CiragoTV aims for the new platinum standard for HTPCs

Subject: Systems | June 17, 2011 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: htpc, cirago

The CiragoTV Platinum Network Multimedia device comes in three flavours ranging from a $179 500GB to a $299 2TB version, all of which are identical apart from storage capacity.  It is not really a true HTPC as it does not include a TV Tuner, but it does offer a little more than a plain network multimedia platform since it has a Bittorrent client inside.  Legit Reviews tried it out and found Blu-ray ISO files to play perfectly and the device was capable of passing through DTS and Dolbly 7.1 digital sound to the receiver they used.  As well, as long as you are feeding it signal through a cable box it can record TV, though the ability to download shows makes that feature slightly redundant. 


"At $279.99, the 2TB CiragoTV CMC3200 has to be close to extraordinary especially when you match it up against the competition that is on the market today. The picture and video quality of the CMC3200 is very good – even excellent. The fact that we can record from a source and use a BitTorrent client makes the unit even more impressive. The sticker price is the biggest issue here..."

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Wii U Revealed To Contain Last Gen PC DirectX 10.1 Capable AMD Radeon GPU

Subject: Systems | June 14, 2011 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: Wii U, radeon, r770, Nintendo, amd

While the current Nintendo console’s internals are very underpowered compared to the competition from the Xbox 360 and PS3, the company looks to leapfrog those consoles in the graphics department with the upcoming Wii U console. According to Engadget, the new Nintendo offering will come equipped with a GPU much like that of AMD’s 4800 series. The custom R770 chip is DirectX 10.1 and multi-display capable, allowing the console to output up to four SD video streams.

While the proposed chip is last-generation in terms of PC gaming, on the console front it will be the current highest-end GPU, with the Xbox 360 using a custom ATI X1900 GPU and the PS3 employing a custom RSX (”Reality Synthesizer”) graphics chip based on NVIDIA’s 7800GTX PC graphics card.

What do you think about Nintendo’s move to employ the AMD GPU?

Source: Engadget

HP announces 11 models using AMD Vision Technology

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 14, 2011 - 03:24 PM |
Tagged: llano, hp


Level up! Llano life increased by 11 HP.

So, AMD is currently having a little shindig right now as you might be aware from recent news posts and news is just a leaking from the rafters. HP recently contacted us to announce that they just expanded both their consumer and business product lines to include 11 new models using “AMD’s latest Vision Technology”. What this means is we can expect a large array of products coming from HP that utilizes the latest generation of AMD CPUs and GPUs from their new Llano-based AMD A-Series product line. Expect a helping of Llano on your HP in the near future.

Source: HP

Habley Shows Off Small Atom PC Capable Of Playing Two 1080p HD Streams

Subject: Processors, Systems | June 12, 2011 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: SFF, Intel, htpc, hd, DIY, atom

Habley has recently shown off a new small, embedded computer dubbed the SOM-6670E6XX. The new computer is the size of a post-it note; however, it sports an Atom E600 processor running at 1.0Gh as well as an integrated GMA600 graphics core. To be more specific, the motherboard in question measures 70mm x 70mm.

The CPU and GPU blend is able to support two displays and pipe two HD video streams to each. Using Media Player Class Home Cinema 1.5, the computer is able to play both a 1080p MPEG4 trailer of the X-Men First Class film and a HD FLV version of SpiderWic simultaneously. While playing both films, the CPU saw around 93% usage and 210 MB of RAM from the Windows Embedded 2009 operating system. Further, while playing an HD FLV film trailer while also watching an HD YouTube clip, the processor was again pegged at 93% usage; however, in this test the RAM usage was much higher, at 422 MB. The test system used, in addition to the SOM-6670, it consisted of a SOMB-073 Carrier board (which provides the various IO including video and audio output, mouse and keyboard input, and SATA ports), 1GB of on-board RAM, and a 5400RPM laptop form factor (2.5”) 120GB hard drive.

Including the two monitors, at 1280x768 (over HDMI) and 1920x1080 (SDVO) respectively, the system drew 18 watts during usage. You can see the test system of the small HD-capable computer in action in the video below. What uses do you have in mind for a micro-sized computer such as this?

Source: MaximumPC

Is the InFocus 55" a wall tablet? Do you want it anyway?

