Reviews

Mar 12 2012

Review - SilverStone Milo ML03b HTPC Case

Silverstone Technology was founded in 2003 and has been building cases specifically for the home theater PC (HTPC) market since almost the very beginning. Aimed at HTPC users who must have a low profile case but don’t want to sacrifice expansion options, Silverstone offers the Milo ML03b. At a mere 105 mm in height, and only 340 mm in depth (4.13 x 13.38 in), it will fit into places that other HTPC chassis could only dream about while offering expansion options typically only available in a full-height HTPC case. Today, we will put this case to the test and max out all expansion options to see if it is up to the task.

Mar 06 2012

Review - nMEDIAPC HTPC 7000B Micro-ATX / Mini-ITX HTPC Case

nMEDIAPC HTPC 7000nMEDIAPC has made a name for itself in the home theater PC (HTPC) community for consistently delivering well-built, good-looking, and reasonably-priced chassis comfortable in the A/V stack. Offering a brushed aluminum front panel and a street price of $80, at first glance the HTPC 7000B seems to carry on this tradition. Coupled with two 120mm fans, we should expect excellent cooling from this full-height enclosure, but with a depth of just over twelve inches there are sure to be trade-offs where the form factor is both an asset and a liability; keep reading to find out how this case measures up.

Feb 27 2012

Review - Lian Li PC-Q25 Chassis

The Fractal Design Array R2 chassis instantly recalled for us the decidedly niche, but incredibly functional, cube-style cases popular a few years ago. which were incredibly niche but very functional. The R2 was flexible, silent and sleek in a very limited amount of space. The Lian Li PC-Q25 chassis shares many of the same appealing traits, but goes for a taller design in a similar footprint. This allows it some interesting arrangements inside and allows for even more internal storage options. As a small form factor case there are always trade-offs to be made, and the omission of an optical drive space is just one of them. With some very attractive features in a small form factor cube-like chassis, the Lian Li PC-Q25 has a lot to offer a variety of consumers, which we will examine closer.

Lian Li PC-Q25

Feb 23 2012

Review - nMEDIAPC HTPCKB-100 Wireless Home Theater PC Keyboard With IR

nMEDIAPC HTPCKB-100As more content becomes available via search, it is increasingly important to use a real keyboard to interact with devices in the home theater. Unfortunately, with most keyboards lacking the capability to control infrared (IR) components, they can only supplement a traditional remote (or series of remotes) which reduces the value of when applied to the problem they are intended to solve – convenience. However, this issue has not gone unnoticed by everyone, with nMEDIAPC providing a compact home theater PC (HTPC)/media streamer keyboard that also provides the ability to control one device via IR. With a street price of around $60, the HTPCKB-100 has potential -- let’s find out if it can deliver.

Feb 16 2012

Review - ARCTIC Audio Relay - DLNA Audio Renderer

ARCTICMy first exposure to DLNA devices was lacking. It was the clunky standard that everyone “supported” in their own way, but no one really did well enough to call “working”. Fortunately it has slowly evolved on both the device and software layers to the place we are today, where DLNA is actually useful for many things like control and media playback on our TVs and mobile devices. The standard still requires some growth (mostly around synchronized playback) to take over the whole home audio space, but where that is not a requirement audio Digital Media Renderers (DMR) like the $132.60 ARCTIC Audio Relay we will review today can provide an excellent solution to single point music distribution within the home.

Feb 08 2012

Review - Fractal Design Core 1000 MicroATX HTPC

In our previous looks at Fractal Design (the Define R3 ATX chassis, the Define Mini Micro-ATX Chassis, and just recently the Core 3000) cases they have demonstrated a favor for solid, stylish chassis that consistently deliver without the flashing lights and other "bling" often found on other enclosures that offer the same space and flexibility. As we have seen, there are many different options offered by Fractal Design. The Fractal Design Core 1000 is the flavor of today’s review. The Core series brings together a combination of design, features, cooling performance, and value. Is this going to be your next HTPC case? The Fractal Design Core 1000 uses the micro ATX chassis very effectively with multiple cooling options. You have a case that give you maximum flow of air but keeps the size small to put beside your TV for a sleek and stylish look.

Jan 31 2012

Review - CyberLink PowerDVD 12

CyberLink PowerDVD 12When we were at CES, CyberLink was showing a beta version of PowerDVD 12.  There were some advancements in the product versus its predecessor, PowerDVD 11 - most notably automatic refresh rate switching, but the best part was that they gave me a copy to bring back and test on a variety of systems to provide a preview of what PowerDVD 12 has to offer. As much as I would have liked to publish this earlier, they asked that we not until today. This turned out to be a good thing though, because there was time to create a few videos and take a much more thorough look at the product than would have been possible otherwise; just keep in mind that the copy that was tested was not the final revision so some of the issues may not be present in the real release and I was not able to get the APK for their DLNA application for my Kindle Fire so that aspect will only be covered briefly.

