Dec 18 2006

News - Lian Li PC-C30A HTPC Case

Maybe I'm alone here, but personally I don't like the look of Lian Li HTPC cases. They're so well built, I just can't understand why they choose such bland faceplates. Interesting thing about this review also, is that they comment how spacious the case is, but they use an mATX motherboard, when the case can support a Full ATX, which is a much more common form factor.

The PC-C30A is an excellent case for media centers and enthusiasts who wish to design their own systems with off the shelf parts. The styling and functionality show Lian Li has gone the extra mile to design an excellent enclosure. The HDD drive retention system, the flawless fit and finish make this case stand out over other brands. The PC-C30A has some minor quirks and these may never be an issue with most consumers like the IR monitor, and USB media card reader. These can be overcome with other brand or external devices though. All in all the PC-C30A is fine product that would be a great addition to any entertainment system.


Read the full review here


Dec 18 2006

News - Mac SlingPlayer Updated

Zatz has the scoop on the latest SlingPlayer client for Mac and a couple of Mobile phones. Sling is a great method of place shifting your content! Its a stand alone component that will stream TV or any other source to a computer or hand held device.

From the article:

SlingStream™ is a proprietary streaming technology specifically designed to address varying network conditions while optimizing your video playback experience. SlingStream provides the best possible video experience by continuously monitoring the connection speed and dynamically adjusting the video compression ratios to match your available network bandwidth.

Dec 18 2006

News - Scythe SCNJ-1000 Ninja heatsink

If you can pronounce the company's name, you're already a step ahead of most. But naming aside, Scythe has made a name for themselves quite quickly for having some of the most silent components for your PC. The Ninja heatsink has so many fins that it can be run completely passive (assuming your case isn't an oven to begin with).

The recently released Scythe SCNJ-1100P, also known as the Ninja Plus Rev. B, is the third version of the Ninja. This version is very similar to the previous version except for the mounting system. Now included are a Scythe branded fan, a redesigned mounting bracket for the LGA775 socket, and a new bracket for the AM2 socket. The cooling provided by the Ninja has not changed; it is still one of the best heatsinks on the market. The basic design of the Ninja remains: Twelve heatpipes running through a stack of large, thin, widely spaced aluminum fins.




Read the rest here

Dec 18 2006

News - XBOX Live Marketplace vs. HD-DVD

PVRWire has the scoop on a comparison between a downloaded HD movie from the Xbox Live Marketplace and a HD-DVD movie. Looking at the screenshot, it appears that the downloaded movies do fairly well when compared to the stand alone movie.

PVRWire Article:

Original Article:

With the current limited selection of movies available in both HD-DVD and the WMV HD format used by Xbox Video Marketplace, I used V for Vendetta as my movie of comparison. Watching each movie independently, I could find no artifacts in either video file, no macro blocks during motion sequences, and a great range of colors in both cases. The Xbox Video Marketplace file looked just slightly brighter than the HD-DVD, but overall I couldn't tell any real difference.



Dec 18 2006

News - HDTV Guys: Podcast #128

This weeks podcast features some tasty news bits and a couple of reviews including the Mvix HD Media Center and Sony's New Blue-ray player.

Listen Here:

Podcast Summary Here:

We went to our local BestBuy to check out the player. The people there were very nice and helpful. They walked us over to the SONY player. It was connected to a 46 inch SONY 1080p BRAVIA LCD TV. We immediately asked permission to take the TV off its default settings and do some very quick adjustments. Those standing nearby made a comment on how the TV looked better. We almost started a clinic on setting up TVs but we were guests in a store and we didn't want to become unwelcome guests, so we dove in. We powered the player off and started from a dead stop. It took the unit about 20 seconds to come up. A bit slow but nothing that would cause you to say I can't live with this player. Blu Ray and regular DVDs took about three to five seconds to display their menus on screen. Navigation is quick and snappy. On this particular unit it seemed faster than a regular DVD player. When you hit play the movie would start immediately for both Blu Ray Disc and DVD.

Dec 18 2006

News - All Blu-ray players bow to the PlayStation 3?

Why bother with a stand alone player when you can get a PS3 for cheaper? The price is on factor but it also appears that the PS3 functions better as a stand alone player then others in the market. I think the major factor here is that it is the first player out the door to support HDMI 1.3 which will be able to decode the next HD audio formats. However, true videophiles will will likely wait for 1080p/24f support from Sony's and Pioneer's stand alone players. Both are due out shortly!

