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Want Skype on your HDTV? Check out TelyHD

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telyhd-top.jpgBig screen video calling, à la Back To The Future 2, has been a reality for a few years now thanks to web-connected webcam-packing TVs, the ever-growing popularity of Skype and even games console peripherals like the Xbox 360 Kinect or the PlayStation 3 Eye. It's still however slightly daunting for tech newbies, needing either a games console or laptop hooked up to a TV, or confining yourself to a laptop or computer screen.

Enter the TelyHD, a Skype-packing, Android-powered webcam designed for both the living room and the boardroom, with simplicity in mind.

Looking much like Microsoft's Kinect accessory, the TelyHD sits on an adjustable bracket on top of your TV (or could of course stand freely on a tabletop if that's a better fit for your living room), and requires just a plug socket and HDMI port on your TV to get to work.

A 720p HD video camera sits on the front, with the unit packing in 4 noise-cancelling microphones to pick up conversations. Coming with Skype pre-installed, a clean, easily-navigated UI lets you log in to your account, which then throws contact cards for all your Skype pals onto the main screen. Connecting over Wi-Fi or a wired Ethernet connection, you can then video call pals across the globe.

Using adaptive streaming to set the resolution based on your web connection rather than having you suffer the pains of buffering, it's a pleasant experience. The UI isn't as intuitive as it could be, and using the small remote a little clunky, but a smartphone app that lets you navigate the TelyHD and type using a software keyboard rather than the onscreen one with the remote should make things easier.

telyhd-mid.jpgBeyond video calling, the Tely HD also has a number of other tricks up its sleeve.

Photos can be shared using the TelyHD, splitting the screen between those video calling, and giving over a large chunk of the display to the images being shared. These can be popped onto either an SD card or USB stick and plugged into the back of the TelyHD. It's a nice feature, and a far more personal way to share your photos and see the recipients instant reactions than sharing them via Facebook or email.

Apps are also coming to the TelyHD. As well as already offering a fully functioning web browser, supporting video playback from the likes of Netflix and BBC iPlayer, the TelyHD will also soon offer select Android apps for download, including the ubiquitous Angry Birds game. In this sense, the TelyHD can almost also be seen as a Smart TV upgrade for older TVs, as well as a webcam.

A recent upgrade has also improved the TelyHD's features for business users. Popping an upgrade code (purchased from Tely.com) into the settings pane of the TelyHD menu opens up extra features such as document sharing and 6-party group calling, turning the TelyHD into a workplace tool too.

There are a few concerns though, with the main one being price. At a few pennies short of £200, you could have an impressive Android tablet with video calling functionality or laptop. Indeed, this wouldn't have the big screen appeal of the TelyHD, but the extra features you'd get with such alternatives are obvious and difficult to overlook. Also overlooked is the ability to add Skype credit straight from the TelyHD; during our playtime we found no way to top-up for premium features, meaning anyone looking to call a landline or mobile using the gadget would also need access to a computer in order to add funds, and undermining the "no computer required" TelyHD motto.

For the most part, it does the job, and does it well though. For true technophobes, the TelyHD would be an unobtrusive, simple way to connect visually with friends, family, and even business partners around the globe.

Available now from www.amazon.co.uk (and headed to select retailers before Christmas), the TelyHD will set you back £199.90.

spyder4hdtv-box.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Datacolor Spyder4TV HD

Type: HDTV calibration tool

Price: £100.05 from Amazon

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You've forked out more money than you care to share on a new HDTV set, and now you want the thing looking the best it possibly can. Enter the Datacolor Spyder4TV HD calibration tool. Through a combination of hardware and software, it promises to make your display match industry standards. But is it really much better than just using your own tweaking judgement? Read on to find out!

review-line.JPGThe Spyder4HD TV kit consists of a small, black pebble-like sensor unit and four discs; a Blu-ray calibration test disc, two DVD calibration test discs (one each for PAL and NTSC) and a software disc. That software disc is the important one, as all measurements and TV readings are carried out through PC software, with the pebblesensor merely transmitting information back to a PC across a super-long USB cable. As a result, you'll want to have a laptop or a moveable desktop PC and monitor nearby, or at least be prepared to move your HDTV nearer to a computer, as the Spyder4HD TV can't do its job without one. However, those looking to calibrate a PC monitor will, of course, need two computers handy; one to play test footage on the monitor, the other to read the sensor's findings.

