30 iPhone Apps for your Home Theater

Posted in M@H by Ruslan Ulanov on the March 11th, 2010

Mike Flacy of Audio|Video Revolution came up with a list of 30 “must have” iPhone applications for Home Theater buffs.

The categories of apps reviewed range from Movie Management to Universal remotes, to TV Guides and from Audio/Video Calibration helpers to Reference materials. Most apps are available from the AppStore for free, but then there are those that could cost you as much as $150 (Ouch!).

Some of the apps were new to me, while others I use on a daily basis. In any case the article is definitely worth checking out. So head on to Audio|Video Revolution website for details.

Here’s the complete list of apps mentioned in the review:

  1. Pocketflicks
  2. Now Playing
  3. RunPee
  4. IMDB
  5. Redbox
  6. HippoRemote Pro
  7. Flpr
  8. iMastercontrol Pro
  9. Remote (Apple)
  10. BoxeeRemote (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…)

Panasonic to Add Skype Software to VIERA HDTVs

Posted in M@H,News by Ruslan Ulanov on the January 6th, 2010

Skype and Panasonic Announce Collaboration to Add Skype Software to VIERA® HDTVs

Collaboration takes VIERA CAST™ -enabled HDTV connectivity to new level, offering voice and video communications via HDTV.

Osaka, Japan – Panasonic Corporation, a worldwide leader in High Definition technology and built-in TV web entertainment, and Skype, a leader in internet communications, today announced a collaboration that will enable consumers to make voice and video calls over Skype™ on Panasonic’s line of 2010 VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs planned for launch in spring 2010.

This collaboration takes Skype to another platform, in addition to the computer and the mobile phone, which is the technology heart of the home, the television. Skype on your VIERA® delivers many familiar Skype features including:

  • Free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls
  • Calls to landline or mobile phone at Skype’s low rates
  • The option to receive inbound calls via a user’s online Skype number
  • Skype voicemail, if you have it set up
  • Being invited to participate in voice conference calls with up to 24 other parties

(continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

WHS Power Pack 3 ships November 24th

Posted in M@H by Ruslan Ulanov on the November 20th, 2009

Great announcement comes our way from Windows Home Server team at Microsoft just in time for the holidays. The Power Pack 3 for WHS is coming to your favorite WHS through Windows Update on November 24th.

Among other things it will improve integration with Windows Media Center on Windows 7. In particular it will support Win7 Libraries and will allow to move Recorded TV shows from Media Center to WHS, freeing up HTPC’s hard drive space (the Recorded TV files are huge(!) and add up fast if you record TV series) and making Recorded TV shows available to other Media Center clients thoughout your home. To be fair, this feature was previously implemented as a third-party plug-in, but having it as a native component makes the WHS platform even more attractive.

Read the full announcement after the cut… (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

PR: Logitech Wins Seven CES Innovations Awards

Posted in M@H by Ruslan Ulanov on the November 13th, 2009

FREMONT, Calif. — Nov. 11, 2009 — Today, Logitech (SIX: LOGN) (NASDAQ: LOGI) announced that it has won seven 2010 CES Innovations awards for excellence in design and engineering.

“Logitech is thrilled to be honored again with the prestigious CES Innovations award,” said Gerald P. Quindlen, Logitech’s president and chief executive officer. “We are delighted that our products will be celebrated alongside other groundbreaking products from around the world. These products represent Logitech’s commitment to driving innovation, persistently striving to discover new ways to get people immersed in the digital world.”

Logitech’s award-winning products for 2010 include:

Honoree in Computer Peripherals: Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX
The Logitech® Anywhere Mouse MX™ goes where no mouse has gone before – on glass. With Logitech® Darkfield Laser Tracking™, you can use this mouse virtually anywhere you want including glass and high-gloss surfaces that challenge the capabilities of standard mice. The Anywhere Mouse MX uses dark field microscopy to detect microscopic particles and micro-scratches on these surfaces, rather than tracking the smooth surface itself. Thanks to its compact size, the Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX works wherever you do and offers a contoured shape that fits naturally into most hands, with back and forward buttons placed within reach of your thumb to help you surf the Web efficiently.

