Showing posts with label htpc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label htpc. Show all posts

November 9, 2009

Digitally pimping a home network

While visiting Michiel in Singapore, I pimped their home network a bit. It was fine, but cumbersome and loosely tied together: 5 laptops, PS3, Wii. They have a cable modem, but didn't know their connection speed. WiFi was setup but not used because downloading over a fixed connection into the WiFi router was "going faster". Hehe, I told them their ISP limits the speed and after a bit of testing concluded that their 8 Mb down-link would scarcely fill the 54 Mb/s bandwidth of their 802.11g WiFi network. So no need for the fixed network hook-up not sitting near the router, freedom to sit around the house wherever they wanted to. I moved the Linksys WRT54G into a nook, out of the way, receiving thousands of thank-yous from the housekeeper who hated the nasty blue box on the floor in the livingroom. ;)

I then tied the PS3 and Wii to the WiFi network. This meant all devices were now on the same subnet. I installed PS3 media server on Molina's Vista Acer laptop. (It's free, open source and supports Windows, Mac and Linux!) Up until then, they'd had borrowed the HDMI cable from the PS3 if they wanted to watch downloaded TV series. Fine, but why swap cables?! :) Now, they hook up USB disks with movies, music and series to the Vista laptop, fire up ps3 media server, turn on the PS3 and watch or listen to anything from the Windows laptop. :)

linksys WRE54GNext, after seeing this digital revolution in his house, Michiel asked if he could somehow get WiFi on his 17 m2 roof terras, overlooking the Singapore skyline? I said sure, but he'd likely have to drill a cable up to the roof. The reinforced concrete would be unlikely to pass his WiFi signals. So did a little digging and after MrVanes suggested WiFi Range Extenders (I had been looking for that term), it all came quickly together:
* get a WRE54G Linksys Range Expander to get unobstructed full speed WiFi access outside on the roof
* pulling a cable up from the livingroom
* Connect a QNAP TS-410 NAS server to a free network port on the WRT54G and add some disks to taste.

QNAP NAS SOHOThe NAS supports Windows, Apple and Linux, has built-in everything and is expandable with hot-swap drive bays. The UPnP/DLNA media server supports their PS3 so the Windows laptop can be used as a workstation instead of doubling as a media server, the built-in bittorrent (BT) client let's them download directly to the NAS and the iTunes server let's them stream their music collection to their laptops, iPhones or iTouch devices. If only I could be there to install it and see it work!!! :)

March 5, 2009

ps3mediaserver

Still not sure what the ps3mediaserver does. But I am intrigued. I think it is a server that the PS3 can scan for so that any media content you have lying around on your network (i.e. a Linux file server, a Windows desktop for you and your kids, your neighbours' servers, etc.) can be streamed, transcoded if needed and played back on your PS3. Why? I guess because you can and coz... why not?! :D

It connects directly to your iTunes and/or iPhoto collections... No more copying or transfer needed.

August 14, 2008

Sony introducing OLED TVs in 2009

T3 says Sony will live up to its promise and launch the first OLED TV for consumers in the UK in early 2009. The Sony XEL-1 has a 3mm thick display and fits all the logic in its base. It costs a whopping £1500 and measure 11" in diagonal. You do get a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio though... :S

August 13, 2008

The BeagleBoard: $149 Linux System

Was rereading LinuxJournal's write up over Jailkit, an easy toolkit to setup and configure scp/sftp for specific users, when my eye saw this: The BeagleBoard: a $149 Linux System.

The specs are impressive! I only lack an Ethernet port, but using USB (for power), you could add disk storage as well as a network port. Easy! What could you do with it? Uhm... create a media server with it; build a portable movie center; build a fancy web or database server; create a firewall or proxy server... lots!

