Sonos introduces a smaller, sexier, …all-in-one player

Posted in Hardware,News by Ruslan Ulanov on the July 21st, 2011

Sonos PLAY:3

Sonos has just announced a new model in its acclaimed and best-selling line-up of multi-room connected audio players – PLAY:3. It’s smaller and sexier then PLAY:5 model. And, what might be most important, at  $299 MSRP, it’s cheaper than any other Sonos player out there. With increased competition from Apple, and soon Google Android@Home, the price of entry into multi-room audio should drop even further.

PLAY:3 is a full-featured model with capabilities comparable to it’s larger PLAY:5 brother, but, as the model name suggests, loosing a couple of speakers (one tweeter and dedicated bass driver replaced with a radiator) compared to latter.

Like its peers, PLAY:3 still requires Sonos Bridge ($49) or another hardwired Sonos Zoneplayer for wireless playback of networked media. The PLAY:3 has minimalistic design with only volume buttons on the body of the player. But its playback could be remotely controlled from any iPhone, iPad, Android, or PC, MAC on the same network.

Here’s the quick specs of PLAY:3 player (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

HP TouchPad Brings webOS to the Big Screen

Posted in Hardware,News by Ruslan Ulanov on the February 9th, 2011

HP TouchPad

First webOS tablet works the way you do, introduces fun, mobile productivity on larger scale.

PALO ALTO, Calif., Feb. 9, 2011

HP today enlarged the HP webOS world with the first webOS slate – the HP TouchPad – the breakthrough webOS user interface fully realized in the tablet experience.(1)

With its vibrant 9.7-inch diagonal flush capacitive multitouch display, virtual keyboard, instant-on access, support for Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1 beta in the browser and access to thousands of webOS applications,(2) TouchPad works the way you do and is designed not just for fun but for mobile productivity. It’s ideal for anyone who wants the benefits of the amazing webOS platform on a much bigger scale.

TouchPad is one of the products HP announced today to introduce a unique experience for customers around connected mobility, offering a unified experience for the first time across a variety of devices. It’s one of the building blocks in HP’s vision to seamlessly connect all your worlds through the power of HP webOS.

“Today we’re embarking on a new era of webOS with the goal of linking a wide family of HP products through the best mobile experience available,” said Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president and general manager, Palm Global Business Unit, HP. “The flexibility of the webOS platform makes it ideal for creating a range of innovative devices that work together to keep you better connected to your world.”

Designed to be used alone or as a digital companion to your webOS phone, TouchPad connects you and your devices through the elegant webOS experience. Never miss an important call or SMS message – they can be answered and viewed right on your TouchPad.(3,4) Plus, HP’s exclusive new touch-to-share feature will let you simply touch an enabled webOS phone to your TouchPad to share web URLs.(1,5)

With the HP Synergy feature, you simply have to sign in to your Facebook®, Google, Microsoft® Exchange, LinkedIn and Yahoo!® accounts and your contacts, calendar and email automatically populate your TouchPad.(6)

(continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

Logitech Revue goes on pre-order

Posted in Hardware,News by Ruslan Ulanov on the October 6th, 2010

Logitech Revue

The first Google TV client – the Logitech Revue Companion Box is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com, Best Buy and on Logitech’s own web store for $299.99.

In addition to the previously available information we now know that it will ship with a wireless Keyboard Controller, which integrates full QWERTY keyboard with a track pad, with some common remote control functions (such as Rewind, Fast-Forward, Play, Stop, etc), dedicated Volume control buttons and Input switching buttons for TV, AV Receiver and a Set top box.

The Box itself features 2 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI input for your cable or satellite box, HDMI output to your HDTV, Optical S/PDIF output to AV Receiver and a pair of Infrared blaster outputs to control your TV and Set top box.
Revue connects to your network router with either Ethernet cable or wirelessly through built-in 802.11n WiFi. It could output HD contents at full 1080p/60fps through its HDMI 1.3a w/CEC. The CEC stands for Consumer Electronics Control and allows to, for example, automatically turn on your HDMI-connected HDTV whenever you power on the Companion Box.
(continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

The Boxee Box by D-Link hits Amazon

Posted in Deals,Hardware,HTPC by Ruslan Ulanov on the September 16th, 2010

Boxee logo After a very long wait after the official announcement all the way back in December of last year The Boxee Box by D-Link is finally available for pre-order on Amazon.com for $199.99.