To get started, you'll need to wait for the ambient light in your TV room to be as low as possible, and then hook the sensor unit to the front of your television. This shouldn't be a problem with either very small or very large flatscreen TVs, as the sensor is attached to very flexible bungee cords, holding it in place in the centre of your screen.
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Get your test disc of choice playing on the screen and you'll then fire up the software and enter a roughly 20-minute long calibration process. The Spyder4HD TV sensor thoroughly measures settings like contrast, brightness, colour temperature, colour saturation, and tint, and suggests the optimal settings that your TV can achieve. There are also images for testing backlight settings and saturation too. It's a tedious process, but the results are pretty good, being a fair match for our own manual test disc settings. It's also very user friendly, meaning even AV luddites should be able to get a very good result from their sets at the end. However, those looking to really get the most accurate settings from their TVs may be frustrated to find that the Spyder4HD TV doesn't quite hit ISF standards, as it doesn't support tweaking individual advanced colour settings.

Once the process is completed, you'll be presented with a log of all the adjustments the Spyder4HD TV kit has made. The changes are presented through graphs, though a lack of numbers alongside the charts mean that tracking improvements can feel a little abstract at times.

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The Spyder4HD TV kit comes highly recommended to AV newcomers who can't get their head around calibrating a TV away from garish shop floor settings. It'll deliver good results, holding the hand of a user through a lengthy process that could seem overwhelming otherwise. However, those who already have a test disc and know their way around a TV menu will find the tool doesn't deliver enough advanced calibration features to warrant their attention, and will likely consider it far too pricey when compared with a simple calibration disc.

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3/5
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REVIEW: Roku 2 XS streaming player (UK)

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Roku XS 13.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Roku 2 XS

Type: Streaming Player

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £99.99 from Amazon

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Already holding the title of the most popular TV streaming box in the US, Roku are now setting their sights on the UK market. The Roku 2 XS, with its Bluetooth motion controlled gaming capabilities and access to Netflix movie streaming, is their top of the line streaming box. Read on for our verdict.

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Sitting snugly in the palm of your hand, the Roku 2 XS is as small as streaming players get. An 84mm x 84 mm x 23mm box with rounded corners, it weighs just 85 grams, with a gloss-black finish that will see it hide away easily among your other AV gear. Connecting to the internet over 802.11n Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection, the rear of the Roku 2 XS player has four simple connections; HDMI (with 5.1 surround sound pass-through) an A/V out port (which uses an included bespoke mini-jack to left/right/composite video RCA cable), the afore-mentioned Ethernet port and an AC socket. Using less than 2W of power when streaming HD video, there's no power button, with an auto-standby mode kicking in after a short period of inactivity and using only minuscule amounts of energy. You'll also find a USB port on the left hand side for playback of a modest range of media files.

Once everything is plugged in, you'll need to head online to activate your Roku 2 XS box. A reasonably short web form has to be filled out on the Roku website (which includes your credit card details, though these will only be used if you purchase premium content through the box), after which you'll be given an activation code for your streaming unit. It's a shame that this couldn't have somehow been achieved with a set-up process through the XS itself, and if you're a subscriber to the likes of Netflix, you'll also have to manually add your credentials to some of the streaming channels too.

Considering how clunky the initial set up is, using the Roku 2 XS after that point is as simple as can be. The XS comes with a Bluetooth-enabled remote, which looks much like a squat black Wii controller, complete with a D-Pad, A and B gaming buttons and Home, Back, Return and playback controls. There's even a little wrist-strap to stop it flying out of your grasp. The remote is used to navigate the tile-based UI, as well as the odd bit of text entry in search fields. It can also be used for motion-based gaming, which we'll get onto in a minute.
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The first, home screen of the Roku 2 XS box has the settings and Channel Store tabs, and also houses the channels you download from the store, scrolling left to right. With hundreds of channels available and more on the way, this area may quickly fill up and become a little unwieldy, but for now works well enough.

