Dec 27 2006

News - Time-Shifted Viewing Figures Offer Dramatic Reality Check

Some interesting stats here based on DVR viewing. Not surprisingly, the reality TV shows & best dramas don't have high DVR numbers, as people don't want to wait to watch it. I don't know, saving your TiVO'd American Idol Auditions & going through them in marathon fashion is pretty amusing.

Some numbers: In the third quarter of 2006, the show with most brands in it was CBS' Rock Star Supernova, with 1,609 prop-shots. But the show with the largest portion of DVR viewers in the fall season was The O.C., with 2.9 million viewers in total, 14.5% of whom are watching later on DVR.

Read the rest here

Dec 27 2006

News - Soundgraph's Front View to compete with SideShow

If you haven't heard about SideShow, it's Microsoft's new feature within Vista that will allow hardware manufacturers to design remotes & devices that can interface with your MCE seamlessly. Well, not to be left behind, Soundgraph (makers of the Imon VFD & Remote a lot of us have used) have announced Front View which will be a similar feature with their new displays.

Dongkwan Jeong, CEO of the company said that while IT giants like MS and Intel have been trying hard to move a pc to the living room, Soundgraph has been focusing on developing convenient pc interfaces from hardware to driver, firmware, and to applications based on its independent technological competitiveness.

 

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Read the rest here

Dec 27 2006

News - Neuros OSD Review

I met the Neuros guys a while back, and they have quite a mission: To build a small, linux-based device to handle your media center functions. While still in its early stages of life, it's showing some promise even with its flaws.

It's great, it really is. Not for what it is, but what it could be. I'll grant you that in its current state it's relatively immature, but from what I've experienced within the community there are a lot of people out there who're working very hard to make this little device into something worth owning.

 

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Read the rest here

Dec 27 2006

News - Sony Altus MDR-D777LP

It is not often I come across a headphone review, so I thought I would post it up. I find myself better able to enjoy the subtle nuances of music with quality pair of headphones and I am sure more then a few of you agree. Coming in at over a 100 dollars, Sony's newest headphone design claims the largest frequency response to date in a set of headphones. Ignoring Sony's marketing techniques, they do come out with some pretty decent higher end consumer products. It appears this time around they may have a winner, although according to the reviewer there are better sets on the market.

From the article:

Ah, so this extended frequency spectrum does mean better sound? Again, not really. The reason lies in the source material used. CDs are recorded at 44.1 kHz, the maximum frequency that can be reproduced from a CD, meaning there are 44,100 points to the sound waveform, with each point’s value being 16 bits long. These discrete measurements are why analog radio buffs still swear by analog recordings like vinyl records. Recently, high definition audio formats have been introduced, most notably DVD-Audio and SACD, that offer bit rates of 96 kHz and have been aimed at converting those with high-end analog stereo equipment to the digital age.
 

 

Dec 27 2006

News - HP Dreams of Managing Your Digital Home

Its pretty obvious that everyone is chomping at the bit to grab a chunk of the electronic home pie that is developing rapidly. HP is ready to join the fray by tiptoeing in the waters with a few product releases. Its clear they haven't listened to me or their strategy would surely be different. The do offer an interesting TV that comes with a hard drive to pull content of a PC but other then that I can't really find much to get excited about.

From the article:

Hewlett-Packard is clearly benefiting from the shift in consumer preferences toward notebook PCs. As the entertainment-obsessed consumer shifts toward ever more mobile devices like hand-held video players and phones that can function as mini-PCs, the company wants to be ready with always-connected devices that may blur the differences between a PC and consumer electronic devices.

"It is an important part of the vision we have," said Shane Robinson, H.P. chief technology officer. These 'managed home' products may be the toughest part of the company’s growth strategy to execute.

H.P. has been selling TVs for several years, even selling them in Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer. But it has not broken into the upper ranks of TV makers, where Sony, Samsung and Sharp hold court.

 

Dec 27 2006

News - PSB Speakers Develops New Designer High Performance Loud Speakers

CES 2007, LAS VEGAS, NV. Jan. 8, 2007 — PSB Speakers, the Canadian manufacturer long renowned for their affordable high-performance loudspeakers, introduces the special PSB G-Design, with three distinctive models during CES 2007 in Las Vegas today.