Just in case you were living deep in the forest for the last few months and missed the announcement here’s the skinny on The Boxee Box:

  • It runs the free open-source software that was in the epicenter of the heated debates with Hulu in the winter of 2010.
  • It brings all your favorite TV shows & movies from the Internet or your hard drive onto your TV – no PC needed. You’ll never run out of things to watch (and listen to) as Boxee gives people movies, TV shows, music and photos, as well as streaming content from websites like Netflix, MLB.TV, Comedy Central, Pandora, Last.fm, and flickr.
  • With the Boxee Box you never need to “surf the Web” on your TV, instead you just use your remote control to pick and choose the best digital entertainment. No keyboard required.
  • The Boxee Box plays any non-DRM media. If you can create it, Boxee will play it.
  • Connecting the Boxee Box to your HDTV is as easy as hooking up a DVD player.
  • The backside of the remote features a full keyboard to make it easier to interact with your TV — say goodbye to hunting and pecking for letters on-screen!
  • Boxee makes it easy for friends to share their favorite movies, TV Shows, and songs with each other, on Boxee or on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • It has a very weird shape (see the photos below).
  • And YES, you can tweet from it. :*)

The specs at a glance: (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

Sharp Unveils 3D Camera for Mobile Devices

Posted in Hardware,News by Ruslan Ulanov on the May 12th, 2010

Sharp Develops 3D Camera Module for Mobile Devices Capable of Capturing High-Definition 3D Video Images; Key Device to Make 3D Video Readily Available

Sharp 3D camera

Sharp 3D camera

Osaka, May 12, 2010 – (JCN Newswire) – Sharp Corporation has developed a 3D camera module for mobile devices capable of capturing high-definition (720p)(1) 3D video images, an industry first.(2) Sharp will start shipping samples in July. Mass production of these modules will begin within 2010.

3D images are composed of two views taken using two cameras that simultaneously capture separate images for the right and left eyes. Consequently, a 3D camera requires peripheral circuitry to apply image processing to the two images, for example, to adjust color or to correct positioning between the images from the two cameras. Manufacturers have thus been pursuing designs that reduce the size and weight of 3D cameras and seeking ways to shorten their development period. (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

My new gadgetry overview

Posted in Hardware,M@H,Software by Ruslan Ulanov on the February 24th, 2010

It appears I landed on Santa’s “Good Kids” list last year. He was quite generous this past holiday season and — with a little help from my friends and family — brought me some really nice gadgets. Dust has settled since and I had to spend some quality time with my new gear, so I decided to give them a quick rundown in this post, saving the juicy details for the future.

The luxury of touch

Touch Screen

Touch Screen

The idea of controlling Windows Media Center through touch interface was hunting me since I played with one of the first HP TouchSmart systems on the shelves of Costco. I already had HTPC, so I didn’t want to buy a new system. The obvious solution was to just add touch-capable display to my own HTPC. Searching high and low, I was soon discouraged, since all available touch screens were way too expensive – a 12″ displays are sold for over $500. But I managed to find one that fit my budget and works quite well with Windows 7 Media Center. Beware that in many cases drivers for Vista or Win7 could be hard to find or even unavailable, so check driver availability BEFORE you invest in a touch screen.

Movies on the go

DVD headrests

DVD headrests

For some time now I’ve been looking to upgrade my car’s headrests with nice LCD ones to entertain little passengers during long trips. Paying over $2000 for a DVD package on a new car doesn’t make any sense to me. For that much money these days you can buy a TV, a blu-ray player and a truckload of movies. Unfortunatelly none of those portable DVD players I saw in stores met all my requirements. Partly due to the lack of support for the multitude of media formats available today, partly because many kid’s movies I have are from a different DVD region, so none of the players sold in US could play them. But now I have headrests that could do all that and then some (like playing games with 4 included joysticks or reading media from all major flash cards).