Heading over to the Channel Store tile brings up the wide-range of content available to be streamed through the Roku 2 XS box, some available for free, others requiring a subscription to access.. As well as big name providers like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Flixster and Vimeo, there are tons of niche channels whose content ranges from everything from religious sermons to retro public announcement videos. There are a few notable omissions however, and we'd have loved to have seen for instance a YouTube channel, as well as some other UK broadcaster's catch-up offerings, such as Channel 4's 4oD and the ITV Player. Having said that, there are also some excellent, rarely seen VOD offerings, such as the inspirational lectures from the TED channel, as well as plenty of web radio options.

Though not officially supported by Roku, you can also use the Roku website to access a large number of "private" channels, which are downloaded to your Roku 2 XS player by inputting a code on the website. These range from international video content streams to adults-only movies. Some really useful channels, like a third-party Last.fm build, are available, and if you do fancy putting a bit of blue on your Roku, there are password protection options to keep young eyes from stumbling on what they shouldn't. As "private" channels are often beta builds or made by enthusiasts, there is however no guarantee they will forever be available on the streaming box.
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For the most part, the channels make use of a tile-scrolling navigation set up, barring a few exceptions, such as the iPlayer's bespoke UI (familiar to anyone who has browsed the platform on any number of other devices). It's easy to browse with the directional pad, but not so easy to search; few channels allow you to look for specific content by keyword, and when you do, it's a painstaking task of scrolling around a virtual keyboard, press by press. As such, it's mostly a curated experience. With such a vast array of video content to browse through, we'd have loved the chance to favourite videos for later viewing, but the functionality is missing. On one isolated occasion we found that the UI inexplicably slowed down to a crawl making it impossible to use, but a hard reset achieved by disconnecting the XS from the mains solved the problem, and it hasn't happened again since.

The quality of the streams however are uniformly excellent. Thanks to an adaptive streaming system, you'll rarely, if ever see a buffering sign on the Roku 2 XS, with the stream's visual quality adapting to match that of your web connections capabilities. Even with a modest connection however you should be able to view stutter-free 1080p HD streaming. Using the Netflix app as an example, its 1080p high resolution output was pretty much a match to that found on the PS3, with clear, sharp images that just fall short of Blu-ray quality.
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Also available from the Channel Store are a dozen or so gaming apps. Though most are premium, paid for downloads, Angry Birds is included for free. Thanks to the Roku 2 XS's motion capabilities, it controls much like a Wii game, with a wave of the hand translating to a yank of the in-game catapult. While admittedly basic stuff, it worked surprisingly well for what is first and foremost a TV streaming box, and we look forward to more big-screen gaming on the Roku XS. Also, thanks to the Bluetooth nature of the controller, playing games doesn't require line-of-sight with the Roku box, meaning it can be tucked away behind a TV without disrupting play.

If there's one real disappointment with the Roku 2 XS, it's with its lack of robust media playback options from a local USB storage device. The only formats supported are MP4 (H.264) video, AAC and MP3 audio and JPG and PNG image files. Pair this with a lack of DLNA functionality and the Roku 2 XS falls short of being a comprehensive multimedia experience.

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The Roku 2 XS streaming box is a great bit of kit. With access to so much online TV content, much of it of a high quality nature thanks to the likes of Netflix, TED and the BBC iPlayer channels, it's more than a match for its Apple TV rival. Of course, you're going to have to have a paid subscription with a few of the channels to get the most out of the box, but that's no different than with the Roku 2 XS's competitors. The visual quality of the streams, particularly where HD content is available, is superb, and navigating all the features is fairly simple.

Where the Roku 2 XS is found lacking is in its poor file support over USB storage and lack of DLNA features. For a UK audience, there are also a few notable catch-up providers missing but there's every chance these will be added in due course.

The real question is whether or not you need the Roku box. If you've got a HD games console or a Smart TV, you've probably already got access to many of the Roku's features. If you don't already have access to these services, the Roku 2 XS does however come highly recommended.

