When the switch to HDTV is complete, maybe it will be time to get rid of cable. Neuros' Link Open Source Media PC, our Freakin' Friday pick of the week, runs on Ubuntu Linux and connects to your TV via HDMI. The built-in software makes it simple to type in the show you want to watch, then finds streaming sources. Get content from such sites as Hulu or one of the networks, or use the preloaded Bit Torrent. Connect an external hard drive preloaded with DVDs and AVI files and those will play, too. The Link also streams audio and photos and, get ready, you can tweak it to your personal need. The $299.99 price includes a no-questions-asked 4 month return policy.
Neuros is so excited about their new PC that they are offering money to those who can improve on their software. If you have link coding ability to make it work with Netflix, get iTunes to run on it, create a configuration wizard or enable Move Networks Plug-in, you can make up to $2,500.00, depending on the project.
Slacker previously released a mobile App for Blackberry OS 4.3 and up and now you can get it on the iPhone/iPod touch. Listen to over 100 Slacker stations, 10,000 artist stations and scads of listener-created stations. A free service, it has high-quality stereo from a wireless connection, artist bios, photos, album art and preview. Ban the music you don't want, pick your favorites, and let the tunes begin.
Looks like Linksys is taking on Sonos with it's announcement at CES of the Wireless Home Audio System. Gizmodo has a list of the individually priced components that look it'll definitely nickel and dime you to death. Still you can check out the bundled packages:
As far as bundles go, there will be three bundles offered--the Premier Kit, the Trio Kit and the Executive Kit. The Premier includes 1 Player, 1 Director, 1 Controller and 2 IR remotes for $1000. The Trio includes 2 Players, 1 Controller and 2 IR remotes for $850. The Executive includes 1 Director, speakers and an IR remote for $550. The entire Wireless Home Audio system, except the Conductor, should be available immediately. The Conductor is slated for a Q1 release.
Although pricey, the system looks pretty sweet. We'll try to get a hold of a review unit and let you know what we think.
If you're an MP3 nut, you probably have a few tools on your PC that'll help you get the most out of your music. Still, we wanted to point you to a small but informative article that lists some free MP3 tools. The article at Software How-tos starts out:
Ok, you've got loads of music on your computer - but is that all cluttered, unorganized, unmanaged and simply not easy to access? May be you need to do something. Literally hundreds of free software let you play, organize, burn and do lots more with your digital MP3 music collection. Have a well tagged, sortable music collection that you can be proud of!
Here comes a carefully chosen list of free programs that might help you squeeze the best out of your MP3 collection.
A few of the items on the list are:
VLC Media Player(VideoLAN)
J.River Media Jukebox
Magic MP3 Tagger
Be sure to check out the full article so you can get the most out your music.
Description: We here at NAV think one of the greatest inventions ever is internet radio. While we can stream radio over our computer, we prefer a stand-alone device that's easy to use and set-up. One of our favorite devices that accomplishes those goals is the Grace ITC-IR1000 Wireless Internet Radio with Pandora Radio Support. Be sure to read our full review at the link above and if you're looking for a gift for the music lover on your list, you can't go wrong with the ITC-IR1000.
Feature Details from Grace Digital:
11,000+ internet radio stations in any room of your house. You can choose to play internet radio stations, podcast, or even stream your MP3's from you PC or MAC.
Pandora Radio Streaming now available. Stream your Pandora personalized stations to any room in your house. With song bookmarking you can purchase songs directly from iTunes or Amazon via the Pandora website.
Want to hear what's going on in your home town, state or country? Using your radio browse stations by location. Listen to music and talk radio from Europe, Asia, Africa...virtually every country in the world.
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.
Want to stream music from your cellphone to your home stereo? Well you can with the Chordette Gem from Cord Electronics. According to Chord's website:
The Chordette Gem is the first in a new range of lower cost products designed to integrate within any existing HiFi system. The Gem has our unique Bluetooth Audio receiver technolgy to allow the transfer of music from a Bluetooth enabled phone, PDA or personal computer. The addition of a USB port also allows direct streaming of audio from a PC.
Sounds like a pretty neat device especially if you rely on your phone for your musical entertainment. The only drawback to the Gem might be the almost $700 price tag.
While there's a ton of tutorials out there to help you stream music throughout the house, we found a handy tutorial that shows you how to stream using both Windows Media Player 11 and iTunes. According to the tutorial at PCAdvisor.uk:
You've no doubt already fine-tuned your existing audio setup, but why stop at optimising the audio potential of just one PC? Connecting all your computers and audio devices on a wireless network does away with the hassle of transferring CDs between machines and re-downloading files.
Streaming media across a network used to require expensive and complex hardware. Not so today. Windows Media Player (WMP) 11.0 and iTunes have facilities for sharing music libraries. We'll show you how to use these services to set up a free media-streaming network.
If you've got more than one computer in the house and you aren't streaming, what are you waiting for?
We here at NAV recently gave you an unboxing of the ZvBox from ZeeVee. We're still working on a full review but we wanted to pass along Engadget's review. Overall, Engadget loves the technology but they wonder if consumers are ready to dish out the dough for it. According to the review:
So the question really comes down to how much are you willing to spend to eliminate the box next to your TV,without running extra wires through your house -- we suspect, not much? We are, however, really impressed with ZeeVee's technology and can imagine many similar devices that we would easily pay $500 for. Personally, we'd rather have a ZvBox with component and toslink input and a built in IR repeater so we could easily hide any STB we wanted in a remote closet, without running any wires in our house, but that's us. So the bottom line is that if the ZvBox is just what you've been looking for to watch Hulu on your HDTV, and you wouldn't even blink an eye at spending $500 to do it, then it's perfect, but the rest of us can keep waiting.
You'll want to read the full review and since we're working on our own, we won't comment on Engadget's review yet. We'll roll out our take of the ZvBox from ZeeVee soon.