Pioneer Exits TV Business

Pioneer Corp., feeling the pinch of weakened global demand, is considering a number of strategic moves to right its financial ship. Among the new directions reportedly being discussed are getting out of the flat-panel TV business altogether and spinning off its DVD production into a new company that would be a joint venture with Sharp Corp.

1 Million Xbox Users Download Netflix App

One million Xbox Live Gold members have downloaded the Netflix application since its November launch, Microsoft announced Thursday. In total, the Xbox Live community has watched 1.5 billion minutes of movies and TV episodes over the past three months.

ATT Working On All-in-one Media Box

Gizmodo obtained info from an AT&T employee that the company is working on a U-Verse IPTV box with Femtocell capability. The set top box would not only handle your television, telephone and internet it would also improve your cellular reception within your home. The box is supposed to come in the next year and will be offered under AT&T's U-Verse service .

Passive Ceramic Horn Speaker

Through passive amplification alone, these unique pieces instantly transform any personal music player + earbuds into a sculptural audio console. Without the use of external power or batteries, the Phonofone II inventively exploits the virtues of horn acoustics to boost the audio output of standard earphones to up to 55 decibels. The Phonofone II is constructed entirely from white ceramics and is available for $500 from charlesandmarie.com .

Mini USB Monitors Get US Release

The Mimo UM series USB mini monitors are useful when additional display ports aren't available but unfortunately they haven't been distributed in the US until recently. Mimo has launched a US portal selling two seven-inch models, starting with the 710 at $130 , offering a 800 x 480 screen with a 400:1 contrast ratio and brightness rated at 350 nits. The higher end 740 adds touch capability and a webcam and cost $200 .

Windows 7 Multitouch Preview

The upcoming release of Microsoft's Windows 7 will include native support for touch screens and multitouch interfaces. Gizmodo installed the Windows 7 Beta on an HP TouchSmart PC over the weekend and recorded a few movies of what to expect. They previewed the Windows 7 Media Center's touch interface, basic navigation as well as a third party air hockey demo.

Help Design The Boxee Hardware

Boxee is a social software platform allowing users to watch online video content and listen to music from the internet on their television or computer. Currently users have to install the software on a computer or Apple TV and hook it up to their television for the full experience but they are in talks with device makers to work out the details of a separate Boxee device. Take part in this survey to help them decide what direction to take the project.

Streaming Video Cannibalizing DVD Rentals

Netflix seems to be one of the few technology companies booming in this recession with profit up 45% in Q4 from last year, and nearly 10 million total subscribers. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings noted that there were millions of subscribers using the Watch Instantly feature, and that Netflix had seen a "substitution effect" among subscribers who do so. "We are seeing early signs of less DVD usage with some subscribers who are also watching instantly as compared to subscribers who only receive DVDs," said Hastings. This could be more bad news for physical media companies like Sony because it shows that people are willing to compromise quality for the convenience of streaming video .

Animated Tokyo Diorama Speaker

Japanese toy company Bandai has released a limited edition speaker with a diorama of Tokyo's Ginza district in all its modernist, 1950s glory. For a little over $2000 (198,000 yen) you get a cabinet with two 1 Watt speakers with the detailed diorama on top. The diorama uses LEDs to mimic what the famous street looked liked with all its signs and storefronts lit up at night.

MSI WindBOX

MSI's WindBOX could be the future form factor for desktop PCs. The small fanless design mounts onto the back of any VESA compatible monitor and contains a 1.6GHz Atom CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, Intel's GMA 950 graphics set, 802.11b/g WiFi, audio in / out, three USB 2.0 sockets, a VGA port and a 3-in-1 multicard. With the upcoming Nvidia ION platform's small size and 1080p capability we could be seeing HTPCs in similar invisible mounting form factors.

Real-time Power Usage Monitor

The how-to site Instructables has a tutorial on how to build a real-time home power usage monitoring system. The end result is a live chart in a web page that updates every 10 seconds with the instantaneous power usage from their entire house. The electrical current is measured on the main lines entering their home with AC clamps. The signal is then conditioned with a simple circuit and monitored by an ioBridge module and then charted in Google Charts as a kilowatt-hour calculation.

Audio And Video Extended To 1000 Meters

RTcom USA produces fiber optic transmitters and receivers that transmit high-definition, noise-free audio and video up to 1,000 meters away. The extension system consists of one transmitter, which sends DVI and audio signals through four-stand multimode fiber optic cables, and a receiver, which splits this fiber data into two DVI and audio signals. RTcom USA also produces USB Fiber Optic Extension Systems so you could extend your whole home theatre to an outdoor location like your patio. Original press release.

Engadget's Netflix HD Shootout

Streaming HD is probably something you'll be looking to add to your home theatre in 2009 and Netflix seems to be well ahead of the other services with a fairly large number of products using the service. Engadget has tested and compared them all and has a fairly good write up on what to expect from each unit and which products work best with the service. Reviews include Roku's Netflix Player, Tivo, Xbox 360, the Samsung BD-P2500 and LG's BD300.

Tranform Your Router With DD-WRT

Many consumer level Wireless-G routers allow you to flash new firmware on to them. Using third party developed firmware you can embedded specialized versions of linux onto your router and turn your $65 dollar router into a more secure, faster, full featured gateway. The new firmware allows you to boost your wireless signal, prioritize bandwidth allocation to boost VOIP reliability and access restrictions. Lifehacker has a good article on installing one of the more popular firmware DD-WRT and you can check here to see if your router is capable of running the firmware .

Samsung's Wall Mount Blu-ray Player

The BD-P4600 by Samsung will certainly be one of the thinnest Blu-ray players available when it comes out later this year. It measures only 1.5" thick and features Profile 2.0/BD-Live, Netflix and Pandora streaming, 1GB onboard memory, built-in Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, "Touch of Color" style accents and 802.11n Wi-Fi. You can also mount the player to the wall because discs are loaded from a slot drive on its side. Engadget has a few more pictures of the player from different angles but currently there is no information on pricing or a firm release date.

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