UPnP AV / DLNA Archive

DLNA media playback comes to the PS4

Article

Sony PS4 Media Player media list screenshot courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony PS4 Media Player media list

The PlayStation 4 is getting a media player | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Sony PlayStation

Blog Post

My Comments

A feature that has been considered missing from the Sony PlayStation 4 is the ability for it to be a media player whether working with media on an optical disk, USB storage or the DLNA Home Media Network. This was a feature that was baked in to the PlayStation 3 and was highly valued. It is also a feature that is part of the XBox One’s software and having media-playback abilities in a games console underscores the trend for these devices to be an “all-round” entertainment device that works with the large-screen TV.

This trend is underscored with the consoles having integrated Blu-Ray players along with such things as TV-tuner devices being available for the XBox One along with “front-end” software being available for the popular video-on-demand services like Netflix for these consoles. This appeal is underscored amongst young people who live in a small apartment or bungalow and have as their TV a small bargain-basement model without the full smart-TV functionality and they see these consoles adding all of the desired functionality.

Sony PS4 menu screenshot courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment

Look for this in the PS4’s menu to download the Media Player

Sony received subsequent user feedback about what the PS4 could offer and one of the features that was called out by their customers as being of need was a media player. Now they have issued it as an app that can be downloaded from the PlayStation Store with an icon in the Content area of the PS4’s System Menu to invite you to download the software. This will work with content on USB storage or your DLNA-equipped NAS or computer.

It can handle most of the popular media codecs and file types as well as being able to run music files as background music. It should be available for download over the next few days so you can get the PS4 becoming more fully-fledged as a media centre.

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The Lenovo Cast retrofits existing TVs with today’s video streaming requirements

Article

Lenovo Cast network media adaptor press picture courtesy of Lenovo USA

Lenovo Cast network media adaptor – fits in your hand, hides behind the set

Lenovo’s answer to the Chromecast is a strong, puck-shaped dongle | Mashable

From the horse’s mouth

Lenovo

Lenovo Cast

Press Release

Specification Sheet (PDF)

My Comments

Increasingly we are seeing a range of set-top devices that stream video content from the Internet or our home networks becoming available. Some of these devices like the Apple TV are effectively part of an online video platform with you using a supplied remote control whereas others are simply required to work with a smartphone or tablet via a specially-installed app like the Chromecast..

This is in addition to the likes of Panasonic and Sony offering their smart-TV platforms on their Blu-Ray players as a way of enabling existing TVs with smart-TV capability.

But Lenovo has jumped in the fray with a puck-shaped device called the Lenovo Cast. This device uses simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi as the way to connect to your home network.. Rather than rely on their own smart-TV platform, they use Miracast and DLNA to connect to your devices which pitches this device as an “all-round” connectivity device for your laptop, smartphone or tablet. For example, you could “push” pictures and digital signage to one of those bargain-basement TV sets installed in your café’s dining room using “Play To” on Windows computer in the back office, and this device/

I would prefer the Lenovo Cast to have inherent support for VIDIPATH which uses your home network to distribute your Pay-TV service. But at least it can enable more flatscreen TVs like cheaper and older sets, or video projectors to become DLNA and Miracast endpoints.

Expect this to be available around August for a price of US$49.

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Panasonic launches network-capable stereo equipment with full multiroom streaming

Article

Panasonic SC-ALL5CD CD/FM/DAB+ AllPlay-capable one-piece music system press picture courtesy of Panasonic UK

Panasonic SC-ALL5CD CD/FM/DAB+ AllPlay-capable one-piece music system can stream CDs or the radio to AllPlay-capable wireless speakers via your home network

Panasonic has a second go with multi-room, streams CD and radio | Gadget Guy Australia

From the horse’s mouth

Panasonic Australia

Press Release

My Comments

Panasonic SC-PMX100 CD/FM/DAB+ AllPlay-capable 3-piece music system press picture courtesy of Panasonic UK

… as can the Panasonic SC-PMX100 CD/FM/DAB+ AllPlay-capable 3-piece music system

Panasonic has pushed on the Qualcomm AllPlay specification as a way of having your favourite music or TV audio streamed around the home network to AllPlay-compliant Wi-FI wireless speakers. This takes advantage of new functions added to this specification such as streaming Bluetooth, line-in or other local audio sources to these setups or setting up a group of speakers for stereo or surround-sound reproduction with improved separation.

