I went to the New York International Auto Show with just one thing on my mind: car audio. Like many New Yorkers, I don't own a car, so this was my chance to sample a wide range of premium car audio systems in everything from Smart cars to Rolls-Royces. For the most part, generic car audio or famous name-brand systems like Bose and Mark Levinson sounded thick and muddy. Not one was up to the standards of a decent home hi-fi system. They played loud and had lots of bass, but even the most expensive car systems at the … Read more
If your home media center feels fragmented and frustrating, there's good news: with a weekend or two of spring cleaning, you can make it all much easier to keep track of and enjoy. I've tried to keep this hardware-independent, though some tips assume you have networked storage or a particular operating system. Here are a few tricks and tips to get you started:
Music This is usually the toughest library for most people to manage. Depending on the tools you use, it can be hard to effectively manage more than 10,000 individual music files, and while some … Read more
The Apple TV syncs with iTunes and other Apple programs, so while it can stream media from computers on a network or from the iTunes Store, it can also store a fair amount of photos and other files that you can access without other systems being powered on.
While in most cases what's stored on the Apple TV mirrors what's on your … Read more
It wasn't that long ago that Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, and Onkyo were locked in a fierce competition in the home theater in a box (HTIB) market. Every year I'd report about the latest advances in their systems in my CNET reviews. These days, fewer people want to deal with all of the wires and setup requirements of a five-speaker, subwoofer, receiver, and Blu-ray player based system. Skinny sound bars that sit under a TV are now more popular than HTIB systems. Most sound bars are 2.0- or 2.1-channel stereo systems, though some promise a "virtual&… Read more
Admit it: you'd love to watch movies at home that never get too loud or too quiet. You'd never have to lunge for the remote when the villain's plane crashes, to turn the sound down. We want movies that always have the same volume, like music, where the volume never changes. We like it that way, right? Why should movies be any more dynamic than music?
Now, sure, most receivers and sound bars have some sort of "Night Mode" scheme to compress movies' soft-to-loud volume shifts. Some receivers include more sophisticated volume-leveling processors such as … Read more
I love HBO Go. Love it. Having instant, on-demand access to shows like "Deadwood," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Game of Thrones," and "Extras" is all kinds of awesome.
Too bad I can't enjoy it on the ol' flat-screen. There's no HBO Go channel on my Apple TV, and the iOS apps don't allow video out. Meanwhile, Comcast doesn't support HBO Go on Roku boxes (even though most other cable providers do), so that's a no-go as well. (Comcast doesn't allow it on the Xbox, either, as Scott Stein reported earlier today.)
Thankfully, there's a workaround. Here's what you need:… Read more
VideoLAN (VLC) is an awesome media player that offers many features to its users for no cost. One of these features is the ability to stream videos across the same network. The steps are a little lengthy your first time through them, but are totally worth the time. So here's how to watch a synced video at home or work so everyone can enjoy it at the same time.
If you don't already have it, you can download VLC for free.Setting up the server:
Step 1: Open VLC and then open the Media menu. Select Stream … Read more
My Comcast DVR died last week, so down I went to my local Comcast office to exchange it for a new box. Although I lost weeks' worth of Modern Family (which, inexplicably, isn't offered On Demand), my DVR's death came at a good time because Comcast recently received a new fleet of cable boxes and sent me home with the Motorola RGN200N.
Years ago, I had programmed a 30-second skip button for my old Comcast DVR on my old silver remote. It was a simple process:
1. Press the Cable button at the top of the remote
2. … Read more
Flat-screen TVs have gotten cheap enough that it's possible to get two midsize TVs for the price of one bigger TV. A quick search of Amazon found that you could get two 46-inch plasmas for the price of one 52-inch LED LCD. Or, you could add a new, smaller TV to supplement the one you already have for only a few hundred dollars.
Why, you may ask? A better question: How (would you use them), and even more important, what do you need?… Read more
If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPad Touch--and an AppleTV, AirPort Express, or AirPlay-enabled system--you probably already know that you can play the music from any Apple AirPlay-enabled app (like Spotify or Pandora). All you need to do is tap the button within the app that looks like this:
Suddenly, the music from the app starts emanating from the nice speakers attached to your home entertainment system (with AppleTV) or sound system (with AirPort Express). This is one of our favorite features in iOS, and frankly, we wonder why Google hasn't done something similar with Android (although it … Read more