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Tag Archives: Pandora

Quick Review – Roku 2 LT out for only $49

This is probably the cheapest media streamer on the market to date – Roku just released a new member of the Roku 2 family, called Roku 2 LT. The miniature box features all the features of its big (and more expensive brothers) like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora, Facebook, Tweeter, Revision 3, HBO Go and hundreds of other installable channels but no gaming capabilities (sorry Angry Birds), no Bluetooth and no wired Ethernet, but it does include WiFi. The max resolution is capped at 720p, which is fine of you are limited by the TV anyway. The price? $49 which makes it really budget friendly and no excuse not to add it behind every TV in your house.

Beside the limited resolution, LT is remarkable through its purple case. As we mentioned, the software capability is similar with the rest of Roku 2 family and you can read a full review of Roku 2 XS right here.

Onkyo TX-NR809 Review – THX Certified 7.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver with 8 HDMI inputs

Introduction:

My beloved Pioneer Elite VSX-82TXS just lost a channel and anyway, it was time for a new receiver. I needed something with similar specs to the good old 82TXS but updated to the 2011 requirements (Internet connectivity, 3D support, etc). I prefer connected equipment when possible plus a bunch of HDMI inputs and, when Amazon had Onkyo TX-NR809 on sale I jumped on it. A couple of days later a large and heavy box found its way to my door and I played with its content for the last two weeks. The results are described in this Onkyo TX-NT809 Review.

Throughout the review I’ll make brief comments regarding how the new Onkyo TX-NR809 compares to my old Pioneer Elite VSX-82TXS. I think these two receivers belong to the same class and it should be interesting to see how the technology evolved in the last 5 years. Read More…

Sony SMP-N100 Review – Network Media Player with Wi-Fi, Netflix and Hulu Plus


Introduction

Since I cut the cable cord a while ago, I am constantly looking for solutions to improve my TV watching experience. At this point, I am using a PS3 in living room and ROKU / WD TV Live Plus boxes in every room I have TVs. Recently Sony released a new media streamer box that offers streaming functionality similar (but improved in several ways) to their flagship entertainment product – Playstation 3.  The box is rather cheap at only $89  so I decided to give it a try. It got shipped fast enough and the results are described in this review.
The box includes the main media streamer box, the external power brick adapter, the remote, user manual and the good old red white yellow analog audio video cable. Why Sony did not include a HDMI cable in the year 2011 is beyond me.

Tech Specs

Codecs, Inputs, Outputs: Read More…

Samsung TV App store reaches 1 million downloads

If you need any more convincing an App store is the way to go for a company, search no more. Every company creating an app store has been successful, including Samsung. Not too long ago we reviewed Samsung BD-7500 Blu-ray player and the applications that ship / are available for download and we had a rather good impression. Now, Samsung announces that the number of applications downloaded from their store reached a cool 1 million and while this doesn’t really compare with iPhone App Store for example, it is impressive nonetheless.

Samsung App Store launched in March 2010 and the Samsung Apps are available on their 2010 models for Blu-ray Players and certain TV sets. Among the most notable examples we can find Netflix, Vudu, Google Maps, AccuWeather, Blockbuster, USA Today, YouTube, Pandora, Picasa, Games, etc, over 200 in total. Most are free, for some you’ll have to pay.

Currently, various manufacturers are using App stores to differentiate themselves from the competition. However, when everybody will have an App store, expect to see some deals signed and who know, maybe we’ll see Samsung App Store implemented on Roku media players, or any such combination.

Samsung Apps are built on a SDK Platform created around open standards including XML, Java Script, Adobe Flash Lite 3.0, etc. Eventually, Samsung App store will provide applications for all their platforms including smartphones.

Roku Media Streamers will get HULU Plus, one month of free service

Roku adds HULU Plus support to their really cheap line of media streamers and, combined with the other big announcement we published (HULU slashing their Hulu Plus monthly price to $7.99 from $9.99) should make it easier to get rid of your cable TV service and switch to a far more slicker (and cheaper) Roku set top box. Currently, if we are talking strictly about online content, Roku media streamers are by far the best (and cheapest) on the market offering access to services like YouTube, Netflix, NASA, Flixster, Vimeo, Amazon Video On Demand , Pandora, MLB.TV, Ultimate Fighting Championship and now of course, HULU Plus.

There are 3 different members in Roku media streamers line and, while all models support the entire line of online streaming services, there are some other variations to justify the price:

  • Roku HD at $69 (wired and wireless network adapters, 720p streaming)
  • Roku XD at $79 (includes upgraded 1080p streaming support
  • Roku XDS at $99 (features a USB port for local streaming (not supported in firmware yet) and dual-channel 802.11n wireless adapter.)

All three models support HDMI and component outputs for the best video quality.

Update: If you order now one the Roku boxes, you will get one month of free Hulu Plus service!

TiVo Premiere is now free, but subsidized via a $20 monthly fee

Well, folks, you all read about the latest deals popping out all over the web with prices for Tivo Premiere going as low as $99 (and immediately selling them on eBay for $150). Starting today, you can actually have them for free, so be sure not to fall for any “sales” you will see. What’s the catch? TiVo decided to subsidize them via a rather hefty $20 month contract for 2 years, $99 if you want only a 12-months contract. The Premiere XL version is $299 with 12 month contract and while not being extra large, it brings you THX certification. The free devices are no farther than TiVo’s own website, so you don’t really need to shop around.

