Jan 03 2007

News - New Home Control Product Suite Powered by Z-Wave Technology

Not the sexiest looking remote in the world, but hopefully it's as effective as they say it'll be. No word on pricing yet, but they'll be at CES to show it off, so check it out if you're there.

Utilizing Z-Wave, an open technology standard for home control, UEI has developed these new solutions for simple, accessible, and affordable handheld home control. The new remotes with Z-Wave are known at UEI as the Halo, Halo LCD, and Helix (pictured) products. 




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Jan 03 2007

News - Olevia 747i LCD 1080p Television

At $5000, the Olevia 47" LCD is not cheap, but then again, how many TV's come with 2 HD Tuners built-in? And it seems like it comes with plenty else, although still has the same drawbacks as any other LCD, so keep that in mind as you consider between a plasma & an LCD.

The Olevia is not without flaw. It suffers from some of the weaknesses typical of most LCD sets: poor black levels and less than optimum off-axis performance. But it does have excellent color, great detail, an image that is both compelling and easy to watch for hours on end. It's a worthy flagship for a brand that I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more about in the future.




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Jan 03 2007

News - Ace First with Dual-Player MCE, Company Says

So did Vidabox lie saying they were the first? I don't think it's a big deal, but they do enough to make it public knowledge. Either way, both build some nice systems, although it's fun reading a quote on this page saying that Ace systems start at $1,000, and go up to as high as $70,000!!!

CE Pro has reported online that Vidabox was the first company to demonstrate a Media Center Edition (MCE) PC with dual Blu-ray and HD DVD drives. In fact, ACE Computers beat Vidabox to the punch by about nine months, as we were reminded recently by Barry Speigel, ACE director of business development.




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Jan 03 2007

News - Pioneer PDP-5000EX 50" 1080p Plasma

With an MSRP of $10,000, this is definitely drool-worthy, and maybe overkill. But then again, I'm sure prices will come down as more manufacturers release more 1080p plasmas.

When would you need full HD on a 50" plasma? Well, to put it bluntly: when you want to sit up REALLY close and really see every detail. If you're planning on sitting 12-15 feet away from your 50" display, or if you don't consider yourself to be a hawk eyed videophile, you can save quite a bit of cash by getting a 720p display.




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Jan 03 2007

News - HP SLC3760N 37-inch MediaSmart LCD HDTV

HP, more then any other major company, is embracing Media Center technologies. Evidence of this is their latest LCD/HTPC combination. Without reading the review here are a few things that I think this TV needs to be successful.

1. Good UI (this ranges from playlist support, to responsive UI... basically the whole nine yards)

2. Support for DVD, HD, SD, and archived/compressed video streaming

3. Vista support/MCE 2K5 support

After I read the review, its evident that the system is pretty sluggish and would not replace a client HTPC as intended. Once again, it is evident that HP never came around to MissingRemote.com and asked our opinion of what would make a successful product.

From the article:

BOTTOM LINE With the MediaSmart TV, HP has recognized that the digital age has transformed our PCs into vast repositories of personal and entertainment content that yearn to be freed from the shackles of the home office. After getting a taste through a pretty kick-ass LCD connected to a good sound system, I'm convinced they're right. While the technology to pull this off isn't quite as seamless today as it needs to be for a mass-market appliance, this TV has its heart in the right place. It's yet to be seen if one of HP's low-slung entertainment centers, right there in the living room running Windows Vista, won't be the better solution. But, regardless, the HP SLC3760N 37-inch MediaSmart LCD HDTV points the way to a grand future


Jan 03 2007

News - Silicon Optix HQV Video Processing Used For New HD DVD Player

Silicon Optix, the leader in programmable video processors, announced today that its Reon-VX HQV video processor will be featured in Toshiba’s new top-of-the-line HD DVD player, the HD-XA2.

“As a reference standard for high-end video, HQV’s video processor complements Toshiba’s HD-XA2 HD DVD player with the capability to produce amazing detail and clarity from high-definition (HD) material,” said Jodi Sally, Vice President of Marketing, Toshiba America Consumer Products Digital A/V Group.

HQV’s true 1080i-to-1080p HD deinterlacing delivers the sharpest, most detailed HD images possible by employing per-pixel motion-adaptive algorithms and a sophisticated multidirectional diagonal filter that ensures video free of jaggies. The powerful HQV processing engine also provides per-pixel motion-adaptive noise reduction, detail enhancement, and advanced scaling to deliver premium-quality upconverted SD material.

Toshiba’s new high-end HD-XA2 HD DVD player is designed to output 1920x1080p, the highest-definition signal currently available, via High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI™), which adds support for Deep Color technology.

Jan 03 2007

News - Samsung Drops Blu-ray Player Price

Here I thought the format wars would remain somewhat quiet this week until CES started up. Welp, I was wrong. Samsung has now dropped the price of its Blu-ray price to $899. This translates into price slashes from other retailers including a $330 price drop from Amazon. Amazon's price of $570 brings it much closer to to HD DVD and of course cheaper then a TiVo S3 DVR.

From the article:

That now makes the BD-P1000, with discount, the cheapest Blu-ray stand-alone player on the market, edged out only by Sony's 20GB PlayStation 3 game console, which includes a Blu-ray drive and currently lists for $500.

Vitally important for the next-gen format wars, Samsung's move also helps to close the price gap between Blu-ray and HD DVD -- at least with such steep online discounts -- nearing the $500 list price for Toshiba's cheapest HD DVD player option, the HD-A1.


Jan 02 2007

News - LG DN191H Upconverting DVD/DivX Player Hands-On

I know I preach over & over again how your HTPC can be used as your one-stop upconverter, but figured this was worth a news posting for those sans-HTPC, since it does only cost $80, not a bad deal.  

