Archive for the ‘IPTV’ Category


21 November 2011

Melbourne, Australia

When OXX Digital a Danish Company introduced their ‘Classic’ Internet Radio, into Australia a true legend was born, with a very appropriate name. A  little ahead of its time, that many did not fully appreciate, very few people were yet streaming their music, knew what DAB+ was and even fewer had a personal NAS (network attached storage). Today there are many NAS devices to choose from and many are using their PC’s or Macs to stream music and podcasts across their homes. The Classic is a radio that few are  yet to fully appreciate. The Classic introduced not only a great looking radio with modern Scandinavian design,  but one with DAB+ the best in radio quality, Combined with Internet Radio (able to access over 10,000 radio stations across the globe), wireless music streaming, and obvious FM Radio. This at a time for finding a DAB radio alone was more expensive than this full featured hi-tech marvel, that still years later has  stood the test of time with few competitors when comparing like for like features, price and design. Time moves on and the classic if it lacked anything was portability. The ability to take a DAB+ radio with you, not requiring a power connection was also lacking in the marketplace.

OXX Digital has addressed this with the OXX Vantage, here they have changed the look for this portable model, added a ruggedized rubber feel on a nice retro looking radio.

The OXX Vantage has the same features as the classic with DAB+ Radio, FM Radio, but as it is portable the WiFi, and Internet Radio is not needed.  The OXX Digital Vantage is a welcome addition to the impressive OXX Digital line up.

I for one cannot wait to see how OXX impresses us next.

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Some Content Courtesy of Redmond Pie
For Jenny (no comment)
By Loren (aka @mr_internet)

Apple iPad2 vs. Samsung Galaxy 10.1 vs Motorola Xoom vs RIM Blackberry Playbook vs HP TouchPad

I have had a few folks asking me about a Tablet preferences of iPad vs this or that. But it is not that easy. For now as of 12 April 2011, there are 4 tablets worth really considering, and a few more soon.

I made a conscious descion a while ago to avoid the Android Google world. But with new versions out I am being tempted more than ever.

I ditched my iPhone some months ago and I must admit I do miss it often as I have an iPad.

This is relevant as I have not seen a good phone, that plays well with another manufacturer tablet operating system, and having 2 inventories of apps to keep up with is a pain. In this day and age where our pc, mobile phone, and tablet are all part of our lives having them not play well togethermakes life hard.

I realised this when my windows phone 7 phone, did not do much, an idea I kind of liked, but now feel very inhibited.
But the apple iPhones are feeling rather dated as well.

So I have a new Google Motorola ATRIX, arriving soon, the latest mobile not out in Australia yet and an android.
This might mean I also cosider ditching my iPad in favour of an android tablet, we will see.

I hear the Andoid store is a mess as there are so many versions of android, that you cannot tell when you purchase an app if it will work with your device or not. That is silly, I will see in my next review how good or bad the andoid app library is.

The other thing to consider is iTunes. I hate iTunes as much as I love my iPad. But you need it really to manage the iPad.

So It Really is Google vs Apple

Again this is relevant because I think keeping to one platform  for phone and tablet might be the best way to go.

  • If you own an iPhone and plan to keep it, I would stay with iPad.
  • If you are considering seriously getting a tablet other than an iPad (as I am now), then you seriously might want to consider a phone form the same operation system, if you have or are considering an Android phone, you have more choice available on the tablet from but I think the Motorola XOOM is one to watch.

All the tablets have their own merits and flaws, here is a view of all 4.

The Reviews
Some Content Courtesy of Redmond Pie

Well, it’s finally here. Apple recently launched the anticipated 2nd-generation iPad. With Google’s Android, RIM’s BlackBerry powered PlayBook, and HP’s webOS getting fancy new tablets either recently or in the future, buyers are going to be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a new slate device.

We thought we’d take a closer look at the iPad 2′s four main competitors in the tablet space: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Motorola Zoom, HP/Palm’s TouchPad and BlackBerry PlayBook.

Apple iPad 2

First up we’ve got the new kid on the block, Apple’s iPad 2. Announced by Steve Jobs to be powered by a dual-core CPU that’s supposedly twice as fast as the current iPad. The new graphics chips are ’9x faster’ too. Impressive, at least on paper. In typical Apple fashion, we don’t have actual figures other than the usual dimensions. Thickness? 8.8mm. That’s one third thinner than the current model.

