Tag Archives: Home Theater

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

Vivitek Qumi Q5 Projectors

Vivitek hit the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month with a full new line of projectors known as the Qumi Q5 line.  The Qumi is Vivitek’s line of home-theater-quality projectors.  These are, obviously, front-end projectors, which bring the absolute best picture to your living room or dedicated home theater room.  TPN’s Jon Wurm got a first-hand look at the new lineup.

Vivitek brings the following specs to to their new projectors:

  • Up to 500L brightness
  • HD resolution
  • Projection on up to a 90 inch screen
  • HDMI, USB, and VGA
  • 3D Ready
  • 30,000 hours

Vivitek showcased several of their projectors in different light situations to show what they can do.  The picture is incredibly bright and the 1080P video comes through loud and clear.  In addition to a full array of computer hook-ups the Qumi has traditional home theater ports like HDMI, as well as the ability connect to smartphones and tablets.

The Vivitek Qumi projectors can be used in-home or by a business professionals for presentations. You can get a demonstration in the video, posted below, as well as checking out the Vivitek website.

Interview by Jon Wurm of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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The Casio Green Slim Projector

Casio makes a wide range of products from calculators to watches, and this year at the Consumer Electronics Show they unveiled a new line of projectors.  This slim and light, 3000 lumens mobile projector is known at the Green Slim line.  The projector uses a hybrid laser-LED light source that has a 20,000 hour life expectancy and no mercury, for those who want a green solution.  The Green Slim Projector, as Casio is calling it, is also suitable for ceiling mounting in an office meeting room and a home theater.

The projector will accept inputs from HDMI, VGA, composite video, and even a USB port.  The new line from Casio also features an app called Mobi Show which users can download an install on their mobile phone or tablet and then use to control presentations from the device. The new line starts at $999.  You can find out more by visiting Casio Projectors.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast.

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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.

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

Vidabox Releases ThinClientV2 Media Extender

VidaBox today announced it’s new ThinClientV2 Media Extender.  For those wondering where all of the Media Extenders have gone since the Windows Vista days – and the question is asked a LOT on the Media Center sites – here is a brand new one that is top-of-the-line.

It features eSATA, 10/100/1000 LAN, VGA, HDMi, SPDIF, and 4 UDB ports all on the back.  There’s an additional 1 USB port on the side, and, on the front, it has 1 USB, 1 analog stereo, and 1 headphone jack.

It’s relatively small, measuring just 1.5″ in height and 7.44″ in both width and depth.

As for the internals, it sports an AMD Neo Dual Core processor with 2GB of DDR2-800MHz RAM and an 80GB hard drive.  It accepts NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners and PAL/DVB-T formats.  It also has built-in 802.11N, as well as a built-in multi-format card reader.

Below are High-res images of the front and back that Vidabox was kind enough to supply me with.

While their press release states “The new ThinClientV2 design uniquely balances both performance and low cost,” I have not been able to find pricing as of yet so I can’t say if it is truly a good deal.  As for the performance part of that statement I don’t doubt that it will be very fast and efficient.  It has all of the bells and whistles as far as its hardware specs, connectivity options, numerous USB ports, and even a card reader.  While the 80GB hard drive may seem small I don’t think that’s an issue since this device really isn’t for storage, it’s for accessing files stored remotely on an HTPC or media server.  My one complaint is that they didn’t go with USB 3.0 since devices are now starting to appear for the new spec.  It may have been an effort to control the price though.

Popbox Coming July 23rd

For those still looking for a set-top box, the Popbox is now slated for release on July 23rd.  This is another promising release, coming on the heels of Roku, but well ahead of Boxee.

In terms of partners, it may be a little light.  While pulling in some new and interesting ones, there are a few old faithfuls still missing (like Netflix).  But, that and others, are promised later.

So, what is included at launch?  Here’s a list:

  • Funspot
  • Games
  • Picasa
  • Livestation
  • Youtube
  • Blip.tv
  • Next
  • New
  • Networks
  • Channels.com
  • Photobucket
  • Twitter
  • Shoutcast
  • Weatherbug
  • Revision3
  • MediaFly
  • Clicker
  • VideoDetective
  • MotorzTV

That’s a long list, but it also contains only a few things that most of us have heard of.  As I said, Netflix is missing.  That’s a BIG one.  Not to mention Hulu, who is now making these sorts of partnerships.  Others, such as networks like Comedy Central and online content like Crackle are noticeably absent.  As well as music sites like Pandora and Slacker.

The good news is that it’s upgradable.  The bad news is the obviously meager partners available at launch.

For the $129.99 asking price on Amazon, it’s not a bad deal, but I also  don’t think it’s a deal worth grabbing just yet.  This one is a wait and see.

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.