Get Ready for HDMI 2.0

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The folks at HDMI Licensing leaked released what will be known as the HDMI 2.0 specification just prior to their official announcement at IFA. Actually, AVForums reader Vism found this in Google cache.

The new HDMI specification looks to be able to handle 4K displays and above. Panasonic – who hasn’t come out with a 4K TV – will be debuting their new line at IFA.

HDMI 1.4 (current version) only supports 4K content at 30 fps. HDMI 2.0 looks to allow 60 fps, which will be great for UHD movies and more.

Panasonic is keeping the wraps on their 4K WT600 TV until keynote time. One things for sure – HDMI 1 cables are going to get a lot cheaper now…

Logitech unveils Special Edition Logitech Touch Keyboard K400 in White

Logitech has recently been releasing a line of new slim keyboards with built-in mouse pads. The latest in that line is the brand new K400 Touch Keyboard, which now comes in a limited edition white version.

The special edition keyboard boasts all the features you are used to in the traditional Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400, including a built-in touchpad, long range wireless and plug-and-play connectivity, only now available in a bright white color.

While the keyboard can certainly be used on the desktop, the keyboard layout is also optimized for the living-room environment — it’s compact, and gives you direct access to media and entertainment keys. The keyboard even stores vertically, making it easy to put away when not in use.

The special edition Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 in white is expected to be available in the U.S. and Europe this September for a suggested retail price of $39.99 and GNC is attempting to get a review unit, so stay tuned.

logitech k400 white

Logitech announces a keyboard for your living room

These days many of us have computer devices in our home entertainment centers, be it a Google TV, Roku or something else. All of these devices come with remote controls, some of which have tiny QWERTY keyboards on the flipside. These may work, but it is not the best solution for some tasks. Now Logitech seeks to make your living room life a bit easier with a new keyboard specifically designed for this need.

Logitech tells us “Whether you’re using an Apple TV to stream iTunes, or catching up on your current Netflix obsession by connecting your laptop to your TV, there’s one thing you’ll need when browsing the Internet and apps on your TV: an easy way to navigate”.

Logitech is releasing both the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 and the  Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard, with the latter being specifically for Apple TV customers.

logitech k400

The K400 claims a wireless range of up to 33 feet and multi-touch touchpad built right into the keyboard. Meanwhile, the Easy-Switch uses Apple TV remote commands like Menu, Media Control, Select, D-Pad, Play/Pause and Tab, plus its keys are backlit and laid out in the traditional Mac-specific way, so you can easily find your commands even in the dark. It can also be paired with up to three devices at once and allows you to switch and type from your iPad to iPhone to Apple TV with the simple push of a button.

The K400 retails for $39.99, while the Easy-Switch is a bit pricier at $99.99. Both keyboards are available for sale now.

Logitech Harmony unveils 2 new universal remotes

The Harmony line of universal remotes is a favorite in many living rooms, but the lineup has stagnated in recent times, with only the Harmony Touch being added and that came with mixed reviews. Rumors of Logitech refreshing the line have been around for several months, but today the company did just that.

Logitech’s Chad Thompson announced “the expansion of its Harmony universal remote control lineup with Logitech Harmony Ultimate and Logitech Harmony Smart Control“. Thompson goes on to elaborate “both products feature Logitech’s new Harmony Hub and Harmony Smartphone App to enable closed-cabinet and game console control. And, for the first time ever, Harmony can even help you set the mood in your living room: the Harmony Hub takes personalizing your activities a step further with the ability to control your Philips Hue lights with a tap of the Logitech Harmony Ultimate”.

I currently use a bottom of the line Harmony 300 and have been waiting for the new line to finally debut. The day has arrived and I suppose I must now spend some money, but I still will not be paying for that Philips Hue light bulb, no matter how cool it looks.

Silicon Dust

silicon dust logoIf you are a home theater enthusiast or HTPC owner, as I am, then you have probably heard of Silicon Dust and the HD Home Run. The box has been out for some time and retails for $199, but can be found somewhat cheaper in many locations.

The box takes a cable card and then sends its data out via ethernet to the rest of your network and, as a bonus, it contains 3 tuners. The data is distributed to your network in both ATSC and MP2 format. It all works great with many of your screens, but now Silicon Dust wants to solve the problem with devices like smartphones and tablets.

The new box is a 4 tuner version that can handle hardware transcode that transfers that MP2 and changes it to H.264. Now customers can send 4 separate streams independent of each other and have access to the data on mobile devices as well. It is also smart enough to recognize the difference in screens and resolution and encode for the device. All of this is done behind the scenes.

This latest Home Run box will be available in late spring or early summer. While no price is yet available, the company hopes to keep it in the same area as the previous version.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net

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Control your home theater with Zmart Remote for iOS, Android

There have been several hardware solutions over the past couple of years that turn your smartphone into a universal remote. I have previously looked at RedEye, which seems to no longer be available, but a new solution was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week — the Zmart Remote from Viatek.

