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Connectedhome
All about home entertainment, media centre PCs and music in the home
Curated by Ray Edun
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O2 offering Nokia Lumia 620 at bargain £119.99 for one day only! : Tech Digest

O2 offering Nokia Lumia 620 at bargain £119.99 for one day only! : Tech Digest | Connectedhome | Scoop.it
Ray Edun's insight:

I missed it yesterday, O2 were already sold out. What a shame!

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Apple Preparing to Release Updated AirPort Express Base Station

Apple Preparing to Release Updated AirPort Express Base Station | Connectedhome | Scoop.it

AppleInsider reports that Apple is preparing to release an updated version of its compact AirPort Express wireless base station. Hints of the imminent refresh come from shortages of the existing model being observed at several third-party retailers, but the most concrete evidence comes from a source reporting that Apple is finishing work on its AirPort Utility 5.6 software which makes reference to the new model.


So the this piece of Apple kit is highly underated. It's the first new Apple product I've bought - ever. I have had all generations of the iPhone, all bought off eBay broken. I've then fixed the phone and placed on a SIM free on a tariff anywhere from £5-£15. Bargain.

 

I only bought this because I had a credit at House of Fraser for a failed Christmas gift purchase.  Jenny the shop assistant said I had to use it that day because  it was a gesture of good will as I didn't have my receipt and it was too long after Christmas. Fair enough. 

 

I browsed the shop (all five floors of it) and happened  on the Airport Express in the tech section. 


Once home, I unboxed my first shiny Apple purchase, plugged it in, connected it to my stereo and installed the Airport Utility app on my newly fixed iPhone4. Once I named the Apple wifi network and connected (both via iTunes on the PC and on my phone). I was able to stream music wirelessly to my system.

 

I'm buying one of these for each room - you can create zones and access from any iTunes enable PC or IOS device. Who needs an overpriced Sonos?

 

I might be coming out of the closet soon as an Apple fan. I'm still not sure I agree with their exploitation of others (e.g. workforce) or their pile of cash but the stuff is just so good.  Time to hop on eBay and find some bargains...


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BBC Trust approves Freesat entry into pay VOD

BBC Trust approves Freesat entry into pay VOD | Connectedhome | Scoop.it

BBC Trust approves Freesat entry into pay VODBroadband TV NewsThe plan is to use the upcoming launch of its next generation receivers – understood by Broadband TV News to include HbbTV – to add support for Digital Rights Management (DRM).

 

So, there's a load of stuff happening in the TV space. We have Apple TV, Google TV, Windows Media Center/Centre, Boxee, Roku, XBMC, Myth TV and lots more. 

 

It seems to be getting more and more fragmented with many incompatible platforms being launched. Microsoft launched Media Center in 2005 to not much fanfare if memory serves. Even today only 6% of users even opened Media Center and some of those probably opened it in error! http://bit.ly/GWEMXU

 

Despite that shocking statistic there is a dedicated group of hard core MCE enthusiasts and you can count me amongst them. You can say what you like about Windows but it's the most popular operating system (85% share Feb 2012: http://bit.ly/GWYTqg) even the mighty IOS only has 4.38% share for the same period!). So, even if 1% of people actually use Media Center that's still a huge number.


I've been using it since the beginning (2005) and the fact is that it's Windows based so very much standards based. Sure, it means you have to switch it off and back on again when it acts up, but it always comes back! It's also easily controlled via simple remotes.

 

There are great plugins like Tuner Free MCE from Milliesoft (http://bit.ly/H062UL) Martin Millmore is an independent developer who has been kind enough to develop this in his spare time and NOT charge for it. (Martin, if you're reading there's a donation coming your way). It's simply the best application for MCE allowing you to watch TV on demand from all major UK (and US if that's your locale) providers. There are regular releases as each on-demand service can change the way their site works. I'd go so far as to say Millesoft releases updates on a better schdule than most commercial software companies. This keeps the application functioning with all channels and updates are not so frequent to be annoying. 


The other bonus is the box is amortised within a few month. E.g. £50 per month for Sky quickly adds up to the £300 or less you will pay for the PC.  Can't say fairer than that.

 

 

 


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Mini ITX HTPC Aplus Cupid 2 Media Centre

Watch our engineers in action as they build a Mini HTPC using the Aplus Cupid 2 case. The specs are: Intel Atom N330, NVidia ION Graphics, 4GB Ram, 1 TB Hard...


So, you don't want to pay Sky, Virgin, BT etc. £50+ a month? Or, you don't want to but a sub-standard set top PVR for £250+?

 

Build your own! I've built the same machine with Windows 7 Media Centre and it works a treat. Massive 1TB storage, all on-demand services, Freesat, iTunes - the lot!

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US sales of vinyl singles grew 99% in value in 2011

US sales of vinyl singles grew 99% in value in 2011 | Connectedhome | Scoop.it
Vinyl sales rocketed in 2011 according to figures released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

 

I'm also buying vinyl again after acquiring a Thorens vintage tuntable. I can't believe the sound it reproduces. It's beautiful. 

 

It makes you want to spend a lot more money on fancy cartridges, amplifiers and speakers. However, that can make you catch the "hifi bug" so I'm leaving well enough alone and simply enjoying the music.

 

Looks like I'll be going to the Oxfam and other charity shops on the high street who have some great prices on some old favourites.


Long live vinyl! Long live analogue in this increasingly digital world. 

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Windows Media Center Embedded to Take on Apple TV, Boxee, Roku, Google TV in the First Half of 2011 | eHomeUpgrade

Windows Media Center Embedded to Take on Apple TV, Boxee, Roku, Google TV in the First Half of 2011 | eHomeUpgrade | Connectedhome | Scoop.it

Windows fans will be excited to learn that Windows Media Center Embedded set-top boxes will begin shipping in the first half of 2011 (previous coverage). The boxes on display at IDF 2010 from the likes of ASUS (see: Companion Box) and ACER (see: Revo 2 w/ RevoPad) show that they'll be packing the same Intel [...] (Hmmm, is Windows Media Center Embedded going to be any good? A replacement for WMC extenders? http://bit.ly/gQPlaM)

 

I wouldn't say I'm actually a Windows fan but certainly a fan of Media Centre/Center. The way I view it is that the operating system comes included with the best DVR/PVR entertainment platform.

 

On claiming that MCE (Media Centre Edition) is the best set top box replacement, I've angered our developers on the second floor - good thing it was on Yammer and not face-to-face. I would have been laughed out of that dimly lit Linux cupboard pretty quickly. 


I've been using Windows Media Centre since the first iteration in 2005 and whilst it hasn't changed much I still think it's far more intuitive and dare I say better looking/laid out than XBMC and Myth TV. There's certainly no comparison with the horribly "chucked together" menus from the set top boxes that come from the Far East. 


I'll be watching closely to see how this embedded version does. Certainly makes more sense than a full blown PC sitting under the TV set no matter how small.


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