Dec 28 2006

News - mceBackup 2.0 Beta Update

Ian must have way too much time on his hands these days, as he continues to update his mceBackup software. This time around:

updated mceBackup 2.0 to include backing up of atscchannels.xml, this the manual channel assignment for ATSC tuners

Download the latest version here

Dec 28 2006

News - Windows Vista "Capable" and "Premium-Ready" System Requirements

Planning on upgrading to Vista? Well, your system better be up to par according to Microsoft. The requirements here are pretty overwhelming, as even with the Vista-Capable, you need 512mb of Ram!!! 

Windows Vista Capable

  • modern processor (min. 800MHz)
  • 512MB system memory
  • DirectX 9-capable graphics processor

Windows Vista Premium-Ready

  • 1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1GB system memory
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics w/ WDDM driver; min. 128MB graphics memory; Pixel Shader 2.0; 32 bits-per-pixel
  • 40GB hard drive with 15GB free space
  • DVD-ROM Drive
  • Audio output
  • Internet access
Read the rest here.

 

Dec 28 2006

News - Klipsch Synergy Sub10 Powered Subwoofer

I think it's good to see separate components for stereos still being popular. It's so easy for people to see HTIB (Home Theater's In a Box) and think they're great because of their price. But they can't compete with a properly built home theater with receiver & speakers. Don't judge me because I live in a small apt so only own the Klipsch 5.1 THX speakers for computers! :-P

The Klipsch Sub10 is a large, heavy, unit with a powerful built-in low frequency amplifier. The driver is downfiring, so the driver cone faces downward. There is also a rear firing port. Below the rear port are the connections and controls.

 

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Read the rest here

Dec 28 2006

News - Consumer Expectation for Digital Experiences

Interesting analysis based on what consumers are expecting from the digital lifestyle. My favorite part is that most people leave a website's homepage within 8 seconds...so if you're reading this...STAY!!!!! Wink

In summary, Forrester believes that consumer expectations for digital experiences are built on three fundamental elements -- appeal to their emotions, provide easy access, and offer useful value. Apparently, it's easier said than done.

Read the rest here

Dec 28 2006

News - Media Center Show Extra #5

Ian's got out his latest of his video add-on to his weekly Media Center Show podcast, so check it out if you want to see some of what he's discussed in action.

On this on the all Vista show I will be taking a look at mceBackup 2.0 my backup tool for Media Center, Big Screen Headlines a RSS reader for Vista Media Center and a look at Music in Vista Media Center.

Check out the video here

Dec 28 2006

News - Onix Strata Mini Floor-Standing Speakers

Home Theater And High Fidelity has the Onix Strata speakers up on the old test bench this week. Interestingly enough, each speaker includes a 8"  350 watt powered 8" subwoofer on each speaker. The speakers seem to garner a great review from the reviewer. The MSRP is currently $1500 and will go up after the new year to just under $2000.

From the article:

The Strata Minis need plenty of power, just as most other planar speakers do. I would suggest at least 100 watts per channel. You could play them with low powered amplifiers, but just not really loud. If I were going to put these into a home theater system, I would use an SSP and one of the 200 watt per channel multi-channel power amplifiers that are out there.

Dec 28 2006

News - Chris Lanier's Take On The Best Buy Life|ware deal

Chris and I have talked very little over the years, but I certainly respect his opinions on the digital home. It also helps that we think alike when it comes to issues such as media center placement in the digital home. A few of you may noticed that Best Buy struck a deal with Exceptional Innovations to offer a connected home package of sorts. It is a very nice start in the right direction, however, there are not many consumers that are going to accept the $7500 installation it costs to get $7500 worth of hardware installed. Lets face it, hooking up a DVD player to a receiver can be a daunting task to many people. As Chris suggests, making it work, and making it work easily are the keys to success. When a $10 a month cable DVR is the alternative, don't expect many people to switch.

From the article:

At $15,000 the price is less then that of most Crestron, Control4, AMX, etc setups.  However, anyone going to Best Buy to purchase home automation products likely doesn't know of these companies or the large(r) price tags that come with professional installs.  It isn’t cheap to have a full Crestron setup installed in your home, but how many Best Buy shoppers even know what Crestron is?

Life|ware is expensive, I don't have exact prices on me but I'd factor in $3500 for Life|ware installed.  Much of this price is going to come from the fact that Life|ware needs configuration far from what the average user is going to be able to do.  It's not consumer friendly install software, it’s meant to be installed by a certified Life|ware installer.  Once installed, it's rock solid and in my opinion is simply the best home automation software that works with Media Center.

Dec 28 2006

News - Pre-built MythTV PVRs

Are you itchin for a taste of the open source media center world? Thankfully, PVR Wire has the cure that ails that nasty rash. Well, if you were out with the questionable girl from down the street, there isn't much any of us can do. For a farily reasonable price, Monolith will build a you a pretty respectable setup with MythTV as its PVR.

From the article:

MonolithMC HD
The MonolithMC HD is the top of the range Monolith MythTV media center designed for High Definition video. It features an analog tuner for recording satellite or digital cable, and a digital tuner for recording OTA and QAM channels in HD format. It also features a DVI cable for connection to a HDTV, a 500GB hard drive and Digital S/PDIF outputs for 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. The MonlithMC HD costs $999 plus shipping.

 

Dec 27 2006

News - Get the Best Picture From Your HDTV

If your friends are too cheap to have their HDTV's professionally calibrated, and don't want to buy an HDTV Calibration DVD...then they shouldn't have bought an HDTV! Just kidding! :-) But lucky for them, people are here to help with some useful problems & solutions for HDTV Owners.

Just about everyone has had the experience of visiting friends or relatives when there happens to be a TV on in the room. If you're like me -- and I assume most audio-video enthusiasts have this reaction to a greater or lesser degree -- you see your host's TV or video display and think, "Why are they running the skin tones so red! All it needs is a little adjustment, and it's so annoying. Should I speak up or will my host interpret this as unsolicited criticism?" (probably!)  

Read the rest here

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 

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