Tag Archives: Home Theater

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.