Jan 30 2012

Review - VooMote Zapper Universal Remote for the iPod/iPhone/iPad

Missing Remote has a strong attachment to remotes. When we find a universal remote we do a dance because we hopefully can have one remote to rule all the media play back units under our TV and hopefully our HTPC as well. We have already viewed the Peel Universal Smart Remote for iPhone and Android, as well as the Griffin Beacon Universal Remote for iPhone. With no shortage of many other devices on the market like Logitech Harmony line of remotes. The VooMote Zapper is slightly different because it turns your Apple iDevice(iPhone/iPad/iPod), sorry no Android currently, into an all in one remote solution without any secondary accessories, besides the VooMote Zapper that plugs directly into the iPhone/iPad/iPod. It has a database with a large amount of TV/VCR/Blu-ray/Receivers/Roku/etc codes already stored internally. If the IR code is not stored the application can learn from other IR remotes that are not stored in the database. If the code is not included, then it becomes a learning remote. This remote also has a macro mode, or One Touch, so you can have it control multiple devices by one button. You can set this up to have one function turn on the TV, Blu-ray, turn the TV to the right input, and eject the Blu-ray disc. It also supports gestures for device control. Gesture control allows you to swipe the screen to control the volume or other quick controls. One View allows you to have all of your device controls on one screen. The VooMote Zapper would be a replacement for all of your universal remotes; the programming of this remote is simple, you can customize each screen to your liking. All of your other remotes in your house may become lonely and will be looking for attention once you get the VooMote Zapper setup.

Jan 26 2012

Review - Lian Li PC-90 HPTX Chassis

Whether you are building a gaming rig, a general purpose desktop, a home server, or even a home theater PC (HTPC), the case you choose will vary greatly depending on your personal needs and taste. Recently, I was given the opportunity to review the Lian Li PC-90 full tower desktop case. While this may not be the HTPC case for many, it has some unique qualities about it that make it a compelling choice for housing a full size HTPC or Windows Home Server.
Over the years, Lian Li has produced some of the most sleek, modern, high-quality computer cases I have seen to date, and the Lian Li lives up to all the previous builds and then some. One of the great things about the Lian Li PC-90 is its compact form factor that still allows for a full MTX, or even larger HPTX motherboards, while not sacrificing a large, over-sized case.
Jan 18 2012

Review - Warpia Easy Dock Pro - Wireless USB Docking Station

At missingremote.com, we look at many different options for improving your TV and video options to give you the best deal and try to give you the best reviews for such items like brite-View, Veebeam, IOGEAR and Warpia. This review is for the Warpia Easy Dock Pro, a device that can double as a laptop docking station or give you options to share out your desktop to your larger display in the same room. Sometimes you want to give your laptop the duties of a desktop without tying it down with any wires. Follow me on the journey to wireless freedom and see all the options and obstacles in the way. Are you ready to try Wireless USB with the option of video at the same time?

Jan 16 2012

Review - Pivos AIOS HD Media Player

We have reviewed a number of media players in the past, from the Boxee Box to the Dune HD Smart H1 unit. The decision on which player is right for your home is never simple, given the wide array of options available to consumers and depending on their price points and needs. We hope our Media Player Comparison Guide has helped in the past and today the Pivos AIOS HD Media Center is up for an in-depth review to see how it performs. The AIOS HD Media Center is the new-found company’s only product offering, and like others, it aims to replace your need for a full, home theater PC (HTPC) with its affordable, smaller package.
 
Jan 06 2012

Review - SilverStone Grandia GD06 HTPC Chassis

Silverstone Technology was founded in 2003 and has been building cases specifically for the home theater PC (HTPC) market since almost the very beginning. Today, Silverstone produces HTPC cases across four different lines, including the “mainstream” Grandia line. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the most recent addition to the Grandia lineup, the GD06. With room for a micro-atx motherboard, a full-size graphics card, and up to 5 hard drives, the Grandia GD06 is intended to be flexible enough to house a standard HTPC, a gaming PC, or even a media server.
 
