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Tag Archives: Home-Theater

3rd Generation EFO iPazzPort HTPC Remote Comes With A Handful Of New Tricks

EFO iPazzPort HTPC Remote (Images courtesy EFO)
By Andrew Liszewski

Last October we had a brief hands-on with what I believe was the original version of this EFO HTPC remote that combines a touch pad with a compact Blackberry-esque keypad in a remarkably light package. But here we are less than a year later and the third generation of this remote has already been unveiled. Besides the obvious slightly more ergonomic curved layout of the keys, the EFO iPazzPort now includes a laser pointer making it more useful in the world of corporate presentations, F1 to F12 function keys, multimedia playback keys including play, pause, next track etc. and a smaller USB dongle. The original version was around $40 but I believe generation 3 is a bit more at $45, but still, a surprisingly useful little device for the price.

[ EFO iPazzPort HTPC Remote ] VIA [ The Gadgeteer ]

Get A Blu-ray/VHS Combo Player On The Cheap

Blu-ray VHS combo

By Chris Scott Barr

If you haven’t hopped on the Blu-ray bandwagon, it’s becoming easier and easier. Heck, the last two Blu-ray movies I bought also came with a DVD copy as well. Blu-ray players themselves have long since broken the sub-$200 barrier, and now you can even get yourself one that plays your old-school VHS taps on the cheap.

Up for grabs over on Amazon Is a Panasonic DMP-BD70V which plays Blu-ray and VHS for $140. If you’ve got the cash and are thinking about upgrading to the new format, then this sounds like a solid buy. Barring the formats that died before they ever took off (Betamax, Laserdisc, HD-DVD) it’ll play pretty much any video you’ve purchased since the 70’s. There’s even an SD card slot, USB port and internet functionality to stream video from YouTube and Amazon VOD. The price was supposedly only good through yesterday, but it seems to be sticking around. I’d jump on this soon though.

[ Amazon ] VIA [ CrunchGear ]

AV T-Shirt

AV T-Shirt (Images courtesy Threadless)
By Andrew Liszewski

While it’s clearly targeted at home theater enthusiasts or anyone who gets excited at seeing a large panel of audio-visual ports, I have a feeling that a lot of geeks might pass on this AV tee designed by Olly Moss for the simple fact that it only has 2 HDMI ports. Only 2?! I mean what year are we living in, 2008?

$18 for the tee in all sizes, or $45 for a hoodie, from Threadless.

[ AV T-Shirt ] VIA [ Uber-Review ]

Audiovox Zentral Controls Your House From Your Phone

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By Evan Ackerman

It would be great to use your iPhone as a universal remote, wouldn’t it? Sure it would! The only problem is, it doesn’t really work without a clunky IR transmitter attached to it. On the other hand, your iPhone can talk to other stuff through Bluetooth… It’s just too bad that your AV equipment can’t deal with that. You see where this is going, right?

The folks at Audiovox have come up with a system called Zentral, which is just a box plus a universal remote iPhone app. All the box itself really is, is a Bluetooth receiver with a big IR blaster. It doesn’t actually plug into any parts of your TV or stereo, it just sits there, receives Bluetooth signals from your phone, and translates them into IR commands and resends them. You might wonder how it can talk to the front of your equipment if it’s sitting above your equipment, but the IR transmitter it uses is powerful enough to bounce signals off walls and ceilings. There are a bunch of equipment codes that you can enter to get the system talking to your stuff, and you can set up all kinds of custom macros to turn up to 16 different things on and off with a single command.

There are a couple other home automation gadgets that work from the same Bluetooth phone command system, including an iPod dock and a garage door opener, which is a pretty cool idea. They’re working on expanding the system to include things like the thermostat and lighting, and the sky’s the limit, really… If they can pull it off and keep going, it would be great to be able to control virtually your entire house from one app on your phone. And so far, of this stuff is affordable, too: the AV controller is $80, while the garage door opener (which is an easy DIY setup) is $50 (although it’s currently BlackBerry only). Look for it to hit retail this spring.