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4/5
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Name: Griffin Beacon

Type: Universal remote control with iOS app

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £57 from Amazon

review-line.JPGOne device to rule them all? That's the idea behind the Griffin Beacon, a universal remote control kit that works in tandem with your iOS device to control all the gadgets in your house that use a remote control. But is the Beacon a shining light in a murky sea of universal remotes, or is your best bet to dig under the sofa for that dusty lost zapper? Read on to find out.
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The Griffin Beacon is quite the looker. Best described as a similar size to a black Apple TV box with a shiny black pebble placed on top, it'll sit comfortably and stylishly alongside most AV set-ups. Powered by four AA batteries, it syncs with your iOS device via a Bluetooth connection and, when used alongside the Dijit controller app, lets you control as many as 200,000 home entertainment devices from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch straight out of the box.

Set up was incredibly simple. Once the batteries are placed in the bottom of the Beacon, you push down on its curved top till you hear a "Frustration" style click, which sends out a Bluetooth signal. It's then just a case of syncing the device with your iOS gadget through the Bluetooth device menu of your Apple phone, mp3 player or tablet. Rather than an actual remote control, the Beacon actually works to convert Bluetooth signals from your iOS device into infra-red ones that your entertainment devices can understand. Therefore line of sight thankfully isn't needed to control the Beacon's many functions (though you'll still have to carry it around if you want to use it in multiple rooms). There are no control buttons on the Beacon; this is left up to the free Dijit app, which is very good indeed.

Upon firing up the Dijit app (which syncs and recognises the Beacon very simply) you'll be presented with a quick set-up screen which lets you select all manner of AV gear, from TVs to home cinema receivers, games consoles to stereos. Everyone from the big name brands like Samsung and Sony right down to the sort of budget brands you'd find in a supermarket bargain bin are supported, which is a great achievement. There are inevitably gaps in the device list (Roberts DAB radios weren't supported for instance) but the majority of gear is there. App software updates will continually update the device list, so it's worth checking back later, and the Beacon can also be "taught" other unsupported devices too, though that's not worth the complicated set-up it needs.

The Dijit app is simple to navigate and select different units to control, but perhaps its best feature is the level of customisation it offers. You can add tens of buttons for each device you want to control through the app, resizing buttons to fit what's comfortable for you, add custom buttons to run controls not found on your regular remote, or even remove buttons that you find no use for. The days of squinting at remote controls for a hard to find tiny button are long gone, and you can even use it to invent touchscreen gesture controls, like a two-finger swipe to adjust TV volume for instance.
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Another great touch is the Activities feature. This lets you program the Beacon to perform numerous buttons at the press of a single button. For instance, you might set up an activity that turns on your TV, Digital TV box and home cinema speaker system all at once. It's a great time saver, and one that once set up would suit to a tee a technophobe who finds multiple controllers confusing.

As you can probably guess, we were very impressed by the Beacon. But it's not without its faults.

Firstly, the decision to run off of regular batteries rather than a rechargeable built-in one seems an archaic one. Two months worth of battery life is considerably less than I squeeze out of my remote controls. Though the wire-free set up is handy, it would have been nice to have had the option of using an AC adapter for those not planning on moving the Beacon about.

The lack of Android support is understandable for a device that's launching as "Made for Apple", and though there is an app in the works, it's disappointing not to see it ready at launch. Even more disappointing is the lack of native iPad app support; using that big screen to house multiple remotes at once would have been a superb addition over a blown up, stretched iPhone one.

Lastly, the Beacon lacks some functionality in the UK that its US versions have. In the US, users can check TV listings and share them via social networking sites with their pals; in the UK you cant. Likewise Netflix accounts can be browsed and managed in the US with the Beacon and Dijit app, and while Netflix may not be available in the UK, no suitable alternative (like Lovefilm) has been added to fill the gap.

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Verdict:

Despite some quibbles, the Beacon remains a superb solution to having tens of chunky remote controls laying around your living room. iPad support and a rechargeable battery are the main issues holding it back from top marks, but the amount of customisation easily lets us see past the Beacon's few faults.

