Reviews

Aug 29 2012

Review - Actiontec PWR500 - 500Mbps Powerline Network Adapter Kit

Actiontec PWR500 Powerline Networking Adpater Kit

Powerline networking has a reputation for promising capable “hardwired” networking solutions, but historically often fell short when it came to delivery. Having tried a few iterations of the alternative-to-Ethernet over power wires in the past, in my personal experience this reputation has also proved well deserved. Of course with each new generation, the technology evolves and is therefore worth another look.  To achieve that goal, Actiontec provided their newest Powerline Network Adapter kit, the PWR500. Supporting up to 500Mbps between nodes, and exposing 100Mbps Ethernet to devices, it should be more than a match for even the most demanding file streaming requirements. Combining this with a price of around $50 for two adapters, it could be the perfect way to extend your media to those hard to reach places around your house or apartment.

Aug 07 2012

Review - Skifta DLNA Controller Application for Android Devices

As more intelligent devices begin to fill the home, the desire and need to be able to centrally control your home content is an ever present one. Skifta aims to bridge that gap as an Android-based DLNA controller as well as a player for any Android based phone or tablet. In addition to supporting local browsing and playback, Skifta also can remotely control your local files across the internet.

Skifta

Jul 16 2012

Review - Green vs. Non-Green Switches

D-Link GreenAs part of a recent effort to consolidate all of our backbone networking kit into a structured wiring panel, it was necessary to add a switch to the mix. Never having played with a "Green Ethernet" device (D-Link DGS-1008G) it seemed like a good idea to pick one up and find out how green it was in comparison to two other Gigabit switches (D-Link 2208/NETGEAR GS605) already in use on my network.

Jul 09 2012

Review - Wesena ITX5

Wesena ITX5Boasting clean lines, the right look, and solid construction for Mini-ITX based systems the Wesena ITX5 all-aluminum enclosure offers capabilities very similar to the ITX7; by removing optical drive support in a slightly lower cost ($80) package. Building a name for quality takes time and attention to feedback, so it was fantastic to examine the generational differences between the two small form-factor (SFF) home theater PC (HTPC) chassis from Wesena. As a refinement on the previous iteration we hope to see the niggles around fit-and-finish addressed.

Jun 21 2012

Review - XPAND YOUniversal Electronic 3D Eyewear

We last visited the topic of universal active 3D glasses technology with our XPAND X103 review. With the introduction of the Full HD 3D Glasses standard in 2012 stereoscopic 3D products, the display and eyewear industry have matured away from the mish-mash of proprietary communication mechanisms. Standard-compliant products can utilize radio frequency (RF) and/or infrared (IR) for the communication link between displays and glasses. In theory, any vendor’s glasses complying with the standard will work with any standard-compliant display (so long as each product has the same logo, e.g. “Full HD 3D RF” or “Full HD 3D IR”).

XPAND has been a key player involved in the Full HD 3D Glasses initiative so we’re expecting great performance from their newest YOUniversal Electronic 3D Eyewear--especially considering that XPAND operates the testing center for products seeking certification. XPAND’s YOUniversal 3D eyewear seeks to improve upon their X103 offering by offering compatibility with the new Full HD 3D Glasses standard, several new fit and finish options, a rechargeable Li-ion battery, and software to allow for firmware updates and user customization. The primary selling point of XPAND’s solution is that the glasses are compatible with every major active shutter 3D display instead of operating with only a single vendor’s display technology.

Jun 04 2012

Review - LIAN LI PC-Q05 Thin Mini-ITX Chassis

When Intel introduced the Thin Mini-ITX form factor with the DH61AG board, we were impressed with the performance and potential of the platform; however, the innovative form factor lacked any accompanying chassis to take advantage of the extra thin profile. Fortunately, that situation is changing with the introduction of LIAN LI’s PC-Q05 which supports the new Thin Mini-ITX form factor.

May 14 2012

Review - Pulse-Eight Motorola NYXboard Hybrid Wireless Keyboard and IR Remote

Pulse-Eight LogoNot long ago it was easy to lean primarily on a traditional remote control – universal, of course -- relegating the keyboard and mouse to the audio & video (A/V) cabinet, closet, or other locale of last resort –dragging it out just for occasional maintenance or troubleshooting. However, as over-the-top (OTT) content providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and YouTube have become more pervasive, the traditional remote can no longer provide enough functionality as we transition to a search, browse and consume environment. Those hesitant to make space on the coffee table for a “normal” sized wireless keyboard alongside the aging universal; or clinging fervently to the dream of a single remote to manage everything, require something small with the flexibility to control multiple heterogeneous devices. Few options meet these requirements, but the number recently increased with Pulse-Eight bringing out a new home theater PC (HTPC) remote from Motorola. Operating as a 2.4GHz wireless keyboard and providing infrared (IR) learning capabilities in a convenient one-handed form factor the NYXboard Hybrid checks the right boxes, but with the last option offering similar features found lacking it is critical to dig deeper.