Panasonic SC-ALL70T AllPlay soundbar press picture courtesy of Panasonic UK

Panasonic SC-ALL70T soundbar can stream TV audio to your AllPlay-compatible wireless speakers via your home network

They have released the SC-ALL70T soundbar and SC-ALL30T TV speaker base which enhance your flat-screen TV’s sound but they can do more than what a soundbar or speaker base can do. If you use the newer SC-ALL2 wireless speakers, you can upgrade these speakers to become a full 5.1 surround-sound system with the front left, front right and centre audio channels coming out of the soundbar or speaker base. As well, if you connect your flatscreen TV’s headphone or analogue line-out jack to the soundbar’s or speaker base’s AUX input, you can set it up to stream the TV content’s sound to all of the AllPlay-compliant wireless speakers on your home network.

Panasonic SC-ALL2 wireless speaker courtesy of Panasonic UK

Panasonic SC-ALL2 AllPlay wireless speaker

Those of you who love local broadcast radio or buy your music on CDs can have these sources streamed around your home network to AllPlay-compliant wireless speakers courtesy of two new stereos that Panasonic has released. Here with these systems, you don’t have to be in a hurry to “rip” that new CD you bought from Amazon or JB Hi-FI to have it come through your wireless speakers around the house.

These are the SC-ALL5CD single-piece music system and the SC-PMX100 premium three-piece micro system, which have a CD player, FM and DAB+ broadcast-radio tuners along with Bluetooth connectivity and an aux input all able to be streamed across your home network. Most likely, you would use the Panasonic iOS or Android remote-control app on your smartphone or tablet to change tracks or stations that you hear when you listen from other speakers.

Let’s not forget that the Panasonic SC-ALL2 speaker, which has an integrated alarm-clock display, can be paired with another of these speakers for improved stereo separation. Here, it is pitched for bathroom, bedroom or similar “auxiliary” speaker use, but shows that Panasonic could take this concept further.

For example, they could pitch a three-piece micro music system similar to the SC-PMX100 but equipped with a Blu-Ray player. Then an AllPlay-compatible wireless subwoofer and the SC-ALL2 speakers could make for a surround-sound system for a master bedroom or small lounge area with the SC-ALL2 speakers able to provide “close stereo” sound suitable for listening to music in bed.  Similarly, these could go with a Smart TV like one of the Panasonic VIERA models, offering to provide increased stereo separation or a full surround-sound setup again suitable for the small lounge area.

These stereos and speakers will still play music from the online music services of the Spotify ilk, the “new short-wave” that is Internet radio as well as music that is piled up on a NAS and made available via its DLNA media server.

What is showing is that Panasonic, a mainstream consumer-electronics brand, is still demonstrating faith in the Qualcomm AllPlay network-based wireless sound distribution platform rather than going for systems that are totally focused on equipment sold by that same vendor.

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Another satellite operator to benefit from SAT>IP technology

Article Print

SES teams up with rival Hispasat to launch SAT>IP industry alliance | VideoNet TV

My Comments

SAT>IP concept diagram

What SAT>IP is about with satellite TV

Previously, SES Astra have launched a standard for broadcast-LAN transmission of satellite-TV signals around a home or similar computer network. This standard, known as SAT>IP or can be known as SAT-IP, is based on UPnP technology but with the ability to transmit broadcast selection and satellite selection information to the server devices.

This was initially setup for the SES Astra satellite infrastructure that was common in Europe but SES have partnered with Hispasat who are a Spanish TV satellite operator competing with them to push SAT>IP across the whole of the European TV satellite space.

