MEDIA SERVER REVIEWS

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 20, 2007 0 comments
How Intel works with Windows Vista to create the "Ultimate" HTPC

Over in the June issue of the Home Theater print magazine, I wrote about the wonders of the Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, the most highly-featured version of their new operating system, and how its many features make it a great match for the latest HTPCs. Which begs the question, "What are home theater PCs wearing in the Vista age?" And to help answer my query, Intel sent over a test machine custom-built around their Intel Core 2 Duo processor, specifically designed for audio/video applications, running Windows Vista Ultimate.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 16, 2007 Published: Jun 16, 2007 0 comments
Think of it as legal steroids for your HTPC.

Plenty of people don't give operating systems a second thought. But they determine what we see and hear and ultimately how we interact with our computer—and everything stored on it. Such software is Microsoft's bread and butter, and they've gone to great lengths to put it at the front of everyone's minds. This is especially true for their radically advanced, new Windows Vista, which is available in several flavors. The guide I downloaded from their Website was more than 300 pages, so there is simply no way to list all the features. Instead, I will quickly point out that the Ultimate version of Windows Vista, which I tested, is the most complete; it combines all the lower-tier functions and adds some unique extras.

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John Higgins Posted: Jan 31, 2007 0 comments
Have HD DVD; will travel

Having an HD DVD player in a notebook isn't a new, revolutionary idea. There have been a couple of notebooks released with one inside, but it is the next logical step in the ever-changing computer market. Not only is high-definition video and audio now a portable possibility, but the ease of mass storage makes backing up loads of vital information a one-disc prospect. The Pavilion dv9000t is HP's offering for on-the-go HD DVD.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 26, 2007 0 comments
Ready-made living-room multimedia.

We're down with entertainment PCs here at Home Theater. For those of you who are ready to share the joy, there are basically two ways to join the party. For the hands-on approach, we've written about specific best-of-the-best audio and video cards and other devices that you can plug into your own custom-built box. But, for some readers, personal success has brought with it the notion of luxury. Companies like HP are only too happy to remove the guesswork from the equation and pre-assemble a bundle for you, which you can purchase with one phone call or just a few clicks online. Their Pavilion Media Center TV m7580n HTPC is just such a system.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 04, 2006 Published: Nov 04, 2006 0 comments
New streaming and networking options for the home and beyond.

Sling Media
I bet our founding fathers came to this same conclusion: One of the obstacles to true freedom is the necessity of wrapping your mind around the new benefits that await you. Take the Slingbox. It's a revolutionary piece of hardware, if you can grasp the relationship between audio, video, and networking. It takes the signal from any standard home entertainment device and streams it to a computer elsewhere in your house—or via the Internet to a laptop, desktop, and even certain phones. The best source component to use with the Slingbox is a DVR, as it combines live TV with stored content and recording capability, all of which you can control remotely.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 24, 2006 0 comments
The fruit takes root in the living room.

A while back, we Home Theater drones were all on Macs, and life was good. Then, one day, the powers that be told us that the bulk of us were switching to PC, and that was that. I had a few annoying differences to work through, but I eventually forgot my first real computer. And then the Mac mini showed up for review in its pretty white cardboard box, and it reminded me of the experience of bumping into a friend from the old neighborhood: familiar, sure, but with a lot of catching up to do.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jul 19, 2006 0 comments
The most important Xbox 360 accessory you'll ever own.

Remember the buzz shortly after the launch of the Microsoft Xbox 360 last year regarding concerns of the super-powered system overheating amid all of that heavy bit-lifting? Nyko has stepped up and done something about it.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 18, 2006 Published: Apr 19, 2006 0 comments
READY or not, here comes another PC for the HT.

PCs and home theaters have long posed the old square-peg/round-hole quandary to consumers, as the fundamental incongruities have slowed the adoption of potentially sophisticated, versatile computer gear into the living room. Expanded functionality brings with it an increased level of complexity that more proactive, simplified operating systems like Microsoft's Windows Media Center Edition have only begun to address. Of course, the hardware itself needs to be powerful enough to provide a glitch-free user experience, as well.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 28, 2006 0 comments
Dual-core and other Intel technologies are a boon to heavy users of multimedia PCs.

One wife, two kids, and one cat later, it hit me: There are just not enough hours in the day. My leisure hours, like work, have become a matter of multitasking—watching a DVD in one window as I write a review in the other, downloading photos, and sending e-mails. I can no longer use the "I'm already busy" excuse since, frankly, I'm expected to walk and chew gum at the same time around here. And what of my poor PC, which is charged with performing all of the above and more? At least I know I'm not alone, here at wit's end, as the fundamental usage model has evolved and one-thing-at-a-timers have gone the way of the Timex Sinclair.

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John Higgins Posted: Feb 28, 2006 0 comments
The power of the PC in your HT.

Back in the age of acid-wash jeans, my dad brought home our first home computer: a MacPlus with 512 kilobytes of RAM. I would stay up late into the night playing Zork and Planetfall, all the light radiating from its small CRT screen keeping me warm. We kept the beige box in the spare bedroom of my house, far from our TV room. My parents claimed it was so I would not disturb them as they watched the nightly news, but, in my mind, it was just the opposite. For years, the computer and television were in separate rooms so that the use of one would not interfere with the use of the other. Now 512 K has turned into 512 mega-bytes or more, and PCs are begging to be near the TV. Only recently, while reviewing games for www.htgamer.com, have I started integrating my own PC into my home theater. But it is still a rather bulky, unattractive proposition to permanently move my computer to my equipment rack. HP has an aesthetically pleasing solution that can act as the source hub for the home theater of the future.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 25, 2006 0 comments
Four Jeeveses, serving music.

Let's fantasize a bit. Let's run wild. Let's say your hunger for music has genetically transmitted itself to your kids. Now let's postulate that every member of the family has different musical tastes. Fortunately, your McMansion is big enough to let everyone blast away with impunity. Now all you've got to do is serve up, say, four audio feeds. In your designer home, local systems would be a recurring eyesore—you want your multizone system to do the serving. All you've got to do is find an audio server that'll satisfy four mutually incompatible music lovers in four separate zones at once.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 31, 2006 Published: Jan 01, 2006 0 comments
Three quick glimpses into what's hot in the convergence world.

I don't talk much about my one and only year at NYU Business School (short version: not a good fit), but I did learn this: Making a successful product is only the beginning. To survive and thrive, manufacturers need to enhance, improve, and give consumers the added value and new features that will keep them coming back. Here then are three essential pieces of audio gear from Logitech, Creative, and Apple; refreshed, redesigned, and rethought for an ever-changing market of technophiles.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 28, 2005 0 comments
Programming delivered fresh from the Internet to your set-top box.

Not to date myself, but I'm old enough to remember when video on demand was one of those coming technologies that made the hip groovesters at the malt shop say, "Neat-O!" even if they had no idea how it would actually work. But video on demand has been a fact of life for some time now, and everyone I know who actually uses it simply adores the power and convenience.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 30, 2005 0 comments
Comedian Robert Klein once did a routine about those ubiquitous old K-Tel TV ads for huge collections of music on a cassette or CD box set. "Every Elvis Presley song for just $9.99 plus shipping and handling," he began. Riffing on the increasing grandiosity of those ads, he ended with a flourish, "A trailer truck will pull up to your house loaded with CDs filled with every piece of music ever recorded!"
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 21, 2005 0 comments
If you're like me, with a large library of DVDs (I think I'm over 1000, but I haven't counted them lately), just finding the one you want is a chore. Try as I might to keep them in some sort of order, it never works for long. I pull out a few to watch, and before you know it there are little piles scattered all around the house.

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