Interestingly, the new iPad 2 features two cameras, one rear and one front facing and the most interesting specification of them all is the availability of the new white iPad. Apple couldn’t get a white iPhone 4 out the door but no such issues with the iPad 2.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Samsung showed off its new Galaxy Tab 10.1 at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with the new tablet hoping to build on the success of its smaller sibling.

Sporting a new 10.1-inch 1280×800 display (hence the name), the new Tab boasts some impressive specifications. Powering that new screen is a 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 CPU with both front and rear facing cameras providing the video input. The Tab’s rear camera is capable of HD video recording and has the now obligatory in-built flash.

Software-wise, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will run the latest and greatest from Google’s Android stable, namely 3.0 Honeycomb.

Motorola Xoom

Another Honeycomb-endowed offering is Motorola’s Xoom. Recently released in the United States, the Xoom has been very well received by the gadget press. Arguably a very similar machine to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 – at least spec-wise – the Xoom’s party piece is its LTE capability. The downside here is the wait. Early-adopters will need to send their unit away for a hardware upgrade in order to take advantage of LTE speeds. Fortunately a quick turnaround is promised by Motorola, with 6 days the expected wait.

With the Xoom being powered by Google’s Android OS in its latest Honeycomb guise, there is little to differentiate it from the Galaxy Tab 10.1 when it comes to software. The main difference? The Xoom is in stores now!

HP TouchPad

Originally expected to go under the Palm name, the TouchPad will run on a new version of webOS. Now at version 3.0, webOS is promising to be a truly tablet-optimized experience. Even during the Pre’s death-throws, many believed the OS was the phone’s best attribute and a tablet was always the logical home for a future updated version.

HP isn’t scrimping on the hardware front either. A 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core CPU is the heart of the machine, with 1GB of RAM keeping the CPU busy. An iPad-like 9.7-inch 1024×768 screen is used, along with all the usual radios we’ve come to expect, including a 4G one. The TouchPad does sport a front-facing camera, though there’s nothing around the back.

BlackBerry PlayBook

With PlayBook, Research In Motion (RIM) is the fourth major platform (in no particular order) after Android, iOS and webOS to enter the Tablet Wars. PlayBook features 1Ghz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 1080p HD video playback and HDMI output.

Powered by BlackBerry Tablet OS with UI designed by QNX, RIM’s PlayBook is expected to hit retail shelves in April this year.

Which device you ultimately stump up for very much depends what you want from a tablet device. Apple’s iPad 2 has the massive advantage of being tied into the largest App Store on the planet, though many would also consider that to be its biggest weakness. If you’re the tinkering type, and prefer the more gritty approach of Android then the Xoom or Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be right up your street. The Android Market is constantly growing though the quality of apps perhaps isn’t quite there just yet, and Honeycomb promises a new raft of software specifically designed for tablets. HP’s offering is a real unknown at this point. A new OS, with new hardware from a company that hasn’t done well with mobile devices in the recent-past could prove disastrous though we doubt it. What we’ve already seen of the TouchPad looks mighty impressive, and the thought of webOS on a 9.7-inch screen excites us. Same goes for RIM’s BlackBerry powered PlayBook. Will there be enough apps for HP’s new tablet or RIM’s PlayBook? That’s the real question.

Ultimately the decision as to which tablet is right for you is a personal one. Many will plump for the safety and security of iOS while others want the power of Android. A few will even want to take a chance on the TouchPad or PlayBook, and who could blame them? We’re not sure where our money will be going, but today’s iPad 2 announcement sure makes for an interesting few months ahead.

Is 2011 the year of the tablet? You betcha!


Buyers Beware, a warranty is not all it seems.

Like a lot of self- proclaimed ‘technology evangelists’, I buy a considerable amount of computer hardware. Some of this is for work, some on behalf of colleagues, friends and some (or most) for self-gratification.  Also some is loaned for testing by the manufacturers and returned or purchased.

  • However I have never bumped into a unit that failed where the warranty the unit is covered under is so blatantly miss represented (and by such a normally great company with great customer service).
  • So is the case with Netgear and my Netgear Stora . I recently bumped into a hardware issue, where the device would not allow on a regular basis local files to be dragged and dropped to the hardware (no software involved). The error can easily be duplicated.
  • I thought I would do the proper geek thing and update all software and firmware to make sure problem experienced was not easily fixed myself. Unfortunately, on attempting to update the firmware, I then received an error message saying the software could not be updated.
  • On calling Netgear technical support (for the first time for the device), I was told that my ‘software’ warranty had expired and was directed to ‘their other department’ but they could help me on the hardware and software.