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4/5
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IMAG0233.jpgName: AVerTV Volar HD A835(Aver Media)

Type: Digital TV tuner for PC and Mac

System Requirements: Click here

Price: £18.99 from Amazon

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With most of the functionality of a fully-fledged set-top box, the AVerTV Volar HD A835 digital TV tuner for PC and Mac has a lot going for it. But is it relevant in this age of catch-up TV and high-definition television?

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The AVerTV Volar HD A835 unit consists of a set-up software CD and a USB drive, which a supplied TV antenna can be plugged into. Considering the USB stick has to accommodate a chunky aerial connection, it manages to stay fairly slim, though you may have trouble squeezing in other USB devices should your ports be closely bunched together. The aerial itself is little bigger than a thumb drive too, housing two telescopic, rotatable antenna and comes with two mounts; a suction pad and a clip for sticking the unit to the top of your monitor.

Once the quick software installation is complete and the AVerTV Volar HD A835 USB unit is plugged in, a surprisingly fast and accurate channel scan will have you watching Freeview channels and listening to digital radio within minutes. Though image quality will depend somewhat on the quality of your monitor, we were pleased to find our viewing session to be clear and free of noise. However, despite the HD suffix, you wont be able to get any high-definition Freeview channels; though it supports H.264 transmissions, which are widespread in Europe for high-def shows, it isn't compatible with the DVB-T2 transmission system Freeview HD is based on. An update has been promised for some time, but we were unable to access the channels during our review.

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Though here you negate the need for an internet connection in order to watch shows, it's also worth noting that in this age of streamed catch-up TV on computers, we've forgotten how frustrating trying to pick up a good TV signal is. The AVerTV Volar HD A835 had us standing with the aerial over our heads in order to maintain a decent image. A quirk of our tuner or simply the fact we're in something of a coverage blackspot, it's worth remembering before committing your cash.

The software accompanying the drive is full of functionality, including a full EPG, timeshift modes and a number of recording and scheduled recording options. We particularly liked the fact you're able to record in iOS compatible formats, meaning getting your favourite shows direct from the telly onto your Apple mobile media devices won't be a problem. It's a shame though that visually the software is very bland, with a design more like shareware rather than a retail product.

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Verdict:

With most of the major Freeview destinations now having robust video-on-demand services backing them up online, TV tuners for PCs are beginning to feel a little redundant. The AVerTV Volar HD stick makes itself more useful than some by offering video recording modes directly compatible with iOS devices, but a bare-bones software interface and lack of Freeview HD channels, paired with the frustrations of picking up a decent signal, ultimately let it down. Having said that, it's a cheap and small solution for those watching the pennies our with little space to play about with, so it may find an audience with students or backpackers. review-line.JPG

3/5

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REVIEW: Onyx Digital Stream DPS-1000

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Name: Digital Stream DPS-1000 (Onyx)

Type: Web connected media streamer

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £89.99 from Amazon

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Looking for web-connected features from your ageing flatscreen TV? Then the Digital Stream DPS-1000 from Onyx (recently refreshed to add LoveFilm support), may suit your needs for a bargain price, providing you can put up with a few glaring omissions.

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Though its heavily vented black chassis wont win it any style awards, the Onyx DPS-1000 is attractively small. Measuring up at roughly 16cm x 12cm x 3.5 cm, it'll sit discretely alongside most AV set ups. On the rear you'll find one HDMI port, a scart connection, two USB ports and an Ethernet port. That Ethernet port will be of the utmost importance here, as the DPS-1000 lacks a Wi-Fi connection. It seems a remarkable oversight considering the device is used primarily for web and network connected media streaming; you'll have to make sure your TV is placed near your router in order to wire it up tidily, or else hunt around for a compatible third-party Wi-Fi dongle.

It's a shame that this may put off potential buyers, as the interface and content portals on offer in the DPS-1000 are very good indeed. Built around UK-based Oregan's web platform first seen in last year's Cello TV range, it does away with many of the international fluff found in many larger brands web-connected TV portals. Instead, you're treated to a line up that includes the afore-mentioned LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer, BlinkBox, YouTube and a host of other Web TV offerings.

A mainscreen features a series of widgets, including Twitter, Facebook and news and weather feeds down the right hand side, which while welcome, likely wont get much use as they can be fiddly to navigate, particularly the social networks. The rest of the screen is made of a carousel-like series of icons leading to each content provider.