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Systems | June 11, 2011 - 03:31 AM |
Tagged: wall tablet, InFocus

InFocus is branding their 55-inch touch-screen TV with Windows 7 embedded as a “Wall Tablet”. The writers down at HotHardware seem to take offense to a 55-inch device being called a tablet and I must agree. My duration working in high schools and acquiring an education degree grew me well acquainted with SMART boards and this product definitely recalls those memories much more vividly than my experience playing around with tablet devices.

The problem with touch screens in schools is that every screen is treated like one thereafter.

(Video from BusinessWire)

It is quite obvious that InFocus spent quite a large amount of time developing their user interface to dress up Windows 7 as a more whiteboard friendly operating system. Their interface has a custom file browser with annotation capabilities, a custom web browser, a digital whiteboard application, and a video conferencing solution that can interface with open protocols such as Google Talk and more proprietary ones such as Cisco. The unit itself has a 720p video camera and a screen resolution of 1920x1080 with multiple touch recognition, something that most (but not all) SMART boards are incapable of.

It is highly unlikely that you will have one of these $6000 devices in your house unless you happen to require it for professional reasons. For those in the education, training, research, or corporate management fields: a device like this could make your life much easier particularly if you were already considering installing a mass of SMART boards for this purpose. They are expected to ship to interested customers in July.

Source: HotHardware

Isn't it grand when you get to buy yourself a system

Subject: Systems | June 8, 2011 - 06:18 PM |
Tagged: upgrade, system build

As is mentioned in the beginning of this system build log at The Tech Report, the die hard geek tends to take better care of the systems of those around them than their own.  A problem on a system that is deemed as completely unusable by a friend or loved one would be completely ignored on our own systems if we can find at least a semi-usable workaround.  We might even go so far as to write down what should be fixed ... once we can find the time. 

It seems like the time had finally come for one particular geek, so you can read through the entire process they went through, specifying parts and assembling them. There were of course some kinks, physical mostly, from oversized graphics cards to strange memory compatibility issues.  It is more fun to read about it than to troubleshoot, so take a look over The Tech Report's shoulder as they build a system.


Wait ... that's not right!

"I'll admit to being like the proverbial plumber with a leaky sink. When it comes to my own, primary personal computer, I've been borderline neglectful for a little while now. Happily, I decided to end all that recently by building myself an excellent new computer."

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Get your TV on USB

Subject: Systems | June 8, 2011 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: htpc, elgato eyetv, usb, tv tuner

The Elgato EyeTV Hybrid is a USB 2.0 device that sports an antenna input, (MCX and an F connector), s-video, composite plus stereo audio and even an IR remote control sensor.  You don't need to crack open your case to install it, you can watch TV right away as the drivers are contained within the EyeTV, much like a USB headset.  Missing Remote tried it out and found it worked wonderfully by its self on both PCs and Macs.  They did mention that integration with popular software like SageTV for Mac, Plex and XBMC would make this device even better.


"When home theater computers first came to market almost 10 years ago, the television tuners that were available were few and far between, all internal, and featured a whopping single tuner. How times have changed. Now, dual tuners are a given and hybrid tuners seek to accomplish the duty of one-size-fits-all for all customers. The Elgato EyeTV Hybrid is one of those that within its tiny dongle of a body contains an NTSC, ATSC and DVB-T tuner for $129, and works with both Windows and Mac computers. With competition so steep in the tuner world however, how does it match up in a real world evaluation?"

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Foxconn NT-A3500, AMD's Fusion E-350 is kicking Atom where it hurts

Subject: Systems | June 1, 2011 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: nettop, e-350, amd

When it comes to tiny systems such as nettops, AMD's E-350 Fusion is doing what the Atom and ION combo can do, only faster, cooler and quieter.  While this is upsetting for NVIDIA and Intel, the consumer benefits almost as much as AMD does. techPowerUp just finished a review of a Foxconn product that demonstrates the abilities of the Fusion platform, the Netbox NT-A3500.  It is not for sale yet in North America but when it does hit the market you can expect around a $200 pricetag, plus RAM and a storage drive.  For that price you get the AMD E-350 and Radeon HD 6310 as well as Realtek ALC888S audio.  Wireless and wired LAN, four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, optical audio and analog audio, and DVI and HDMI outputs.  techPowerUp covers the rest of the features in their full review.