Being able to watch a good movie in the car, on your netbook or other mobile device, like iPod Touch, while you travel is nice. Watching movies on a big HDTV screen is way better. So you have two options: 1) use a cable to connect your mobile device to a TV and jump from the couch every time you want to pause, rewind or skip or 2) buy a tiny HDD Media Player that can hold hundreds of HD movies and could be controlled with an infrared remote. What’s your choice? #2. I thought so. That’s exactly what I did. And at $25 for the HDD enclosure with IR remote control this deal is hard to beat. (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

High speed media streaming for your home

Posted in Hardware,M@H by Ruslan Ulanov on the January 25th, 2010

HomePlugDo you want to set-up a high speed local network for streaming HD videos from your WHS in one room to your media center in another? No problem – use Cat-5 or Cat-6 Ethernet cable to connect two (or more) systems. That’s the most robust and fastest LAN solution available today for the home (we’re not even considering the optical networks here). The Cat-6 cable can support a 100oMbps network speeds.

But what would one do if there are no Ethernet cables running inside the walls of the house or if you are renting and not allowed to rip the walls off to make a cable drop? Here are a few alternatives available today. (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

Media Streamers will rule the world

Posted in Hardware by Ruslan Ulanov on the January 14th, 2010
Zyxel DMA-1100p

Zyxel DMA-1100p

In my search of a DLNA-compliant device to distribute Music and Video from my Media Server to the TV in the kitchen I looked through many sites and reviews, but then I stumbled upon a very nice and clean list of available Media Streamers on ProductWiki website.

It provides a great outlook on all the major (and some minor) players on the market along with MSRP and reviews on most of the boxes. Unfortunately, there’re not enough reviews on the site yet to make it a primary source for choosing your next electronic toy, but the nice design with clear pictures and short descriptions give you a good starting point for research.

This time around I decided to give a try to Zyxel DMA-1100p Digital Media Theater. Newegg has a very seductive price on it right now, so I just couldn’t pass it up. (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

Small form-factor HTPCs For Your Living Room

Posted in Hardware by Ruslan Ulanov on the November 25th, 2009

While searching for a new HTPC for my living room I found a few off-the-shelf models that you might find worth your while.

Any of these HTPCs will run you under $500 for a base model, but some manufacturers allow upgrades, like Blu-ray drive, RAM, etc., that could easily double the price tag. Also some of these systems are sold without keyboards, mice or monitors (‘coz you’ll be connecting it to a large screen HDTV anyway, right?). You’ll need to make sure you have a spare set at least for initial setup.

These systems are quiet (or nearly silent) and relatively good looking, so they should have high WAF for placement in your living room. (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

How to use iPhone to control HTPC

Posted in Hardware,M@H,Software by Ruslan Ulanov on the July 1st, 2009

Most of Windows Media Center features are easily accessible with IR or RF remote controls and unless you need to type something remote is the only control device you’ll need to enjoy your media.

But typing on the remote control resembles chatting on a cell phone without a dedicated keyboard. It requires multiple key presses to enter almost every character. And if you need to enter non-latin characters it becomes even more dubious.

When it comes to typing, you are better off with a wireless keyboard such as Logitech’s diNovo (Edge or Mini) or Microsoft’s Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000. Those are great keyboards, and they include some kind of a pointing device (such as trackpad or navigation pad) along with media controls (play/pause/fwd/rew/stop).

Though there are a number of points that you should consider before investing in specialized media keyboards:

  • they will run you $100+ in most cases;
  • they are not compact (maybe with exception of diNovo Mini) and you cannot operate them with one hand like a remote control;
  • you’ll have to always have them by your side and that’s not very convenient considering  their size especially if you are not sitting in front of the desk;
  • having to switch from remote control to keyboard and back will not improve your experience;
  • you are bound to only one (or in best case – two) language layout(s) on the keys;

So what are our options? 

(continue reading this article and leave comments here…)