Every now and then, a product comes along that gives a glimmer of what could be. In the case of the Minix Neo X8-H, that’s the future of using Android mini-PCs as streaming set-top boxes. While the Roku 3 and Apple TV each certainly fulfill their audiences’ needs, folks who crave better input controls and customizability may eventually find that they’ll get their wish without having to shell out serious cash for a DIY HTPC build.
This might be the streaming box you've been waiting for
The tech sector is terrible at keeping secrets, and as such, we've long suspected Amazon was working on a streaming device of its own. It turns out the rumors were true. At long last, Amazon today announced a 1080p streaming set-top box it's calling Fire TV, and though it's small, it packs a punch. Powering the device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 quad-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz with Adreno 320 graphics and 2GB of RAM.
The newest Roku streaming box features a new interface with a streamlined layout.
Roku this week introduced the Roku 3 set-top box, purportedly the fastest and most powerful Roku player to date. It has a faster processor and an enhanced remote with a headphone jack in case you want to stay up late without waking up the significant other, and a new user interface (UI) that supposed to deliver more fluid browsing and navigation. The new interface debuts on the Roku 3 and will roll out as a free software update in April to all Roku 2 models, Roku HD (model 2500), Roku LT, and the Roku Streaming Stick.
The newest entry to WD's media player line sports built-in Wi-Fi and 1080p streaming.
Apple may have hit an affordable price point with its $99 Apple TV streaming set-top box, but Western Digital's new WD TV Play box comes in even lower at $70 MSRP. It's the entry-level model in WD's media player lineup and is similar in function to the now mid-range WD TV Live, minus the ability to play MPEG2 videos and DTS audio. Otherwise, the WD TV Play is able to stream popular Internet channels like Netflix and Hulu Plus, and can tap into your photos, music, and movies from other networked devices.
Apparently the mobile market isn't the only non-desktop/server space Intel is interested in encroaching; the world's largest semiconductor player also wants to dip its toes into the cable TV sector, as has been previously rumored. Word on the web is that Intel has grown frustrated with smart TV manufacturers who have bungled the whole Google TV initiative, so it's taking matters into its own hands and plans to launch its own hardware.
It used to be that if you wanted to record television or stream media into your living room, you'd need to fumble around with a home theater PC (HTPC). That's still an option -- and a good one -- but no longer necessary. There are a host of set-top boxes that promise everything from Netflix streaming to DVR functionality, and everything in between.
Hitachi hopes to capitalize on this semi-recent trend with the introduction of its 3.5-inch CinemaStar 5K2000 and 2.5-inch C5K750 drive families.
The CinemaStar C5K750 family ships in 500GB, 640GB, and 750GB capacities with a 375GB per platter design. They're Hitachi's first Consumer Electronic (CE) drives with Advanced Format technology, which increases physical sector sizes from 512 bytes to 4096 bytes.
Meanwhile, the CinemaStar 5K2000 family ships in both 1.5TB and 2TB capacities with a 667GB per platter design. According to Hitachi, these drives run nearly silent, and combined with lower power consumption, this makes them ideal for DVR and other set-top box applications.
Logitech has all but given up on the plain vanilla set-top box war in favor of Google TV powered devices, but owners of the previous generation DMA2100 and DMA2200 Media Center Extenders woke up to a nasty surprise yesterday, their devices had been bricked. According to hundreds of upset forum posters over at The Green Button, the cause can be traced back to a dial home protocol built into the boxes firmware that now points to an address which no longer exists. Speculation up to this point is suggesting that Cisco may have pulled the plug on the server in question, but if this were true it would be a bitter pill to swallow since the oldest of these devices only went on sale last summer.
If you are unfortunate enough to be fighting with one of these boxes yourself, you might want to stop by The Green Button forums where some users have crafted some interesting work-a round’s such has blocking the dial home function via your router, or simply pointing it to an invalid gateway. Of course this could all just be a massive misunderstanding to a simple server crash, but Cisco’s silence on the issue leads us to believe it is something slightly more sinister.
We would like to take the opportunity to remind the victims of this tragedy that had they built a trusty home theater PC they wouldn’t be in this boat at all, and yes, we have a how-to for that.
The folks over at Boxee released some great information and pictures about the "soon to be released" Boxee box. Boxee has partnered with networking giant D-Link to build and develop the new set-top box.
On the Boxee blog, Andrew Kippen posted some nice pictures of the new hardware. Astro Studios created the design of the box, the same folks who worked on the Xbox 360. They hope to keep the cost of the box sub-$200 and it features a slew of ports (HDMI, SPDIF, USB, 802.11n/Ethernet, to name the biggies). It also seems to be quite petite (see pictures after the jump using soda can for scale).
They expect the box to be released in quarter two of 2010. They also plan to announce more details at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye: to YouTube’s API access. From now on, it’s through the front door or you’re not getting inside.
The word comes from Syabas, the maker of the Popcorn Hour set-top box. They, along with pretty much every set-top box maker, used YouTube’s API access to video’s which provides a neater integration to video than the regular Flash-based web interface. Besides better video, advertisements were also avoided. Good deal all around.
But no more. Google has changed the agreement for using API access--which it has a right to do. Google has decided to cut off access, except perhaps to a few of the powerful set-top makers, like Sony or Nintendo. Could be Google has figured out a new way to generate revenue, which certainly wasn’t coming from those who skipped the ads.
ArsTechnicareports that a July 15 visit by Intel representatives to the FCC wasn't a social call. Instead, Intel is encouraging the FCC to mandate the addition of Ethernet ports to the set-top boxes used by cable TV companies. Their rationale? IP based networking is just about everywhere, except in cable TV, and it's about time to enable cable TV to join the home networking revolution.
It is about time to get cable TV on the home network, but should Intel ask the government to force the industry to do it? To find out why Intel thinks it's the government's role, and for a different take on the argument, see us after the jump.