Note: On the Netgear Stora there is a software element that allows various users to be granted various access levels via the cloud, and there are other apps and features as well.

  • In my case the software was not needed to drag and drop files as it sees the Stora as just another hard drive (part of the charm of this device).
  • On calling the ‘other department’ the call immediately went to on hold music, with no mention of anything (no thanks for waiting, nothing) on answering the phone, I was greeted with thank you for holding do you have a reference number (given by the other department), which I did. A few moments later I was greeted with I believe you have a software problem.
  • I then corrected the technician saying I have a hardware problem for sure but maybe a software problem as well, but did not need the software for the hardware problem to exist. The hardware problem being the problem that I could not correct by updating firmware. I was then reminded that my warranty for software had expired after 90 days but they were happy to help.
  • This help involved no hardware diagnostics (I have a 3 year hardware warranty remember), but instead they would help with the software first to see if solved the problem before they could agree for me to send back the hardware. Unfortunately this support would cost me $136.. ouch. A new Stora currently costs $141 at good suppliers like Harris Technology. So if it did turn out to be hardware then I would be out of pocket anyhow.
  • I then queried if it was not software but was indeed hardware, would they credit me the $136 for diagnosing a problem that was covered under warranty. Again I was told no.
  • This amazed me as I recently had a bad modem and Netgear offered to swap it out after a few minutes diagnostic. Now there was no diagnostic just a charge for $136 to then confirm it was hardware (and covered).
  • It then turns out this ‘other department’ is a 3rd party supplier to Netgear called Gearhead and they of course are selling customer service and had nothing to do ownership wise with Netgear.
  • I queried why I needed software support for the hardware only aspect of my problem and they insisted they needed to follow process which was ‘software first’. On complaining that the only way I could exercise my 3 year warranty for hardware was to pay for software support, I was directed back to Netgear that again told me they offer no in house support for the Stora at all.

Amazing ..

  • Netgear really was ahead of the curve on the Stora , there was nothing like it for ease of use and value. The closest alternative was other Netgear products. Times have changed; I have referred dozens of folks to Netgear that I am aware of, (likely more) but will likely be looking to for alternatives in the future as there are many more now than a few months ago and the list is growing almost daily.
  • Note: When sked to speak to a supervisor at Netgear or for a complaint procedure in both cases none was offered, again I am very surprised and disappointed by this. Netgear deferred me to Gearhead that had already deferred me back to Netgear.. etc.
  • Further checking online shows the 3 year warranty is still being offered but no clear definitions or terms and conditions could easily be found that covered any devices.
  • I still believe that the device is a great device (call me a fanboy) but to charge exactly 100% of the cost of the device to diagnose the warranty is just wrong. Netgear should just do away with the warranty.

Sony Announces 3D TV Pricing

Posted: April 6, 2010 in 3D TV, Hardware, IPTV

As expected sony has announced their new line up of sets already and 3D sets are in the line up, but pricing has been vague until now

See the full story on Engadget here


Now to ‘ Un-confusify’ it all.

Covertly arriving in July 2009, the new standard in Radio is now here in Australia along
with loads of hardware (radios) to choose from.

And believe me it is confusing.

oxx

The OXX Digital DAB+ Radio (Classic) offers the best value and list of quality features, and style.

To those in the know, (many UK ex-pats, audiophiles and geeks) this is a BIG deal.

Australia was an early tester of DAB radio but failed to agree the standard for
some time. By the time the standard was agreed the technology had moved on and Australia
opted for the newer better quality standard.

The bad news for some early adopters is that the old standard and new standard uses different radios  for the 12 months testing period. This means some folks in Australia outlaid as much as $2000 for hardware that is now useless as all of the old stations have been turned off.

For the smart ones that had never heard of DAB Radio or waited, the good news is there is plethora of new hardware landing all over Australia and a slew of new DAB+ radio stations waiting for you to tune in.

What is the difference between DAB+ and DAB

Simply the old DAB radio dates back to the 1980’s and remains virtually unchanged to this day. In 2003 better quality DAB+ Radio started to emerge offering quality twice as good or better.  The DAB system uses MP2 Audio Codecs and the DAB+ uses mainly the AAC format.

Now What?