I'm thinking putting this inside a small box, take a USB hub with power, a USB Bluetooth dongle, a Bluetooth mini keyboard and a mouse. Add Linux, install VLC and connect your choice of USB disk(s) filled to the brim with HD 720p movies and all you need is a TV with an S-video input and you can watch whatever you brought with you! w00t :nerd:

July 15, 2008

NEC mass produces all-in-one Blu-ray chip

blu-rayRight on the heels of Panasonic, NEC announced it is also mass producing an all-in-one Blu-ray chip, EMMA3P (MC-10092. It slices, it dices, the blade never runs dull and if you order now, you will get a Red Green *and* Blue version! :)
Seriously, this system-on-a-chip (SOC) support the full BD-ROM 2.0 profile, does VC-1, H.264, MPEG 1, 2 and 4, Dolby Digital, Plus and HD, DTS, MPEG1 layer 1 and 2 audio (huh, no mp3?), AAC and MPEG BC, LPCM, CD-DA in hardware (decoding only, sadly)! And everything on two channels. Add some HDMI 1.3 component (RGB) output, 5 channel audio, NTSC/PAL/SECAM composite video, 10/100 Mb/s NIC (huh, no 1 Gb?) and two SATA interfaces and Bob's your uncle!
/me waits for blu-ray prices to come down

July 10, 2008

Belkin's wireless HDMI box w300

belkin flywire w300HDMI, the next SCART interface, is great. But like with SCART, you always seem to have too little ports to plug into as the number of devices you get increases. Not to mention the cable spaghetti at the back of your TV or media center.
Belkin is about to change all that with a wireless HDMI box due in October. Albeit at a price! However, you can also use it to beam HDMI (DVD, Blu-ray, game) to an HDMI beamer at the ceiling or even in the next (bed)room. Coool!
/me wonders about picture quality

June 20, 2008

Mini-ITX 2.0 arrives!

I can't say it better than Slashdot: "Via Technologies has launched the second generation of its signature mini-motherboard standard. Mini-ITX 2.0, an evolutionary update to the seven-year-old 170×170mm form-factor, introduces new and emerging buses and interfaces such as PCI Express, SATA, Gig-E, and HD A/V, while preserving backwards-compatibility with the original standard. Mini-ITX has been a popular form-factor for a range of space-constrained hobbyist and commercial applications."

May 13, 2008

Apple: iTunes becoming major video platform


After the announcement that Apple will release movies on iTunes the same day as they're released for DVD, I am now reading that HBO will also release its programs on iTunes... it looks like Apple wants to reaffirm the use of Apple TV as a useful household appliance.
I do understand it, I'm using a Mac Mini as HTPC and it's certainly nice, easy to use and a breeze to set-up and configure. So if the Apple TV adds some digital recording capabilities and a lot of content, I think it'll sell easy and create a lot more Apple addicts...

May 3, 2008

Super Hi-Vision Device At 17x HD Resolution

Just when you thought getting a Full-HD TV will have you set for life, you read news about JVC making a 17x HD Resolution screen! O_o Wow... I wonder what a 35 Mpx TV screen will cost. It's predecessor costs $140000!

April 24, 2008

Alienware's ultimate Home Theater Setup: Hangar18 HD


Stumbled upon the ultimate Home Theater PC...!
Alienware's Hangar18 HD seems to have it all! Up to 4 TV tuners to record everything at once. 2 TB (2000 GB) of local storage to store it all. 1080p to watch it all and 5.1 surround sound to hear it all. Add a Blu-ray dual-layer player/burner, 4 USB 2.0 and a Firewire port, a Gigabit Ethernet connection, WiFi, an ATi 2400HD video card and up to 4 GB of RAM.
One sad little damper on th whole thing: Windows Vista Home Premium! Yuck! :puke:

March 30, 2008

New flat screen TV


It's not a Full HD screen, simply because we don't have any sources for that and our Mac Mini media server, AFAIK, cannot handle Full HD movie decoding/display. And unless we win a PS3, we won't get one. But it's got plenty of input ports: 2 SCART, 2 HDMI, component (RGB) , VGA and composite, as well as audio in and output. We also got some fancy 2.1 speakers for it that will look totally cool! Petra loved them so who was I to argue. ;) our Home Theater setup is now almost complete... Only missing a general purpose amplifier and a DVR using Elgato's eyeTV products.

March 20, 2008

T3: Sony's first full-spec Blu-ray players outed

Now that HD-DVD is really dead, the doubting is over and it's time to take the next step: check out first full-spec 2.0 Blu-ray players. Prices: $400-500 this Summer. With the $ going further South, this may get even cheaper.

