Sony OLED Screen Thin Enough to Wind Up Around a Pencil

The technology hinges on a new kind of organic thin-film transistor (OTFT) based on a new semiconducting material that has eight times the current modulation rate of existing OTFTs. This makes the display powerful, but there's at least one more clever trick--instead of relying on driving electronics based on conventional solid chips in their familiar little black plastic packages, Sony's built all the display driver tech out of OTFTs themselves, and integrated them into the actual panel the display itself is made on. This is crafted from a super-thin (20 micron-thick) substrate, making it flexible enough to be repeatedly rolled around a tube of diameter of just 4mm, as well as being stretched.

Google Releases Full Open Source Video Codec

At Google’s annual developers conference today most analysts were predicting Google to announce their partnerships with manufactures for new television set-top boxes built with Google's Android OS. They didn't but they did announce that they plan to make their WebM codec completely open source and license free. The video codec was acquired earlier this year for $124.6 million from On2 Technologies and is competing with h264 which is owned by the MPEG LA a patent pool which both Apple and Microsoft are part of. Beginning today, all videos that are 720p or larger uploaded to YouTube will be be encoded in WebM. Google has also released a WebM software developer kit and source code .

Lenovo's New Nettop Is A Dirt Cheap HTPC

The Lenovo IdeaCentre Q150 will be available at the end of June and start at just $249. The nettop features Nvidia ION graphics, a choice of a single core Intel Atom D410 or dual core Atom D510 processor, 2GB of RAM, 802.11b/g/n, your choice of 5400rpm hard drive and Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Home Basic installed. It measures in at just 6.8″ x 6″ x 0.8″ with an HDMI output, 4 USB ports (2 front and 2 back), mic and headphone jacks, S/PDIF audio, VGA output, and Ethernet port. Available separately is Lenovo's cool wireless multimedia remote with keyboard and trackball.

EH's 2010 Home of the Year Award Winners

More than 250 projects were submitted for Electronic House magazine’s 5th Annual Home of the Year Awards contest and the winning entries are up now on their website. Categories included: Best Home Theater $25k-$50k, Best Home Theater $50k-$100k, Best Home Theater $100k-$250k, Best Home Theater $250k+, Best Master Suite, Best Kitchen, Best Family Room, Best Outdoor Space and several more with 43 winning installation in all. Tons of pictures and equipment rundowns available here .

Intel Demos Low-cost Home Energy Monitor

Intel showed off a pocket-sized device that monitors power usage by gadgets and appliances across a house. A sensor in the box could detect which appliances were being turned on or off by watching for their unique electricity usage patterns. That allows the creation of logs that can show, for instance, at what hours each day an Xbox or certain lights have been turned on. The sensor works by simply recognizing voltage drop patterns when devices are turned on and off, and doesn't require anything special from the appliances themselves. No official word on when a real product will be available but Intel says they will be using an Intel Atom processor and the MeeGo Linux operating system so developers can build additional applications for the device.

Popbox SDK Released

Syabas Technology's upcoming $130 Internet-based A/V streaming set-top box Popbox , the successor to the Popcorn Hour, will feature a complete UI redesign. The new interface includes "infopops" which show off the weather, Twitter feeds, and other data. The interface also includes a cover-flow-esque visual thumbnails selection for videos, music and other data, as well as universal search. The interface can handle Flash, Java and QT meaning Netflix is now available. Also available is Hulu, CBS and ABC content, which can now include the in-video ads required for playback. Facebook, Twitter, Shoutcast MP3, Revision3 and other Popcorn Hour content will rollover to the new box. Released today, the Popbox SDK enables developers to take an existing Adobe Flash application and easily transform it into a new applications for popbox. The popbox SDK hooks into the popbox UI to handle remote commands, execute widgets, and load application-specific data. Developers will be able to create popapps that play videos, music, and photos, read and write content metadata, and access files on mounted drives and UPnP servers from the home network or media from the cloud. Applications developed with the popbox SDK will be available to popbox consumers at launch through the platform’s popapp Center and can be made available to the existing installed base of over 50,000 Popcorn Hour A-200 and C-200 NMTs already in market.

Three Things Someone Somewhere Wants

I think everyone can agree that the high-school football team should be allowed to tackle both the guy walking downtown with his pet boa constrictor and the guy reading his iPad outside a bakery. That being said there might be legitimate sound reasoning for new internet devices--as long as owning one doesn't turn you into snake or iPad guy. The Mintpad is a 2.86-inch Wi-fi enabled device with a proprietary pen based UI built on top of Windows CE. Techlore has a demo of the device in action and its way more polished than you expect. The ASUS EeeKeyboard is said to be finally shipping at the end of April and the Chumby / Sony Dash sit nicely on tables displaying whatever RSS feeds your life requires. Also indoor scrolling LED sign have never been more popular.