Devolo dLAN TV SAT Multituner SAT>IP server press picture courtesy of Devolo

Devolo dLAN TV SAT Multituner SAT>IP server

This is because an increasing number of companies are manufacturing equipment designed for this infrastructure, including Panasonic who are fielding a range of Smart TVs with client functionality. For that matter, some of their “lounge-room” TVs are offering the server functionality so they can work with the existing satellite-TV infrastructure yet pass this on to SAT>IP clients.

SES are also stepping back from promoting this standard and are putting the mantle of promotion on to the supporters and adopters who are developing the equipment. This is to encourage an operator-neutral attitude towards implementing the broadcast-LAN technology for satellite TV.

It is also worth noting that a network can have multiple SAT>IP servers on it which can also cater to multiple-dish setups where there is a goal to receive content from multiple satellite platforms, something that may be of importance in Germany especially. Who knows what this could lead to with a level playing field offered by SAT>IP.

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Thecus to offer a NAS with integrated uninterruptable power supply

Article

Thecus Adds NAS With UPS Inside | SmallNetBuilder

From the horse’s mouth

Thecus

Press Release

N5810PRO 5-bay NAS Product Page

My Comments

Thecus N5810PRO Small Business NAS press photo courtesy of ThecusA common issue with running a network-attached storage is making sure that the data is intact even if things go wrong with the AC power. This is something that can easily go wrong in regional and rural areas where there is a combination of overhead power lines and overgrowing trees and it just takes a tree or branch to fall down for the power to go out, or if your premises has ageing electrical infrastructure.

Typically this will involve the use of an uninterruptable power supply which effectively is a battery bank for your computer device, giving it a bit of time to properly shut down if the power fails. These are separate devices that you have to buy and plug your NAS into and most of them have the ability to signal to the NAS to appropriately write back the data and properly shut down when the power is out.

But Thecus has solved this problem with the N5810PRO which is a 5-bay small-business NAS that has an integrated uninterruptable power supply. This battery bank provides enough power to cause the NAS to write back all of data to its five disks and properly shut down, but you don’t have to have a separate device to achieve this.

It also has the other expectations of a small-business desktop NAS such as server functionality for a wide variety of tasks alongside even a server-side implementation of McAfee’s anti-virus software. As well, there are the 5 Ethernet ports which allow for serving 5 different physical networks or providing a “fat-pipe” from a suitably-equipped switch. Oh yeah, it also supports SMB/CIFS, DLNA, iTunes for the file transfer and can run multiple RAID volumes across the five disks.

But could I see the integration of a battery backup / UPS function in a NAS become a product differentiator? This could be more so with “small-business” models and the battery capacity could be a product differentiator in itself especially if the goal is to provide long-run failsafe operation.

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WD now has a lineup of desktop NAS units to suit your needs

Article

WD MyCloud EX2 dual-disk NAS

WD MyCloud EX2 NAS

WD Expands My Cloud Line | SmallNetBuilder

From the horse’s mouth

Western Digital

Press Release

Product Pages (My Cloud EX4100, My Cloud DL4100)

My Comments

Previously, I reviewed the Western Digital My Cloud EX2 desktop NAS and found that this was a two-disk NAS in their range that offered a wide range of functionality. This unit and its 4-disk stablemate, the My Cloud EX4, have been positioned as “entry-level” or “foot-in-the-door” NAS units for people who crave a high level of functionality out of these devices.

WD MyCloud EX4, WD MyCloud EX2, WD Red 6Tb hard disk

WD MyCloud EX4 NAS

Now WD have released a mid-tier pair of NAS units that are based on more powerful specifications compared to the EX2 and EX4. These use Armada RISC horsepower and higher working RAM capacity (1Gb for the EX2100 and 2Gb for the EX4100) along with 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports for demanding networks or to serve 2 networks at once. They also even have a “walk-up” USB port on the front so you can quickly “dump” data from an SD card or memory key at the touch of a button.

They also released a business-focused pair of NAS units that are the most powerful of the bunch. These units, known as the My Cloud DL2100 and the My Cloud DL4100 implement Intel Atom processors similar to what would be expected in a Windows-powered entry-level tablet. Their working RAM also start with 1Gb for the DL2100 or 2Gb for the DL4100 but can be taken up to 5Gb or 6Gb respectively to match the machine’s workload.