First up is the iPlayer portal, almost identical to that seen in Cello's iPlayer TV range. It's a slick and fast interface, with the usual "Just In", "Highlights" and "Last Played" tabs. Normal, high and HD quality video, where available, can be toggled through, while a serviceable search function lets you browse the current BBC catalogue.

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LoveFilm offers information on all 70,000-odd movies it has in its catalogue, though only a fraction of those can be streamed via the DPS-1000, and none of those in HD. That's not a problem unique to this device though; it's the same with the LoveFilm desktop portal and the one found in the PS3 games console. Regardless, it's again a tidy and well organised interface, giving the option also for subscribers to order Blu-ray or DVD rental versions of those films not available for streaming. Dynamic searching of the LoveFilm library, throwing up new results every time you input each letter, is a little unnecessary in this format however, often annoyingly slowing down search speeds. £5.99 will give 2 hours of online viewing time, while those who opt for the £15.99 subscription will get unlimited access, as well as the ability to order physical disc rentals from LoveFilm.

BlinkBox, while offering a slightly more clunky interface than LoveFilm, is just as well stocked, with US shows such as the West Wing sitting alongside The Inbetweeners, as well as a fair few movies too. Blinkbox's value rentals (starting at £1) gives it a slight edge over LoveFilm in regards to pricing, and there are nice options to nab full TV show boxsets from between £12.99 and £15.99.

Of more questionable quality is the WebTV portal, pulling in video content from myriad sources. Here's where you'll find the likes of YouTube and Flickr, alongside more unusual sources such as Disney Channel Movie Previews, Larry King, the Discovery Channel, UEFA.com and Sesame Street. Presented in a list with thumbnails, it's a motley crew of feeds and video sources, though they're disparate enough to offer at least a few gems to most viewers.

Once connected to a networked PC or media server, or by plugging in a USB drive loaded with media content, you'll also be able to access various image, music and video files through the box. In a nice touch, a search feature will scan both your networked content and the web portals available here, pulling results into one compiled list. In terms of file playback, BMP and JPEG images and MP3 and WMA files work fine, but things get a little more complex on the video front. AVI (DivX), WMV, VOB, MP4 HD, MKV (DivX HD), and WMV HD files worked from a USB stick (but not H.264 MOV or QuickTime) while network searches only recognised MOV, DivX, MP4 and AVCHD files.

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Verdict:

It's worth noting that anyone with a Wii or PS3 console will already have access to most of what is on offer here. While the lack of built in Wi-Fi support may keep the price of this diminutive media streamer down, it could prove a deal breaker for all but those with a router very nearby their television sets. If you fall into that likely very small bracket, you'll come away impressed with the DPS-1000, whose many features and content portals gives even the most recent web connected TV offerings from major brands a run for their money. It's well polished on the software front, even if its hardware leaves a little to be desired.review-line.JPG

3/5

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Top 5 CES 2011 TV tech

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CES 2011 how wondrous your goggleboxes were!

From connected sets to mad 3D visors, the show threw up a load of new displays that HDTVUK would kill to have at home.

We've pulled together our five favourite bits of TV tech from the Las Vegas show. Check them out in the videos below.

1: Sony's 3D Headset

Our favourite bit of TV tech from the show wasn't technically a TV at all. This concept from Sony crammed two small OLED displays inside a Tron-like visor, giving the wearer a personal 3D display wherever they turned their head. It worked a charm, despite only being in the early stages of development.

2: LG Passive Cinema 3D TVs

Continuing the stellar work they've put into their 3D developments were LG, launching their new Cinema 3D range of passive 3D TVs. We spoke to George Mead of LG, who explained the companies increasing focus on passive sets, and why the general public seem to be leaning towards that technology rather than active 3D sets.

3: LG ST600 Smart TV Upgrader

Another ace bit of kit from LG was the ST600 Smart TV Upgrader. Expected to cost no more than £100 at launch, it turns any HDMI-equipped TV into a "Smart" TV, capable of web browsing and using apps. With connected sets expected to become ever more dominant in stores, this inexpensive box will make sure your older set isn't branded a dunce.