From the article:

Two new Blu-ray players that we haven't seen yet, the Sony BDSP1 and the Pioneer Elite BDP-HD1, have a slight edge in that they claim to output 1080p/24. This could be a slight knock against the PS3 since it can't currently do that, although we've seen reports that it might be able to in the future. Probably the biggest disadvantage of the PS3 is that it currently does not upscale regular DVDs. Sony has promised an update in the future, but there's no guarantee it will do as good of a job as the DMP-BD10 and the BDP9000--both are more than competent upscaling DVD players. That being said, with the power of the Cell processor and its current excellent Blu-ray picture quality, we're betting the PS3 will be up to the task.

It seems no one player can do it all yet. My guess is the Pioneer Elite will be the player to bring it all together. 



Dec 18 2006

News - Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD Player

Anyone with a blog named "HDTV Expert" must have a valid opinion or two on the next generation HD DVD player from Toshiba? Right? Actually. its a fairly good view of what you can expect if you purchase the HD-A2. Things look fairly good for this unti with much quicker loading times, a slimmer profile and a nicer remote.

From the article:

The HD-A2, like other blue laser players, missed its ship dates more than once. It was pure luck that I stumbled across one at a Best Buy store in Montgomeryville, PA earlier this week. The player had literally just come in the door — it didn’t even have a price sticker yet.

It appears that Toshiba has scored a major coup by getting its next-gen player to retail before Pioneer, Panasonic, and Sony even have their first-gen Blu-ray players shipped in any quantity to big box stores. Is it worth the price ($499?)






Dec 18 2006

News - Top 10 Home Theater Products Priced at 199.00 or Less has a nice list of products that can be bought for under 200 dollars. You would be surprised what kind of quality you can get these days due to technology trickle. The base of the system tends to be the same and then you pay more for add ons like video swtiching etc.

From the article:

3) OPPO Digital DV-970HD DVD Player with HDMI output and SACD/DVD-Audio Playback The OPPO DV970HD is a "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing". This DVD player delivers great video and audio. HDMI connectivity and upscaling enables the DV970HD to deliver an excellent picture on an HDTV. Other features, such as DVD-Audio, SACD, and Divx playback add great audio and video flexibility. If you are looking for a new DVD player, to use with a flat panel HDTV and surround sound system, you should check out the 970. For less than $199 it performs as well as some more expensive units.



Dec 18 2006

News - 1080p 47" LCD For Under $2Gs

The world of 1080p just got a lot cheaper with Vizio's announcemnt of a 47" 1080p for under 2000 dollars. Thats a pretty amazing price, it almost sounds to good to be true. The company emphasizes customer support as well which is a nice touch. You can expect these budget bad boys before the Super Bowl. Hopefully we can track down some specs before then as well.

From the article 

The new set is the latest salvo in the TV price war from this small company making a name for itself in the TV world. The Southern California company started selling TV sets under its own name in 2003. Now, it is the seventh-largest digital-TV company in the U.S., according to statistics from market researcher DisplaySearch. Vizio is expected to pull in about $800 million in revenue this year.

On Thanksgiving weekend, it offered a 42-inch plasma TV for $999--below a similar set from Panasonic that went for $1,299.

Vizio's basic strategy is to undercut the major manufacturers in price, but also to emphasize customer support. The company has around 55 employees, and a good proportion of them work on the support desk.

Dec 17 2006

Guide - Building A Media Server

    After the initial flurry of activity surrounding your first Home Theater PC (HTPC) project subsides and your significant other is thoroughly addicted to its convenience, it's time to think about phase 2 of the operation.  No, I'm not talking about "Phased Redeployment", but rather about building a media server.  This is a device which will centrally store all media and make it accessible to all client HTPCs.  It can contain redundant hard drives to help protect against data loss.  It can be located in a media closet or the basement keeping the noise of fans and hard drives out of earshot.  It can even make cabling easier as all Satellite/CATV runs need only go to the media server rather than throughout the house.  A media server can wear many hats, but today we will discuss the most common highlights of planning a media server into your existing A/V environment.

Dec 17 2006

News - Audioholics: Products Of The Year

Rather then pick some very pricey components from every catagory, Audioholics rounded up the products that are the best bang for your buck. I think they could have rounded it out a bit better with price categories. 

My favorite of the bunch was the Yamaha receiver and the  Axiom in wall speaker set.

