February 27, 2008

Mediagate MH-450HD Media Streamer Gets Mixed Reviews

Well Mediagate has launched another media streamer and it looks like they have been building on their past successes and making their latest unit one of their best looking one to date. The 450HD is in that class of streamers that allow you to either add an internal hard drive, connect a USB disk to it or have it stream from your network. We like the idea of having the internal drive as long as getting content to and from it is easy. We like to keep all of our media central so we would never store it all on the internal drive, but we like the idea of putting a few things there if we wanted to take it with us.

From looking over the specs it is fairly limited in the way in which it will connect up to your entertainment center. It only has Component, Composite and S-Video for video which might make some people unhappy. If you are going to put HD in your product name people are going to expect HDMI these days. Here is the weird thing though, we went and looked at probably a dozen online reviews of this thing and they all mention that it has HDMI, even a press release we read said this. Yet when we go to the companies site and read the specs HDMI is not listed and the picture they show of the device does not have a HDMI port on it. So either the companies site is out of date or everyone just read the press release and assumed it had it. Who knows, all we know is that someone is right and someone is wrong and we have no idea who it is.

Anyway, onto what this can do and not what it may or may not be missing. There is a very well down hands on review over at PC World Australia that basically concludes that while this has some nice features there are plenty of warts to make you want to move on to another product. Even though it is billed as a high def player they say that the menu system was designed with a standard def TV in mind since when they had it on a HDTV the menus looked horrible. They also had some big complaints about the wireless setup being a nightmare.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

February 26, 2008

Celrun TV: Another Cool Media Streamer Only in Korea

Well another reason why it sucks not to live in Korea is the upcoming release of a very cool new media streamer, the Celrun TV. Once again some of the coolest gear is only in Korea. One of these days we are just going to have to go there and bask in the glory of all of their great hi-tech gadgets. The Celrun TV sports an internal 320GB hard drive, the ability to connect to your network via either Ethernet or Wireless, two USB ports to allow the addition of either external drives or MP3 players. There is a built in digital TV tuner so you can have it act as a PVR for you. It will output video over either HDMI, Component, Composite or S-Video and output audio via Optical, Coax or Analog. It also supports a bevy of formats including:
  • AVI
  • MPEG1/2/4
  • DivX
  • ASF
  • XviD
  • OFF
  • FLAC
  • WAV
  • H.264
  • WMV
There is no word on release date, but not that it matters since we doubt this will see the light of day in the States, but for you people over in Korea send us some information when it is released.

via engadget
David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 25, 2008

Hands On With the Networked Media Tank From Popcorn Hour

We have had the Networked Media Tank( NMT ) from Popcorn hour in the office for about a month now and we wanted to share with you our findings. We have been waiting for this device to become available for a long time now and we can't tell you how excited we are to finally have it at the office. So after about a month of testing we can say that this is one of the better streamers we have had the opportunity to test out. One of the main draws of the NMT is its ability to playback just about any format you can throw at it. Other then a few audio formats it played back everything that we tried. To many streamers focus on a few formats and leave out so many of the really popular ones. The people at Popcorn Hour must have realized that there really weren't that many streamers that could just play everything so they threw it all in the NMT.

Another huge feature where the NMT rises above the crowd is its ability to grab media in so many different ways. You can add an internal hard drive and just playback from that, or you can connect to devices on your network via Samba or NFS. Additionally it will pick up UPnP and HTTP media servers. This is probably the most full featured streamer we have come across to date in terms of how it can access your media. It just packs so many options in there that it has been hard for us to figure out something else we would want.

Check out after the jump for our detailed look into how this beast of a media streamer performs when we put it to the test.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (26) | social bookmarking

February 20, 2008

Crazy Pod Chair Makes You Think You Are In The Movie Sleeper

If you ever wanted to feel completely dorky and listen to music at the same time AND you are a big Woody Allen fan then we have something for you. Dubbed the "Armchair Paradise" this crazy chair completely envelopes you to let you rest your weary bones after a long day and listen to some tunes in complete isolation. The makers claim that it holds an advanced sound system in there so you can relax to your favorite tunes streamed into the chair ball while you relax. While this isn't our typical story to cover we just couldn't resist. While we have been envisioning a future where all of our media is digital and can be accessed anywhere and shared with everyone, others are finding ways to isolate us from others and make us look nuts. :) If you haven't seen the Woody Allen movie "Sleeper" you really should as it is a pretty funny depiction of our life in the not to distant future. This chair just reminds us of too many of the silly contraptions that Woody predicts will be in our lives. Are we really that stressed out that we need a chair that covers us up and soothes us with happy music. We'll see, but we can tell you this, if anyone ever buys one of these your friends will never let you hear the end of it.

via engadget
David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 18, 2008

D-Link DSM-320 Network Media Streamer: Hands on Review

dsm-320.jpg We have had the D-Link DSM-320 in the office for far too long without doing an in depth review, so we thought it was time to just gather all of our information and share with you our thoughts. How does it stack up to the rest of the market? How does it handle all the new media types? These are questions we have been playing around with and hopeful we will answer them to you satisfaction. We knew going into this that the device had been out for awhile so it wasn't going to be as cutting edge as some of the devices we have seen recently. The DSM-320 is one of D-Links first attempts at a full featured media streamer and for a first attempt they got a lot right. We have been toying with this device for awhile now and if we'll share our thoughts after the jump.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 14, 2008

D-Link DSM 330 First Impressions

Front of 330.jpg We have had the D-Link 330 Divx Connected device in the office for about a week now and we just wanted to post something quick to let you know our initial thoughts. We had been reading about this device for about 6 months now as rumors of its existence started to surface. Well now that we have started to kick the tires we can tell you that this is the future of media streaming in the home. The interface is intuitive and slick and works so nicely. We find ourselves fighting with so many of these devices, battling the afterthought that is the menu system. Well the Divx guys and D-Link have really thought this out and produced a fluid interface that makes sense. The overall design of all of the screens are top notch, some of the best we have seen in a media streamer to date.

