Feb 13 2015

Review - UPPER DESK Mobile Device Mounts

With the increasing reach of over-the-top (OTT) content on tablets and mobile phones, content consumption can follow us around the home in a way that a fixed location TV never could. Holding onto the mobile device isn’t always convenient, whether it’s because more than one person is viewing or because you’re elbow deep in cooking, carving (my father often watches how-to videos in his shop), or simply don’t want to hold it up for an extended period of time. This is where a mount comes in handy--but it needs to be portable, easy to use, and most importantly sensitive to the surfaces of the mobile device and mounting surface. Hoping to solve each of these problems UPPER DESK offers table and cabinet mounts promising convenience and flexibility; at $60 ($40 street) it’s priced well enough that if they can deliver it just might be the perfect solution.

Feb 10 2015

Review - Amazon FireTV Stick – A Dream XBMC/KODI Player

When Amazon first released their FireTV player there was not a ton of excitement for the AppleTV competitor. Sure it looked the same, provided similar features, and cost the same ($99), but for most consumers the features were too similar to create a buzz. With the release of the FireTV Stick however, Amazon has now targeted the very popular Google Chromecast price range, but added a wealth of features—and a Bluetooth remote—for $39, making it one of the lower cost media players and directly placing it in competition with the Chromecast, and Roku devices as well.

Amazon FireTV Stick

While the Amazon FireTV Stick is a more than capable media player that does exactly what it’s advertised, the true magic was discovered when I learned that the Stick could be used as an XBMC (now called Kodi) client. I have tested a number of various low cost XBMC clients over the years, and the problem has always been that the client can rarely play all of the files as my main HTPC, as anything with higher resolution or bitrate would either not play or cause stutter. With the FireTV Stick, that was not the case!

Feb 03 2015

Review - iRemocon IR Learning Remote Control

iRemocon

There is a point in scaling out a home theater where a good universal remote control becomes an essential part of the experience. Yes, you can get by with the pseudo universal that came with the AVR, but then you have to train your family, and worse the babysitter, how to use that in a productive way. They need to have input specific knowledge to understand how to make it all play. We’ve seen myriad solutions that attempt to resolve this, but so far unless you step up to the quite expensive custom integrator (CI) solutions, nothing I’ve played with can touch the [still sometimes frustrating] experience of Logitech’s Harmony remotes. iRemocon has taken on this challenge with their $180 smartphone driven IR blasting fixed location device. Offering infinite customization via their UI designer, it holds significant promise – let’s see if it can deliver.

Jan 25 2015

Review - Quick Review - HD Frequency Antennas

 

We met with the folks at Silicon Dust during our week at International CES 2015, HDFrequency Logoand among the things we talked about were the antennas they were using to pull in a signal. They are manufactured in the USA by HD Frequency. While we were not able to meet in person with them at CES, we did get a chance to speak via conference call and they were kind enough to provide us with three OTA HD antennas to review.

Jan 22 2015

News - OOMI Launches Funding Campaign

We saw OOMI at ShowStoppers and while they didn't have actual product, they certainly said all the right things to indicated a good understanding of what HA is and what HA users want to get from the system. If you'd like to get in on the launch [aka pre-order] price of $229 (SRP will be $449) head on over to Indiegogo. Full PR after the click.

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