Apple TV 3 and FireCore aTV Flash

step1-appletv-hero

So Apple’s March 7th announcements are complete and my iDevices have already told me that iOS 5.1 is available! The major announcement was of course the iPad 3 which whilst not offering staggering leaps forward will be enough for many existing owners of iPad 1s to part with their money even if we cannot take advantage of 4G capabilities here in the UK! But then I never bought the 3G version of the iPad 1 so that is not a big deal. With the prevalence of wireless hotspots I always thought that it was a bit of a waste of money. That said the new iPad has built in hotspot capability so for my cousins in the US, having a 4G hotspot in their bag will certainly be a novelty.

The thing that was more interesting for me and that has not seemed to get the press coverage it deserves is the latest version of AppleTV. Two things have stopped me buying an AppleTV in the past, even though I actually bought my Dad one for his birthday last year and was very impressed. 1080p output and the ability to stream media from something other than an iTunes library on a computer.

As I have blogged before I have a Microsoft Windows based Media Server with all of my son’s DVDs  and some Blu-ray’s on it, some in a native DVD format some in a H.264 format so that he could play them on an  android tablet when we  were travelling. I also have a home cinema setup on which I always insist watching only full 1080p movies on Blu-Ray with  DTS-HD or DolbyHD sound tracks. This  has involved a Subscription to LoveFilm which I generally did not get value for money from.

So what I want is a little Media server that I can stream movies to from a NAS device, rent or buy, download and play movies in the latest 1080p format ideally with HD sound tracks. So why not just go with a D-Link Boxee? Well, honestly, I am a blinded to Apple technology and I like the fact that I can make it interoperate with my other Apple devices.

So the latest release of AppleTV, which includes a new A5 processor and revamped interface, enables 1080p and the arrival of Netflix in the UK also gives me an alternative to iTunes for movie rental and downloads. But still Apple has chosen not to support streaming from a NAS device, a somewhat naive move in my view. However help will shortly be on hand from FireCore and their aTV Flash solution. This is not new and was available for previous AppleTV versions and in fact currently they do not have a product for the new AppleTV but it is coming. Amongst other things it allows you to stream and play formats not natively supported by AppleTV and access all of those burned DVDs.

For people such as myself the combination of this third version of Apple TV with 1080p playback and FireCore will enable a very cost effective Media Sever capability that integrates everything in the world of Apple (iPhone, iPad, Mac) together into one sleek interoperable package. Please hurry up FireCore and give me a new build for AppleTV 3!

Motorway exit roulette

Today on the way to work I found myself inventing a new game which I aptly named motorway exit roulette. The rules are simple, see how close you can get to the exit before you actually pull into the exit lane. Infantile and potentially dangerous I agree, but the adrenaline rush of nearly missing the exit in the heavy rush hour commute of drivers who do not want to let you in, and then potentially having to wait 5 miles for your next chance to exit certainly added some interest to the journey. If you were the person in the old Audi A4 convertible who then cut in on me at the very last moment, my hat goes off to you sir, you are a winner…. The weekend cannot come quick enough.

 

 

Remote Control for Kids

Child

Contrary to the title I am not looking to remote control my kids, although the idea has obvious appeal. Instead what I was looking for was a way to avoid having to actually do anything when my son shouts from the lounge, “Dad I don’t want to watch this”, “Dad, what’s on the other channel”, “Dad, I can’t hear it”.

He is five and whilst he can use the Harmony Remote control to switch the TV and accompanying boxes on he struggles to remember what number the Sky channels are that he can watch and when to stop turning the volume up! In fairness he is not alone and the Grandparents have similar issues when they come round to babysit; although in fairness this is mainly because they are deaf and are not used to having more than three channels on a TV!

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Welcome to 2012

So the New Year, 2012, has arrived and in an effort to dress like my fashion icon Daniel Craig, I find myself thinking Barbour Jackets and Hunter Wellies are cool whilst at the same time pondering if the world really is going to end on the 21st December 2012 then I should in fact make use of the many Credit Card offers landing on my doormat at the moment and spend spend spend…

I put the above thoughts down to a new member of the family, Zachary, being born on the 2nd of December and subsequently 34 nights of sleep deprivation and festive alcohol abuse. Christmas really is the only time you can justify a 57% proof bourbon at 11am!  By the way I can thoroughly recommend Noahs Mill genuine bourbon whisky to anyone looking to step up from Jack Daniels or Makers Mark!