SilverStone Grandia GD06


SPECIFICATIONS

Construction TypeDesktop HTPC Chassis
Chassis MaterialAluminum front door, plastic front panel, 0.8mm SECC body
Dimensions (WxHxD)440mm x 150mm x 340mm
Weight5.6 kg
ColorBlack
Motherboard CompatibilityMicro-ATZ, DTX, Mini-ITX
Cooling SystemRight: 2 x 120mm intake fans @ 1200rpm
Left: 1 x 120mm intake fan @ 1200rpm
Rear: 2 x 80mm fans (optional) 
Expansion4 x full-height slots
1 x full-height side slot for riser cards and other applications 
Drive BaysExternal:
1 x 5.25"

Internal:
4 x 3.5" and 1 x 2.5"
or
3 x 3.5" and 2 x 2.5"
Power SupplySupports ATX PSUs with a maximum depth of 150mm
CPU CoolerSupports CPU coolers up to 70mm with ODD
Supports CPU coolers up to 120mm without ODD 

 

TEST SYSTEM

Dec 26 2011

Review - Streacom FC5 Silent HTPC Chassis


The quest for the silent home theater computer (HTPC) is one that almost all enthusiasts have faced and either given up or achieved at some point in their life. The quest for the perfectly silent computer has gone in circles from acoustic dampening the case, to spinning down processor fans, to even using slower hard drives because the decreased speed caused less noise. We’ve come a long way since then, with more capable CPUs with lower thermal demands, CPU heatsink and fans (HSF) becoming significantly quieter and the growth of affordable solid state drives. Streacom has developed a series of chassis with this particular type of consumer in mind--one that fits appropriately in your AV component stack without it sacrificing acoustic levels. The Streacom FC5 hopes to achieve the goal of a silent HTPC with the usage of heat pipe cooling for the CPU instead of an actively cooled option.
Dec 20 2011

Review - Fractal Designs Arc Midi Mid Tower Case

We are continuing our reviews of Fractal Design cases today with their Arc Midi mid tower desktop case.  We have previously reviewed the Core 3000, Define Mini, Array R2, and Define XL.  Like the other Fractal Design cases, the Arc Midi features a sleek, minimalist design, but it stands out as a versatile case that would work equally well for gaming, HTPC, as a media server, or a combination of all three.  It can work as an HTPC but with more built in storage than the R2 and Define Mini.  It has 2 fewer HDD bays than the XL, but won’t cost near as much (~$50 less) if you are looking for a great server option, and although the Core 3000 is the closest in design and price, the Arc Midi is slightly larger (8 HDD bays as opposed to 6, more fans, etc.) and has a USB 3.0 port that the Core 3000 lacks.


SPECIFICATIONS
Dec 19 2011

Review - Aperion Audio Intimus 4T Tower Speaker

Aperion AudioCreating the right audio environment is a critical part of enabling an immersive home theater experience, but is often neglected either due to ignorance or the erroneous assumption that good sound is unattainably expensive.  The process of finding the right speakers is made even more difficult with few shops providing an adequate listening environment, let alone one with options in an affordable price range.  Speaker manufacturer Aperion Audio has a solution for these issues, offering their 150 watt, $550/pair Intimus 4T tower alongside a no-risk thirty day trial with shipping covered both ways, so they can be tested in the actual environment where they will see use. 

Dec 01 2011

Review - Peel Universal Smart Remote for iPhone and Android

We recently reviewed the Griffin Beacon Universal Remote device, which leverages the capabilities of an iPhone to be used to control your television and stereo components. Peel is a lesser known brand hoping to achieve similar success with their Peel Smart Remote device. Enclosed in a uniquely pear shaped unit and powered by a single C battery, the Peel shares many similarities to its Griffin counterpart -  except for its higher $99 suggested retail price. We will examine the details included with this higher MSRP to see which is worth your money.

Nov 29 2011

Review - Monsoon Vulkano Flow

The idea of being able to take your content wherever you go is one that has taken off since the launch of Slingbox--which supports connecting your set top box to their specific device, and then being able to control and stream that signal to your computer (or phone or Boxee Box) from anywhere in the world. Monsoon Multimedia is aiming to provide some competition to that space with their introduction of the Vulkano line of products which offers the same core functionality of watching your TV from any location, along with some more advanced features. The Vulkano Flow is Monsoon Multimedia’s base-line offering, which provides the same specifications as the others except with less storage.
Monsoon Vulkano Flow

Nov 08 2011

Review - Acer Revo RL100-U20P Home Theater PC

RL100

Many home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts dream of a system that is as slim as other consumer electronic devices such as a dedicated Blu-ray player. It is also an expensive and difficult proposition for most; thus, when Acer introduced its newest Revo 100, many took notice. Not only is the Revo 100 only one inch high, it also has a unique slide-out keyboard/touchpad clearly designed as an input device for the ten-foot experience. With a sub-$600 retail price, the Acer Revo 100 which packs an AMD K325 CPU and NVIDIA ION GPU certainly deserves a closer look.

