Gigabit Powerline from Trendnet at CES

TRENDnet LogoNetworking over electrical power lines has come a long way since the first HomePlug specification back in 2008 which was was rated at 14 Mb/s. Today network specialists Trendnet have announced a gigabit class, Powerline 1000, with the launch of the TPL-420E2K adaptors.

Trendnet Powerline 1000Based on the HomePlug AV2 standard and using MIMO techniques originally used in wireless data transmission, Powerline 1000 doubles the speed of the previous implementation.

Zak Wood, director of global marketing of Trendnet said, “Trendnet’s TPL-420E2K is designed to easily handle multi-HD streams in a busy connected home.

For the first time, Powerline products use all three electrical wires: the live, neutral, and ground (earth) wires. MIMO technology sends information over the fastest two out of the three available electrical wires. If a user lives in an old home which is not cabled with ground wires, the maximum throughput is reduced from 1,000 to 600 Mb/s.

The TPL-420E2K connects over electrical lines for distances of up to 300 m (a little less than 1000 ft), which is roughly the size of 5,000 square foot home. Powerline 1000 is compatible with existing Powerline 500, 200 and HomePlug AV rated products but when connected to a lower speed adapter, speeds are reduced to the lower rated adapter.

As you’d expected, the communication between the adapters is encrypted and to reduce energy consumption, the TPL-420E2K units go into standby mode when not in use.

The MSRP is US$169 but the Powerline 1000 units are not expected until June 2014. I’m looking forward to testing these already, especially if Trendnet produces an adaptor which incorporates a fast wireless access point.

UPnP Forum and How Your Gadgets Stream Music

UPnP Forum LogoIf you’ve ever wondered how your gadgets talk amongst themselves to successfully play music from your PC through a media streamer, you’ll be interested in this interview with Dr Alan Messer, President of the UPnP Forum.

Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is the standard by which IP networked gadgets advertise their services and intercommunicate. Formed in 1999, nearly all the big vendors are signed up with over 1000 members, the notable exception being Apple who tend to do their own thing. Think Intel, Samsung, Nokia, Philips.

The most common example of UPnP (AV spec) is DLNA-certification which governs media management, discovery and control and this effectively determines how music is streamed from one device to another. Set-top boxes know how to use different router ports based on UPnP techniques. Almost any consumer device attached to the network in the home will have some element of UPnP built-in.

(No, Andy, it’s not the ISA PnP but thanks for the trip down memory lane.)

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Sony Launches HDMI Ethernet Channel Cables

Sony LogoSony have launched a series of high performance HDMI cables to meet the needs of the latest developments in audio and video entertainment, including 3D and Ethernet.

All the cables in the DLC-HE series offer:
HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC), allowing the cable to not only carry audio and video, but also data.
Audio Return Channel (ARC),  permitting audio to be transmitted in both directions.
3D support, for the latest movies.
Quad Full HD, for resolutions up to 3840 x 2160.
48 bits per pixel colour depth, giving richer colour reproduction.

Obviously, the TV and the connected device, e.g. an AV amp, have to support these features to take advantage of the cable.

Although the press release doesn’t make it 100% clear, I believe that these features mean these new cables conform to the HDMI 1.4 standard.

There are five different cables in the range, from general purpose to premium, with variants using horizontal and vertical swivel connections.  There’s also a special cable for connecting from HandyCam or Bloggie cameras that have the HDMI type C connector.

CablesThe cables come in a range of lengths from 1m to 10m.  Additionally the HDMI connector body has been redesigned so that it’s easier to see which way round the cable is before trying to plug it in.

Available now from all good stockists with prices starting from around £40.

Onkyo Receivers Adding Windows 7 Support

Onkyo, one of the world’s leaders in A/V receivers, made a big announcement on June 29, 2010.  Their new receivers, the TX-NR3008 and TX-NR5008, are now, not only DLNA certified, but also Compatible with Windows 7.  This means they support the Windows Play To feature.

So, what does all of this mean?  In Microsoft’s own words this is what it means:

Play To allows you to seamlessly play music, video, and photos through your home network to any network media device that carries the Compatible with Windows 7 logo.

If you haven’t used Play To, it’s pretty simple.  From any PC on your network you can open Windows Media Player or Windows Explorer, right-click an audio track, and choose “Play To”.  If you don’t see the Play To option then you can download the plugin HERE.  A Play To icon also appears above the Now Playing list in Windows Media Player.  This does require Windows 7.

My guess is that we will be seeing many of these Windows 7 and networking features added to home theater devices in the near future.