Honoree in Home Theater Accessories: Logitech Harmony 900 Remote
The rechargeable Logitech Harmony® 900 remote makes it easy to enjoy and control your TV, movies, games and music, even when your components are neatly hidden behind cabinet doors. The Harmony 900 features a full-color touch screen and intuitive button layout and its completely redesigned RF system allows you to easily control a cabinet full of devices from up to 100 feet away, without taping emitters to each of your devices. As with all Logitech Harmony remotes, the Harmony 900 can have you watching your favorite movie or show with one press of a button thanks to the unique activity-based control. The whole family can simply select what they want to do by choosing the appropriate on-screen icon – such as “Watch TV” – and the Harmony 900 remote does the rest. – turning on the TV, the cable box, the A/V receiver and any other necessary devices – which the touch of one button. (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

Meet Myka ION

Posted in M@H by Ruslan Ulanov on the November 6th, 2009
Myka Ion

Myka ION

Want Boxee and Hulu to play in high-def on your TV? Meet Myka ION

For Immediate Release

LINCOLN, Mass., Nov. 5, 2009 — Myka, makers of the magic box that downloads and streams high-definition videos onto your TV, is introducing the Myka ION — the first consumer Web-to-TV product that can easily run Boxee, Hulu and other leading Internet video services.

Myka ION is powered by the Intel Atom Processor 330 and NVIDIA ION Graphics Processor, giving the Myka ION fast media-player performance at a low cost.

Myka ION lets you browse to any Web site and play video content directly onto your TV — bypassing your PC entirely. No messing with conversion software, no tinkering with anything. Plug it in and it starts working right away.

“Technology has finally caught up with what consumers want out of Internet video services,” said Myka President Dan Lovy. “They want to be freed from their computers and watch the growing variety of Web video content on their large-screen, high-definition living room TVs. And they want to do it without a lot of hassle and without video quality suffering.

“We’ve heard them loud and clear and we’re proud to present the Myka ION, the first product to take advantage of the latest processor technology and finally give Web video consumers what they want.” (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

Logitech Announces Logitech Harmony IR Extender System

Posted in M@H by Ruslan Ulanov on the October 28th, 2009

Logitech — Oct. 28, 2009 — Today, Logitech announced the Logitech Harmony® IR Extender System, which makes it easy to control your devices while they’re conveniently hidden away inside a closed cabinet. The Harmony IR Extender System doesn’t require any programming, so you’ll be up and running in no time. Just place the discrete IR receiver in a convenient, visible location, and connect it to the IR blasters and mini blasters. Then place the blasters near the equipment you want to control. So you can concentrate on your entertainment, the Harmony IR Extender System offers a sleek, low-profile design that complements your flat-screen TV. And it works with most IR remotes, so you can use the one you already own. The Logitech Harmony IR Extender System is expected to be available in the U.S. in November for a suggested retail price of $59.99 (U.S.).

via Logitech > Press > RSS – Logitech Announces Logitech Harmony IR Extender System.

Windows 7 – the day has come

Posted in M@H by Ruslan Ulanov on the October 22nd, 2009
Win7 Home Premium

Win7 Home Premium

Yes, it has. It’s October 22, 2009 – the official release date of “the best Windows ever released” (a.k.a. Windows 7).

It’s also a release date of the best Media Center application ever released. No, it’s not a coincedence. Media Center is an integral part of Windows 7 (well, at least of its Home Premium and Ultimate editions).

A lot of Media Center funboys were waiting for this day to come. And Microsoft has spared no effort to polish the GUI and to support all the media and hardware you might have. They even let the DIY crowd to install cable card tuners (but that’s a different story altogether).

If you aren’t planning on byuing a new PC with Windows 7 pre-installed on it, you can head over to Microsoft Store to get the upgrade version from your current OS. I bet it’ll be worth it.

Microsoft Store

Sonos ZonePlayer S5

Posted in M@H by Ruslan Ulanov on the October 19th, 2009

SonosSonos, the premier manufacturer of easy to use and set-up multi-room music system, has announced a new product called Sonos S5 ZonePlayer.

It features 5 speakers (two tweeters, two 3″ mid-range drivers and a 3.5″ woofer), each powered by a dedicated Class-D digital amplifier, auto-detecting 3.5mm audio line-in and a headphone connection that mutes speakers when headphones are plugged in.

Sonos controllers

Sonos controllers

There’s no manual controls on the box other than Volume and Mute buttons, but ZonePlayer S5 could be controlled by the standard $350 Sonos LCD touch screen remote, by iPhone Controller application (available for free from Apple AppStore) or from the desktop software.

(continue reading this article and leave comments here…)