Archive for August, 2008

Fashion media center Boxee: first impression


Finally I got invitation to test the first “social” media center Boxee. Installation under Kubuntu 8.04 was pretty simple. I just added Boxee repository and install it using apt-get. After running the Boxee it automatically found media content in the standard Linux directories – Pictures, Videos and Music. It tried to guess the names of movies by their filenames and get information from IMDB. For those video files which weren’t be recognized cover were created using some frame from movies themselves.

The user interface looks pretty nice. It’s intuitive and allows to easily navigate by media files, control playback movies and music. It’s easy to specify new media source. Doesn’t matter where it is – on local PC or on some network share. Moreover, using Boxee it possible to listen Internet radio, which becomes very popular this time.

However the most interesting and original feature of Boxee is its social component. It allows to people find friends and share between them info about what they watch or listen (be careful with adult content ;)). Additionally they can rate or recommend movie or song. The very basic social feature is offered by Facebook add-in for Windows Media Center. But, for sure, Boxee is much better.

I heard an opinion about competition between Boxee and MythTV. Maybe in the future but currently Boxee don’t support PVR functionality at all. Taking into account that XBMC also misses LiveTV I can conjecture that Boxee won’t have it in the future. In any case, Boxee is good media center software integrated with social service. Will see its progress.

P. S. I can send the invitation somebody who’d like to play with Boxee. Just leave a comment here.

The düwi Z-Wave wireless system

düwi Z-Wave

German company düwi recently announced its new Z-Wave based home automation system. It’s gonna be showed on the IFA 2008 in Berlin from 29.08 till 03.09. The company offers a wide range of various Z-Wave devices – switches, dimmers, appliance modules, sensors, adapted to European standards. Which is very good news for all home automation folks lived outside US.

Another cool feature offered by düwi system is a native iPhone/iPod Touch interface. It turns your Apple device into “smart” control panel allowed manage all devices in your home.

As I understand düwi wireless home automation system is oriented to DIY installation (thanks to “smart” wireless technology). So, consumers don’t need spend a lot of money and time to bring the system up.

There is no information about price and availability of the düwi smarthome system. If you live in Berlin or near don’t miss IFA 2008 and you’ll have a chance to get more details about that system. Will be very appreciated for your opinion in comments.

Home automation in GNU/Linux


Recently I found a nice article about home automation using open source software and OS Linux. It covers all aspects of smarthome – appliance control, media recording and streaming, security and surveillance system, telephony. Actually this is a brief overview. So, don’t expect to find there detailed instructions how to automate your home. But as a start point is really helpful.

P. S. LinuxMCE basically offers all features described in that article and much more.

Panasonic’s Concept Home

Inside Panasonics Eco & UD Concept Home

It’s a growing tendency for big producers of A/V equipment and computers to show their vision of home of future. Recently I saw concept of smarthome from HP and Disney. Now it’s time for Panasonic.
There are a log of cool things in the its Eco & UD (Universal Design) Concept home – lighting and curtains control, security and surveillance system, Hi-End sound and video (103-inch, lead-free plasma is very impressive!). But the most important feature of that concept is energy management. The home uses a fuel cell co-generation system as a prime energy source, supported by solar power generation. Energy usage is controlled and monitored via the home energy management system (HEMS). Those approach can reduce household energy consumption by a combined 30-percent. So, the Eco & UD (Universal Design) Concept combines not high-tech stuff only. It saves our environment as well.

Popcorn Hour was reviewed


The latest Popcorn Hour box A-110 and its base B-110 were reviewed on the Digital Reviews. The conclusion is that. The A-110 is stronger then A-100. It supports 2.5″/3.5″ SATA HDD and offers HDMI 1.3a and DTS decoding.

The B-110 is really cool solution for those who’d like to build a custom box. For example, some old DVD case and drive can be use as a base together with B-110.

But in other hand A-100 is still relevant. If you don’t need SATA or HD audio it’s a good choice for network media player.

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