Oct 15 2006

News - The Digital Home

The Express News in San Antonio has a broad look at the what the digital home is all about and where the industry it is heading. I can certainly attest to the fact that you need to wire your home regardless if you intend to purchase Home Automation equipment right away. I did some pre-wiring, but with more planning I am sure I would have been happier with the results.

From the article:

Existing homes can be retrofitted for home automation, but that's still uncommon and expensive. Rewiring older homes for automation is expected to become an expansion market once home-control systems become the rule in new construction, Ablondi said.

Companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. are marketing products that integrate control of home theater systems with house control so users can turn on outdoor lighting or activate an MP3 play list from the TV remote control.

For Bagwell, who didn't say how many thousands he's spending to automate his home, the home-control system is all about peace of mind.

 

Oct 15 2006

News - Evesham Freeview personal video recorder PVR160

Sure the TiVo does a lot, but I am betting it's not going to cut it when trying to record Freeview broadcasts in the UK. The PVR-160 from Evesham Tech, not to be confused with the PVR-150 from Hauppauge, is a $300 160GB dual tuner PVR that includes all of your standard PVR features. The foible that caught my eye is that you can't record two programs at the same time. A bit odd for a box with dual tuners.

From the article:

It's not going to everyone's cup of tea, though. Anyone who wants to repurpose the programmes they record from Freeview - to burn to DVD or to encode for use on a portable or home media player - will need to look elsewhere, unless they already have (or are willing to buy) analogue-digital converter boxes that let them encode to a PC in real-time from analogue outputs.

Even then, the fact that the PVR160 can output S-video only via Scart, rather than having a dedicated S-video output, makes the task a little trickier to get footage out of the Evesham and into a PC at the best possible quality. A Scart-to-S-video lead will be needed. That's not a cable we've ever had to use and suspect it won't be found in many people's armouries but, fortunately, you can buy them on line for under a fiver.

 

Oct 14 2006

News - Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray Disc Player

Slowly but surely reviews of the next gen DVD players are starting to hit the web. Somewhat surprising is the lack of support for the new HD Audio CODECS, but the promise of a firmware update should rectify this problem. Canada Hi-FI notes that the PQ is very similar to Toshiba's HD DVD player and there are benefits to DFVDs using the new VC-1 CODEC.

From the article:

Slow start-up and loading times of the first Blu-ray and HD DVD players got a lot of criticism but the Panasonic wasn't exactly quick itself. It took about 16 seconds for the player to power on and open the disc tray. It took another 20 seconds for a Blu-ray disc to begin playing. I also noticed that skipping forward through chapters of a Blu-ray dics was slightly slower than with a regular DVD. Skipping backwards though chapters was very slow.

Oct 14 2006

News - Comcast Remote 30 Second Skip

If you are the lucky owner of a Comcast Motorola DCT3412 box, there is a hack available online to program your remote for a 30 second skip for commercials. Its a pretty simple hack that will have you in commercial skip heaven in no time.

From the article: 

Via PVRWire

  1. Choose an unused or unneeded button on the “silver” remote to be the 30-second skip command. I used my “A-lock” button, and in retrospect (with two kids) that’s probably not the best choice, but I wanted it near the other DVR controls. Other choices are the PIP buttons at the bottom, (maybe there’s a hack for those too?) or the “help” button (there’s no help either).
  2. Press the “Cable” button at the top of the remote to put it into Cable Box control mode.
  3. Press and hold the “Setup” button until the “Cable” button blinks twice.
  4. Type in the code 994. The “Cable” button will blink twice.
  5. Press (do not hold) the “Setup” button.
  6. Type in the code 00173.
  7. Press whatever button you want to map the 30-second skip command to.
Oct 14 2006

News - Wal-Mart to RIAA: We're not gonna take it!

I think we all know that CD prices have been a bit out of whack for sometime now. Wal-Mart certainly thinks so and they are letting the RIAA know that they want to sell the CD's for 10 dollars and still make a profit. I know I would buy a lot more CDs for that price.

From the article:

Tensions are not as high now as they were last winter, but making sure Wal-Mart is happy remains one of the music industry's major priorities. That's because if Wal-Mart cut back on music, industry sales would suffer severely -- though Wal-Mart's shareholders would barely bat an eye. While Wal-Mart represents nearly twenty percent of major-label music sales, music represents only about two percent of Wal-Mart's total sales. "If they got out of selling music, it would mean nothing to them," says another label executive. "This keeps me awake at night."

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