The wildfire popularity of the iPod has given rise to many accessory businesses and other cottage industries, many of which are explicitly marketed for Apple's media player even when they'll work with others. Which, by the way, is exactly what makes this next item so distinctive: Not only is it aimed at a non-iPod product, but it's made specifically for the lowly Zune.
Sony's HT-IS100, a 5.1-channel home-theater system that includes five speakers that are just 1.7 inches in diameter, will be coming to the U.S. next month. If it looks familiar, there are two reasons: The unit was announced for the Japanese market just a couple of weeks ago, and the tiny speakers were first featured in 2007's DAV-IS10, which is still widely available. (Fun fact: Sony calls the speakers "roughly the size of a golf ball" in its press release--an adjective that nearly everyone who covered the IS10 lazily cribbed. The company uses the same golf ball wording in the IS100 press release--but, oddly, included the strawberry photo above.)
Unlike that earlier model, the new HT-IS100 doesn't have a built-in disc player, or even a "head unit"--all of the electronics and amplifiers are consolidated into the system's subwoofer, so there's no need for a separate AV receiver.… Read more
As the nerve center behind a home network, the WRT54G2 is Linksys' latest out-of-the-closet wireless "G" router featuring three key unique propositions: Attractive design, ease of use, and built-in antennas. It's sleek and tastefully designed, at home with any A/V product such as your flat-panel TV and home theater, thanks to generous curves and a matching piano-black finish.
Its software has an intuitive graphical user interface for an instant snapshot of your overall network, equipment, and operating status. The system is even smart enough to alert you when there are Linksys firmware updates.
Unlike competing products, … Read more
Microsoft has a clever Home Use Program that "provides a simple way for staff to work at home with the same Microsoft products they use at work." It's also a great way for Microsoft to spread its software and prevent would-be Mac or open-source users from straying from the Microsoft fold.
Speaking of which, Apple has a similar program, of which my company takes part. I can get Apple hardware and software at a discount, even when not buying it for work. To Apple (and Microsoft), it's a way to expand adoption at a lower cost … Read more
Call us shortsighted, but we'd always assumed that people would watch video on a mobile phone or portable player only while on the go, not at home or on the desktop--if at all. But if recent products are any indication, that doesn't seem to be the case.
There have been an increasing number of docks and speakers for the iPhone and iPod Touch, for instance, that are meant to accommodate their displays in a horizontal viewing position. The latest example comes from iHome in the form of its "iH41B Rotating Alarm Clock."
Not only is this … Read more
While most audio manufacturers trot out a new line of AV receivers every year, Harman Kardon generally sits out of the "feature war" and lets its models stay in the product line longer. That's why it's a big deal that the company has announced three new receivers, bringing many cutting-edge features that were previously missing from the company's lineup. As always, these new receivers have Harman's typically refined look, and now that some of the models include updated features--like high-resolution audio decoding, a high-def graphical user interface, and video upconversion--you won't have to settle for beauty without brains. Let's take an in-depth look at the new line.
Harman Kardon 154
Key features of the Harman Kardon 154:5.1 channels, 30 watts per channel Three HDMI 1.3a inputs… Read more
Last fall, we noticed that old DVD recorders with hard drives were selling for $1,900 on the Internet, because manufacturers basically stopped making them (with some exceptions) and people still want them. The continued demand for DVD recorders with hard drives isn't surprising--many people want a simple DVR they can own, without a monthly free, that can easy burn their favorite shows to DVDs. It's a killer product, but unless you're willing to set up a home theater PC, you can't have it.
We have noticed, however, that some electronics retailers have been offering foreign DVD recorders with hard drives in the U.S., potentially to meet this hidden demand.… Read more
Need to connect a cable box, Blu-ray player, Xbox 360 Elite, PlayStation 3, or other device to your HDTV? Don't let your local big-box sales weenie talk you into spending $60, $80, or even $100 on an HDMI cable. Instead, head to eBay, Meritline, Newegg, or the like and scoop up a no-brand equivalent for as little as 10 bucks.
HDMI cables, which carry digital audio and video signals, are insanely overpriced. That's the consensus of Ars Technica, CNET, The Consumerist, and yours truly. There's ample scientific and anecdotal evidence that dirt-cheap generics perform just as well … Read more