The 330 does all of the basic things you would expect: video, music and photo. But it also can do so much more. The Divx Connected platform was designed with the expectation that the community would develop plug-ins to extend the functionality of the device. They have designed the system so that not only is this possible, but very easy. There is a very active community over at the labs section of the Divx site.

The one area that this device might let people down is that it only plays Divx and Xvid files currently. You can't load an ISO or play WMV files. This is the initial design and the thought was that this is an evolving platform that will add features over time in new devices. The 330 is just the first device that has the Divx Connected software installed. If you can get past the fact that you need to covert your media to one of these two formats then you are setup to have a fully functioning media streamer that will blow you away. Everything about this device is quick and responsive. Loading up our huge collection of photos or music took seconds and scrolling through them showed no lag. They have really worked on the server side of this to ensure the fast response, something many of the other streamers should do as well.

So after a week of playing with this we are thinking of doing something we never thought we would do. We are going to encode all of our ISO's into Divx. We really think this is going to be a HUGE hit when it lands in the States in a few months. The only real downside that we have seen so far is that it requires a windows machine to run the server. This is a deal breaker for some that either don't have a Windows machine or would rather not have a PC running all the time. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed down the road, but as for now you need a PC on and running Windows.

We will have another post soon with our more in depth review, but we just had to say something quickly and let people know that there is a great new media streamer on the horizon. Oh and just wait till we tell you about the cool plug-ins that we have been playing with, so cool! Stay tuned.

UPDATE: We just got word from the good people over at Divx that the 330 does indeed playback WMV/WMA as long as they do not contain DRM. Looks like we must have had some crappy test files. So there ya go, one more format to add to the list. And if you check out the community sites you can find out all sorts of cool ways to add support for a ton of more formats.
David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 11, 2008

Squeezebox Duet: More Then Meets the Eye

duet.jpg Well it looks like there is more to the sweet new Squeezebox Duet then was originally let on. Seems like beyond what is already a very exciting little product, the Duet has some cool hidden features in its remote. Some of the obvious features are a small speaker on the back of the remote, an IR transmitter( the remote use WiFi to communicate to the base station ) and a headphone jack. To top it off there is a SD card slot in the battery compartment and even a 3-axis accelerometer built in. Looks like they are really giving this little product some legs, letting it grow into itself instead of making it so rigid like some other products out there. Check out this picture of the SD card slot:

squeezebox-duet-hidden.jpg Stuff like this makes us all the more excited to get out hands on this and check it out. We can't wait to see what the SD card slot can be used for and what are the possibilities for the accelerometer. Can I change the song by moving the remote or is it purely to know when it is laying down or something so it can go to sleep. Only time will tell. Stay tuned.

via engadget
David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 9, 2008

Sony is Getting in the Networked Audio Video World

sony_hifi_wifi.jpg We had made some predictions earlier this year saying that 2008 would be the year that streaming media around the house breaks out of things that tech savvy people do and into what everyone does. Well if CES 2008 being chalk full of media streamers wasn't clue enough it now looks like Sony is jumping head first into the market. Over at Engadget they have some leaked shots of Sony's upcoming lineup of receivers. A lot of these new systems have us in mind as they are setup to be network streamers. Whether it is the 80GB hard drive or acting as a music server to other connected devices, Sony realizes that this is the direction the market will be going and they are looking to make their presence known. If we hear anything about release date and or price we will let you know.
David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 8, 2008

D-Link DSM-330: Unboxing in the USA

DSM-330.jpg We were extremely lucky to score a yet to be released product in States the other day: the DSM-330 from D-Link. This is an extremely cool device that has had rumors of its release circulating the Internet for a long time. Well as the US release approaches we were given one of the European models to do a demo with. We have only played with it for a few days and we are already very impressed. One thing that we immediately fell in love with was the openness of the product. They are actively encouraging their users to develop plug-ins for the 330 to bring even more features that were not thought up before the launch, they even have a website for it.

While we still have plenty of work to do before we can give you our full review of the device we wanted to share the standard uboxing photos that some of you love and others hate. So sit back and enjoy the 330 being unboxed in the US.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 7, 2008

Squeezebox Duet: Pre-Orders Now Open!

duet.jpg The day has arrived everyone, the Squeezebox Duet is finally available for pre-order. We have been waiting for the next product to be released by Slim Devices for a long time now. We have been loving our Squeezebox for a few years and we were curious to see what direction the next product was going to take. Well it looks like they have taken direct aim at the Sonos people in that this unit has a fully functioning remote with a sweet little display that shows album art and your music library. The Duet remote is much smaller then the one from Sonos and looks better in our opinion. One issue we had with the Sonos was that while the remote is pretty cool in that it displays so much info it was big and out of place among the rest of your entertainment equipment. This remote just looks like another remote, albeit with a kick ass high color screen on the top. The Duet packs all the high end audio innards that you would expect from a Squeezebox, but in a much slimmer package. And just like the Squeezebox you can hook up multiple Duets throughout your home that can link together or remain separate.

They are expected to start shipments at the end of this month so if you want to be the first person on your block to own the coolest audio streamer of 2008 go pre-order NOW.
David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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