The striking new hand-rubbed, seamless, high-gloss black cabinets immediately tell you this is no ordinary PSB speaker. However, with one brief listen you’ll recognize the well-known PSB sonic signature and know the legacy continues with yet another exciting design from the PSB Engineering and Design Group. PSB founder, Paul Barton, said, “The G-Design combines some of the highest performance drivers and elements developed for the acclaimed Platinum Series.” David Smith, Director of Product Development added, “The look and style of the G-Design effort was paramount to achieve integration into contemporary environments without sacrificing the high performance that has always been the hallmark of PSB.” Senior Engineer Mark Mason who also worked on this project considers the G-Design “to be electrifying, bold and designer-friendly.” He further added, 'The shape and hand polished finishing among a number of other touches were utilized to make a stunning visual statement.”

Click the read more button for the full release 

Dec 27 2006

News - Wii House Control

Out of the box, the Wii looks to be a pretty fun entertainment system. LiquidIce, of Wii hack fame, wasn't satisfied with this. His latest hack allows the Wii to control his HA system. lights, Cable DVR etc. The heart of the program is a custom PHP script that directs traffic and is controlled the a flash designed front end. Very nice work indeed.

From the article:

I'm sure that if you rigged something up you could do something similar with special software that runs on your PC. However, by using the WACI I have a dedicated piece of hardware that's only function is to send commands to my stuff no matter which interface I create to control it. If you are looking into going into home automation you should check out some of the open protocols which you can access from just about any web programming language. I can program the same home automation scripts using, Flash, ASP, HTML, Javascript, C#, C++, and Java. It's great for developers, and fairly simple to get started using the provided sample code from Insteon or one of the other do-it-yourself home automation packages. For more info on home automation you can check out:

Dec 27 2006

News - Get the Best Picture From Your HDTV

After leaving the CRT world, a few visual problems may pop up thay may leave wondering if your new TV is worth he investment. ecoustic's article covers major problems that almost anyone would notice and luck for us are easy to fix. By following this few rules, it should get you to 80 to 90% of the way to perfect picture quality. Most people settle for this and are quite happy. Going the last 10 to 20% is where you start really researching the brand of TV, ISF calibration, DVD calibration discs (alot would argue that this is a basic tweak that should be performed regardless) and other things along those lines. 

From the article:

The "Big, Heavyset" Look

The Problem: Everyone on screen looks like they've been hitting the donut counter or hoovering up too much good food. In almost all cases, someone has inadvertently activated the "stretch" mode on a new widescreen TV. This tells the set to digitally expand a standard, squarish non-HD 4:3 image to fill the widescreen aspect ratio so that no black borders appear at the sides of the screen. It's nice not to see black borders, but "stretch" modes will also tend to expand the horizontal girth of anyone on-screen. Sometimes the actors in the center may be left untouched, but as they exit left or right, they stretch to larger proportions.

The Fix: To cancel this mode, look for a picture size control on your TV's remote and go through the options until figures on-screen look normal. Set it to "4:3" for non-high-definition TV images. The widescreen aspect ratio is part of the HDTV standard, so if you are watching HDTV programming, then set the TV for "16:9" or "widescreen." With the right setting, your HDTV should display conventional non-HD 4:3 images with black borders to each side (get used to them!) and automatically go to undistorted widescreen images with an HDTV program.
 

Dec 27 2006

News - Toshiba Plans HD DVD Push

As the next generation war rages on between HD DVD and Blu-ray consumers remain cautious in their spending ways until a winner is decided. Toshiba, hoping to tip the scales in their direction, has intends to reload going in the new year with an aggressive push at CES. Certainly not to exciting, however his quote about possible price drops did raise a few eyebrows. Toshiba already enjoys a nice price lead in the stand alone player market and further price cuts would certainly help their cause. 

If you already own a HTPC, a very cheap alternative is to pick up the Xbox add-on player. The add-on player retails for under $200 and has been confirmed to work with a HDCP video card and the proper CODECS. Certainly the over investment is great, but if you have already invest the time and effort in building a HTPC, an additional 200 dollars seems like a pretty small investment for HD DVD goodness.

From the article:

When asked if Toshiba would be announcing cheaper players, Fujii remained tight-lipped on the company's plans but said, "At first I though the price threshold is $499. Maybe coming next is $399 and after that is $299." He didn't give a timeframe for this possible drop in prices.

While both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc have appeared in stores during 2006, sales of both formats remain relatively low. Prices of compatible machines are high and the formats continue their battle. That means consumers buying either format risk being left with a machine on the losing side that could end up being nothing but

 

Dec 26 2006

News - MSI MEGA PLAYER P640 MP3 player

I am in the market for a new mp3 player and while researching I came across this mp3 player review from XtremeComputing. It looks to be a winner in my opinion. The other player I am considering is the iRiver clix.