"Foxconn has made some waves with their compact but very capable ION based NT-330I Netbox back in 2010. Now, almost a year later the market has evolved and Foxconn is sending their newest version into the race. The NT-A3500 is based on the AMD Fusion platform, aiming to be faster, cooler and quieter."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Asus Announces New MeeGo Netbook, Ultralight Laptop, and Padfone

Subject: Systems, Mobile | May 31, 2011 - 12:06 AM |
Tagged: ultraportable, padfone, meego, computex, asus, Android

Asus is starting their Computex 2011 showing off strong with a bevy of product announcements. Most of their new products fall into their mobile lineup. The new mobile devices include a thin MeeGo OS powered Netbook, an ultralight Core i7 laptop, a new 3D Eee Pad, the MeMO 3D, and a phone-docking tablet dubbed the “Padfone.” Beyond the mobile market, the company has further announced a home entertainment media hub, and an All-In-One ET2700XVT desktop computer.


On the mobile front, and notebooks specifically, Asus has announced new N and UX series notebooks. The N series notebooks focus on incorporating higher fidelity speakers into a laptop chassis than is standard. The latest N models include a dedicated and external subwoofer to bring “deep bass extension that would otherwise be possible,” according to Asus. The audio technology in question has been developed by Asus and David Lewis has been dubbed SonicMaster. This same audio technology is also integrated into their new AIO desktop, which you can read about below.


The UX series is Asus’ ultraportable laptop lineup. Measuring 17mm at its thickest point, 2.4 pound aluminum ally body houses a Sandy Bridge Intel Core i7 processor and a SATA 6 Gb/s SSD. Asus further claims that the laptop features an “Instant On” feature that is capable of resuming the laptop from sleep states in seconds. The newest UX21 model is a silver colored aluminum body housing a glossy display, large track pad, two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, and likely a non-user replaceable battery. The device is very slim and appears to be very competitive against Apple’s MacBook Air.

The last addition to their mobile lineup is a MeeGo powered Eee PC X101 netbook. Powered by an Intel Atom N435 at 1.33GHz, the 10.1” netbook comes equipped with the Intel-backed MeeGo operating system. The Eee PC X101H is another such model with the option for MeeGo or Microsoft Windows 7 operating system in addition to the choice between a hybrid hard drive or solid state drive. At 17.6mm thick, and weighing under 950g, the netbook is fairly small. IO (input/output) on the device(s) include 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, USB, and a headphone jack.

Aside from notebooks, Asus showed off a tablet-docking concept phone and a 3D tablet. The Padfone is basically a larger screen and extra battery for your smartphone. Once your smartphone is connected inside the case and hidden, the tablet becomes a larger display and battery charger. The phone in turn, is able to share its 3G and Wi-Fi connections with the tablet.

The MeMO 3D tablet, on the other hand, is a 7” tablet with a 3D display at a resolution of 1024x600 pixels. The portrait device supports both multi-touch and capacitive stylus input. Android Honeycomb is the operating system of choice that powers the glasses-free 3D IPS display.

Asus has also announced a desktop All-In-One computer called the ET2700XVT which is 27” display coupled with a PC. Capabilities of the AIO include a digital TV tuner, HDMI-in, SyncMaster audio speakers, and optional 10-point multi-touch input.

In addition, the WAVI Xtion is 3D motion sensing technology much like that of Microsoft's Kinect.  Asus hopes to combine this technology with computers and media centers.  The Xtion Portal is a wireless home entertainment center for the living room. The device functions as a media playback box, web browser, app store, and game console. The game bundle includes MayaFit, Beat Booster, and DanceWall.  Both the games and the interface is controlled via Kinect-like gestures.

Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec



Get most of an HTPC for under $100 with the KWorld M210 Network Media Player

Subject: Systems | May 25, 2011 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: htpc, media player, kworld

It is hard to spot the functional difference between the KWorld M210 Network Media Player and a full on HTPC.  It sports a removable hard drive, handles YouTube, Picasa and BitTorrent downloads and can play back just about any media file.  High def is available on HDMI, component and composite outputs, USB ports and eSATA ensure removeable media is covered.  It is, as the name implies, able to connect to a network with wires and with a WiFi dongle you can have wireless as well.  The remote control will let you control the various menus, so the only real difference is that you cannot record TV.  Hardware Bistro found it almost perfect; they would have preferred built in WiFi but found no other faults.


"If home theatre system is over budget then you may consider a media player which allows users to run certain of multimedia applications on a TV; this is even better if it is a network media player. KWorld M210 Network Media player is a newly launched network media player which costs less than 100USD with features of full 1080p HD movies, internal storage, Internet streaming programs, support multiple of video codecs & formats and so on."

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