WD MyCloud EX4100 NAS press image courtesy of Western Digital

WD MyCloud EX4100 NAS – the mid-tier variant

These NAS units will run on the WD My Cloud OS operating system which has a good supply of third-party applications for uses like UPnP / DLNA, integration in to large storage systems, and the like. As well, systems that come with hard disks will come with the WD Red drives and can mount the newer 6 Terabyte disks.

One way that WD could improve on these products would be to integrate BitTorrent Sync in to the NAS firmware in order to permit vendor-independent NAS-to-NAS syncing. This could then be about allowing for a second NAS to be about off-site backup storage or data replication.

Other directions that I would be seeing for WD’s MyCloud EX NAS units would be to provide audio and video transcoding or even “batch rendering” of audio / video / animation project files. Let alone pushing equipment of the WD MyCloud DL4100 ilk as a games server. I do see a lot of promise in WD’s MyCloud EX and DL lineup of expert and business NAS units not just as data storage but as secondary headless computing systems.

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More coverage on the VIDIPATH technology.

Article VIDIPATH logo courtesy of DLNA

DLNA’s VidiPath Enables Subscription-TV Sharing At Home | TWICE

My Comments

I have given previous coverage to the DLNA VIDIPATH technology which allows you to use the home network to share pay-TV content around the home using compliant Smart TVs or desktop / mobile apps.

Foxtel IQ2 pay-TV PVR

A PVR-type set-top box can serve as the hub of a VIDIPATH pay-TV setup

This article talked of a typical scenario where you have a PVR-grade set-top box provided by your pay-TV provider – the same kind of box as Sky+ or Foxtel IQ. The typical scenario for serving a TV in the master bedroom. the den or the games room would be to rent another set-top box from the pay-TV provider and have them pull coaxial cable to where it is installed. If you wanted to participate in the pay-TV provider’s “TV Everywhere” platform, you would have to download and register their desktop or mobile app to have cable-TV content on your computer, tablet or smartphone when you are at home.

Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray Disc Player

VIDIPATH-capable Blu-Ray players can bring pay-TV to the secondary bedroom TV

VIDIPATH provides an authenticated method of allowing third-party devices to connect to the PVR via your home network. The application that was raised in the article was to have a Smart TV in the bedroom or den without the need of a set-top box, or to install an open-frame app on your computer or tablet to pull up live, on-demand or PVR-recorded pay-TV content.

But a situation that wasn’t raised was the fact that one is not likely to spend as much on secondary TV sets as they would for the primary one where they watch most of the TV content on. Either the main set may be upgraded and the set that served that role would be installed in the bedroom, a smaller TV would be placed in the kitchen or similarly-small area or a set that doesn’t have the same bells and whistles as the one in the main lounge area may be placed in a secondary lounge area.

Here, such TVs may not be VIDIPATH-enabled and would really need to be considered would be Blu-Ray players, Blu-Ray AV systems, network media players and similar video peripherals to be equipped for VIDIPATH. Why? This is because such devices can add this kind of functionality to an existing TV by simply using the existing TV as a display. It is in the same context as the VHS video-cassette recorders of the 80s where they had features like enabling cheaper and older TVs to benefit from remote control.

As manufacturers like Sony release Blu-Ray players and home-theatre systems that have “smart-TV” abilities, it wouldn’t tale long for them to offer VIDIPATH-capable versions of these devices as a way to enable the secondary sets.

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Consumer Electronics Show 2015–Part 3–Home Entertainment

In Part One of this series about the Consumer Electronics Show 2015, I covered the trends associated with personal computing while I covered the “Internet Of Everything” and connected living in Part 2. This part now touches on home audio and video entertainment technology which is being more about 4K ultra-high-definition video and high-resolution file-based audio.