Read the Review: 

 

Once you have entered within your selected function here’s what you will be presented with and again MSI have done an outstanding job keeping everything simple and easy to read, the white text is really bright against the gray background the in what ever lighting you could make out the writing. The picture above is the P640 music feature layout to select how you are going to sort your files: Select all, Select Artist, but the highlight here with the P640 is the Playlist function that allows you to edit your own personal playlist through the player itself, where you would normally have to do this through your Media player and then save it to your device. You can add anything from Albums right down to Voice recordings by just holding down the Submenu button for 2 seconds which calls up the another submenu then clicking add to playlist.

MSI have designed the P640 to be play MP3, WMA and WMA DRM content, any other formats must be converted prior to transferring, it can also be set as a MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) device which is a new protocol and accompanying set of drivers that helps synchronize the device with windows media player 10, if yours is below this it is advised to upgrade for optimal system performance but you can also set is as a MSD (Mass Storage Device) that recognizes it as a portable hard drive that you can transfer files using Windows Explorer.

 

 

Dec 26 2006

News - Forget L.C.D.; Go for Plasma, Says Maker of Both

Let me preface this story by saying Panasonic is the largest seller of Plasma TVs. Given the steep drop of LCD prices, its not a huge surprise to see Panasonic to defend a large chunk of its profit pie. Still, as the article states, its a bit unusual. Panasonic has even went as far as offering side by side comparisons of the two technologies at trade shows. 

From the article:

Panasonic also looks to segregate the market. The company argues that L.C.D. TVs, which look brighter in daylight, are the right choice for kitchens and other rooms that need smaller sizes. But in larger sizes and for fast-moving sports scenes, plasma is the right choice, said Mr. Greenberg. Since the ad campaign began, “field research shows that the dialogue is changing. Once you point out that the blacks in plasma are blacker than in L.C.D., it is like pointing out the rabbit in the painting.”

 

Dec 26 2006

News - Why Widescreen Is Better

Widescreen.org, surprisingly enough, has an flash example of why widescreen TVs are better then 4:3 TVs. To a certain degree I agree with it. Going more to the root of this, it seems to me that there would be more interesting things to view to the left and right as opposed to up and down. Perhaps we need an adjustable ratio depending on the scene?

See The Flash Demo:

 

 

Dec 26 2006

Review - Antec P180

    In my quest to find the perfect media server tower case, I had a rather simple list of requirements.  It needed to have plenty of space for expansion, keep everything cool even when it is fully loaded, be whisper quiet, and look good while doing it.  Read on to see if my journey is finally over.

 

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Dec 24 2006

News - Track Santa

It is only natural that Santa be tracked by Norad.

Dec. 24: The Himalayas — Just 40 minutes after he was spotted over the Great Wall of China, Santa was heard urging his reindeer over the Himalayan mountains in Nepal. “First we heard the bells jingling, and then we heard Santa call out all of his reindeer by name,” said one 7-year-old Himalayan local, “I’m so excited I can’t go back to sleep!”

Track Santa Here: 

Dec 24 2006

News - Science of Santa Claus

Proof that there is Santa Claus and he will be getting me that new set of Mirage speakers I have always wanted.

With his cherubic smile and twinkling eyes, Santa may appear to be merely a jolly old soul but he and his North Pole elves have a lot going on under the funny-looking hats, Silverberg says. Their advanced knowledge of electromagnetic waves, the space/time continuum, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and computer science easily trumps the know-how of contemporary scientists.

Silverberg says that Santa has a personal pipeline to children’s thoughts – via a listening antenna that combines technologies currently used in cell phones and EKGs – which informs him that Mary in Miami hopes for a surfboard, while Michael from Minneapolis wants a snowboard. A sophisticated signal processing system filters the data, giving Santa clues on who wants what, where children live, and even who’s been bad or good. Later, all this information will be processed in an onboard sleigh guidance system, which will provide Santa with the most efficient delivery route.

Silverberg adds that letters to Santa via snail mail still get the job done, however.

Silverberg is not so naïve as to think that Santa and his reindeer can travel approximately 200 million square miles – making stops in some 80 million homes – in one night. Instead, he posits that Santa uses his knowledge of the space/time continuum to form what Silverberg calls “relativity clouds.”

Read the article here:

 

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