Ted Aguirre talks about the three models of Lookee TV (www.lookeetv.com), a table-top model, a portable model, and a set-top box model that connects to a TV. Lookee TV devices retail for about $150 and are available right now. Lookee TV receives over 30,000 streaming radio stations and over 1,000 streaming TV channels. The company maintains its own strategically-located international content servers. All the content carried on the Lookee TV devices is free. Lookee TV devices are especially useful for international travelers who want to watch foreign television content or listen to streaming radio from other countries.
Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.
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A few days ago I made a trip to my local Best Buy store and ended up walking out with a Samsung 58” 500 Series Plasma HDTV. I’d gone into the store thinking if I left with anything, it would most likely be an LCD HDTV. However, after spending quite a while comparing picture quality and prices on the massive number of sets covering the big-box store’s back wall, I happened upon the Samsung model PN58C500, a 58” Plasma.
This Samsung Plasma has an absolutely stunning picture, rivaling the best high-end LCD sets that cost two and almost three times more. The PN58C500 sells for $1,197.99. I happened to have a “Best Buy Rewards” coupon for 10% percent off of any HDTV set costing $750 or more, and the coupon did end up applying to the PN58C500. My final price, including our rather high local sales taxes, ended up being $1,147.
There’s no 3D circuitry, but that’s not a problem for me since I consider 3D TV’s (as well as 3D movies) to be a useless gimmick. The PN58C500 has Samsung’s “AllShare DLNA Networking” that allows the set to connect to computers and DLNA servers running on your home network to stream HD video via Ethernet. I’ve also got a Mac Mini, as well as a Western Digital HD Live Plus media player attached directly to the set via my surround sound receiver/switcher.
The PN58C500 has a useful variety of video formatting modes to easily cycle through via the remote control that facilitates getting the right picture format for the particular video you are watching or device you are watching it from. It has 3 HDMI inputs, and is a thin 2.8 inches thick.
The remote control seems to be a bit touchy, needing to be pointed at the set to ensure that remote control commands register. Also, the built-in speakers seem to fire out of the bottom, but the volume levels are more than loud enough to be usable.
If you are looking for a new big-screen HDTV, you can’t go wrong buying this set considering the price versus value. I cannot over-stress the absolutely stunning picture quality this set produces.
Vidabox has been busy lately. For the second consecutive week they have announced a new product. Today it is the RoomClinetV2, which is a media extender for streaming Blu-Ray, DVD, music, and photos from a media server.
This is a sleek, slim box that you can fit almost anywhere. It packs Intel Dual Core 1.8 GHz processor, 2GB of DDR2-800MHz RAM, a slot-loading Blu-ray/DVD±RW/CD drive, and a 80GB 7200 rpm hard drive. “The RoomClientV2 is our least expensive extender to date with a built-in Blu-ray drive,” explains Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox, LLC. “We’ve combined full 1080p, high definition Blu-ray playback, along with our comprehensive suite of media streaming capabilities for both online and stored content – all into a single, ultra-compact unit.”
They claim it can be mounted to the rear of any HDTV and is especially effective for such locations as a bedroom because of maximum noise level of only 28 dBA. The size is listed as: Height 1.5″, Width 7.37″, Depth 11.03″, and a weight of only 3lb, 1oz.
As for connectivity, it has 1 front USB 2.0 port, 1 USB 3.0 port, 1 rear USB 3.0 port, 10/100/1000 LAN port, eSATA port, 1 optical SPDIF-out, 3.5mm analog 2.0 stereo out, 1 HDMI 1.2 output, and 1 DVI output.
Sony have launched a series of high performance HDMI cables to meet the needs of the latest developments in audio and video entertainment, including 3D and Ethernet.
All the cables in the DLC-HE series offer:
- HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC), allowing the cable to not only carry audio and video, but also data.
- Audio Return Channel (ARC), permitting audio to be transmitted in both directions.
- 3D support, for the latest movies.
- Quad Full HD, for resolutions up to 3840 x 2160.
- 48 bits per pixel colour depth, giving richer colour reproduction.
Obviously, the TV and the connected device, e.g. an AV amp, have to support these features to take advantage of the cable.