TiVo premiere is the current TiVo flagship line of HD DVR boxes adding beside DVR services, web clients for Netflix, BlockBuster, Amazon Video on Demand, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Pandora, Rhapsody, Music Choice,  Live 365, Picasa, Photobucket and many more, and, the recently added Hulu Plus.

Sony Dash gets HULU Plus

Do you remember Sony Dash? It used to make big waves a while ago and then, after some bad reviews concerning its speed and ergonomics, was somewhat dormant and out of the news? Well, it is back again with a vengeance because it can now offer Hulu Plus starting today!

Based on the popular Chumby platform and inheriting over 1000 applications this way, Sony Dash is a small wireless Internet connected device with a 7 inches 800×480 resolution, 500Mhz processor with 32kB I/D L2 cache; 256 MB, 667MHz DDR2 DRAM and doubling as a media streamer and capable to connect to a myriad online services including Pandora, AccuWeather, YouTube, Flickr, Netflix, Slacker, Amazon video on Demand,  and, of course now Hulu Plus (for the standard 9.99 / month). It also doubles as an alarm clock and social network hub showing messages and news from Twitter and Facebook, your e-mail messages from GMail and others, etc. Currently on sale at Amazon for $169.

What is more interesting though, is that apparently this little device has a strong WAF (Wife Approval Factor) because it comes with bundled content from Martha Stewart, like “Dinner Tonight™ Recipe of the Day, video health tips from Dr. Oz and so on :D.

Boxee Box Review

1. Introduction

Boxee Box is without question one of the most awaited media streamers for this year. The reason? The way things look right now, it might well be the only box that actually can successfully replace a home theater PC in both CODEC support and extensibility. Promising a full range of audio/video codecs, media library with automatic artwork downloading and also web clients for popular services as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, VUDU and even Netflix, combined with an open development platform supporting Adobe Flash 10.1, a Webkit based browser and QWERTY remote control, many feel that boxee Box is currently the media streamer to beat, not Google TV or Apple TV. For a long time, there has been an uncertainty about the capability to stream Netflix but yesterday the people from D-Link confirmed Netflix support to come sometime by the end of the year, so I won’t touch this issue until the next firmware release.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge gadget lover and I actually own and use every piece of equipment that I reviewed on this website, however I don’t  like the idea of turning my PS3 to watch Netflix, XBOX 360 for a nice Twitter of Facebook client, my HTPC for some exotic codec that nobody else supports, etc. I think everybody keeps waiting for the mystical “do it all” box (aside from a beefy HTPC that needs its own power plant) and the open nature of Boxee Box might help it become that box.

2. Boxee Box Unpacking Read More…

Boxee Box ships today with Netflix and Hulu Plus coming by the end of the year – did you order yours?

Good news ladies and gentleman, the long awaited boxy media streamer code name Boxee Box manufactured by D-Link is currently shipping. Long awaited because is one of a very few media streaming boxes to support a browser (and a good one, nonetheless, WebKit based with HTML 5 support), Adobe Flash 10.1, a QWERTY remote control and compatibility with every codec under the sun including MKV, XVID, DIVX, h264, etc.

This is not all, as everybody probably wondered, the box will support both Netflix and Hulu Plus before the end of the year, it is confirmed!!!! (see Boxee blog)

The supported resolutions include 1080p and the box has a DLNA client and can also access your network shares (really cool if you have a home server). Compatibility with Adobe flash ensures easy development and the box will ship at launch with over 400 software applications and web clients including popular ones as Twitter, Pandora, Last.FM, Amazon Video on Demand, Digg, Revision 3, CNN, YouTube, etc. Mine just shipped today and will post a review as soon as I get it.
One more thing, if you used Boxee software or Windows Media Center with some kind of audio / video library software like Media browser, you will be glad to know that Boxee Box supports the same features, displaying the artwork, movie covers, etc via automatic downloads.

Full codec support list:

  • FLV/On2 VP6 (FLV/FV4/M4V)
  • H.264 AVC (TS/AVI/MKV/MOV/M2TS/MP4)
  • MPEG-1 (DAT/MPG/MPEG)
  • MPEG-2 (MPG/MPEG/VOB/TS/TP/ISO/IFO)
  • VC-1 (TS/AVI/MKV/WMV)
  • MPEG-4 (MP4/AVI/MOV)
  • Xvid (AVI/MKV)
  • WMV9 (WMV/ASF/DVR-MS)
  • DivX 3/4/5/6 (AVI/MKV)

Deal of the day – $99 Western Digital WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player with 1080p MKV and Netflix

This ($99)  is probably the lowest price I have ever seen on the very popular Western Digital WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player / Streamer (WDBABX0000NBK-NESN ). The Amazon cannot advertise directly such a low price so you’ll have to click and see the discounted price.

I got one myself (full review here) and it works extremely well. The interface could use some tweaks because is rather simple, but no other players beat WD TV Live Plus HD (a mouthful) in terms of video CODEC compatibility. It supports both DLNA client and PC network shares access, a complete codec support including MKV, DIVX, XVID, MPEG 2 and 4, DBD ISO images, it even supports DVD menus from ISO images and folder rips. Everything up to 1080p.

WD TV Live Plus HD also supports a variety of popular web clients including Netflix (the new interface with categories), Pandora, YouTube, Flickr, etc.

Video Codecs – AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS, WMV9

Subtitles – SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI

Audio Codecs – MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS Read More…