CES 2012

Jan 20 2012

News - Coincident - CES 2012

Those who know me, know that I'm not a big fan of advertising. Of course "the why" isn't nearly as simple as it would first appear however.  The fundamental problem with advertising isn't with the message per se, but the delivery - as an onerous chore, forced upon us in some sort of arcane moral obligation for "free" content. While that model was [at least somewhat] true in a bygone era where over the air (OTA) ruled, with most TV viewers getting their content via a pay-to-watch provider and technologies like the DVR becoming more prevalent, reliance on this out-dated methodology, and a refusal to see ads as content (which like any content needs to be good, and valuable to be worth our time), relegates them to the realm of soap operas and MTV (i.e. things I refuse watch) in my home. With the problem identified, a solution should be obvious; make the content and the surrounding experience relevant and enjoyable.

Jan 20 2012

News - NETGEAR - CES 2012

NETGEARI often find that that good networking kit is neglected when it comes to building an solid connected home theater, with low-end network interface cards (NIC), routers and wireless access points (AP) creating a sub-standard experience. It's also an area where we haven't done as much as we should to spread the word through guides and reviews - something that I'd like to change in the coming year. With that in mind I made a point to stop by NETGEAR to check out what they had on tap for the coming year; of course it didn't hurt that they also make a really solid over the top (OTT) streamer, the NTV200...

Jan 17 2012

News - iconBIT - CES 2012

iconBITOne of the more frustrating things about the market for media streamers is how little file support has progressed over the last couple years. Of course that's not all bad, because generally most things work and there's still a lot of work to do on the UI but it was refreshing to see an actual HDMI 1.4 (yes, they are claiming 3D Blu-ray compatibility) from a couple of Realtek RTD1186DD based streamers from a company I'd never heard of before - iconBIT.

Jan 17 2012

News - Sony Booth - CES 2012

Given the pre-CES hype I expected to love the OLED displays when I saw them up close, but that turned out to be a major disappointment. Oddly enough, I did find a "next gen" display technology that was quite interesting; at the Sony booth of all places. Comparing their Crystal LED to OLED isn't exactly fair because the content being shown wasn't full motion video, so it's quite possible that the display would have exhibited the same "slow pixel" issues that were noticed in the competing technology, but I can say with certainty that content they were showing off looked great.

Jan 17 2012

News - Samsung Booth - CES 2012

Samsung Smart TVAfter sitting through Samsung's CES press conference and seeing their newest displays I was expecting great things when we finally made it to the booth. Unfortunately, it was all about Smart TVs at Samsung; which is not to say that connected platforms aren't important, just in my opinion less so than picture quality. While it's impossible to really judge the quality of an HDTV under the lights of CES, and Samsung had them turned to "11", so it made getting anything besides a tan quite difficult. It wasn't all regret however as the new ES8000  were very impressive, with an incredible 75" spin of the sexy, thin bezelled LED LCDs being available later this year.  Complaints aside Samsung's focus on their apps platform continues to provide them with leadership in this area, especially with the dual-core CPU giving a responsive experience and providing a solid upgrade path to current models as well as the future revs via a PCMIA-esqe expansion slot.

Jan 14 2012

News - Ceton - CES 2012

Ceton CorpWhen Ceton brought a four tuner CableCARD to the Windows Media Center community, they breathed new life into a product languishing from neglect. Not content to only do this, or be entirely dependent on the continued presence of Media Center in subsequent releases of Windows; they have created a "turnkey" competitor to TiVo (and hopefully an exit strategy for SageTV refugees) with a new solution called the "Q". In addition to the Q, they also announced an extender device named "Echo"; which besides [finally] providing an alternative to the Xbox 360 to those who prefer TV without fan-based accompaniment for Windows Media Center PCs also enhances the current extender experience with additional media features when used with the Q.

More details and some pictures are in the next section.

Jan 13 2012

News - Boxee Box - CES 2012

Boxee didn't have anything dramatic to show this year, but it was great to take a look at the new UI for 1.5, see the EPG, and watch some Live TV on it. It was also nice to raise the possibility of Copy-Freely Digital Cable Tuner support and PVR functionality with them. While clearly they weren't going to give up much about their plans, I left with the impression that we might see limited support for recording TV at some point in the future.

Jan 13 2012

News - Dune HD - CES 2012

Dune HDAnyone who's read our reviews of the Dune HD media streamers, know that they provide an excellent local media playback experience but there are some gaps around 3D Blu-ray and video processing where it would be great to see some improvement. Fortunately both of these will be addressed when the Dune HD Pro (click through for a gallery and further discussion) ships because it is based around Sigma Designs 8910 flagship system on a chip (SOC) which includes HDMI 1.4 and VXP. Unfortunately due to some issues around the availability of the 8910 the actual date for delivering the Pro has slipped from March to June/July (as a best guess). This delay should not impact the release of VUDU for Dune HD players as the port is complete and it is intended for all models.

Jan 12 2012

News - SilverStone - CES 2012

SilverStoneFull size HTPC builders can rejoice, because at SilverStone; big is still in fashion. They recently updated their lineup of Full-ATX chassis with the GD07 and GD08. Both offer space for multiple 3.5" hard drives and full length GPUs. Other highlights include:

  • They will update USB 3.0 products to the latest Renesas chip later this year
  • Offer a four SATA power connector with built-in capacitors, nice for adding SATA power in a server
  • GD07/GD08 have a switch to the bottom of their HTPC chassis which controls LED brightness
  • A very well designed server chassis (TJ04-E)
  • Will offer a 450W 80+ Gold SFX PSU
  • Offer a 400/500W completly passive PSU. It is INSANELY heavy :)
  • Will offer a 600W modular 80+ Gold PSU


Jan 12 2012

News - Onkyo - CES 2012

OnkyoChecking out Onkyo's 2012 audio video receiver (AVR) with InstaPrevue and Mobile High-definition Link (MHL) was one of the things I was looking forward to the most at CES, and I wasn't disappointed.  Not only was InstaPrevue a slick way to view and select inputs (third picture in the gallery), but given how it seems to work I would be surprised if it didn't alleviate many of the common switching-inputs EDID issues.  They weren't able to share much about feature segmentation in the 2012 models so it won't be known for a few months which SKUs will benefit from both of these features. That said, Onkyo has consistently demonstrated a very high feature-per-dollar ratio so I wouldn't be surprised to see them in all but the budget models.

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