect your old router to one of the LAN ports of your wireless "n" router, and you configure it in "bridge" mode. Bridge mode means that there is no DHCP server running on this router (all IP's will be provided by the "n" router" and connects to the Internet via your "n" router).
So if you're struggling to keep your streaming media seamless, be sure to check out the article.
While there's quite a few media streamers out there, we really like ones that work well for Road Warriers. Western Digital has introduced the WD TV HD Media Player which streams content from your USB drive. For $129.00 MSRP, this might be a great device for the laptop bag.
The basic features:
Compatible with My Passport portable hard drives and other USB storage devices
Full HD 1080p video playback and navigation
Provides access to 2 USB drives simultaneously
HDMI and composite video interfaces for easy connection to a TV
Ultracompact design for easy portability
Includes My Passport hard drive stand, compact remote with batteries, composite A/V cable, AC adapter, media converter software and owner's manual
Looks like Best Buy even has the device for $99 right now. Be sure to check it out.