4: Sharp Aquos Quattron 3D TV

We're big fans of Sharp's Aquos Quattron range at HDTVUK, as shown in our review of the set. Sharp have now revamped the range with 3D smarts, and it's looking very special indeed.

5: Sony's 3D glasses-free autostereoscopic TV

Super-slim OLED TVs always attract the Tech Digest team like flies to a UV light trap, and Sony's 3D glasses-free autostereoscopic OLED TV was no exception. With a great viewing angle and a genuine sense of depth given to the images, it had even the edge of Toshiba's similar sets, despite the latter being expected to go to retail before the year is out.

Axar.jpgProVision, who wowed the CES crowds earlier in the year with their wireless high-def streaming kit, have just lifted the covers off of their potentially game-changing AXAR2010 HD video system.

Though not yet available to buy, the AXAR2010 will allow four separate HD signals to be streamed to multiple sources around the home from a single box.

Using the 5GHz 802.11n wireless standard, four different 1080p HD streams (HD TV channels, Blu-ray, games consoles etc) can be sent to different TV sets around the house. Potentially, the technology could do away with the need for separate set-top boxes per room in a house.

"AXAR software technologies are sold under an IP licensing model and will be integrated into set top boxes, TVs, DVD players and media routers from major consumer electronics manufacturers and multinational OEMs", said Steve Cliffe, CEO of ProVision.

No word on a retail release yet, but ProVision are said to be in talks with distributers on both sides of the pond.

LaCinema Classic HD.jpgLooking for a 1080p compatible HD media server and player? For £199.99, the LaCie LaCinema Classic HD media centre could be sitting next to your flatscreen.

1080p Full HD compatible, the 2TB device lets you sync up all sorts of media content from your PC, Mac or gaming console, and deliver it via an included HDMI cable to your TV.

Though the device can be used as a wireless DLNA server, the LaCinema Classic HD will also support USB transfer of media content.

All the most popular video file formats and plug-ins will be supported, from DivX to high-quality MKV H.264, meaning pretty much all of your current video content will be compatible. An intuitive onscreen menu system should help to navigate the device, meaning faster access to your favourite flicks.

Salem Tirane, Digital Home Product Manager said of the product, "LaCinema Classic HD is all you need to store, play and share your movies, music and photos at home. We believe organising and playing should be simple for everyone, without concern for media compatibility or how to access media, no matter where it's stored in your home".

Though there are plenty of media centre solutions knocking about, the LaCinema Classic HD is set to feature some pretty attractive functions by the looks of things. Giving change back out of £200, it's worth a look if you don't already have a similar alternative.

For more information, visit www.lacie.com/uk

sony-memory-stick-pro-hg-duo-32gb.jpgUnexciting but vital, memory cards are powering a huge range of high definition camcorders, so higher capacity is always welcome.

Sony has just announced the addition of a 32GB Memory Stick to its HX family of cards, offering 20MB/second data transfer.

The new Memory Stick can store three-and-three-quarter hours (225 minutes) of full 1080p high definition video, and comes shipped with a USB adaptor for transferring data to and from a PC.

Exact pricing and availability to be confirmed.

hdmi-type-d-connector.jpgThough it's hard to get excited about HDMI cables in themselves, there's been a development by the HDMI Licensing Committee that means a new connector type should make it easier for mobile devices to interface with other high definition gear.

This is great news, given the increasing number of mobile phones and mini camcorders that are capable of shooting in a high definition format.

Shop for the latest mobile phones with HD capabilities at Phones4u.co.uk

sky-upside-down-remote-1.jpgSky has decided that the best way to celebrate its high definition coverage of The Ashes is to produce a special remote control unit where all the buttons are rotated through 180 degrees.

