Archive for the 'Entertainment Area' Category

Smarthome Blog returns back!

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Long time I didn’t post anything. But now Smarthome Blog returns back! And the first post after the break will be about new release candidate 3 of Kodi 14.0 Helix – new name of XBMC project. Main changes of that version are:

  • fix crash during video playback on Android 5 devices such Nexus Player and ADT-1;
  • a few fixes of PVR system included into XBMC since version 12 (Frodo);
  • some fixes for specified OS and GPU

It can be downloaded from here. Just choose desire platform or OS.

In the mean time OpenELEC – IMHO the best Kodi/XBMC based distribution to build HTPC, announced its own release candidate 2 based on Kodi Helix. Personally I prefer OpenELEC for my home PC based media centre and especially for my Raspberry PI HTPC.

OpenELEC released version 2.0: XBMC Eden + PVR

A few years ago I used LinuxMCE and VDR to watch and record Live TV on my Linux-based media center. But later I found the service which streams all Russian channels over Internet in good quality and switched to XBMC + special plugin to watch it. So far it’s ok. But USB DVB-S2 card near the box time to time remind me about Live TV and especially HD channels. So, I started thinking to try XBMC with PVR support. But I was too lazy to replace stable working XBMC Dharma installed from LiveCD by experimental PVR version. It looks like now I don’t have any excuse anymore. Because OpenELEC released a new stable version combining the latest XBMC Eden and PVR. Moreover, that version should support the CEC Adapter which I bought half year ago to control my TV from the XBMC box over HDMI. OpenELEC offers almost any well known PVR systems – TVHeadend, VDR, Njoy N7, MythTV, Mediaportal, HDHomerun and VU+. I think I’ll choose my favorite one – VDR. I’ll try first to install OpenELEC 2.0 on the flash drive to do not break current system because it’ll be many interesting football games this weekend :) Will post my experience with new system next week. So, stay tune!

Control X10 devices from XBMC

XBMC is the most popular and the best option for DIY media center I think. But it doesn’t cover any smarthome areas except entertainment. Luckily XBMC provides plug-ins and scripts which allow en easy way to extend basic XBMC functionality. So, to add possibility to control X10 devices to your media center you may use either heyu + some scripts or plug-in X10 Commander Lights. Which one to use is up to you. The first way is more difficult but it’ll give you a full control and understanding the low-level logic while plug-in provides easy way way. Even for non-geeks. It’s always good when you have more then one way to do something.

EFO Flying Mouse

EFO mouse

I already wrote about the smallest QWERTY keyboard EFO Google TV Mini keyboard which was design to make HTPC control easier and handier. Recently EFO released a next generation of its keyboard – EFO Air mouse. I bought it and used enough to give some feedback. First of all, the quality of the keyboard is very good. New battery allows using it almost for month and can be fully charged from laptop USB during one hour.

As you may see on the picture, the EFO Air mouse doesn’t have a touchpad anymore. Instead of that it sports gyration mouse. It’s really cool but I have some troubles with it when I need a point it to specific menu item in XBMC and press left or right button using one hand. In my experience Gyration remote control is handier then it.

Useful addition to good battery and flying mouse is IR transmitter. It has a few buttons on the back side of the keyboard and supports two devices. So, using the EFO Air mouse you may control your HTPC by RF and TV and/or AV received or satellite box by IR, which is quite good for forty dollars.

Home Cinema and Automation Systems

iLifeSolutions Logo

Specialising in luxury home entertainment and automation systems, iLifeSolutions offer their customer some of the best and brightest technology
systems available on the planet. From use of home systems, to residential markets and even hotels, i.Life design, install and commission some of the best
and unique projects in the United Kingdom.

As home cinema systems become more and more popular throughout the UK, the great news is that they are also becoming cheaper. i.Life offer you a vast range
of luxurious opportunities with their bronze, silver and gold packages. Home cinemas offer you the opportunity to experience that big screen reality without
having to pay the prices of the every day cinemas. Even the base package offers you 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound in-ceiling amplified speakers, one-touch keypads
and an audio, multi-room system. Whichever plan you choose however, you will be offered only the best, high quality bespoke products that satisfy both you and
your home.

Of course, besides the most brilliant home cinema systems, i.Life also offer state of the art home automation systems. Whether you want to control your security cameras, blinds, heating or even television cabinets, i.Life can arrange this with the most simple to use control systems. If you are away from home however, and you wish to check up on what’s happening, you can even have the ability to check on your prized possessions through your mobile phone or the internet.
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