Wirelessly Connect Your PC To Your TV

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By Chris Scott Barr

Hooking your PC up to your living room TV isn’t too much of a challenge these days, unless the two are across the room from each other. Whether you think your computer would look out of place below your wall-mounted LCD TV or you have it setup with a monitor somewhere else (for use as a regular desktop), you’ll need something else to help you get the two talking to each other. Thankfully Warpia has a simple solution.

Their new Wireless USB Display Adapter Set  contains everything you need to wirelessly connect your PC to your TV. The base station contains both VGA (with a 3.5mm audio jack) and HDMI connections for your TV, while the other end plugs into a USB port on your computer. The device has a 30-foot range and supports resolutions up to 720p. The set is currently selling for $120 through Warpia.

[ Warpia ] VIA [ SlipperyBrick ]

Fatrak AV Gear Shelving Provides Easy Access To Cables And Connections

Fatrak Audio Video Rack (Images courtesy Avrak)
By Andrew Liszewski

Not only does the Fatrak feature adjustable shelving, allowing you to create perfectly sized openings for the various components in your home theater setup, but the entire rack can actually be pulled out from the wall and rotated 180 degrees providing easy access to the connections and cabling in the back. It’s a simple but well-engineered solution to the problem of blindly trying to hook up components, but unfortunately in addition to the cost of installing a sunken wall unit for the gear to slide into, the Fatrak itself starts at $1,784 for a setup with 2 adjustable shelves that can support 250 lbs. Opt for the unit with 5 shelves rated at 350 lbs and you’ll be shelling out $2,172.

[ Fatrak ] VIA [ Born Rich ]

iMote Lets You Decide Which Stations Your Kids Watch

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By Chris Scott Barr

I don’t have kids, but I do know that there is plenty on TV that I wouldn’t want a small child to see. Most parents seem to have good enough sense not to give their kids control of the remote, which lets them make sure they’re only watching suitable programming. Now if you’re the type that wants to give your child a little freedom to watch what they want at an early age, you have to jump through hoops to make sure that they don’t stumble onto bad channels. Or you could just get the iMote.

I have no idea why they felt the need to use the ‘i’ in the name, but that’s beside the point. The remote has only a handful of buttons, which is all a child needs. You’ve got your power and volume control, along with five channel buttons. You’ll program the five channels to the ones your child watches most, thus assuring they will never see anything inappropriate. If you like to leave your kid alone with the TV for extended periods, it might be worth $30.

[ ThinkGeek ] VIA [ CoolestGadets ]

USB TV Card Player

USB TV Card Player (Image courtesy GizFever)
By Andrew Liszewski

This USB TV Card Player might be a super easy way to play photos, music or downloaded videos on your big-screen TV, but don’t expect greatness from it. On the plus side it has a built-in card reader for non CF-sized flash card formats as well as a USB port for connecting flash drives or even external card readers, which is the only way it will read an SDHC card. It supports the most common media formats like DIVX, MP3, WMA, JPGs etc. and even comes with a compact IR remote for “long distance operation abilities.” However, on the negative side the fact that it only has a composite video connection means no hi-def for you, which then also makes the $53.99 price tag seem a bit unreasonable.

[ USB TV Card Player ] VIA [ The Red Ferret Journal ]

Hands-On With The Unisen Handheld Keyboard & Mouse Touchpad

Unisen Handheld Keyboard & Mouse Touchpad (Image property of OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

How often have you come across a gadget that was only available as an import item and thought to yourself, “hey! I could really use that, but the website selling it looks a bit sketchy and how do I even know it will work as well as they claim it does, if at all?” Such was the case with the Compact Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad we brought you a few weeks ago. A friend of mine thought the same thing when he first saw it, but since it was the exact thing he needed for his HTPC he decided $40 wasn’t that big of a loss if the thing was a total piece of crap, but it turns out it isn’t.

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