Well this is the good news. Hardware (radio) suppliers have had a good 2 years to ramp up supplies, and distribution for the new radios. Additionally other technology has come into being in the radio world that creates the confusion, but the best opportunities as well for the consumer.  This includes IP (Internet Radio), Pod casting, Streaming, iPOD/iPhones , as well as the normal FM and new
DAB+ stations as well all becoming part of the crowed radio market at can offer  a different radio for every use as well as Mobile (car) Stereos.  The different radios other than the traditional am/fm are:

DAB+

– The new driving force for the convergence of technologies, offers CD quality sound via radiostations. As mentioned there new stations coming on line everyday offering high quality News, Music, Sports and more 24/7.  The screens on radios offer the music track names, artists, station information and more.

WIFI- IP (Internet Radio)

Amazing in its own right, this kicked off in the 1990’s and offersa choice of 11,000 plus stations from all around the world. Amazingly stations can be selected by country, genre and even sometimes (NOT ALWAYS) by individual stations down to its Internet URL.  It uses your own Internet connection (works only if you have WIFI or a wired Ethernet connection)

WIFI Streaming
Having your internet around the house means you can now stream from your PC to some radios, or via the wired Ethernet connection mentioned above.

iPod /iPhone- Adding your on iPod to a radio, is easy now with a docking station added to the top of
many radios.

Consumer Choice  –
The good news for the consumer is you longer have to go to specialist stores to find DAB+ radios, instead you can pop down to your favorite retailer and some (like Harvey Norman) have done a good job of stocking their stores but as of August 2009, training is not good and no one seems to know the difference in quality or features, and in the case of Harvey Norman even have DAB+ radios in 2 different departments (being they are different franchises in the store) but the selection makes them a good contender as the best. Also many DAB+ radios can be purchased online for a bit of a saving, I still prefer when possible to handle the merchandise, even if I purchase it online afterwards. Again to date online costs do not seem to be less than Harvey Norman, so bear that in mind.

Which brand of Radio? –
With as many as 50 radios on the market it can be a bit of a
minefield and the purpose of this article.

Misc
There a plethora of suppliers already from Bush, Sangaen, Grundig but the main ones are below.

Pure
When I was testing the old DAB radio standards. Pure were the only real quality players out
there and I am pleased to say they seem to be the leaders in offering choices in mostly DAB+ only radios here in Australia in every shape and size and around 20 models to choose from .  I find the
quality of their lower priced units (around $300) not good quality. Their better units (like the evoke 2-s ) are $600+ and again way overpriced I think for the marketplace). Unfortunately I believe they have missed the boat a bit and do not seem to be making the best of all the other technologies mentioned above.
Pros–  Good selection with over 20 radios to choose, from now easy to find and price points from $200.
Cons- Not a big fan of the styles they offer and low on features, overpriced at mid-high  end. Entry level models feel cheap.

Roberts Radios
An institution in Radios for 75 years globally makes outstanding radios in all shapes
and sizes  but again I feel are a bit overpriced in the marketplace.
Pros– good quality, high end radios
Cons– not kept with the times low on
features except the more expensive models, overpriced.

OXX Digital-
Based in Sydney they are  a Danish company not a name you would know
but I believe make the best DAB+ radio on the market, not  just on features  but  thebest value as well. Only the Roberts radio (at $500-800), offers the featuresof the OXX   –   http://oxxdigital.com, with DAB+/FM/Internet Radio (all  11,000) stations /streaming/and more.
Pros– great looking, perhaps in a league of their own, great value for money. Best feature is the favorite’s button that has UK BBC stations pre-programmed in the Internet Radio mode.
Cons– none to mention really, they have not truly launched with a bang yet, so not a huge selection to choose from but with these features who cares, you might find yourself getting more than
one.

More Technical info is available here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Audio_Broadcasting


 

Hard Drives and Over Heating are the Main Cause.


As an early adopter in the UK and now Australia of Foxtel/Sky’s Very Good DVR (digital video recorder), it will not surprise many to learn that the boxes are now dying in droves.

This is mainly due to the hard drives dying after 24/7 use. Unknown to most users but even when the Sky+ (UK) or IQ (Australia & Asia), is not being used on purpose for a scheduled recording, it still records (up to 60 minutes of TV all the time), and a load of on demand TV you will not likely want. This means you can turn on your TV having missed the 1st 5 minutes of a show and rewind it. A great feature, but one that is killing the hard drives in the hi-tech boxes. In Australia customers are now seeing more and more failed recordings, only to be told to format the drives (via Foxtel) and to turn units off when not in use. This is because the risky pricing model in Australia has users paying to ‘use’ the box but not owning it outright. A good thing for when it fails, but not so well for Foxtel that will soon have to start replacing the hard drives.

