In the audio/video world, digital connections are arguably superior to their older analog brethren. Because of the increased signal quality, many more devices are coming with DVI or HDMI video outputs - Media Center PCs, progressive-scan DVD players, digital cable/satellite receivers, and so forth. Unfortunately, unless one has deep pockets, most AV receivers with HDMI/DVI switching capability and upconversion, are far out of reach. It then becomes a matter of deciding which component gets the “good” connection to your HD display of choice, and settling for an inferior connection method with the rest. With Octava’s Clear EYE HDMI Switch, you can hook all of your HDMI/DVI equipped devices up all at once. The Clear EYE comes in three and five port versions, both of which utilize Octava’s “Smart Scan” algorithm to choose the correct display source with no need for manual selection. At a price point that’s hard to beat compared to the alternatives ($229 for the 5-port with no cables), Octava looks to have a real winner on their hands.
Satellite radio has me spoiled. I can’t remember the last time I listened to normal terrestrial radio and I have no intentions of going back. However, there are those of you who still partake of FM broadcasts, and for that there’s the Acrilan Radio. The Acrilan is a 4 inch diameter piece of acrylic whose outer body controls the volume, and pop-up center button handles power and volume. Not much going on in the color choice department with only white and silver up for grabs but that’s a minor quibble. A mono speaker and blue LED lighting round out the package. Only one major problem - since it’s made for the Japanese market the frequency range (76.1 - 96.3 MHz) doesn’t match up with that of the U.S.
Sony has a Media Center PC available called the VGX-XL1 Digital Living System - quite a mouthful for what is essentially a run-of-the-mill Media Center PC. Sure, it has some additional bells and whistles, one of which is a 200-disc CD/DVD changer. At first glance, a 200-disc changer is nothing terribly new, but this one has the ability to sequentially rip 200 CD’s without having to be “babysat” during the process. Of course, when you’re not ripping CD’s you can use it to store your DVD’s for immediate access via your Media Center PC.
Right now the only way to get the changer is to buy the whole XL1 package which goes for a tidy $2,299.99 MSRP. In the rumor department though, there’s this one guy who talked to his friend’s mother who knows this janitor who cleans the Marketing Dept. at Sony who overheard…okay, it’s not quite that bad. However, rumor has it that Sony will be offering the changer as a standalone model when their new XL2 PC launches (no ETA on that yet). The changer connects via Firewire, so as long as your MCE has that (and what self-respecting MCE doesn’t?), you’ll be good to go.
Read More | eHomeUpgrade
We recently got our hands on the Oregon Scientific iBall Speaker System for the iPod. The iBall is a wireless speaker that is about the size of a bowling ball which features an LCD screen and iPod controls. Read our impressions and check out more images, after the jump.
After putting up our video interview with TiVo where we looked at the Series 3, quite a few people asked if we had any images of the remote control so that they could see the changes up close. Fortunately, we do. We were able to go hands-on with the Series 3 remote control during our meeting with TiVo, and we have the pictures here to show for it. The two major changes we liked were that the navigation disc is now comprised of five individual buttons, and that the weighting of the remote on the whole has been changed so that you can tell whether you are holding it the right way or not without having to look at it. Check out the rest of the images after the jump.
We got some quality hands-on time with the forthcoming TiVo Series 3, TiVo’s first HD-capable DVR. The Series 3 unit has some cool new features, including a single-color, two-line OLED LCD display on the front of the unit that shows you what’s being recorded on each tuner. We interviewed Bob Pony of TiVo (TiVoPony on the TiVo Community forums) about what we can expect in the Series 3, so be sure to check out the video interview as well.
Voices: Andru Edwards, Chris Cardinal, Bob Pony of TiVo
Length: 13:36, 15.6 MB
LISTEN | Gear Live Podcast
We got some quality hands-on time with the forthcoming TiVo Series 3, TiVo’s first HD-capable DVR. The Series 3 unit has some cool new features, including a single-color, two-line OLED LCD display on the front of the unit that shows you what’s being recorded on each tuner. We interviewed Bob Pony of TiVo (TiVoPony on the TiVo Community forums) about what we can expect in the Series 3, so be sure to check out the video interview above. The quick and dirty is that it features built-in ethernet, an external SATA port for expanding your TiVo’s capacity, and that it will ship with a 250 GB hard drive. (Note: Bob incorrectly states in the video that the shipping capacity is 300 GB. He corrected himself after we had finished shooting.) No official release date exists, of course, but they’re saying “in the second half of 2006.” We will have a downloadable version of this video up shortly.
Follow the jump for our personal impressions on the Series 3.Here's how to get the show:
|Download| - iPod-formatted H.264
|Download| - MPEG-4
While spending some time in the TiVo booth, we got to play around with their new, AJAX-based (aka Web 2.0 aka XMLHttpRequest) online scheduling utility. Clicking from show to show expands an information pane in the same window with all the details and options. You’re able to color certain genres of the guide on the fly and scrolling keeps the time bar at the top of the screen.
TiVo assured us that simply typing in the URL wouldn’t work, but, as it turns out, they were wrong. The application is still at an in-house Beta stage and shouldn’t be used unless you fully understand it, but that address is: http://www3-beta.tivo.com/tivo-tco/. Log in to your TiVo account somewhere else on the normal site first for full access to your DVRs and listings.
Keep in mind that TiVo could easily pull the plug on this the second they realize someone is linking to it, but we thought we’d give you the scoop and the opportunity to play around with the next generation of TiVo’s Online Scheduling software.
I was definitely excited to see and explore the new TiVo Desktop. More than just an incremental upgrade, the new Desktop introduces auto-scheduling of transfers. Desktop detects if a show is part of a Season Pass and allows you to tell your Desktop client to automatically grab any new episode of that series your TiVo records. Perhaps the most exciting new feature is the inclusion of automatic transcoding and transferring to your portable devices. If you have an iPod Video, for instance, you indicate that you want your scheduled transfers to be used for your iPod. TiVo Desktop will automatically grab the shows from your TiVo, transcode them to iPod Video’s preferred format, and even transfer it directly to your iTunes library and straight to your device, if it’s docked. Another such option exists for the PSP and the ability for other portable devices is definitely there. It’s about to enter beta testing and they estimate its release date will hit around sometime Q1 2006. (Or “very soon.”)
Oh, and watch this space for an in depth video interview and hands on shot of the Series 3, along with some extra-juicy information that only we have.
Stopping by HP’s rather large booth in South Hall’s upstairs, we stumbled upon their SLC3760N 37” LCD HD TV. It’s quite a mouthful no matter how you try to say it, but the TV had some stellar features that looked to function brilliantly. The TV is a uPNP device that allows you to hop on your local wireless (802.11a/b/g) or wired (100-base) network and instantly start watching media from your home’s PCs. It’s able to playback MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DivX, XviD (or, at least, MPEG-4), MP3s, AOL Radio and Rhapsody, and whatever photo formats you can throw at it.
It also features a 176° viewing angle, which looks quite stunning, and a 6,000:1 contrast ratio on a 720p screen. Release date is set tentatively for “early Spring” with a price “to be announced.” After trying a bit harder to eek a price out of him, he mentioned that the LCD on its own, minus all the connectivity functions, is (of course) absolutely top of the line, so you can expect to pay what a similar-quality tv might cost. He mentioned that the connectivity stuff adds only about $300 to the cost, which is pretty reasonable for such a flexible device.
© Gear Live Inc. – User-posted content, unless source is quoted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain License. Gear Live graphics, logos, designs, page headers, button icons, videos, articles, blogs, forums, scripts and other service names are the trademarks of Gear Live Inc.