TVs and Home Video

Sony slim 4K UHDTV press image courtesy of Sony America

One of Sony’s ultra-slim 4K UHDTVs being shown in Vegas

The 4K ultra-high-definition TV technology is starting to mature with more manufacturers running even 10 models with this resolution. But they are improving on this with cost-effective high-quality display technology with LG using Quantum Dot technology and Samsung using SUHDTV nanocrystal technology. As well, a lot of manufacturers are running with more of the curved or bendable 21:9 TVs in their lineup.

Sony have premiered their XBR900C series 4K UHDTVs available in 55” 65” and 75”, and being 4.9mm thick. They also are implementing the X1 processor for optimumly real colours across all their current 4K TV range. They also launched an ultra-short-throw 4K UHDTV projector at US$10000 which is bringing 4K closer to the bar.

Samsung is supplying a range of flat and curved 4K TVs with screen sizes ranging from 48” to 88”. These will appear across three model lines – the JS9500, the JS9000, and the JS8500 and is in addition to a curved 105” set which has the new nanocrystal display technology.

LG's 4K OLED curved TV press picture courtesy of LG America

LG’s 4K OLED curved TV

LG are running with 8 different 4K model lineups that are targeted at every price and room Sharp are implementing the Quattron yellow-dot technology in their 4K sets while TCL are putting their foot in the door for 4K UHDTV technology.

Another important trend is the control software for the smart TVs. Sony, along with Sharp and TPV Philips are intending to implement the new Android 5.0 operating system while Samsung is intending to run with Tizen and LG to implement a newer iteration of the WebOS operating system. Razer is even working on a games console that runs the Android 5.0 operating system. Panasonic are implementing the Life+ Screen smart-TV platform which is based on the Firefox OS operating system. In each effort, the companies are using established open-source operating-system code as part of their smart-TV platforms.

Dish Joey 4K set-top box press picture courtesy of Dish Networks America

Dish Joey set-top box – the first set-top box to support 4K UHDTV

Let’s not forget what will appear on these sets Dish Network are ready for 4K content with the first 4K-capable set-top device in the form of the Joey set-top box. These can connect to 4K UHDTV sets with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 . As well, they are offering a Sling IPTV service along with music-focused upgrades to their service delivery.

This is also being brought on by the UHD Alliance which is a group of big-name TV manufacturers and Hollywood content providers who are working together to provide high-quality 4K UHD video content. They have goals not just for high resolution but high dynamic range, a wider colour gamut and immersive sound as part of the content from creation to viewing on the customer’s TV set.

It has been augmented by the Blu-Ray Disc Association announcing that they were to start work on the Ultra HD Blu-Ray Disc specification. Panasonic have put a fair bit of input in to it and have even shown a prototype Blu-Ray player that plays 4K UHDTV content. As well, the Secure Content Storage Association have defined a secure-content-storage specification for consumers to store premium content on a hard disk or NAS and have established a “best-case” principle for selling 4K video content. This is where a customer buys a 4K-grade copy of content and they can have the best resolution that the playback equipment they are viewing it on can offer.

Cognitive Technology is working on a “Smart TV” content recommendation engine and wanting to partner with TV manufacturers and content studios to improve the concept of machine-assisted content recommendation.

As for the PlayStation Experience, Sony is providing the PlayStation Now streaming game service for the Smart TVs and their PlayStation consoles and offering at least 100 PS3 games to this service. This is in answer to them selling 10.5 million PS4s since model introduction and 4.1 million of them being sold through the past Christmas shopping season.

The doyen of streaming movies, Netflix, is working on a “Netflix Recommended” scheme for TV sets. The goal is to have certified TVs to switch to Netflix as quickly and as easily as changing TV channels. Here, the TV would have to have a dedicated Netflix button on its remote control, a suspend/resume function and to have Lilyhammer showing on Netflix within 2-3 seconds. This effort is being focused on the US market but will be rolled out around the world.

DirecTV are heading towards toe “over-the-top” path with the Yaveo Hispanic IPTV service. This will feature programming that has Latin-American Spanish dialogue and concepts focused at the Latin-American community.

