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Tag: streaming

Enhance the Movie Experience

Posted by Andrew at 4:35 PM on July 19, 2012

Movie & Meal DealEver since the motion picture first burst onto the silver screen, people have wanted to enhance the cinematic experience. From 3D and IMAX to Smell-O-vision, just about every trick in the book has been used to make you feel part of the film, rather than an outside observer. To this fine canon of techniques, UK retailer Tesco and on-line movie service blinkbox are adding….food.

For their “Movie & Meal Deal“, Tesco and blinkbox commissioned top neuroscientist, Dr. Jack Lewis, to study the effects of active ingredients on people’s brains and then suggest food types that complement the movie-watching experience. His findings gave Tesco and blinkbox the perfect, if somewhat unusual, combinations for the ultimate movie night in.

Dr. Lewis reckons these foods match the movie genres.

  • Action – Sun-dried tomatoes coated in cocoa powder will raise noradrenaline which is instrumental to sensations of excitement
  • Comedy –  Fresh fish stuffed with beetroot and coleslaw to supplement the nitric oxide system and improve dopamine availability in the pleasure pathways of your brain
  • Drama – Chopped lemon, lime and mint sandwich drizzled with chilli sauce on wholewheat bread to trigger the RAS (reticular activating system) to remain alert and focused.
  • Horror – Chicken marinated in freshly brewed coffee will take you out of your comfort zone and raise levels of anxiety
  • Romance – Curl up with a spicy curry (not chocolate!) to top up your libido-stoking testosterone levels

Everyone knows that certain drugs can change the way you feel, but the chemicals we take into our bodies through our diet can also have an effect on our mood,” says Dr. Jack Lewis “Choosing to eat certain foods, whilst leaving others out, regulates the availability of ‘raw materials’ that the brain’s chemical messengers are created from. This means that you can tailor your meals to create the perfect mood for a movie night in, no matter what the genre.

The “Move & Meal Deal” is a partnership between Tesco and blinkbox: buy a variety of food and drinks from Tesco and then rent a blinkbox new release movie for just £2 instead of the usual price of £3.49.

Me, I think I’ll stick to popcorn.

Music Service MOG Moves Down Under

Posted by Alan at 10:30 AM on June 21, 2012

Music service MOG, which is quickly becoming a real competitor for Rdio, Spotify, Last.FM and others, has finally launched their service in the land down under.  Australian music fans will now have access to all of the MOG library and, if they have Telstra, they get a nice bonus thrown in.

This is MOG’s first move outside of the U.S. and they have partnered with Telstra for the occasion.  That’s important because Australia has some pretty serious bandwidth caps in place.  The partnership allows them to become the “exclusive provider of on-demand subscription music”.  More important was this little tidbit included in the announcement – “Though we’re available to all Australian listeners, Telstra customers enjoy unmetered streaming and downloading, meaning music played from mobile devices will not affect user data plans.”

MOG will offer all Ausies a free two week trial.  After that, users can enjoy unlimited ad-free service for $6.99 per month for basic service and $11.99 for the premium plan which adds mobile support for iOS, Android and Sonos.

Sonos Streams at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 12:06 PM on April 14, 2012

Sonos Play 3 Sonos are well-known for their innovative audio products which integrate together to build highly controllable wireless hi-fi systems. Simplistically, you can start with one or two units and build-up over time until you can play music in any room in the house. The Sonos system can be controlled via smartphones and tablets with apps available for both iOS and Android devices.

I chat to Ian about Sonos’ latest developments including Spotify streaming, their entry-level unity the Play 3, and the larger Play 5.

The Eagles Have Landed…in Decorah, Iowa

Posted by Alan at 4:41 PM on April 3, 2012

decorah eagle cam

You may recall that last spring one of the most popular sites on the web was something called “Raptorcam” – also known as the “Decorah Eagle Cam”.  Well, those same eagle mates have been using that same nest each spring and summer to hatch and raise their young and this spring is no different.

The male and and female eagles have returned to their Decorah, Iowa nest and have recently hatched three new young.  Once again they are on 24-7 streaming video and once again they are under the  watchful eye of hundreds of thousands of online viewers.  You can watch them live at uStream or at Decorah Eagle Cam.  You can get more information from the Raptor Resource Project.  The happy family are now the number one most viewed live video of all time.

Buffalo AirStation N450 USB Adapter

Posted by Andrew at 1:41 AM on March 14, 2012

The Buffalo AirStation N450 USB adapter (aka WLI-UC-G450) is a 2.4 GHz 11n wireless adapter capable of a theoretical 450 Mb/s using a 3×3 antenna array. Sweet.

