Networking is a dark art, and putting the word "home" in front of it makes it no simpler. Debugging a home network is not for the faint of heart--the intelligence of the on-screen wizards peters out after the first few obvious fixes, and soon you're checking help forums, running ipconfig commands, and tweaking DHCP settings.
So today's news from The New York Times--that networking giant Cisco Systems is getting into the consumer electronics business--filled me with dread.
The idea of piping audio files from your computer to your home stereo or other audio devices is valid: … Read more
Yes, we live (again) in the "age of conversations." There is something reassuring about listening to smart people having cultured conversations. When I was young, I would listen for hours to music-free radio programming that sounded like black-and-white movies.
Today, Monocle Magazine brought some of that magic back by launching Monocle Weekly, a 30-minute audio podcast. Hosted by editor in chief Tyler Brûlé, the short-form show extends the publication's monthly print content by offering fresh angles on stories in current and past issues, discussions, previews, field reports, and interviews. The light conversations on serious … Read more
You must have treated somebody well this year, because you've got a new computer to start 2009 off right. In this edition of the Download.com Windows Starter Kit, we've expanded our collection to include both the recommended free programs you've come to expect from us, and suitable alternatives if our choice doesn't make your grade.
This year's categories include Web browsers, e-mail clients, office and productivity tools, parenting, image editors, music jukeboxes, video jukeboxes and players, file compressors, chatware, torrent clients, and seven five-star, must-have utilities.
Notice the lack of security programs? Check out … Read more
In some great news from Mac Mojo, the Office for Mac team blog, it looks like Windows Live Messenger for Mac will receive a major update sometime early next year. The biggest new feature update will be AV support for the personal client, which means users will be able to participate in cross-platform audio and video chat using the personal version of Microsoft Messenger for Mac. They are also working on additional features for the personal Windows Live Messenger client and are on track to preview some of the new implementations at Macworld in January at the MacBU booth. The … Read more
Starting December 27, the site will no longer serve up streaming music tracks, with embedded mixes--like the one at the end of this post.
The company made the announcement last week, but just began to send out notices to registered users. Normally a week or so is cutting it close in the world of site closures, but in Mixwit's case there's very little in the way of user data besides playlists.
Mixwit is the latest Web mixtape service to … Read more
Philips' line of Streamium products was one of the pioneers in the network audio realm, but it never really clicked with consumers (at least in the U.S.), even as competitors like Sonos and Logitech's Squeezebox began carving out their own niches. But Philips is hardly throwing in the towel: the company has unveiled two new models, the Streamium NP2500 and the Streamium NP2900.
Both models offer the same basic features of the earlier Streamium NP1100: streaming non-DRM audio files from networked Windows and Mac PCs, as well as the ability to stream Rhapsody content (subscription required) and thousands … Read more
Major security alert for Microsoft Internet Explorer http://www.obsessable.com/news/2008/12/16/major-security-alert-for-microsoft-internet-explorer/ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/16/AR2008121601022.html http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/12/16/1319217… Read more
The 2009 Consumer Electronics Show will be the sixth consecutive CES event I've attended. And for most of those, we've had to write up previews of what we're expecting or anticipating at the show as a whole, or in one category. Looking back at those pieces, you can see how far a lot of the technology has come in just half a decade (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008). Indeed, plenty of features, options, and product categories we take for granted today didn't really exist just five years ago. But you can also note how some predictions … Read more
Let's face it, setting up a home theater with five speakers and a subwoofer is a hassle.
Home-theater-in-a-box systems ease the pain somewhat, but you still have to run wires to five speakers and a subwoofer. Single-speaker sound bar systems? Sure, they eliminate the tangle of wires, but they're just glorified stereo bars and never really sound all that good. You can get much better sound from a decent set of stereo speakers.
You could put together a much better sounding system with Integra's DSR-4.8 DVD/AV receiver ($600) and a nice pair of speakers and possibly a subwoofer. It's a stereo receiver with 50 watts per channel with a built-in DVD/DVD-Audio/SACD player; video connectivity includes a 1080p HDMI output, one HDMI input, and two composite inputs. (You can multiply the usefulness of that single HDMI input by adding an inexpensive HDMI switcher that multiplies the number of available outputs.)
Let's compare and contrast an Integra DSR-4.8 based system with Yamaha's YSP-4000 single-speaker surround system ($1,800). The Yamaha is self-powered so it doesn't need an AV receiver, but it doesn't make much bass. So, you'll need to add a subwoofer, like Yamaha's YST-FSW150 ($280) and a DVD or Blu-ray player.
Fifty watts may not seem like much, but Integra components sound pretty good; pair the DSR-4.8 with efficient speakers you'd get a big sound. Klipsch's RB-61 bookshelf speakers ($499/pair) would be ideal and make better and more powerful bass than the YSP-4000, so some of you won't have to get a sub. But if you're thinking about going whole hog, I like Klipsch's Sub-12 subwoofer ($500). That's all together a $1,600 MSRP system, so it's at least $500 less expensive than the Yamaha system.
The Integra/Klipsch system would be way, way more dynamic, with vastly greater clarity for movies and music (single-speaker systems never quite sound right for music). To be fair, the Yamaha big claim to fame is its ability to produce a facsimile of surround sound from the single speaker, and it's the best of its type (I've reviewed a ton of single-speaker surround systems for CNET--both units with built-in video connectivity and those without--so I should know). The Integra/Klipsch is strictly stereo, but it'll be really good stereo. Big and wide, with a great sense of depth and spatiality.… Read more