We like Netgear’s EVA8000—a lot. Its industrial design fits in with the rest of our AV gear, its user interface is as elegant and polished as it is easy to use, it supports resolutions up to 1080p with an HDMI port, and that’s just the beginning. But if you buy one, make sure it has the latest firmware update before you do anything else. We couldn’t configure our review unit at all until we updated the software. With that housekeeping accomplished, we were on our way to streaming bliss. Although the EVA8000 has dual antennas, it’s still limited to 802.11g speeds and cannot reliably stream high-definition video content without a wire, but it delivered excellent image and audio quality.
We found some innovative ideas inside the MediaGate MG-350HD, but this streamer’s shortcomings far outweigh its assets. Designing the shell to accommodate an optional 3.5-inch hard drive, for instance, is brilliant; ditto for including logic enabling it to operate as a USB 2.0 host. This means it can not only behave as a NAS box but also copy images off your digital camera without you having to first fire up your PC. But we’re less enthused about having to do a reach-around to access the USB port, and the hard-drive interface is old-school IDE.
We received a ton of feedback on our reviews of Audio-Technica’s AT-PL50 and Ion Audio’s ITTUSB turntables in our May 2007 issue, but since we concluded that neither of those products was fabulous, we brought in this more upscale Stanton model for a look.
This month, we also reviewed the larger of iControl’s two starter kits, which consists of a wireless camera, a motion detector, an Intermatic Z-Wave lamp module, a door/window detector, a motion detector, a keychain remote, and a control module that plugs into your wireless router.
We nearly slapped WiLife’s Spy Camera Starter Kit with a Geek Tested: Disapproved label when we checked it out in our May 2007 issue. The camera was poorly disguised in the massive body of a fugly digital clock. But the company’s software was so impressive that we called in its Indoor Camera Starter Kit ($300) and an add-on outdoor camera ($230) for a full review. Each of WiLife’s cameras uses HomePlug powerline networking, so you need only plug the cameras into wall outlets, hook a USB receiver to your PC, and install the software. We had a two-camera system up and working within 15 minutes.
It’s hard to look at Thermaltake’s Big Typhoon VX cooler and not think one of two things: the most horrific joke you can make about size mattering and the current market price of the Dremel you’ll need to cut a hole in your case to make room for this Godzilla of a cooler.
It's always a happy day when a new, mysterious box of unknown product arrives at the gates of Maximum PC. Specifically, my desk. Today's latest offering comes straight from Cooler Master, and it was wholly unexpected -- as we say at magazine, "surprise and delight!" Like a kid on Some Major December-ish Holiday, I tore open the packaging to find three new goodies: Cooler Master's new CM 690 chassis, a Glacier 600 cooler for ATI 2900XT video cards, and a Hydra cooler for Nvidia 8800-series cards.
When we decided to test external digital-to-analog converters (DACs) for the upgrade story in our June issue (“19 Bright Ideas: Upgrades You Didn’t Know You Needed”), we were surprised to learn that SilverStone offered one with pretty decent specs. We recommended Stereo-Link’s upscale A1300 in that story, but SilverStone’s less-expensive EB01 is a solid value. As we pointed out in the June issue, there’s a widespread misconception that digital audio is an all-or-nothing affair, and so the quality of the equipment you use to extract it doesn’t matter. It’s common knowledge, for instance, that getting audio physically off the electrically noisy motherboard results in cleaner sound, so it’s understandable that keeping audio in the digital domain until it’s entirely out of the PC would also help maintain its sonic integrity.