As good as the Apple TV 2.0 is, it's still pretty limited on what sort of videos it can stream from a networked computer--if it hasn't been imported into iTunes, you're pretty much out of luck. If you're looking for something with more file format flexibility--and the simplicity of drag-and-drop operation--the LaCie LaCinema Premier may be just the ticket. … Read more
Do you find Windows Media Center's blue, remote controlled fa?ade easier to navigate than the cold red, white, and yellow world of Netflix? Then check out Andrew Park's new plug-in for the Vista version of Windows Media Center called MyNetflix. The plug-in lets users link to their Netflix account, search for movies, and make changes to their queue without leaving the couch.
Users navigating from their computers can also partake in Netflix's streaming service, letting them watch movies without having to wait discs to come in the mail. Because of the reliance on software, users enjoying … Read more
According to a release from CBS on Friday, there were 85 percent more unique listeners on Last.fm on Wednesday, January 23--the day that CBS Corporation and Last.fm announced the service--than there had been on the previous Wednesday. The next day, Thursday, saw an 80 percent increase from the previous Thursday, which CBS took as evidence that it wasn't just a single-day phenomenon.
Last.fm had previously offered streaming music primarily in 30-second clips. But thanks to licensing agreements … Read more
It's no secret: ad-supported streaming music, held up as an alternative to both paid downloads and free-for-all piracy, has hit some twists and snags. A number of well-funded start-ups, like SpiralFrog, dove into the space and few have emerged intact. Only one, Imeem, can really claim to be a success--it has licensing deals with all four major music labels--but it's still been criticized for a tepid user experience.
You won't find a more institutionally conservative category in the consumer electronics space than home audio. More than any other industry segment, audio is one where technological advances tend to be lamented rather than celebrated, viewed with suspicion rather than embraced. And that's understandable: Subpar speakers are now passed off as good enough and used to listen to digital music, which is often highly compressed compared with CD or (even better) LP equivalents. And the music itself is coming from a dying recording industry, struggling to stay alive in the digital age, and often relegated to background music--fewer … Read more
Despite its widespread adoption, the current Bluetooth audio standard (A2DP) isn't pretty. The lackluster audio quality currently achievable using Bluetooth is fine for noisy applications such as car audio or wireless workout headphones, but degraded Bluetooth audio has kept the technology from crossing over into the world of high-end audio and home theater components. With any luck, 2008 will be the year that the A2DP Bluetooth audio standard gets pushed aside by a superior audio codec called SoundAbout Lossless.
Aiming squarely at devices such as the Logitech Squeezebox and Roku Soundbridge, the recently announced Philips Streamium NP1100 might not break the mold on features, but it will be offered at a great price of just $149. The Philips Streamium NP1100 offers three basic functions: an Internet radio tuner; a PC-link for streaming audio from a local computer; and a dedicated Rhapsody subscription music feature. The Streamium NP1100 uses a built-in Wi-Fi connection (or hardwired Ethernet), to pull down streaming music from the Internet or your networked PC library.
On the back of the Philips Streamium NP1100 you'll find … Read more
With its ability to deliver on-demand movies to your TV via a broadband Internet connection, the Vudu was one of the more promising home theater gadgets of 2007. The company is building on that momentum by adding a second, step-up model to its lineup: the Vudu XL. Physically, it's a near doppelganger of the original model--which remains available--but it ups the internal hard disk to 1 terabyte of storage. That's 4 times the size of the current version, and--according to Vudu--enough to store up to 500 standard-definition movies. The XL is also designed to be more friendly for … Read more
Digital audio is great--especially if you've got a multigigabyte music collection sitting on your computer or you subscribe to an "all you can eat" music service like Rhapsody. The problem, for a lot of people, is that they're stuck listening to all that great music on the tinny speakers of their computer--or perhaps patching the laptop into their living room stereo system. Dedicated audio streamers have helped somewhat, but they have tiny little screens, which--like docked iPods--aren't very useful if you're sitting on a sofa across the room. And the best solution to date--the excellent Sonos Digital Music System--costs a prohibitive $1,000. Enter Logitech's new Squeezebox Duet: the $400 network digital audio streamer employs a winning handheld remote with a brilliant color screen (not unlike an iPod) that lets you navigate your entire music collection--including some online services and the majority of free Internet radio stations--from the palm of your hand, even while you hear the music from the big speakers of your home stereo. … Read more