January 11, 2008

KPC: Shuttle's $199 Linux PC


Linux is really making new grounds this year. PCs are getting cheaper and with Linux, they can get really cheap! Note Shuttle's new $199 Linux barebone PC. Small form factor, really cool graphic designs, enough horsepower for common tasks and upgradable with more RAM, USB harddisks if you need it. Hmmm, could make a cool media center except for the lack of video horsepower. Oh well...

April 23, 2007

TVease - Linux, MythTV and full control without the fuss

tvease sevenYou know you want a HTPC and a DVR in your livingroom. You you want to be able to download movies while at work and come home and watch them on your TV without the need for a physical DVD. You know your girlfriend hates the miles of cable that you know are necessary for stable and fast connections. You also know you could do all of it using Linux instead of Windows Media Center. But you realize it just might be easiest and quickest way to get it... Well, not anymore! :) Check out TVease!
These guys have taken decent, pretty HTPC housing, added Linux, MythTV, Hauppage TV tuner cards, WiFi and 80+ GB of storage and built the ideal HTPC/DVR for you! No muss, no fuss, just buy, wait, unpack and use! Brilliant!

February 5, 2007

SmartWi Residential Cardsplitter

Moosy pointed to this cool thingy: he SmartWi Residential Cardsplitter. It's great for people who have digital or satellite TV and need smartcards to get their subscription decrypted. The smartcard contains subscription, validity and some keys and decrypt the channels sent by the service provider. But what if you have a TV in the living room, game room and bedroom?
That's what the SmartWi solves! It stores the data in a master transmitter and sends data to upto 3 receivers using a wireless protocol. Nifty, huh?! :)

January 26, 2007

KiSS DP558 Digital HD Recorder

Just got a tip from a colleague of mine... He'd bought his dad a KiSS DP558 digital hard disk recorder, also known as PVRs or DVRs, and said his dad now watch shows, record them, read important mails while watching something and so on! The DP558 runs embedded Linux and you can upgrade the firmware to boast features and functions even more! :) The DP558 plays everything (mp2, mp3, mp4, wma, ogg, etc.) under the sun, you can upgrade the hard drive, watch and record at the same time, it has an EPG, you can remotely instruct your KiSS system to record a show while you're away and more. :) I was impressed, especially because his dad loved the thing... ;)

January 22, 2007

HD-DVD and Bluray copy protection cracked

Last week I read about HD-DVD's copy protection being cracked. Serenity was the first film out on HD-DVD. This morning I read that the same guy hacked Blu-ray and AACS as well... Same technique, same small hurdles. :respect:

April 24, 2006

Matsushita: Blu-Ray, HD-DVD Will Never Merge

It seems it up to the customers again...
Blu-Ray, HD-DVD Will Never Merge. Just like Betamax and VHS, it is once again up the consumers to buy into one or the other. My guess is that PC support will matter as more and more people have a PC in the livingroom or a HTPC. Last I heard, Microsoft will back HD-DVD and HP swapped BluRay for HD-DVD, I heard for pricing/licensing reasons. Dell can therefore make or break BluRay, since Dell is the world's largest manufacturer of consumer PCs these days...

April 7, 2006

Power-hungry chips charted

Silent PC guys have compared a set of modern day CPUs and determined which PC consumes how much Watt.
Why should you care? Well, you really don't have to, but it pays to know. The more power a CPU consumes, the heavier your power supply should be, the more money you'll pay for the elextricity bill and... the more fans your PC will need, which means the noisier it'll get. If you are in the market for a digital video recorder (DVR) or Personal Video Recorder (PVR) or Home Theatre PC (HTPC), you need to know this stuff.

January 12, 2006

World's smallest ATX power supply

picoPSU-120In the days where we want a PC everywhere, it's good to know some people take this very seriously. After being amazed what people have done with mini-ITX PCs, it is no longer a (big) shock to see that world's smallest 12V ATX power supply that can nonetheless deliver 120W is the picoPSU-120. You can't run nVidia or ATi graphics cards in these systems and it won't make a nice multi-purpose desktop PC. However, this little PSU (power supply unit) will work nicely in low-sound HTPC systems together with other low-power parts.