Imaging

Sony FRD-AX33 4K HandyCam camcorder press picture courtesy of Sony America

Sony FDR-AX33 4K HandyCam camcorder

This year, there has been an increase in the number of consumer-grade video-cameras that can natively film in 4K UHDTV. Sony have put up a 4K lightweight handheld Wi-Fi-enabled Handycam along with a GoPro-style “action cam” that surprisingly works in this format. These implement various “steady-shot” so you can take better footage with the camera hand-held. The action cam can shoot 4K footage at 30 frames per second and also implements an ultra-wide-angle lens.

Panasonic has used this show to get their fingers wet with 4K UHDTV imaging and launched their first 4K camcorder which can also do high-dynamic-range filming. They also released the Lumix CM1 Android-powered digital camera which has a 1” sensor.

Kodak is now on to lens-style cameras that attach to smartphones like what Sony initially offered. But these are more lightweight than the Sony models so you can stuff them in your coat pocket without them being too bulky and use a Wi-Fi link to the host device and implement NFC-based setup for Android phones.

Networked Audio technology

LG Music Flow Wi-Fi multiroom speakers press picture courtesy of LG America

LG Music Flow Wi-Fi multiroom speakers

There is still a lot of interest in the networked audio technology whether in the form of music and home-theatre systems or in single-piece wireless-speaker setups.

LG are advancing a range of new Wi-Fi speakers that are directly targeted to answer Sonos’s market dominance. This include a battery-powered portable model along with their speaker range based around the Music Flow concept. It uses a mix of technologies that are similar to Sonos, Spotify Connect and Google Cast. It also implements Bluetooth NFC-based “touch-to-play” experience and allows you to create room zones with stereo/surround speaker clusters and a party-mode with music around the house. They come in the form of the H3. H4 Portable and H5 which are similar to the Sonos Play:1 and Sonos Play:3 but can run at a louder volume without distorting and clipping. The H6 Soundbar negates the need for a hub device and has its own bass abilities without the need of a subwoofer. LG is to field a variant of this soundbar to snap at the heels of the Sonos Playbar.

Technics R1 Reference hi-fi system press picture courtesy of Panasonic

Technics R1 hi-fi system symbolising the return of the hi-fi brand

Panasonic is using the CES 2015 to exhibit its line of Technics hi-fi components Stateside. This is to capitalise on the Technics name that was associated with some highly-capable hi-fi components through the 70s, 80s and 90s with memories of some classy amplifiers, turntables, CD players and cassette decks; and was reintroduced in to Europe during the IFA 2014. Here, they have the R1 Reference Class System with the SU-R1 network media player / control amplifier feeding the SE-R1 150w/channel digital  power amplifier which has those large power meters that Technics power amplifiers were known for and driving the SB-R1 3-way six-driver floorstanding speakers; along with the C700 Premium Class system which has a ST-C700 network media player / tuner serving the SU-C700 45w/channel integrated amplifier driving the SB-C700 coaxial 2-way 2-driver bookshelf speakers. It would be interesting to see how this renaissance picks up in areas like New York City – whether it has the same vim and vigour as what existed in the early 80s where hi-fi was really valued.

Samsung have launched their WAM-7500 and WAM6500 360 degree speakers which implement  Ring Radiator Technology. This leads to sound that is diffused around the listening area, but they have the look that would make them blend in to a “retro-future” environment typical of a 1960s or 1970s space-fiction movie. They can connect to regular AV gear, or be wireless speakers that support Wi-F home-network connectivity along with, Bluetooth connectivity. The WAM6500 is the portable one of the bunch while the WAM7500 is intended to exist on a table or bench.

They are also launching the Milk Music “online-radio” service as a music service that can work with their multiroom systems.

One of the main drivers has been Google Cast which is an app-based content-streaming technology that uses the home network to “pull up” content from your smartphone on TVs and stereo systems in a similar vein to Apple’s AirPlay setup. Here, it has been pitched at the Android TV platform but the audio aspect has been pitched at a few home-audio devices offered by different companies. This is also run alongside the Google Nexus Player which is based on the Android TV platform.