ARM-based Mini HTPCs Are Coming

Pegatron , an off shoot of ASUS, recently showed off a prototype tiny low power HTPC built using an ARM processor and Nvidia's new Tegra 2 . The unit itself includes HDMI, Ethernet, microphone and speaker plugs on the back and the Tegra 2 chip can decode 1080p and Flash video. This particular model is designed to run Windows CE or Google Android but it's possible other manufactures will incorporate full Linux Distros like Ubuntu For Arm and include either Boxee or XBMC software for a full Linux HTPC experience. Although no price has been set yet you can expect these units to be quite a bit cheaper than their Intel Atom based counterparts like the Acer Revo($350 US with Windows 7 Home Premium) .

Google Working On A Set-Top Box?

According to Gizmodo Google is continuing it's business approach of throwing their hat into everything, everywhere. Google hopes that the new platform will succeed where dozens of lesser efforts have failed—to truly and seamlessly integrate web content onto TVs, bringing services like Twitter and sites like YouTube, in addition to games, webapps, and, of course, Google's search, to the big screen. The Google TV software reportedly includes a version of Google's Chrome browser for doing some light surfing, as well. The New York Times says Google TV will be delivered on set-top boxes that use Intel Atom chips and run an Android-based platform, though the technology will also reportedly be built directly into Blu-ray players and TVs from Sony. Additionally, Google is working with Logitech to built a keyboard-equipped remote control for the platform.

Ceton Quad-tuner Card Available For Pre-Order

The $399 PCI Express Low Profile card allows Media Center PCs to play or record up to four live channels of HDTV at once, and stream live HD channels or recordings to multiple HDTVs throughout the home, all from a single cable connection and a single CableCARD. It can stream HD broadcasts to other HDTVs around your home via Media Center Extenders such as the Xbox 360. The Ceton InfiniTV 4 quad-tuner card is now available for pre-order and is expected to ship on May 31, 2010.

New Tivo Series 4

The DVR market has become a lot like the cell phone market. You have the phone that is a tiny portable computer and you have the phone that comes cheap with your service provider, makes calls and you don't care if it falls into the lake. The middle appeals to less and less people. The DVR market also seems to fall into those two extremes. You're either a person looking for a living room platform where you can get all the latest services and software (Pandora, Netflix, Social Networking photos, Hulu etc) or you just care about skipping commercials when you watch Modern Marvels or Pawn Stars. The new Tivo Series 4 is neither. There are two Series 4 models : the Premiere with a 320-GB hard drive for $300, and the $500 Premiere XL with 1 TB, THX-certification and a backlit remote. The big feature is a new interface and the additional services available through it: Blockbuster, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and streaming music from Rhapsody or Live 365. That's all well and good but the interface and services aren't available as upgrades for existing Tivo owners and they really fall short compared to a full HTPC. I'm not sure why a person who rents their DVR from Comcast would buy this or why a person who knows better wouldn't buy a computer and HDMI cable. Click here for a closer look at the interface and features.

Shuttle 3.3cm Thick XS35 PC With ION 2

Shuttle new XS35 is just 3.3cm thin but includes some great features for your mini HTPC needs. This including a dual-core Intel Atom D510 at 1.6GHz , Nvidias new Ion 2 graphics processor, HDMI out, five USB ports, VGA out, LAN port, memory card reader, 2.5″ HDD, and an optical drive. The unit is passively cooled so the only noise will be from the hard drive or optical and the unit has standard VESA mounts so you can mount this behind your LCD. The Shuttle XS35 nettop is said to be on its way in Q2 2010, but pricing and hard ship dates have yet to be revealed.

MSI's HTPC Keyboard And Mouse Controller

The upcoming MSI Air Keyboard is an HTPC keyboard and mouse combo that fits right in your hands much like a game controller. The unit features a full QWERTY keypad with an accelerometer within that is able to turn the mini keyboard into an air mouse. The device interprets tilting the keyboard up and down, left and right as mouse movements with the mouse left and right buttons mounted on the shoulders of the keyboard. Through a USB dongle, the MSI Air can connect to PCs and Macs up to 160 feet away. Available here for $89.99.

Make The Most Of Your Windows Media Center

The web site Hacking Windows 7 Media Center is a great resource for how tos on making Windows Media Center for Windows 7 do everything Microsoft doesn't support out of the box. The site includes information on setting up automatic commercial removal, getting MKV's to work perfectly, using media scrapers to organize and collect covers, movie posters and other data for your media collection.  

Can A $99 Personal Server Stop Google?

No it can't. It doesn't want to either and that's good for all of us. Several small companies are using Marvell's SheevaPlug , a computer the size of a wall plug, to build personal servers that give you the benefits of remote file and information access without the creepiness, perceived or valid, of hosted cloud services. The TonidoPlug sells for $99 dollars and plugs in beside your home router. It runs a custom suite of applications on top of a embedded Ubuntu Linux OS that allow you to host photo albums, music jukeboxes, personal blogs, money management, calendars or file sharing all available online through your browser or locally with complete control over who has access to what and nothing is ever stored in the clouds. Google Docs, Facebook and Flcker are free services but the aren't charities and the information you give them never goes away. Everyone has their own line of what they are comfortable with and products like the TonidoPlug give you an alternative.

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