Industry wide it has been reported that due to the ever increasing number of hard drives being used in everything from PC’s, Network Servers, to DVR’s and the increased amount of heat from PC’s (CPUS), or TV components (plasmas, Xbox 360’s) etc. and you have a even worsening effect.

Users will need to be vigilant but forceful with their suppliers as they will not repair or replace this failing hardware easily.

Some useful tips to prolong the live of you DVR is a no brainer or in a worse case scenario if failed recordings start appearing. Do a reset via your instructions a hard reboot is needed sometimes and not normally in any of the instructions so a call to Sky or Foxtel will be needed (unless you track down the model and Google it for hard reset instructions). If things don’t get better you may need to do the following:

1) Turn it off – Good for the environment too I guess, if you do not use it for the instant rewind feature (it will turn itself back on when a show is due to record).

2) Erase any failed recordings (the drive corruption if not erased encourages more failed recordings, due file corruption on the drives)

3) Breath– Increase ventilation around the DVR if possible, if next to a Xbox 360 (The oven of all consoles), make sure you turn it off when not killing baddies on Halo 3.

4) Back-UP & Reformat– If all else fails back up any shows you want to keep and with your broadcaster they can format remotely (with your help). It is easy to back up to a PC, DVD Recorder, or one of those old VCR thingys (geez has it been that long).


The original story on this was more important for what it did not say and thus is missing these big points.

1) The phone has to be NextG (beyond 3G) the only network Telstra will operate soon & not a platform the I-phone currently works.

2) This will also mean (as it is the Telstra model) it will likely get the 33 TV Stations on it from Sky/ Foxtel (at a sligthly higher price

Discussions are ongoing.

<Another Comment>


So, this will likely be Next G (sometimes called 3.5G) for Australia.
HSDPA is 3.5G. It is an extension of 3G, it uses the same network frequencies. 3G handsets can reach up to 384Kbit/sec. There are two HSDPA networks in Australia. Telstra run off the UMTS850MHz and this is HSDPA enable, they label their network NextG, since they believe its Next Generation.
Optus, Vodafone, Three (and Telstra too, as Three and Telstra co-own the 2100 Network) run off UMTS2100MHZ and this is also HSDPA enable, they just label it HSDPA.

I am not sure about other countries, but there are only a handful of countries which run off the UMTS850MHz frequency, from memory AT&T and Cordova in the States run off 850. UTMS2100 MHz is more widely used.

Note, Telstra claim their network is faster, since it is capable of 14.4Mb/sec. However there aren’t any 14.4Mb/sec devices, their current handsets (only the V6 V3xx and a few of the ZTEs) and turbocards only reach up to 3.6Mbit/secs.

Optus, Three, Vodafone don’t really state how fast the network is capable, but they too have devices which reach up to 3.6Mbit/sec, ie USB Modems and Nokia 6110 and n95, ironically phones which Telstra rejected as they were not UTMS850.

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This is a good thing if Netspace can maintain their QoS that they have had more than a little problem with. It is a logical step to offering online movies.

Melbourne

Aussie-based Internet service provider (ISP) Netspace has bought online dvd rental company Webflicks.

In a statement issued, Netspace noted both its own customers and those of Webflicks would be offered incentives to use Netspace’ other services, through product bundling.

Webflicks allows customers to select via a Web interface a list of movie, television and music DVDs that they would like to watch. The DVDs are then delivered via post in batches when they become available.

Customers post the DVDs back when they have finished watching them.

Netspace’s entrance into online dvd rental is symptomatic of a trend in the wider ISP market.

As Internet services are gradually becoming cheaper and faster, ISPs are increasingly bundling value-added services on top of basic Internet connectivity.

For example, Telstra’s retail ISP division BigPond offers Internet customers discounts on its DVD and video-on-demand service Big Pond Movies (Telstra).

In Netspace’s statement, the ISP’s managing director Stuart Marburg said his company saw content initiatives such as Webflicks as providing an opportunity to drive demand for higher broadband speeds than the base 1.5Mbps offered by most ISPs.

Marburg said at that point Netspace would be poised to offer video content online.

Netspace also has ambitions to offer a full-service telephone solution, including an Internet telephony (also known as Voice over Internet Protocol or VOIP service.

The company will launch a full telephony offering in the third quarter of this year.

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