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Friday, 09 May 2008 ,  Written by AVRev.com
Exceptional Innovation Life|media LMS-500 Media Center PC
The Basics: Exceptional Innovation has established a name in custom-retail and home-automation circles for its Life|ware platform, a software-based automation system that runs on Windows Media Center PCs. The addition of Life|ware to a Media Center PC allows you to control compatible whole-house products (lighting, security, HVAC, multiroom distribution) easily through the Media Center interface. It was only a matter of time until EI decided to release its own Media Center hardware, with the Life|ware software preloaded. These new units are called Life|media. Life|media is available in five different configurations, which vary in hard-drive storage, processing speed, graphic cards and overall size. The LMC-500 is a mid-level, three-rack-space model with a 2TB hard drive, DVR functionality, a DVD/CD burner, an FM tuner and two NTSC and ATSC tuners (the step-up LMS-550 replaces the FM/NTSC/ATSC tuners with dual CableCARD/Clear-QAM tuners, but otherwise has ...
Monday, 01 October 2007 ,  Written by Brian Kahn
Vidabox LUX Home Theater PC
Introduction Home Theater PCs (HTPCs) are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s most adventurous media rooms. HTPCs are being offered by some larger mainstream manufacturers, as well as smaller, specialized manufacturers, such as Vidabox, that focus on the “HT or home theater” portion of HTPC. Microsoft’s incorporation of media features in their Vista operating system all but ensures that PCs will remain in our home theaters. Vidabox, LLC is based in Garden City, New York, where co-founders Steven Cheung and Sergio DeAlbuquerque remain hands on in day-to-day operations. Vidabox was founded to design and build premium quality media centers and home theater PCs. The LUX model reviewed here is toward the higher end of the line. The LUX that is running in my home theater right now is different from every other HTPC that I have seen to date, in that it supports both the HD DVD and Blu-Ray formats. Niveus, a well-regarded competitor in ...
Sunday, 01 April 2007 ,  Written by Andrew Robinson
Apple TV
Introduction Home theater PCs are not so much a fad as they are the future. The sheer capability and versatility one gets from integrating a home theater PC into a home theater and/or whole-home AV network is staggering. Think about it. Consumers now have a single component that can catalogue and store all of their music, movies, television programs and even play the latest high-definition formats, such as Blu-ray and HD DVD, in a chassis not much larger than your standard DVD player. Throw in the fact that you can essentially make any computer, even the one you currently own, a home theater PC and you begin to see the prospect’s superb value and outrageous potential. For me, the biggest downside to home theater PCs is the PC part. Most home theater PCs are based around a Windows operating system that ultimately makes them somewhat user-friendly to the scores of PC users out there, ...
Thursday, 01 June 2006 ,  Written by Adrienne Maxwell
Hewlett-Packard z556 Digital Entertainment Center
Introduction Behind HDTV, “convergence” is one of the most bandied-about buzzwords in the consumer electronics industry. Companies large and small have deluged the market with products designed to meld the PC and A/V environments, from tuner cards that turn your computer into a DVR to media players that let you play your MP3 collection through your A/V system to standalone Internet-video players that connect directly to your TV. If you’ve already got a computer that you’re quite fond of, buying all of these separate devices might be the way to go. However, if you’re starting from scratch or looking to upgrade, why not purchase one product that does it all? And trust me, Hewlett-Packard’s z556 Digital Entertainment Center is just such a product. The poster child for converged entertainment, $1,499 z556 incorporates HDTV tuning, a DVR, a DVD/CD recorder, an FM ...
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