After many months of promises, Sling Media finally delivered a Mac version of the SlingPlayer software in October 2006. There was just one problem: the public beta disappointed many Mac owners because--and I'm not making this up--it looked too much like Windows software. For instance, MacWorld's review noted:Although the Brushed Steel interface skin approximates the QuickTime Player interface, it's betrayed by the series of Windows-style buttons in the top left corner. (It could be worse--they could be in the top right instead!) It's a little thing, but it's still ugly, and I hope that … Read more
Heard of Vudu? Neither had anybody else until this weekend, when the Silicon Valley start-up got a double shot of well-coordinated publicity that's been burning up the Web: a big write-up in the New York Times and a batch of exclusive photos on Gizmodo. Vudu, it seems, is the latest stab at a video-on-demand movie box--a little set-top device that hooks to your TV and downloads movies from a broadband Web service. But Vudu looks to have some key advantages over past efforts from the likes of RCA and MovieBeam. First, it has the backing of most of the … Read more
Our Xbox 360 Elite review sample showed up late yesterday afternoon, and we're working up a full review. But that's gonna be a 3,500-word monster intended more for casual gamers and tech newbies who don't know a thumbstick from a joystick or a shoulder button from a trigger. For those in the know, here's the crib sheet on the Elite.
Cosmetics: The Xbox 360 Elite has a matte-black finish. I strongly prefer it to the "iPod white" color scheme of past Xbox 360 models. The included wireless controller and Xbox Live headset are … Read more
For the past 12 to 18 months, astute readers may have noticed an increased bit of hedging in our reviews for AV receivers. Yes, even low-end receivers offer more features and flexibility than $1,500 models did just three or four years ago and yes, there are plenty of great-sounding receivers available out there at great prices. But smart shoppers looking for a no-compromise, future-proof AV receiver have been stymied, even if they've been willing to pay upwards of $2,000.
At least, that was the case--until today. Onkyo has become the first mainstream manufacturer to officially announce an array of home audio products that offer the two big features that have been MIA on home audio products to date: HDMI 1.3; and onboard decoding of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks found on HD DVD and Blu-ray discs. The news itself wasn't a surprise, as most of the details had been leaked on the Web earlier this month. And there is no doubt that other manufacturers will be announcing similarly equipped receivers in the next few weeks and months. But because specs, pricing, and availability have been confirmed, we can now say authoritatively that Onkyo looks to be offering some of the most exciting--and surprisingly affordable--A/V receivers seen in recent years.… Read more
For better or worse, most consumer electronics companies don't announce products with Apple-like fanfare. There's no gilded invite, no glitzy PR event at the Moscone Center, no 90-minute Steve Jobs presentation. For most companies, it's a booth at CES in January, and a press release. Three to eight months later, the product pops up at Amazon, Best Buy, or J&R, often with more of a whimper than a bang.
Take the new AV receivers from Yamaha and Onkyo. Keen eyes at AVS Forum and other enthusiast sites began noticing that new entry- and midlevel receivers … Read more
Some would say that everyone needs a little karaoke in their lives, even in the shower. And if you're really serious about it, you might even want to record your performances on your way to American Idol.
And GPX wants to help you avoid the fate of Sanjaya Malakar with its "CD+G Karaoke System." In addition to its 5.5-inch LCD, dual speakers and "professional" microphone, the machine has a built-in digital video camera so you can record yourself belting out "Stairway to Heaven" for later viewing. (Warning: Results may vary after … Read more
It's not clear to us why someone would need a boombox with a built-in LCD to watch DVDs, but we want one anyway (naturally). Part of the reason is the sleek black design of this media mini-center from Germany's Yamada.
The colorfully named HTV-200XU also comes with a TV tuner, FM radio and a burner to rip CDs as well as DVDs, for 220 euros (about $300). Coolest-Gadgets says it can also connect to the TV, though we're not sure why you'd want an LCD boombox for that.
The screen is only 7 inches, but that'… Read more
On paper, CableCard sounded pretty great. Instead of a cable box, your local provider would give you a small smartcard--the exact same design as a PCMCIA card--that would fit into the back of your TV (or DVR). In theory, you were getting the benefit of "the good old days" of analog cable with a digital makeover--just plug the wire into the back of the TV, and you'd get access to all of your digital and HD channels. In reality, CableCard has been plagued with problems. The existing technology is one-way, so you don't have access to … Read more
Talking to the cable or phone company isn't anyone's idea of a good time. A new partnership between Sling Media and GetConnected Inc. (GCi) will help Slingbox users bypass both while upgrading cable or satellite services and connection speeds.
GCi is a behind-the-scenes service whose business is managing transactions between service providers--like Verizon, Comcast, AT&T--and other companies' end users. Dell customers can, for instance, use GCi, probably unbeknownst to them, to set up broadband services on a new PC.
Customers can use the SlingPlayer interface, and GCi's software will be able to tell in real … Read more
Just got an e-mail from the PR firm representing HD DVD, and the North American HD DVD Promotional Group has announced that "sales of dedicated HD DVD consumer electronics players reached more than 100K units sold in the United States, ahead of any other high definition format." I'm not sure why, but that figure doesn't include sales of HD DVD PC drives or the Xbox 360 HD DVD player, which the group says, "are also selling strongly."
I presume that Team HD DVD may not want to compare total HD DVD hardware sales to … Read more