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Vista Netflix Tool

If applications like these are what’s in store with Windows Vista, then it makes me just a little more excited for the release of the next Microsoft OS. The screenshot is a Netflix management tool built on Avalon which works off of the Netflix RSS feeds. It looks slick, optimizing itself depending on what type of PC and screen resolution you are using.

Today at the Microsoft PDC keynote in Los Angeles, during the Jim Allchin keynote, Darryn Dieken, group program manager for Avalon demo’d an experimental Netflix application built on Avalon using Netflix’s pre-existing RSS feeds. The application was built by the design firm Rezn8 with design direction from two of us on the Media Center team.

Unfortunately, I am more of a Blockbuster Online kind of guy.


Read More | Matt’s Media Center Weblog


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ITVN

We recently got a peek at Interactive Television Networks (ITVN) service.  The box hooks up to your television, and provides broadband television using a high-speed Internet connection. The service was surprisingly seamless when demoed, working just as smoothly as my cable provider. So far there are three packages: Gold, Adult, and Platinum which are priced at $29.95, $29.95, and $49.95, respectively.  The network, which has been teased for its mostly pornographic offerings, is finally branching out with content that is more family friendly. The list of channels isn’t impressive since there’s no MTV, CNN and so forth.  All stations proprietary channels from ITVN, including a few which are on demand. For example, their music video channel allows you to control which videos you want to watch.  ITVN also told us that they have a few more channels to be released by the end of this year. One nice thing about the service is that it includes high definition content. The idea behind this is entertaining, but without the support of more well known networks it doesn’t yet have that mainstream feel which is ready for the public. After all, we can only watch so much Dean Martin.


Read More | ITVN


Mattel VidsterVidster is a digital video camera marketed toward kids who have bigger dreams than to end up making the next Blair Witch sequel.  Incredibly easy to use, it’s ready to go right out of the box. Upon inspection, it looks cheapish and plastic, however keep in mind that it retails for $79.99 and it is intended to withstand the punishment of kids.  It comes with 32MB of onboard memory but it is expandable up to 512MB using an SD slot.  At only 15 fps, the video quality seemed disappointing and sometimes sluggish.  Forgetting that it’s intended for kids, I tried to play around with it but found it difficult to manipulate the buttons with my huge sausage fingers. The camera takes 1.3 megapixel still shots and has a 1.1-inch color LCD with 2x digital zoom. The product seems to thrive once it’s connected to a PC over its USB connection.  The editing software used is a version of autoProducer 3.5 designed specifically by muvee Technologies for Vidster.  The software is simple enough for kids to use by integrating music into their scenes, emailing their creations, or even burning them to DVD.


Description

The Qosimo G25-AV513 notebook had every media lover at Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular in awe. When you first look at it, you can’t help but love its sleek design. They were playing “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, which looked spectacular on its two lamp widescreen display, which was unbelievably sharp in contrast to the other notebooks sitting beside it.  I was impressed with how little glare there was when viewing the screen at an angle. Beautifully designed SRS TruSurround XT harman/kardon® stereo speakers stood alongside.  Even inside the incredibly loud atmosphere, you could still make out the dialogue in the movie. One feature that really stood out for me in particular was that you would never need to boot up the Windows Media Center OS to even start playing DVDs, CDs or, watch TV. Here are the full specs:

Qosmio G25-AV513 Product Specifications
Processor:
Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology featuring Intel Pentium® M Processor4 760 (2.00 GHz, 533MHz FSB, 2MB L2 Cache)
Display:
Toshiba Ultimate TruBrite™ 17-inch diagonal TFT display WXGA with 1440x900 native resolution; QosmioEngine for enhanced display
System Chipset:
Mobile Intel® 915PM Express Chipset
Graphics Controller:
NVIDIA® GeForce™ 6 GO 6600 graphics6 with 128MB DDR SDRAM VRAM
Memory:
1024MB DDR2 SDRAM memory3
Hard Drive:
120GB using two 60GB SATA/5400 rpm hard disk drives2
Optical Drive:
Front slot-loading DVD SuperMulti Double Layer drive
Wireless:
Intel PRO/Wireless5 2200 ABG (802.11 a/b/g); Bluetooth® version 2.0+EDR
Ports:
4 USB 2.0, RGB, TV out (S-Video and Component via D-port Connector), AV IN (S-Video and Connector and Composite/Monitor/Line-IN), RJ-45 LAN port, RJ-11, i-Link®1394, S/PDIF Optical Audio Output
TV Tuner:
Integrated Toshiba TV Tuner (US/NTSC)
Input Devices/slots:
QosmioPlayer (instant-on CD/DVD/TV), Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition remote control with numeric keypad, keyboard, mouse
5-in-1 Bridge Media Adapter (Secure Digital®, Memory Stick™, Memory Stick PRO™, Multi Media Card, xD Picture Card); PCMCIA PC Card slot
Battery:   
6-cell Lithium ion battery (4400 mAh)
Operating System:
Microsoft® Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005
Dimensions: 
15.98- x 11.22- x 1.93-inch
Weight: 
9.47 lbs.