On our test 46-inch DLP set, the upconverted DVDs looked noticeably better than standard DVDs, as you'd expect. However, even though there's 1 optical digital out and 1 coaxial digital out for audio, there's only Dolby Digital and DTS 2-channel audio supported—even if you've got a DVD with 5.1 channels. This is a thrifty set after all. As for video, there's HDMI and component, as well as composite for older sets.




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Jan 02 2007

News - Silverstone LC09 mini-ITX Case Review

I gotta be honest, I'm surprised to see another remake of this style of case from Silverstone. I remember the first LC05, and while it was a cool design, I don't remember seeing much buzz around it, nor anyone using it. Well, nonetheless, they've made some nice improvements to it & marked it with the cool name, LC09....just rolls off the tongue, eh?! :-P

This case is superb in some ways but a few things could have been improved, my only real gripe was cable management and I felt It could have been slightly better, don’t get me wrong though as the case is perfect for the job it is intended for, I would of liked to have seen slightly longer cables for the power board so that they could be managed a bit better. Or with the recent appearance of some mini ITX motherboards with a PCI-E graphics slot more room inside this case to make use of that. 




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Jan 02 2007

News - Gigabyte H663 Home Entertainment System

New year's starting off with some nice new reviews. Tweaktown has up the Gigabyte AVPC Center HTPC system, which I honestly can't decide if I like the look of it. One thing's for sure, it doesn't look like a computer, which is always a positive for WAF. So how does it stack up as an actual Media Center?

The H663 is an Intel Viiv-compliant system, which automatically sets a particular standard of hardware specifications. The motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-8I945EF-RH, which has an Intel 945G Express Northbridge chipset and an Intel ICH7-DH Southbridge. The motherboard has an onboard Intel GMA950 graphics adaptor, but there is also a PCI-E Gigabyte GC-ADD2EF-RH graphics card with DVI and S-Video – this card isn’t an independent graphics card in its own right, it simply expands the capabilities of the GMA950 adaptor. Onboard audio is provided via a Realtek HD audio chipset.

Unlike most HTPCs which use a traditional computer PSU, the H663 has a 220W external power adaptor. This has the advantage of saving quite a bit of internal space, reduces heat build up and promotes silent running. 





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Jan 02 2007

News - Zalman's HD135 HTPC Case Review

Ok, so my first take on this somehow ended up blank. Anyhow, Zalman really falters on this case with so many vents & fans. It's a shame, as the aesthetics of the case are great, I personally really like the design & style, but you just can't release an HTPC case that clocks in at almost 40db!!

The HD135 is flawed by poor airflow design, badly executed vents, and as is so common with Zalman, poor stock fans. Zalman's decision to use a pair of thin, low pressure, noisy, 80mm fans without providing mounting points for any other fans is disappointing. Many of the vents look perfectly capable of accepting a 120mm fan, if there was only an easy way of mounting one. As our quick experiment proved, the problem with the HD135 isn't a lack of airflow vents; it's the means of pulling air through them that's missing.




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Jan 02 2007

News - TivoDecode Manager hits 2.0

This is the great thing about the TiVo, is even with all their innovations, the community around it helps & provides the rest while everyone waits for an official Mac software from the company.

TiVoDecode Manager 2.0 features the following updates:

  • On the fly MPEG4 encoding is supported on both Intel and PowerPC processors
  • New option to automatically add MPEG4 files to iTunes TV shows
  • New option to select custom MPEG4 compression settings
  • Added estimated download completion time
  • New detail panel includes info on actors, channels, genres, ratings, length, and recording quality
  • And a bunch of other bug fixes and GUI updates
Read the rest here.


Jan 02 2007

News - Two Big-Screen Multimedia Notebooks with HD-DVD Players

I know typically I haven't posted any notebook reviews, but these are deserving I think, as they are Media Centers which also include HD-DVD players. Nice feature of HP's is the built-in IR sensor, versus the Qosmio which has an external box, which really is just annoying if you have to travel a lot with it.

Our primary objective in conducting this dual review what to get a sense of what difference the HD-DVD unit makes for movie playback, and what kinds of special considerations might be involved in making the most of this hardware. As with this summer's roundup of big-screen MCE notebooks, we conducted our standard battery of notebook benchmarks, along with the Intel Digital Home Capabilities Assessment Tool (DHCAT). Of course, we also include information based on our experience in working with the HD-DVD players in these two units for playback on their built-in displays, as well as on a couple of different HDTV displays (only one of which could handle 1080 resolution, either interleaved or progressive scan).




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Jan 02 2007

News - Interesting Blu-ray vs. HD DVD Comparison

Think there's a discernible difference between the two new DVD formats? Well, this is only the first of I'm sure many articles concerning this as more players come out & prices go down.

Tek Jansen of Games Central has posted an interesting screen-shot and interactivity comparison of Blu-ray and HD DVD. Tek has grabbed screen captures from several different titles that are available on both formats. The results surprised me somewhat; not in that one was perceivably better/different than the other but in how they were different.

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Jan 02 2007

Blog - 939 HSF To AM2 Socket Adapter

    While purchasing parts for my latest MythTV frontend client, I ran into a dilemma.  I wanted to take advantage of the upgrade path that an AMD socket AM2 system would provide, but I also really liked the performance of my tried and true Zalman CNPS7000B-AlCu heat sink fan.  Unfortunately, this fan is not directly compatible with the AM2 socket.  My search for a clean solution brought me to this page advertising a socket 939 HSF to AM2 motherboard adapter.  I was intrigued and figured $13 wasn't an over the top price if it worked as advertised.





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