From the article:

Yamaha RX-V659 A/V Receiver
It’s no secret, I thoroughly enjoyed this receiver.  This is one of the few times I’ve found a product that I didn’t expect more from.  Instead I couldn’t help but to be in awe of the intelligent blend of bleeding edge features mixed with excellent performance typically found in the more expensive models.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen the amplifier sections in Yamaha receivers continually improving via more robust power reserves, lower amplifier output impedance, better linearity, and lower noise floors.  The RX-V659 is truly an overachiever delivering much MORE than rated power and not hiccupping on 4 ohm loads as one would expect of any receiver in this price class. 

If you have been riding the sea of receiver options for the last couple of months or so, your ship has come in.  Although it lacks HDMI facilities compared to other products in this price class, it more than makes up for it in the sonic department.  I can’t think of a finer receiver in this price class.  Kudos to Yamaha on such a well engineered and well executed product.


Dec 17 2006

News - Vizio VX37L HDTV

Is the old adage true? You get what you pay for? It really doesn't seem to be holding true with the budget LCD market. I certainly have not heard about mass problems or extremely poor quality. In fact, I have been enjoying my Syntax 27" for more then a year. CNET seems to agree that they are a decent value but you will notice a difference by spending the extra greenbacks on quality TV.

From the article:

The array of conveniences, atypically complete for an inexpensive HDTV, begins with a versatile picture-in-picture function, allowing you to view two inputs or channels simultaneously. You can also conjure two same-sized images side-by-side or go with the standard smaller inset image. Naturally, the VX37L includes an HDTV tuner that can grab over-the-air high-def and digital channels. A viewer can also cycle through three aspect-ratio modes with HD sources and select a fourth, panorama, with standard-def sources.


Dec 17 2006

News - Yamaha MusicCast MCX-2000 Music Server

If you already have a PC with a hard drive, there are some very cheap devices that can distribute you music around the home for you. Although, they certainly don't have the look and feel of a more professional product. I was pretty impressed by what the Yamaha offered in terms of network support. It handles Internet radio, podcasts, XM Radio and of course any music you may have on your PC.

From the article:

While these capabilities are excellent to have, especially for custom installers, the clients are truly designed for remote access to your archived music (the music ripped to the MCX-2000's hard drive). You can have up to five wireless and ten wired clients accessing MP3 music from the server at the same time (PCM tracks, due to their size and bandwidth requirements can only be accessed by a single client at a time). You can browse through your library as you would on the MCX-2000. The included remote control allows you to navigate the menus and control the clients from anywhere in the room, but as with the main unit, the best way to do this is by connecting the clients to an external video display. Each client has the ability to create its own bookmark list, which can then be accessed from any other client on the MusicCast network. These bookmark lists can be converted to playlists just like on the MCX-2000 unit.


Dec 16 2006

News - CQC 2.0 Released

I have been following hte devlopment of CQC since my days at and frankly it looked like it required a bit too much programming for me to be bothered. I say that, however, I have never really played with it to know if it would serve well as an out of the box solution. Perhaps I need to take it for a test spin someday :).

Release Notes:

Media Management:

There was a massive overhaul of the media management system in this release. There is now a Charmed Quark specific media repository, which is managed via our own repository management and CD ripping tool, which also provides metadata retrieval. So you will no longer need either J.River or DVD Profiler if you use our new repository. And you no longer require an export/import cycle to get new data into the repository as with J.River/DVD Profiler, since any changes made with our repository manager are immediately available.

As with everything in CQC, the repository manager is network distributed so you can manage the repository from any machine in the network, including ripping and uploading CD data. In addition, many new features have been added to the user interface system to provide a better media browsing experience, and a new hierarchical layout was implemented so that you can group multi-disc sets into a single browsable item that can be opened up to access to individual discs.

  • We do not provide DVD ripping services, for legal reasons, but you can point our repository at externally ripped DVD files.
  • The existing J.River and DVD Profiler based repositories are still supported, but aren't able to fully benefit from all the new features.
Dec 16 2006

News - Case Study: Mystique 2 By Boddaker

Here is a very detailed look at one of the best HTPC case mods I have seen in a long time. Ever since the HTPC case market really opened up we have not seen the number of mods as we have seen in the past. This particular mod takes a Coolermaster tower and converts it into a VERY functional and sexy HTPC case.

From the article:

Mystique² was created to compete in CoolerMasters' 2006 Modding Contest--which he won in a landslide. Boddaker would be the first to mention that two of our other team members locked up second and third place for the sweep, Feldm4n's awesome Spiderman 3 mod which you can read about here, and Ton's excellent Super Hornet, which will be covered in an article next Friday.




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