If you want it, be prepared to drop $3,000.


Read More | Toshiba Qosimo G25-AV513


GameDr Excelerator


Over the past few days, there has been talk on the Internet that a company out there is working on a device that will allow you to play PSP content on your television. We were given an exclusive look at just that. The GameDr Excelerator will actually come in two flavors - one that allows you to play PSP content on your television, and another that does the same thing for the Game Boy Advance: SP. Now, this isn’t something where you just hook up a cable to your portable device that sends a signal to the television. You are actually encapsulating the screen, and the GameDr Excelerator captures the video in real-time, and sends the signal to the television. It results in a bit of bulkiness, but still, a cool concept. No word on when the device will hit the market, but it should be very soon.


Blu-Ray HackingAccording to Reuters, hackers or modders that tinker with their Blu-ray players may be subject to their devices being remotely disabled.  The feature, operated through a required connection between the player and the internet, could monitor the device and shut it down if any changes are made to hardware or internal firmware.  While this may not affect the mainstream user, having an outside entity attempting to control and monitor yet another component of home entertainment is sure to cause waves in the tech-savvy community, especially for those used to tampering with regional coding in their current DVD players.  In the battle against HD-DVD for format legitimacy, the mention of this feature will certainly put a damper on Blu-ray.


Read More | Reuters


Logitech Harmony 890 Universal Advanced RemoteEven more from Logitech, and this one is pretty sweet. Basically, the company took the Harmony 880, made it silver, and added RF capabilities. This means that it has that nice 880-styled color screen, rechargeable lithium ion battery, and backlit keys.

Logitech´s Harmony 890 Remote Control uses both radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) wireless signals to deliver complete control of your home-entertainment system that may be hidden behind cabinets or in separate rooms. With a wireless range of up to 100 feet, the Harmony 890 remote sends RF commands to a base station, which then blasts infrared signals to any components in that zone. With the Harmony 890 remote, you can create a system that involves multiple remotes and/or base stations to deliver control of all the entertainment zones throughout the home.

This one is not too shabby, although at $399 USD, the only place we might see these in action is on MTV Cribs.


Read More | Logitech Harmony 890 Product Page


Logitech Harmony 520 RemoteI love Logitech Harmony remote controls. I have yet to use a remote that is more intuitive, easy to set up, and recognized as many devices at the Harmony line. That being the case, I am looking forward to getting my hands on the 520 to see what kind of product they are putting out there at the $99 USD price range. It is a great option for those with just a few devices that they need to control, although the oddly-shaped housing does leave a bit to be desired. Hey, for $99 you still get the signature Harmony internet setup wizard via USB, which makes this thing cake. Look for it to hit stores by the end of the month. Jump down for the full press release.


Read More | Logitech Harmony 520 Product Page

Click to continue reading Logitech Harmony 520 Universal Remote, For the Cheapies


Netflix and Blockbuster OnlineThis actually makes a lot of sense, but is something that we don’t often think about. Apparently, the way that Blockbuster Online, Netflix, and similar services send mail is a big problem for the USPS, despite the large amount of revenue these services generate for the postal service. The size of the mail envelopes do not conform to standards set long ago, which the machines used to process mail go by. As a result, rental DVD’s can either be forced into the machines, resulting in breakage, or separated and sorted by hand. Many solutions have been proposed, but none accepted at this point. Still, it is an interesting read.

The problem with CD/DVD mail is that the rules, designed to ensure that mail pieces claiming discounted rates can be processed on letter sorting machines, are useless in evaluating CD mail designs.  Most CD/DVD mailers that comply with letter processing regulations are not compatible with letter processing equipment.  CD/DVDs are not paper and present unique processing challenges.  The USPS processing plants have learned the differences between paper and plastic the hard way.  As marketing has pushed for more CD/DVD mail, postal operations have had to contend with more pieces that are incompatible with their equipment.  Currently, the two largest companies presenting this non-compatible automation mail are NetFlix and Block Buster; but they are not the only customers with mail piece design problems.  New guidelines must be developed to ensure that CD/DVD mail, claiming automated letter rates, is capable of being processed on USPS letter sorting machines.


Read More | Postcom


McDonalds DVD RentalsJumping on the DVD rental bandwagon, McDonalds is testing Red Box DVD kiosks in some Denver locations. You can now rent movies for $1 a day to accompany your Big Mac, large fries, and heart attack. 

In Denver, customers can visit the Redbox DVD machines at participating McDonald’s and rent the newest DVD movies releases for just $1.00 per night, plus tax - with no membership forms and no late fees - and return the same movies at any participating McDonald’s Denver location. The latest new DVD releases are added to the Redbox DVD rental machines every Tuesday.  McDonald’s is the first quick service restaurant to offer new DVD movie rentals to consumers, extending its legacy of introducing new and innovative ways to create relevant, satisfying, and unique customer experiences in its restaurants.

Read More | Kiosk Magazine


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