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Installing a Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD SATA Rev 3.0 in a late 2010 MacBook Pro.

You will need:-

  1. A Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD Upgrade Kit
  2. A 00 Philips screw driver bit
  3. A T6 screw driver bit
  4. A blank writable DVD

Introduction

The @kingstontech HyperX is, at the time of writing this, their latest top of the range SSD, offering “Faster speeds for serious users”. I class myself as a serious user as for part of my day job I need to run several VMware Fusion desktops on my MacBook Pro and have always been underwhelmed by performance even though my MacBook is sporting a 2.66Ghz Intel Core i7 and 8GB of DDR3 memory.

I realise that the particular Mac that I have only has a 3Gb/sec Rev 2.0 SATA interface but I wanted to get a drive that I could reutilise in the future if needed and benefit from the higher speeds if the new laptop had at 6Gb/sec interface.

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Entertainment in the Cloud

SpotifyAt the last @GadgetShowLive I managed to get a good deal on a @sonos music system including several Sonos ZonePlayer S5′s from @SimplySonos. At the time I connected this with my iTunes library, downloaded the iPhone remote control client and I was pleased as punch.

Sonos also allowed me to connect to what seems like a million internet radio stations including all of the local ones.

More recently however I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for the £9.99 @Spotify Premium service that I could use with my Sonos music system and also with my iPhone and iPad.

I have to say I was skeptical about how much I would use this given the monthly expense, but actually I am quite surprised. One of the easiest things to do is simply setup a Playlist called for example “Current 100” and then copy the Top 100 tracks on Spotify to the Playlist. These can then be played through your Sonos system or you can download them to your phone to be played in Offline mode.

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Using the Y-Cam Knight S as a Baby Monitor

Okay, so back to the @ycamsolutions Knight S camera and how they could be used as video baby monitors.

Unboxing

The camera comes safely packaged in a box that contains

  • The camera
  • The camera mount
  • A 5.0V AC Adaptor with a nice long lead that defiantly helps with placement
  • UK, European and US plugs
  • A CAT5 Ethernet cable

Look and feel

The camera itself is approx. 10cm x 10cm, a cluster of infrared lights surrounds the main camera, ready for night-time use, and a small mic and power light (which can be turned off in the software) are visible on the front. On the rear are the connector for the mount, the Ethernet port and the power connector.

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What do you do when your speaker stops working?

After several years of use, the YSP-500 sound bar that I was using in the bedroom has stopped working (intermittent power issues, that suddenly became permanent). So I was left with a dilemma today, do I replace the YSP-500 which was required because the ancient Hitachi PMA-400E Plasma had no speakers, or for an extra couple of hundred pounds do I update the whole lot with a screen with speakers.

Well you guessed it..

I opted to buy a new LED TV, who wouldn’t! :-) In this case I opted for the @HCCmag recommendation for best budget screen and went with the Samsung UE40D5520 as it is a “Superb budget set that is hard to fault”. In fact the only major thing that this screen does not have is 3D, which I don’t need in the bedroom anyway. Thanks to @pcworld for having one of cheapest prices and also having it in stock close by so that I could pick it up.

After 30 minutes, 10 of which were spent finding bolts that were the right size to swap the mount from the old plasma to the new TV, the new one is in place. Job done!

I still need to connect the network cable, so have not tested any of the “Smart” Internet features but my first impressions of this LED screen, including picture quality, are very good.

Y-Cam Knight S

Okay I received a pair of @ycamsolutions Y-Cam Knight S cameras in the post today. Setup was a little bit more complex than a standard Video Baby Monitor but initial results are that these cameras are extremely good and as they are based on wireless IP technology range is not an issue. Fuller review in the next few days along with an easy setup guide.

Digital Video Baby Monitor Review – Luvion Grand Elite or Samsung SEW-3035

My wife wants a Video Baby Monitor for our expectant arrival, so I have been trying to decide which one we should purchase.  Two of the latest to market are the Luvion Grand Elite Premium Digital Babymonitor and the Samsung Smart Security Wireless Colour Video Monitor. As I currently have both in my possession (for reasons I will share later) I thought I should put together a quick head to head comparison for you all.

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