We are kicking off our 2009 Holiday Gift Guide with the Roku HD-XR player. Why? Well, we think that it’s the perfect time to introduce someone to the new hotness that is TV, delivered over the web, and right into the living room. Sure, Netflix has come to the Xbox 360, but if you want streaming access to the Netflix service and don’t own a game console, this is your cheapest barrier to entry. The HD-XR model also gives you access to the Amazon Unbox catalogue, as well as the entire MLB game service as well, if you are subscribed.
Definitely a great gift for movie buffs, the Roku HD-XR player is able to stream over 12,000 movies and television shows from the Netflix Watch Instantly catalogue, and over 45,000 from Amazon Video on Demand. It connects to your home network through an ethernet port, or over Wi-Fi, connecting at up to 802.11n if you have it. There’s also a USB port on back, which Roku says is for future use. Our guess is that they’ll be allowing the device to read from an external USB drive, which would be stellar.
The actual device is tiny, so it takes up barely any space, and setup takes just a couple of minutes - very simple. Of course, a Netflix subscription is required, but once you have that, everything else is a piece of cake.
Honorable Mention: If you want all the features of the Roku HD-XR, but don’t need the USB port or 802.11n wireless speeds, you can grab the Roku HD Player for $99!
Read More | Roku HD-XR
Yesterday, Apple released Apple TV 3.0, the first “major” release for the device in about two years. The company has often referred to the Apple TV as a hobby, as opposed to a real business. That said, there are a few nice additions that can be found in the Apple TV 3.0 update, so we give you a full walkthrough of the device, giving you a sampling of some of the new hotness.
Some of the standout features are the obviously redesigned home screen. Instead of the centered grid, you get a full screen menu that makes it easier to navigate right to the content that you want. I mean, it’s nice, but it seems to be the biggest visual upgrade to the device, which we think is in need of a hardware refresh. You also score Genius DJ playlist abilities, nice for parties and such, but I rock a Sonos system, so it doesn’t really appeal to me personally. Same goes for Internet radio, but it is there as a feature, and it’s nice. The one we like is the addition of iTunes Extras and iTunes LP content. We are fans of the iTunes LP, so being able to see it on an HDTV, which is where we think it shines, is also “nice.”
If you are picking up on a trend, you win. This whole 3.0 business is, in a word, “nice.” It isn’t anything more than that. It brings the Apple TV in line with other Apple products, allowing it to do things that other devices can do, and it gets a UI refresh, and the Helvetica font. All well and good, but let’s hope that next time around we get some decent new hardware. In any event, hit the play button for the full tour.
LG is set to make you consider a HTIB set with their HB954SP, a 5.1 channel surround sound system with five speakers and a subwoofer, all pushing 1,000 total watts of power. It also includes a BD-Live-enabled Blu-ray player that has an iDock - basically an iPod dock that you can use to charge an iPod or iPhone.
Expect to see the HB954SP HTIB launch sometime in November. No mention of price, but we are thinking it won’t be cheap.
Read More | LG
Newegg‘s put up a decent deal on the Polk Audio RM6750 5.1-channel surround sound speaker set. In a nutshell, you get a six piece surround sound package, including 2 front, 2 surround, 1 center, and 1 subwoofer speaker. This is a system that gets great reviews, as Polk is known for quality audio products. Take a look at the Polk Audio RM6750 on Newegg to get the savings.
As always, you can find all sorts of Newegg promo codes and deals on our forums.
Read More | Newegg: Polk RM6750 Surround Sound Set
For you extreme audiophile Blu-ray fans out there, we just came across a great list of movies that include a 7.1 surround sound audio track. If you’ve got a 7.1 speaker setup, you’ll likely find this list to be worth checking out. There are some gems on here (3:10 To Yuma, Pan’s Labyrinth, Weeds,) as well as a few horrible movies (Disaster Movie, Hannah Montana, Witless Protection,) but the common thread here is that all o the currently listed 90 movies hit you with a lossless 7.1 audio track.
Read More | Blu-ray Stats
Okay, this is just getting ridiculous, because Netflix is just making Blockbuster look downright silly. Hot on the heels of debuting Netflix HD streaming on the Xbox 360, today TiVo and Netflix have announced the availability of Netflix HD streaming on all TiVo Series 3, TiVo HD, and TiVo HD XL DVRs. All you need to get this working is the free TiVo Fall Update (which you should already have) and a Netflix subscription. From there, just head into the new Video on Demand menu item on TiVo, and choose Netflix. Once selected, you’ll see a 4-character alphanumeric code. Plug that in over at www.netflix.com/activate, and you are in.
Our early tests even show that Netflix streaming on TiVo looks just a smidge better than the product on the Xbox 360 when a movie is playing (though, we like the interface more on the 360.) We eagerly await the next step in the home theater component domination that is the TiVo Watch Instantly service. If you’re interested, we’ve got the full press release, straight from TiVo, after the break.
Now I realize you’ve been drooling over those new mini-projectors for a while now, but if you’d rather have an extra-large experience and already own a normal projector, you’re in luck:
Remember that “velvety” inflatable couch you had in college? Well, we’ve found you the perfect TV to go along with it – the Open Air Cinema 16 Foot Inflatable Movie Screen. The 16ft x 9ft, widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, 20-pound inflatable movie screen is the perfect compliment to any backyard (if you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, ahem). Just don’t go filling it with helium - that’s a very, very bad idea; this potential balloon is available at an introductory price of $999, or purchase their CineBox Home complete backyard theater system which includes projection, sound and all necessary cables for $3,299 - you’ll instantly have the most popular backyard on the block and you can recoup the expense by charging admission and selling refreshments…
Read More | Open Air Cinema
Sure, Netflix has come to the Xbox 360, but if you want streaming access to the Netflix service and don’t own a game console, this is your cheapest barrier to entry. Definitely a great gift for movie buffs, the Roku Netflix player is able to stream over 12,000 movies and television shows from the Netflix Watch Instantly catalogue. The set-top box currently outputs at 480p (DVD quality), but we know that high definition streaming is on the way. The box is tiny, so it takes up barely any space, and setup takes just a couple of minutes - very simple. Of course, a Netflix subscription is required, but once you have that, everything else is a piece of cake.
Read More | Roku
VUDU XL2 has been released for home theater owners. There is access to hundreds of HD titles on demand with more than 10,000 films total that can be viewed instantly. The exterior is made of aerospace-grade aluminum bezel with the glowing logo and the device is rack-mountable. The XL2 has a terabyte of storage which equals out to about 500 movies and has both IP and IR control with 1080i HD output. You better love your movies as the player will set you back $1,299.00.
Read More | VUDU
Okay, we know that some of us put all our stock into HD DVD, going all out on movies and players, only to be burned by the eventual Blu-ray victory. However, that also means that HD DVD player owners can enjoy some steep discounts on media for the failed format. As an example, Amazon is currently selling 99 HD DVD titles for $7.99. Seriously, perfectly good movies like The Bourne Supremacy, Army of Darkness, and the like, all for $7.99. Meanwhile, those of us buying Blu-ray are doing so at $20 or more a pop! See? Doesn’t that make you feel better about your HD DVD investment? We didn’t think so.
Read More | Amazon $8 HD DVD clearance