This year's Ashes are the first to be shown in HD, with coverage starting on Wednesday 8th July exclusively on Sky Sports HD:

  • 1st npower Ashes Test - Wed 8 - Sun 12 July
  • 2nd npower Ashes Test - Thurs 16 - Mon 20 July
  • 3rd npower Ashes Test - Thurs 30 July - Mon 3 Aug
  • 4th npower Ashes Test - Fri 7 - Tues 11 Aug
  • 5th npower Ashes Test - Thurs 20 - Mon 24 Aug

buffalo-linkstation-pro-nas.jpgBuffalo has announced its latest LinkStation Pro NAS hardware, designed specifically for the needs of those users downloading and streaming high definition content around their home network.

The LinkStation Pro features a built-in DLNA media server with WebAccess, Direct Copy for sharing media with others, BitTorrent server and iTunes compatibility.

It comes in 1TB, 1.5TB and 2TB capacities and can handle data transfer rates of up to 66MB/s.

Available now, pricing to be confirmed.

hdmi.jpgThe next version of the HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cabling standard has been announced ahead of an official launch on June 30th this year.

Version 1.4 will include improved networking via built-in Ethernet connectivity plus an Audio Return Channel that can upstream audio connections directly.

The maximum possible resolution able to be transmitted will also be improved so that it can support 4K and 2K as used in many digital cinemas. Many home users won't notice a difference as the current HDMI standard can easily handle 1080p video and high def audio. However, it does open up future possibilities for advanced equipment.

It's going to take some time for the new standard, which will require upgraded cabling in order to work, to be installed on hardware.

vogels-screen-mounts.jpgWall mounting gear probably ranks alongside memory cards in the excitement stakes, but again, it's important hardware for those wanting to set up a decent home cinema system.

Vogel has announced its latest wall mount systems - the 8000 Series Motion and Motion+.

The Motion+ system allows a flat screen to be turned up to 75 degrees on either side, allowing the best view, and can also be set perpendicular to the wall.

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A company called Hi-Den Vision has just introduced its HD-0311 Tiny Hi-Def Photo Player gizmo that allows you to view your digital photos on a high definition TV via HDMI.

Aimed particularly at travellers, it offers a range of viewing customisation effects such as transitions, zooms, and such like, as well as playing back music and video clips.

It will read files from anything you can connect up via USB, and the unit measures just 4.8 x 10.1 x 1.6cms and weighs 50g.

It has a US retail price of $42.99.

Product page

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Come on, wake up! Memory cards aren't the most scintillating read going, but they are becoming ever more vital in the world of disk-less storage, particularly for high bandwidth applications like HD video.

Panasonic has announced its latest SDHC Memory Cards which conform to the Class 10 speed specification. Put simply, that means a maximum speed of 22MB/s.

Available in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB capacities.

samsung-i8910-hd-mobile-phone.pngSamsung has announced that its latest mobile phone, the i8910 HD, has launched in the UK today exclusively on the Orange network.

While we don't normally feature mobile phones on HDTVUK, this handset is one of the increasing number of ultra-portable devices capable of creating and outputting some kind of true high definition content.

In fact, Samsung is claiming a world first. The i8910 HD is the first mobile phone capable of capturing video in high definition.

linksys-WRT320N.jpgAs a likely baby brother to the Linksys WRT610N router launched last year, Cisco has announced its latest WRT320N Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router.

Designed to give priority to the streaming of high definition video content, it is based on the draft 802.11n high speed Wi-Fi specification and operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

The WRT320N is designed so that network performance is fine-tuned to give priority to High-Definition video without the need for manual configuration. PC users can customise their networks to give priority to certain devices, like gaming consoles, over others.

It's also Energy Star rated because it helps to reduce power consumption by almost half over previous models.

Available now for around £100.

buffalo-nfiniti-router.jpgBuffalo has announced the launch of its Nfiniti Wireless-N high power router and access point, providing an advanced high-speed networking solution for the home.

It can deliver speeds of up to 300Mbps so is well suited to streaming high definition content wirelessly between devices. It also has an extended range compared to standard 802.11g devices.

Also built-in is network attached storage (NAS) functionality to make file sharing easier, plus QoS technology for prioritising high bandwidth real-time traffic.

It's secure, featuring WPA2, WPA-PSK (AES, TKIP) and 128/64-bit WEP, and is easy to set up with the AirStation One-Touch Secure System.

Available now (product code WHR-HP-G300NH) for £89.99.

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