Nov 07 2011

Review - Dune HD Smart H1 Media Streamer

Dune LogoConnected media streamers, like the pair from Roku and NETGEAR that we reviewed recently, focus on providing access to IP content but generally cannot handle local media well enough (if at all) to be a viable unifying solution.  Until we have enough bandwidth, and services able to deliver quality audio/video services over the Internet, those devices act as a supplement to players like the Dune HD Smart H1 that we will look at today.  Locally cached content includes a diverse set of file types and formats, so H1’s support for disc-less Blu-ray, M2TS, MKV, and all of the codecs commonly found within is an essential starting point.

Oct 31 2011

Review - Griffin Beacon Universal Remote for iPhone

The idea of universal remotes is nothing new, as is the idea of interactive smartphones. What has only been done sparingly, and mainly with home theater PC (HTPC) focused consumers in mind, has been the leveraging of your smartphone with your home theater. Griffin has made a name for itself for more general consumer electronics components, but is aiming to step in our world today with the Griffin Beacon remote device, which is aimed at the more general home theater user in place of a traditional universal remote. It’s idea is simple--merge the online capabilities of your iPhone (Android coming soon) with traditional infra-red (IR) devices.

DEVICE
Oct 25 2011

Review - NETGEAR NeoTV - NTV200 Connected Media Streamer

NTV200If you are in the market for an inexpensive connected media streamer, the number of options has exploded recently.  A couple weeks back we took a look at Roku’s XS, and today we have the newest member of NETGEAR’s NeoTV lineup - the NTV200.  At first glance, the unit’s price ($79.99) and lack of a USB port for local content sets it neatly in the middle of the multitude of players currently available, but breaks from the pack by offering VUDU alongside Netflix and the many other “also ran” applications we have come to expect from this segment.

Oct 24 2011

Review - Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender WN3000RP

In the last 5 - 10 years wireless has vastly changed how we connect devices to the internet in our homes. Every smartphone, laptop, tablet, media streamer, gaming console has the ability to connect to your network through your wireless access point. Along with the ability to no longer having to run an Ethernet cord everywhere you needed network connectivity, there were short comes. As almost everyone can attest to wireless is not 100% perfect, there is always a corner of your home, or an area in your back yard that your wireless can not reach.

That is where wireless repeaters or "range extenders" come into play, they allow you to extend your wireless coverage to distances greater than your access point at home can do on it's own. Lately the trend from many consumer network manufactures is bringing to market these range extenders. Today we were able to review one of the new 802.11N range extenders from Netgear, the Netgear Universal WiFi Range Extender WN3000RP.

The Netgear range extender as we get into later on in the review, allows users to bridge the gap between where your wireless network starts to fall apart and where you would like to use your wireless devices but can not.

Oct 19 2011

Review - Sewell InjectIR - IR over HDMI Remote Extender


Those of you with older television cabinets or mounted televisions know the difficulty that comes with hiding your equipment out of site while still being able to control it. Radio frequency (RF) has its benefits but requires a special remote control as well as IR blasters for each individual device you are looking to control. Sewell has developed the InjectIR device for those users who don’t want the complexity of an IR setup but still want to be able to control their hidden devices.
Sewell InjectIR

Oct 17 2011

Review - MonoPrice HDMI to Component & R/L Stereo Audio Converter

MonoPrice HDMI to Component & R/L Stereo Audio Converter For those holding on to an aging HDTV or projector which lacks HDMI support, there are few options in a world where component (YPbPr) output is slowly being stripped away.  In fact, until recently there were only two, the HDFURY II and HDFURY III; but with the lower model starting at $180, neither is a perfect option for the thrifty.  Fortunately, there is now another solution provided by a company best known for their high quality HDMI cables; the MonoPrice HDMI to Component & R/L Stereo Audio Converter (MYCH01 / Product ID: 8125).  With an asking price of $39.92, it is natural to expect some compromise; after all we often get what we pay for.

Oct 12 2011

Review - Roku 2 XS

Roku

Roku made a name for itself by providing a device that, for many, is synonymous with Netflix streaming.  The quality of that service, and other premium, IP delivered media, has increased significantly since the original box was launched, necessitating an update to modernize the lineup and provide support for HD content.  To address this, we now have the Roku 2 comprised of three models: HD, XD, and XS, spanning the range from $60 to $100.  Each of the devices is capable of 5.1 bit streaming, but the Roku 2 HD, which is limited to 720p, it is not as interesting as the other two which are capable of delivering 1080p video.  Today we take a look at high-end XS, which tops the XD by including Roku’s Bluetooth gaming remote, a USB port, and Ethernet.

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