Apr 23 2012

Review - Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge CPU and DZ77GA-70K Motherboard

Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge CPU and DZ77GA-70 MotherboardLast year Intel’s Sandy Bridge “TOCK” married the graphics processing unit (GPU) and CPU on the same die, making it a first class citizen in the system and introduced a true integrated processor graphics (IPG) solution. With HD audio bit steaming introduced in the previous generation, full hardware acceleration of VC-1, AVC (H.264), MPEG2 as well as 3D Blu-ray (MVC) and reasonable refresh rate accuracy already offered; Ivy Bridge’s 22nm die-shrinking “TICK” could have easily rested only on improved process technology for frequency gains or power efficiency, but instead promises a little bit of raw performance with significant reductions in consumption. Most importantly for the home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiast significant improvements to the GPU are also included - offering greater flexibility in playback software selection as well as improvements to the existing media consumption experience.

Apr 23 2012

Review - IF500 Luna 5 Encore iPhone iPod Speaker Dock

Speaker docks for iPhone and iPod devices are very common these days, with more manufacturers putting their name in the hat, vying for a place in your living room, bedroom, bathroom, or any other location you may so desire to amplify the music coming from your mobile device. Edifier manufactures numerous speaker products, ranging from studio speakers, to surround sound gaming systems, to of course, speaker docks. With the IF500 Luna 5 Encore, Edifier tries a more modern and artistic approach to the traditional iPhone/iPod speaker dock. And with a $299 MSRP, the Edifier Luna 5 is on the upper tier of docks so we will evaluate the speaker as much on sound quality as on style.

Apr 17 2012

Review - Biscotti TV Phone

 Video phones have been a staple of science fiction for decades. Most of us have come to understand that video phones will never become the norm, simply because there are far too many circumstances in which we answer the phone but would never want anyone to actually see what we look like at the moment, or where we are. That being said, the video phone has its place, and what better place than the living room. There are few better uses in the home for a video phone or teleconference system than for communicating with far-flung friends and family and the living room provides a space where the entire family can congregate and interact with the biggest screen in the house. At $199, the Biscotti TV Phone strives to be an inexpensive way of integrating video teleconferencing into the home theater. Every call on the Biscotti TV Phone is free, but is every call worth making?

Biscotti TV Phone

Apr 16 2012

Review - Apple TV

Apple TVIn our first look at the new 2012 Apple TV it was clear that the form factor and basic function was consistent with many of the other over the top (OTT) media streamers on the market, but it was the visual appealing user interface (UI) that really shines compared to similar devices which became apparent in the video walkthrough. What was not clear, given the brief time with the Apple TV, was how it performs after the first-impression sheen has worn off or how the recently upgraded 1080p iTunes content stacks up against established OTT services like Netflix and VUDU, or the current top-end option, Blu-ray. Having spent the focused energy to really get to know the device it is time to come back with answers to those questions, as well as provide a fuller picture of what is provided by Apple’s OTT streamer refresh.

Apr 10 2012

Review - Aperion Audio Zona Wireless Speaker System

The prospect of wiring surround or multi-zone loudspeakers is often fraught with difficulty and may be a job best left to someone who can open up walls, fish speaker wire and install a wallplate with wire terminals. Instead of hiring a costly contractor or spending several hours and dollars in parts, Aperion Audio presents the Zona Wireless Speaker System which promises to lift the burden of wires from us. After our positive experience with Aperion Audio’s Intimus 4T speakers, our interest in Aperion Audio’s wireless solution was piqued.

The $399 Zona Wireless Speaker System are stereo speakers that can be employed in a variety of scenarios: serving as speakers sourced directly from a PC, stereo or surround speakers in a home theater or as part of a separate zoned speaker system where the installation may be in a remote room or patio.

Mar 21 2012

Review - Marchon3D EX3D Eyewear

EX3DWhen we stopped by the Marchon3D EX3D booth at CES I have to admit that my reaction was more skeptical than enthusiastic. Sure, their passive 3D eyewear worked, and at $35 a pair was not terrible, but it seemed like a hard sell to the theater-going crowd where the glasses have to compete with “free”. Now that I have had the chance to try the EX3D AMMO glasses in a real environment, my opinion has changed – keep reading to find out why.

Mar 17 2012

Review - New Apple TV User Experience - Video

Having spent a couple days with the new Apple TV I figured it would be great to share some of the finer, and not so fine, points of the user experience. While I could write it up, a video seemed like a much better idea. Enjoy!

Mar 15 2012

Review - First Look: Apple TV

Apple TVWith the previous generation stuck at 720p, many did not consider the previous generation of Apple TV to be a serious contender in the A/V stack. That changed with the most recent iteration of the device, and now that it supports 1080p output and playback -- even full 1080p60 -- we could have a serious contender for space in your living room. The unit just arrived earlier today, so this is just a first look with a much more detailed examination of the device to follow. Read on to get an idea of what the newest Apple TV provides.

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?

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