As a freshman at UC Berkely, Derek L. My automated his dorm room and included control of music, lights, curtains and an Emergency Party Button that sets off a disco ball and strobe lights. Three months and a few hundred dollars later, the app/voice activated BRAD (Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm) was shared with the world. Create your own by seeing how he did it himself.
Another solution to having an all-in-one media center comes in the form of the TVPlug. The clever gadget replaces your WiFi Router, USB external drive and can record and save TV programs to view on your computer. Available in black or white, it is compatible with both iOS and Android portable devices so that you can view on the fly when you have time to spare.
The Ceton InfiniTV can turns your PC into a media center. Available in both USB and PCI models, it can replace a more costly TiVo. After installing the CableCard tuner, it's like having 4 HD tuners plugged into your computer. Not only can you still receive all of your HD and premium channels from your cable company, there is no extra monthly fee involved. The InfiniTV is compatible with every Windows 7 version except Basic.
Google takes another step towards Interweb domination by introducing Android@Home aka Project Tungsten. Developers can use open source libraries to make home automation apps for Android so that you can turn off those forgotten appliances with your smartphone. Or perhaps you will be able to use it for remote media streaming or powering up your homemade robot. Google is hoping that the end result will not only synchronize your home but save you both energy and money.
Zotac's ZBOX may be a fine addition to your home theater. The ultra-slim HTPC is powered by NVIDIA ION technology with 512MB of DDR3 video memory and will play Blu-ray discs or stream them as a media center. The HD-ID34BR-U includes a mini-PCI Express slot, two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, combo eSATA 3.0 Gb/s and USB 2.0 port, DVI, HDMI, S/PDIF optical outputs, 6-in-1 memory card reader and 802.11n WiFi.
Marmitek's 2nd generation HDMI system includes a remote for even more ease of operation. The GigaVideo820 wirelessly transmits an uncompressed HD signal from to your TV or projector. A built-in splitter allows you to watch locally. Stash the receiver out of sight while still being able to view up to 30m away. The GigaView820 is available now for £360 (~$576.00.)
AOpen's all new XC mini MP55 is certainly designed for the smallest of spaces at a size of 11.5 x 7 x 8". It has the added benefit of keeping its small self from discouraging those who may want to "borrow" it with Intel Anti-Theft Technology. The media center also features 5.1 surround sound, Blu-ray disc or Super Multi optical drive, optional built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless and comes with a MCE wireless remote.
Digital Cowboy's Xtreamer Pro is their latest all-in-one that is compatible with most video files. You can watch movies and TV shows on your HDTV via HDMI but its talent doesn't stop there. The DC-MC35UL4 can be used as networked attached storage, user interface and has both DLNA and DDNS support. Look for a September release with a price around ¥22,000 (~$258.00.)
Control4 has apps for the iPad, iPhone and Android phones and is now offering in-wall InfinityEdge Touchscreens. Available in a 5" model for $500.00 and a 7", $900.00 display, they can connect by AC or Ethernet, wired or unwired. Because the screen is always on, it is a much simpler way to control your home network. An optional intercom can be added to the package.
iLuv packs almost everything into its latest media player. The i1166 has an 8.9" widescreen TFT LCD touchscreen display and remote for those with lazy bodies. It will play DVDs, tunes from your iPod and anything you happen to have on your SD memory card. Both AC and car adapter are included.
LG's latest media player provides online access to the Interweb and supports home theater DTS and Dolby 5.1 with an optical audio output. The wireless Art Cinema DP1 can stream to your TV via Ethernet, USB drive or WiFi. Formats supported include MKV, H.264, Xvid, DivX, flac, ogg, mp3 and wma music files, and of course the player has access to LG's NetCast. The DP1 sells for 160,000 Korean won (~$135.)
Digital Cowboy's new Xtream media player has ISO and IFO compatibility and supports almost all video, audio and image files. The 167 × 29 × 112mm DC-MCNP1, with a 2.5" SATA hard disk drive, also has Windows file sharing, file preview screen and such features as fast forward, pause and resume. The Xtream ships with a remote at a price of ¥ 19,800 (~$240.00.)
Viewsonic, the company that usually concentrates on LCD screens, has come up with its own HD media player.
NexTV displays videos, music and photos from storage devices. It can also stream Netflix and access content from YouTube, Flickr, ShoutCast and other online sites. With support of Dolby and DTS, you can connect the media player to your A/V system.
Register on their site and Quisple will provide you with a free, handy desktop media player that will stream from the Interweb. You simply enter an artist name and track, and your wish is automatically granted. The site also encourages playlist sharing and social networking.