Buffalo N450 USB adaptor

If you are used to small wireless adaptors and tiny memory sticks, then the N450 will be a bit of surprise. It’s a pretty chunky number at a little under 9.5 cm long, including the USB jack. The otherwise plain, but shiny, exterior has a single blue LED to advertise activity.

Buffalo N450 USB Adapter

Setting up the N450 was a doddle. Insert CD, follow the prompts, reboot, insert N450, job done. On my laptop, the adaptor appeared as Wireless Network Connection 2. In order to use the N450, I found that it was necessary to disable the internal wireless card otherwise it seemed to take priority over the N450. (On my laptop there’s a switch for that, otherwise right-click on the icon and choose Disable.)

Network Adapters

Initially, the laptop couldn’t see my 11n wireless network, but it could see a different 11g network. I’d had this problem before so I knew what was up. The 11n network uses channel 13 as the frequencies there are clear from interference in my neighbourhood, whereas I have the 11g network down on channel 1. Unfortunately, some Wi-fi devices only recognise channels 1-11 as these are the channels allowed in the US, and it appears that the N450 is one of them.

Once I’d pushed my 11n network down into channel 11, everything went swimmingly. Regrettably I wasn’t able to test out the full 450 Mb/s connection as my access point only supported 300 Mb/s, but it was pretty quick regardless. Even then you never get the full 300 Mb/s but I regularly saw data transfer figures around 80 Mb/s, which I think is about right. Your mileage may vary, of course, and you’d probably get over 100 Mb/s data transfers connecting at 450 Mb/s.

The high data transfer rates will make the N450 of interest to those wanting to stream HD movies over a LAN to a laptop for viewing, but the adaptor needs to be paired with a suitably fast router or access point to get the maximum speed.

Available on-line for around £30. Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the adaptor.

SoundMatters foxL Pocket Speaker

Posted by Andrew at 11:06 AM on February 19, 2012

Soundmatters foxL speakerSoundMatters show off to Jeffrey and John their range of small speakers, suitable for travel and the home.

First is the world’s best pocket-size speaker (allegedly), the foxL. Weighing a little over a pound, the smart idea was to incorporate the battery into the speaker itself and use it as the bass driver. The foxL comes in three versions; wired, Bluetooth and Bluetooth with the Apt-X codec for CD quality sound. Priced at $149, $199 and $229 respectively.

New later in the year is a mini sub-woofer which delivers 25 watts to give a big sound from a small package. It uses two parallel metal plates to push out the lower frequencies. Expected in late spring or early summer it will retail at $149.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

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ProDock Brings Your Mobile Devices to the TV

Posted by Alan at 8:46 AM on February 9, 2012

ProDock is a new way of hooking up your mobile device to your TV.  Many smartphones and tablets these days have mini HDMI ports, but ProDock goes one better with a 6 foot cable that plugs into the USB port on your device allowing you to then connect a full-size HDMI cable to the other end of the dock.  With this added 6 feet of room you no longer have keep your phone uncomfortably close to your TV.  There are a few things required though.  First the device must have MHL built-in and the technology is fairly new, so only the latest Android smartphones currently have this.  According to their literature,

“MHL is a high definition video and audio interface standard designed for connecting mobile devices to HD TVs. Supports up to 1080p HD video, 60 fps and digital audio output, Dolby 7.1 support. Technology was established by the MHL™ Consortium and is supported by multiple handset vendors.”

The current list price for the ProDock streamer kit is $49.95 and is available now from the manufacturer at ibolt.co.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine.

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Music in the Morning with the iShower

Posted by Andrew at 1:01 AM on February 8, 2012

iShower Bluetooth SpeakerAt last year’s CES, iDevices showed off the iGrill, a Bluetooth-enabled cooking thermometer. This year, they’re back with iShower, a waterproof speaker. Andy and Don tune in with Jonathan Conelias from iDevices.

As with the iGrill, the iShower is Bluetooth-enabled, playing audio from iOS, Android and Blackberry phones. In fact, any device that can stream music via Bluetooth will work with the iShower and up to five devices can be paired. Naturally the iShower is waterproof, making it suitable for the shower, swimming pool and beach. Buttons on the iShower can control the music, skipping backwards and forwards through the playlist.

The iShower’s rich sound speaker cuts through the noise of the shower and in good taste, there’s no microphone. If you were thinking of taking a phone call in the shower, think again. A mounting bracket is supplied and complementary accessories such as a mirror make this a complete shower solution.

The iShower will be available from March both online and in good retail stores with an MSRP of $99.99.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net, and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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UPnP Forum and How Your Gadgets Stream Music

Posted by Andrew at 10:47 PM on February 4, 2012

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 Connects Up At CES

Posted by Andrew at 7:30 AM on January 10, 2012

Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel TPN.tv. Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.