Netflix Added Into Windows Media Center

Microsoft has added Netflix accessibility directly into the Windows Media Center application, providing a Netflix section under the TV+Movies tab. This means that users are able to not only stream movies and TVs instantly through the application, but also manage both their instant and DVD queues, and search/filter searches through the entire Netflix library without having to open up a browser to access the site first. Available for Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate Vista but unfortunately not XP.

Linksys & HP Kill Off Their Media Extenders

It looks like both HP's MediaSmart Connect line and Linksys' Media Center Extenders have been discontinued. It seems the stand alone media streaming units didn't perform as well as the manufacturers had expected with consumers for the most part choosing other ways to stream their content from their PC to their televisions. Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 allow you to stream video and audio content from your PC as well as offering online services the stand alone units didn't. Newer Blu-ray player like the LG BD390 also include media streaming as well. I guess with just about every unit in your television cabinet capable of streaming content a $300 stand alone unit just wasn't needed.

GefenTV Wireless HDMI Extender

GefenTV's Wireless for HDMI Extender extends HDMI AV content from satellite boxes, Blu-Ray players, and other AV sources to remote HDMI-compliant display(s). The Wireless for HDMI Extender transmits through walls and does not require line-of-sight placement of transceivers for good reception. HDMI-complaint displays can be placed up to 100 feet (30 meters) away from HDMI sources. Video resolutions of up to 1080p@30 Hz or 1080i@60 Hz are supported along with 5.1-channel digital audio and 2-channel analog audio. Broadcast mode allows extension of HDMI without HDCP encoding to up to 5 remote displays. Unicast mode extends HDMI with HDCP encoding to a single remote display. Available at Gefen's website for $899.00.

CableCARD Workaround For DIY Builds

Home built HTPCs have always had the disadvantage of not being able to record or playback digital HD cable because only certain OEM manufacturers where able to use CableCARDs tuners. Recently a member of The Green Button forum figured out how to make any computer work with ATI's CableCARD tuner. Engadget has a tutorial on using the bios utility and CanonPC sells CableCARD tuners for $279.00.

Hide Your Chargers In Fake Grass

The fake grass in a box allows you to charge your cell phone or other small electronics while hiding your unsightly charging cords. Charge cords come through from the bottom and are fed into the grass allowing you to rest multiple units. $29.98 at Taylor Gifts.

OLED Displays That Can Stretch Like Rubber

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a new kind of OLED display that can stretch and deform like rubber. The team demonstrated a face-shaped display showing changing expressions, and a spherical screen to show weather information. The inventor hopes that in the future they will be able to apply this technology to completely spherical or moving displays. They were produced by spraying a layer of carbon nanotubes with a fluoro-rubber compound to produce a stretchy, conductive material. The displays are thinner than plasma and LCD equivalents, and consume very little power.

Clayton i-House - $93,300

"This innovative 'green' home, featuring solar panels and numerous other energy-saving products, is truly a home of the future," Warren Buffett wrote his shareholders. "Estimated costs for electricity and heating total only about $1 per day when the home is sited in an area like Omaha." The "i-house's" metal v-shaped roof — inspired by a gas-station awning — combines design with function. The roof provides a rain water catchment system for recycling, supports flush-mounted solar panels and vaults interior ceilings at each end to 10 1/2 feet for an added feeling of openness. The Energy Star-rated design features heavy insulation, six-inch thick exterior walls, cement board and corrugated metal siding, energy efficient appliances, a tankless water heater, dual-flush toilets and lots of "low-e" glazed windows.

ATI Drivers Now Available For Windows 7

AMD/ATI has announced that its video graphics driver for Windows 7 have received Windows Hardware Quality Lab (WHQL) certification. This means that user who own ATI Radeon HD 2000, HD 3000, and HD 4000 series products using the ATI Catalyst software suite can be 100 percent Windows 7 ready. The Microsoft WHQL certified graphics drivers for Windows 7 are found here and a fully unified WHQL-certified driver supporting Windows Vista and Windows 7 is planned for the release of ATI Catalyst 9.5 later in May.

$100,000+ 103-Inch Plasma

For $93,050 or $111,805 (with stand) you can now purchase Bang & Olufsen's BeoVision 4 103-inch plasma. Available in a number of colors just in case you want more than one. Original Engadget story with video of the unit plus a gallery of images of a television none of us will probably ever see in real life.

Table Tennis Door

The Ping Pong Door functions just like any ordinary door except there's an inner panel that flips down to make a ping pong table. You just need two adjacent rooms with enough free space and your ready to play. Design by Tobias Fraenzel, a working version was show recently at the Milano Salone fair but no release date has been set as of yet.

ABC Programs Coming To Hulu

Three of the four big broadcast networks now own stakes in Hulu, the popular video web site. ABC Enterprises, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, announced Thursday that it would join NBC Universal, which is owned by General Electric and Vivendi, and the News Corporation, owner of Fox, as a partner in the joint venture. Hulu, which in the last 18 months has become the third most popular video site on the Web, behind YouTube and Fox Interactive Media, displays free, high-quality versions of television shows and movies, supported by advertising. It said it would add ABC shows like "Lost," "Desperate Housewives" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to its online library by late summer, pending regulatory approval. Read the full New York Times article here.

Windows 7 RC Available For All May 5

Microsoft plans to make a "Release Candidate" build of its latest operating system, Windows 7, available for anyone to download May 5. Once installed the preview won't expire until June 2010 so anyone wanting to try it out has more than a year to decide before they need to make a decision. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions will be available in English, German, Japanese, French, and Spanish. Arstechnica has an in depth look at one of the earlier betas if you want to see whats improved since Vista and whats completely new.

Sony Bravia Z5500 - 200Hz Motionflow TV

Sony has just unveiled their Bravia Z5500 line. Top of the feature list is Motionflow 200Hz, which outputs 200fps and comes teamed up with Image Blur Reduction, which Sony claims "cleans" up the newly created extra frames to stamp out motion blur. Also on board is an Ethernet socket which opens the Bravia Z5500 up to DLNA media streaming (from a PC or DLNA-enabled media server) and AppliCast, Sony's selection of online services. This lets you access RSS feeds and view widgets on-screen while you're watching TV. The Sony Bravia Z5500 comes in 40, 46 and 50-inch sizes, all with full HD 1920 x 1080 resolutions.

Second-gen WHDI Does Uncompressed 1080

AMIMON, the company behind the wireless HD technology WHDI, has just introduced its second-generation chipset. The system, which utilizes video modem technology operating in the 5GHz unlicensed band, consists of the new AMN 2120 transmitter and AMN 2220 receiver.. AMIMON asserts that this chipset is the first capable of "delivering full uncompressed 1080p/60Hz HD content throughout the entire home," with a range of beyond 100 feet through walls, under one millisecond of latency and support for HDCP 2.0. The new chipset is available now. Official press release.

Paper Flexpeaker

Taiwanese researchers at ITRI have produced a flexible paper speaker and aim to have them ready for next year, with the price down to around $20 per 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheet. The speaker is made by layering thin electrodes and a prepolarized diaphragm between two thin sheets of paper. Their first application, they hope, is to use the Flexpeaker in cars as soon as next year. Then, movie posters, with the soundtrack or movie trailer highlights playing as folks walk by. The frequency response is only 500Hz to 200kHz so these speakers are mainly meant for commercial applications.

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