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

William Hungerford at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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

William Hungerford at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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"

William Hungerford at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

August 25, 2008

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

William Hungerford at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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]


William Hungerford at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 13, 2008

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"

William Hungerford at 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:

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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.

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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 at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 23, 2008

Build a Wireless Audio Streamer for Around $100

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Need a wireless audio streamer for the house but you don't want to shell out $200 or $300 dollars. Maybe you have the money but you're looking for a cool weekend project?

Popular Science's website has a cool "how-to" that shows you how to assemble an audio media streamer starting with an old PC that you have lying around the house.

Some of the things you'll need to get started:

  • Salvaged PC (must have serial RS232 port, two USB ports, and one stereo line out jack; or, build your own, like our $72 PC
  • Streamzap PC remote control (Amazon.com; $30.24)
  • TRENDnet 54Mbps wireless G USB adapter (Amazon.com; $15.99)
  • Serial-Enabled 20x4 LCD (SparkFun Electronics #LCD-00462; $32.95)
  • RS232 shifter board kit (SparkFun Electronics #PRT-00133; $6.95)
  • Hookup wire (RadioShack #278-1223; $5.99)

This project made be a tad advanced for some, but it definitely looks like a project that might be fun to try. We here at NetworkingAudioVideo will give it a shot and let you know how it turns out.

At PopSci.com (image credit: Luis Bruno)

William Hungerford at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 22, 2008

Review: MediaGate MG-450HD High Definition Digital Media Server

A few months ago we introduced the MediaGate MG-450HD High Definition Digital Media Server to you. Since then we've been working on a review of the MG-450HD that we wanted to share with our readers. In case you missed it, you'll want to check out our unboxing of the device we did in May.

We'll start by telling what makes the MG-450HD such a powerhouse. The device is a media streamer that connects to you home theater in ways that most devices can't. Besides wireless and wireless connections you also have the ability to connect to multiple drives like to the hard drive of a networked computer, an attached USB device, or an optional SATA internal hard drive. Without the optional drives you can stream HD video, photos and audio from any PC on your wireless or wired network to your TV. Once you add one of the optional drives you can then store media locally.

Let's look at the basic specs:

ArrowContinue reading: "Review: MediaGate MG-450HD High Definition Digital Media Server"

William Hungerford at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Is it the End of the Road for CDs?

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How do you get your digital music? Here at the NAV headquarters we prefer to stream music over the internet. Sometimes that involves a streaming device like the Grace Digital Radio or the Sonos Wireless Music System and other times we stream right over a PC. One thing we noticed lately is that we rarely listen to CDs anymore and it appears we may not be alone. According to CNET.com, there was poll recently at Stereophile that asks: How do you listen to digital music? The results:

The poll says 34 percent still use CD players as their primary digital source. Yikes, I would have guessed much higher, more like 70 percent. Thirty-six percent use a computer-based server, and 10 percent use dedicated servers such as Sonos or Squeezebox. Another 4 percent use iPods! I felt a little better that 11 percent use a SACD or DVD-Audio player. Another 3 percent voted "other."

We'd like to see this poll taken again in about 12 months as we bet the 10 percent for dedicated servers at least doubles and the CD uses gets cut in half. The sad thing is that CDs are definitely appear to riding off into the sunset like LPs once did (although LPs have made somewhat of a comeback).

Do you still listen to CDs? Leave us a comment and let us know how you get your digital music.

At CNET.com

William Hungerford at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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