Although the press release doesn’t make it 100% clear, I believe that these features mean these new cables conform to the HDMI 1.4 standard.
There are five different cables in the range, from general purpose to premium, with variants using horizontal and vertical swivel connections. There’s also a special cable for connecting from HandyCam or Bloggie cameras that have the HDMI type C connector.
The cables come in a range of lengths from 1m to 10m. Additionally the HDMI connector body has been redesigned so that it’s easier to see which way round the cable is before trying to plug it in.
Available now from all good stockists with prices starting from around £40.
VidaBox today announced it’s new ThinClientV2 Media Extender. For those wondering where all of the Media Extenders have gone since the Windows Vista days – and the question is asked a LOT on the Media Center sites – here is a brand new one that is top-of-the-line.
It features eSATA, 10/100/1000 LAN, VGA, HDMi, SPDIF, and 4 UDB ports all on the back. There’s an additional 1 USB port on the side, and, on the front, it has 1 USB, 1 analog stereo, and 1 headphone jack.
It’s relatively small, measuring just 1.5″ in height and 7.44″ in both width and depth.
As for the internals, it sports an AMD Neo Dual Core processor with 2GB of DDR2-800MHz RAM and an 80GB hard drive. It accepts NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners and PAL/DVB-T formats. It also has built-in 802.11N, as well as a built-in multi-format card reader.
Below are High-res images of the front and back that Vidabox was kind enough to supply me with.
While their press release states “The new ThinClientV2 design uniquely balances both performance and low cost,” I have not been able to find pricing as of yet so I can’t say if it is truly a good deal. As for the performance part of that statement I don’t doubt that it will be very fast and efficient. It has all of the bells and whistles as far as its hardware specs, connectivity options, numerous USB ports, and even a card reader. While the 80GB hard drive may seem small I don’t think that’s an issue since this device really isn’t for storage, it’s for accessing files stored remotely on an HTPC or media server. My one complaint is that they didn’t go with USB 3.0 since devices are now starting to appear for the new spec. It may have been an effort to control the price though.
For those of you with a cable or satellite DVR or TiVo, Western Digital has updated their My Book AV DVR Expander hard drives. Among other things, is the addition of a USB port, to the already existing eSATA port. That means the drives are now compatible with the Sony PS3 and other media devices such as camcorders.
This is TiVo’s one and only “official” method of hard drive expansion.
The capacity has not changed – it’s still 1TB, but I think we can expect that to be expanded on in the near future. Although, 1TB is an awful lot of HDTV recording. I never came close to filling the 500GB drive in my DirecTV HR23.
One thing to watch out for, at least for DirecTV users (and I have no idea if this applies to other DVR’s) is that this drive replaces the internal drive. The good news is that it replaces, but doesn’t overwrite. In other words unplug this drive and reboot to the original internal drive and all of your previous recordings are still there. It would be nice if it added to, instead of replacing, but beggars can’t be choosers. And, since most cable DVR’s have ridiculously small drives, this is a no-brainer of an upgrade.
So, what do you pay for this convenience? It retails for $149.99, but Amazon already has it for $119.00. This is what we should have from our TV providers to begin with, but, for now, we have to pay extra for. And this is, by far, the best extra you can add to your DVR.
For those still looking for a set-top box, the Popbox is now slated for release on July 23rd. This is another promising release, coming on the heels of Roku, but well ahead of Boxee.
In terms of partners, it may be a little light. While pulling in some new and interesting ones, there are a few old faithfuls still missing (like Netflix). But, that and others, are promised later.
So, what is included at launch? Here’s a list:
That’s a long list, but it also contains only a few things that most of us have heard of. As I said, Netflix is missing. That’s a BIG one. Not to mention Hulu, who is now making these sorts of partnerships. Others, such as networks like Comedy Central and online content like Crackle are noticeably absent. As well as music sites like Pandora and Slacker.
The good news is that it’s upgradable. The bad news is the obviously meager partners available at launch.
For the $129.99 asking price on Amazon, it’s not a bad deal, but I also don’t think it’s a deal worth grabbing just yet. This one is a wait and see.