Category Archives: Media Center

Orb: Getting Your Media Where You Want it



Orb

Tom Newman and Jeffery Powers interviewed Joe Costello CEO of Orb. The problem that Orb is attempting to solve is how to get your digital content to your TV and your stereo system. Mr. Costello talked about three solutions that Orb has developed. The first is the Orb music, you connect the Orb device to your receiver or speakers. Run the Orb Caster on your PC or Mac and stream your music collection from your music library to the your stereo. The second is Orb TV, which attaches to your TV and captures any media from your network.

Finally the newest solution Orb BR which uses a disc you put in a media live enabled blue-ray player that is connected to the same network where your media is. All Orb devices can be controlled through a smart phone The Orb Music player is available now for $69.00 the Orb TV is $99.00, the Orb BR should ship sometime in February for $20.00. All these devices not only stream the media on your network but also online media.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast. and Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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The Xi3 Modular Microcomputer



David Politis of Xi3 Microcomputers (http://xi3.org/) presents the Xi3 Modular Computer. It is an extremely small form factor and operates on only 20 watts of power, yet contains a dual-core AMD Athlon x86 processor operating at 2 gigahertz. The standard model ships with 2 gigabytes of DDR 2 RAM and 8 gigabytes of solid SSD solid state drive memory.

The Xi3 is revolutionary in several different respects. Not only is the unit as small as possible, the motherboard is broken down into three modular, replaceable components. Thus it becomes possible to upgrade to the latest technologies such as USB 3.0 once it becomes widely available in the near future or to higher-performance future CPU processors.

Imagine the Xi3 as the heart of a high-performance, low-engergy-drain, absolutely silent-running Media Center PC. Since it’s x86 architecture running on a dual-core processor on a high-performance SSD drive it can easily boot Windows 7 Ultimate in 30 seconds flat.

Why didn’t someone think of this before?

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast and Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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Iomega TV with Boxee – Media Streamer and NAS



Iomega becomes the second manufacturer to offer a Boxee-based product with their brand new Iomega TV with Boxee. Available in two variants, one as a media streamer device with no storage, the other with up to 2TB of storage built-in. The devices also offer NAS features such as DLNA server, iTunes server and access to your Iomega Personal Cloud.

Available from late February at $229, $299 and $349 price points. You can register to be notified of availability at the link above.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Vidabox Liiv Controller LC-200 Coming Soon



Vidabox, one of the top-of-the-line Media Center manufacturers, put out a press release today about a new product they are calling the Liiv Controller.  It will be officially shown for the first time at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) show which will be held from February 1-3 in Amsterdam, but we have a special early look.

So what is the Liiv Controller?  Quite simply it’s a box, which looks similar to any stereo component, that allows you to control your home media from an iPad.  Now, we aren’t talking about an iPad remote control app here, this is a lot more sophisticated.  The LC-200 is a rack-mountable component that integrated into your home theater and works with Media Center.

It allows you to control, browse, and play any media right from your iPad.  You can control up to 4 separate zones with 6 separate IR control so that you can handle your TV, Audio/video receiver, DVR, Blu-ray/DVD player, as well as other components.  It has 2 RS-232 Serial Ports, 2-way iPod playback controls, is remotely manageable, streams internet radio, and uses vAutomation 2.0 which allows you to program and configure it from any web browser, including the one on your iPad.

There is now pricing available at this point but a release date has been slated for sometime in the second quarter of 2011.  This is one that you’ll want to take a long look at if it lives up to its hype and if you are a home theater/automation geek.


The Future Of OTT TV Apps



I’ve been experimenting for some time with connecting computers to televisions, along with a variety of other set-top boxes. I’m now at a point where I’ve begun to draw a few conclusions.

Are we there yet? The short answer is no. We’ve still got a long way to go.

After living a while with Apps on an Android smartphone, along with apps on an iPod Touch, it has become clear to me that the best apps running on these sorts of hand-held devices give a great, slick, quick-access media-consumption experience.

Apps running on Internet-connected TV’s or set-top boxes are going to be important in the future. However, so far what we have available today is a somewhat frustrating experience.

I’ve got a Mac Mini set up as an HTPC/DVR with an Eye TV USB HD tuner. The Eye TV software fails in a living room setting because the text within the application is too small to be easily read from across the room even on a big screen. I’ve also got the Boxee app installed on the same machine. Boxee does have a growing list of apps. However, many of the currently available Boxee apps still often fall short of genuine usefulness.

I want a software interface that I can read and interact with easily from across the room without having to deal with it as if it’s desktop software. I want software apps that are powerful, easy to use, and give me a consistent experience from one app to the next. If I’ve specified I want only videos, then the software should serve me up ONLY videos, with no audio podcasts mixed in.

The trouble with OTT content is that one size doesn’t fit all. The perfect app should allow me to cherry-pick my favorite Internet video content sources and turn them all into a single channel or series of channels.

The ideal OTT/set top box content delivery system is going to incorporate a system of apps much like either the Apple IOS app store, or the Android app store where the customer can choose from thousands of content gathering and/or content delivery apps. Like my Evo Android phone or my iPod Touch, I will be able to customize MY particular set top box with precisely the apps that I want without someone trying to steer me towards content that someone else wants to push towards me against my will. My iPod is my own, with my own selection of personal content. I want my TV to work in exactly the same manner.


Black Friday Deal For A Great Media Center Keyboard



Just a quick heads-up for anyone looking for a great Media Center (HTPC) keyboard.  Vidabox is offering their keyboard today for US $55.  I reviewed this keyboard a while back.  I have been using it for over a year now and still love it.  It has small trackball at the top right and the left/right click mouse buttons are on the top left.  In between are a host of buttons for Play, Fast Forward, Rewind, Pause, etc., which are compatible with Windows Media Center.  The keyboard works via RF so you don’t need direct line of site to your HTPC and don’t even have to open the cabinet door of your entertainment rack. It’s about the size of a laptop keyboard so it fits nicely in the drawer of the coffee table too.

I paid $79 when I purchased mine, but it now retails for $62 and is only $55 today.  I am almost tempted to buy a second one just in case something happens to the first.  It’s that good.


Vidabox Releases RoomClientV2 Today



Vidabox has been busy lately.  For the second consecutive week they have announced a new product.  Today it is the RoomClinetV2, which is a media extender for streaming Blu-Ray, DVD, music, and photos from a media server.

This is a sleek, slim box that you can fit almost anywhere.  It packs Intel Dual Core 1.8 GHz processor, 2GB of DDR2-800MHz RAM, a slot-loading Blu-ray/DVD±RW/CD drive, and a 80GB 7200 rpm hard drive.  “The RoomClientV2 is our least expensive extender to date with a built-in Blu-ray drive,” explains Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox, LLC. “We’ve combined full 1080p, high definition Blu-ray playback, along with our comprehensive suite of media streaming capabilities for both online and stored content – all into a single, ultra-compact unit.”

They claim it can be mounted to the rear of any HDTV and is especially effective for such locations as a bedroom because of maximum noise level of only 28 dBA.  The size is listed as: Height 1.5″, Width 7.37″, Depth 11.03″, and a weight of only 3lb, 1oz.

As for connectivity, it has 1 front USB 2.0 port, 1 USB 3.0 port, 1 rear USB 3.0 port, 10/100/1000 LAN port, eSATA port, 1 optical SPDIF-out, 3.5mm analog 2.0 stereo out, 1 HDMI 1.2 output, and 1 DVI output.

Front view

Rear view

Top view