This one involves a small device that you will need to plug into the micro-USB port on your phone. It works with both iPhone and Android. The company claims that “The setup takes less than a minute. Whether you are trying to choose which tv show to watch, need to pause the movie to pop some popcorn or even skip to your favorite song on a CD, now you can do all of this with just your smart phone.”

Setup of the RedEye was clunky and almost felt as if it required a computer science degree. Hopefully the newer technology will improve this process. The company claims it is capable of controlling 200,000 devices and 95 percent of those on the market. The ones it can’t control it can learn.

The package, including the app, will retail for $19.99 and can be purchased now.

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 750HD projector unveiled

While NVIDIA has dominated the news for the past 12 hours or so, it doesn’t mean it is the only company who has announced anything cool. Epson, known mostly for its printers, also has been making projectors for some time. Largely its lineup has been business-level, designed for presentations. Now the company want to jump from your office to your living room with the PowerLite Home Cinema 750HD.

The projector will handle both 2D and 3D and has 3000 lumens. It is designed for use from either an entertainment center or a ceiling mount, making it more versatile than many others on the market. It also includes component video, S-video, HDMI, and USB connectivity.

epson PowerLite Home Cinema 750HD projector

“Epson America, Inc. today expanded its award winning line of 3LCD home theater projectors with the highly versatile and affordable 3LCD PowerLite® Home Cinema 750HD – offering families and first-time home theater enthusiasts an affordable and versatile 2D and true 3D big screen entertainment solution. Offering full HD, active shutter 3D with 720p resolution, the Home Cinema 750HD makes it easier than ever to enjoy movies, video games, sporting events and more in high-quality 2D and eye-popping 3D at up to 120-inches or larger.”

The projector is slated to become available in late March and will retail for $899, which is undercutting much of the competition in the market right now.

Thorax Concrete Hifi Unit

Concrete has always been a popular product, but it’s not what you think of for display purposes – marble and solid wood come more readily to mind. Increasingly, designers are turning to this relatively cheap material with some very attractive polished concrete artifacts and recently I saw a lovely kitchen worktop in the material.

In this mode there is Thorax by Kompatibel Design, a modular hifi unit in concrete.

Thorax Concrete Hifi Unit from Kompatibel Design

Concrete is a good choice for a hifi unit, as the high density and consequent mass makes it less vulnerable to vibration. Of course this is only still an issue if you listen to vinyl records: if you’ve gone all digital, it’s not really a concern. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty impressive piece of furniture and while the aesthetics may not suit everyone, it certainly makes a statement.

The are three basic modules, “O”, “C” and “E” which can be joined to make the desired configuration. The picture above shows and “OEO” config and there are more shots on the website. In a nice touch, the concrete can be coloured to match a particular decor.

Price on application. Promotional video below.

(My German isn’t what it should be so apologies for any mistakes in translation.)

Video of Home Automation System in a $55 Million Mansion

Tech news web site BGR introduced their new BGR Show today and episode one is a big one for tech, home theater, and home automation fans.  The show is slated to run weekly and, in addition to a little cool technology like this week, they also promise interviews with celebrities and some behind-the-scenes segments with manufacturers.

The home featured in episode one may be beautiful, but the statistics surrounding it’s internal electronics are nothing short of breath-taking.  Try to grasp these numbers – over 2,000 lights, 48 TVs, 50 miles of wiring, 35 security cameras and hundreds of speakers.  All of this can be controlled from touchscreens, tablets, computers, and smartphones.

The home is located in New Jersey and the show features the man behind implementing all of the electronics – Gabriel Karlis from JD AV Design.  I would try to describe the level of sophistication seen in the video, but it’s really worth just watching to get a real idea of what exactly is possible if you have the money to do what you want, including controlling virtually every aspect of your home from lights to security to HVAC with the click of a button.

Sony Announces New DA5700ES AV Receiver

DA5700ES AV receiver

Yesterday Sony released word of their new DA5700ES audio-video receiver.  The ES is the flagship line from Sony and the latest addition to it doesn’t disappoint.  The new receiver comes with pretty much every feature a user could possibly think of from great sound quality to enough connectors to power an over-the-top home theater, and it can even be controlled from your smartphone or tablet.

So, what does the premium price (last year’s model, the STR-DA5700ES, sells for around $2,200 U.S.) buy you?  The ability to expand the  7.2 surround sound to 9.2 channels, automatic sound calibration, a network connection that allows access to “the Sony Entertainment Network so you can stream thousands of on-demand movies and TV shows and enjoy them with premium quality sound”, a USB DAC connection so you can hook the receiver to your computer and stream audio files, wireless streaming of internet radio, remote control apps for iOS and Android devices, 3D video processing, and 6 HDMI inputs.  There’s more, such as these highlights that Sony pointed out in their press release:

· True-to-original sound reproduction
· 7.2ch surround sound, expandable to 9.2ch
· Superb build quality and stylish design
· Network connectivity for wireless entertainment
· 6x HDMI inputs and 2x HDMI outputs
· 3D capability
· Full HD upscaling for analogue input devices

There was no MSRP or availability date in the information, but it will apparently be shipping soon and the price will likely be comparable to last year’s model.

Image of: DA5700ES AV receiver