Cambridge Audio are releasing a range of network-audio devices that are manageable on their front panel or through a mobile-platform app. These use a highly-optimised digital-analogue path with Wolfson WM8740 DAC circuitry and can support sources from the home network via AirPlay, DLNA / UPnP AV, or online sources like Spotify Connect. The CXN is a network audio player that provides these services to an existing sound system while this function is integrated in to two 7.1 channel bridgeable surround-sound amplifiers – the CXR-120 rating at 60 watts / channel or 120 watts / channel when bridged to stereo; and the CXR-200 which comes in at 120 watts / channel or 200 watts / channel when bridged to stereo.

Sony NW-ZX2 Audiophile-Grade Android Walkman music player press picture courtesy of Sony America

Sony NW-ZX2 Audiophile-Grade Android Walkman music player

Sony have launched a pair of S-Trainer street-style headphones as wireless music players but also have sensors to help you with your workout. But they have focused on High Resolution Audio by releasing the NW-ZX2 Android Walkman MP3 player capable of playing Master-Grade audio files and has 128Gb storage on board infinitely expandable with a microSD card.

Sony STR-DN1060 home theatre receiver press picture courtesy of Sony America

Sony STR-DN1060 4K-ready network surround-sound AV receiver

They also released the HT-ST9, HT-NT3 and HT-XT3 soundbars with some being connected to the home network and the STR-DN1060, and STR-DN860 network-capable home-theatre receivers. These are all capable of working with High Resolution Audio which is, again the “Master Grade” audio content worked at 24-bit 96kHz or greater sampling rates, said to be close to the sound of the master tapes.

Massive are fielding a set of Doctor Who Bluetooth speakers which look like either a Dalek or a TARDIS. They have the classic effects associated with this show such as the “Exterminate” call or the TARDIS’s cloister bell. This is also alongside a pair of headphones with some Doctor Who iconography..

Gibson (who now have Philips Audio, Onkyo and TEAC) is now selling the Trainer exercise supra-aural Bluetooth headset as a way of being noticed that it has consumer-audio prowess rather than just Les-Paul-style musical-instrument prowess. This headset has an LED so you can be noticed at night and it also has a button to “duck” the audio so you can hear what is going on around or to talk with someone else. As well, the earpads are designed to be washable.

Audio Technica have refreshed their headphone lineup with some waterproof “sports-grade” intra-aural devices including a headset. They even pitched a set of intra-aural earphones that are “up-to-snuff” for audiophile applications. They also launched a set of noise-reducing headphones with one that could be sold in Europe for EUR€100 and a pair of gaming headsets – one being open-backed and one being closed-backed for different frequency response characteristics, but these headsets are pitched at the same price.and can serve as wired mobile headsets. Let’s not forget their other point of prowess with record-playing equipment where they released an entry-level fully-automatic turntable equipped with their own cartridge.

The final part of this series will cover some computer and smartphone peripherals of not but will also cover how the home network is to evolve courtesy of some new connectivity-technology improvements.

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Now for Pay TV – A DLNA VidiPath-capable HDMI dongle

Article

HDMI dongle with DLNA Vidipath support will help cable operators with multi-room and multiscreen | VideoNet

From the horse’s mouth

ZapperBox

Product Page – Zip-R Stick

My Comments

VIDIPATH logo courtesy of DLNANow that DLNA VidiPath has been established for securely and surely delivering pay TV through the home network, a company has released a Chromecast-style HDMI dongle that exploits this technology.

This device, sold by ZapperBox as the Zip-R Stick connects to your home network via Wi-Fi, serving as an ultra-compact set-top box to bring your pay TV to that secondary TV. This is without the need to have a technician supplied via your pay-TV company to pull cable to your bedroom, den or kitchen.

It is built as part of the ACCESS NetFront Living Connect 3.1 media-sharing solution and has the NetfFront Browser software on that stick. As for the ability to control it, you use your smartphone to control it via a Bluetooth link or use an RF-based remote control that is compliant to RF4CE specifications.

One main application that would come to mind is where you have a TV set up in a transportable manner where you locate it wherever you are wanting to use it. Here, the Zip-R stick could be plugged in to a flatscreen TV which has a size of up to 32” which is kept in the kitchen or den and is ready to bring out to the yard so you can follow the ballgame while working or relaxing out there.

This is at least an example of what a level playing field offered by DLNA VidiPath technology can offer through the path of device innovation.

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4 years of the Freebox Révolution benchmark in France

Article

Bilan: la Freebox Révolution a quatre ans | Freenews (French language / Langue Française)

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution – 4 years old (à quatre ans)

My Comments

As a consequence of the highly-competitive triple-play communications service market in France, Free had developed one of the “n-boxes” that has a lot more that is expected for this class of carrier-supplied equipment. Now this device, known as the Freebox Révolution, which is available in just about all of France for EUR€29.95 a month as part of a very tasty triple-play pack, has reached its fourth anniversary.

I have given a fair bit of editorial space to the Freebox Révolution including citing it as an example device in an article about setting up for Internet in France. This is due, not just to its exciting Philippe Starck design but due to the increasing amount of functionality that this device has come with and received over the four years. Here, Free kept with a program of frequent firmware updates which weren’t just about fixing up technical problems but were also about adding functionality to these devices, some of which I have drawn attention to on HomeNetworking01.info.

The Freebox Server was more than just a VoIP gateway with DECT base-station and wireless broadband router. Here, it had DSL and fibre support on the WAN side of the equation and a 250Gb NAS. There was even the ability for the unit to be a media player for Apple AirPlay, DLNA or online media, including playing audio content out via integrated speakers or through external active speakers. The LAN side had a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch along with 2.4Ghz three-stream 802.11n Wi-Fi, but the Freebox Révolution comes with power-supply units that have integrated HomePlug AV-Ethernet bridges. The newer iterations had been upgraded to HomePlug AV500 and the Wi-Fi on newer releases was upgraded to a dual-band dual-radio variety. Let’s not forget that some of the newer variants even came with a Femtocell that provided local mobile-phone coverage for your home as part of Free getting their paws in to a mobile-telephony service.

Firmware upgrades even had the Freebox Server acquire full Apple compatibility along with being a VPN endpoint router and one of these upgrades was fashioned as the “Freebox OS” with an interface very similar to a newer Linux distribution, one of the mobile-platform operating systems or something you would get with one of the newer high-end NAS devices. The server functionalities included UPnP AV / DLNA, Apple Time Machine, iTunes Server and a BitTorrent server, known as a “seedbox”.

The Freebox Player which served as the “décodeur” for the IP-based TV component of the triple-play service was infact a “full-blown” 3D Blu-Ray player, games console and digital-TV tuner. The gaming functionality was part of an app-store that Free operated, which was to the same standard as most smart-TV platforms, if not better. This device was also controlled by a “gyroscopic” remote control which communicated to it via Zigbee RF technology and supported “gesture-driven” operation. Lets not forget that this was a DLNA-capable media player which gained MediaRenderer functionality from a subsequent firmware upgrade. This device also served as an Internet terminal for the TV screen and even had the ability to interact with most online services courtesy of either the Web view or a native-interface “front-end” that came with one of the firmware upgrades or downloaded from the app store. There was a firmware update that give the Freebox Player “Shazam-like” song-identification abilities.

The Freebox Révolution raised the bar when it came to the concept of a premium triple-play “n-box” offer with the competitors offering systems that had very similar functionality and aesthetics. Examples of these include Numéricable’s La Box and the Neufbox Évolution. As well, I had a casual conversation with someone who came out from France and they even mentioned about someone they knew having one of these devices and being impressed with what it could do.

For me, I have viewed the Freebox Révolution as the flag-carrier for the competitive French Internet market because of the way the carriers can add more value to the equipment they supply their customers. In this way, I would place this device alongside the TGV or the Channel Tunnel as a symbol of French technological progress.

Happy Birthday, Bonne Anniversaire, Freebox Révolution!

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