Wireless, Blu-ray And Streaming
Along with myriad of displays adorning the stands at CEDIA, we also saw plenty of kit which addresses the issue of how to get your HD content onto your screen in the first place. There were many companies offering HDMI over CAT5 converters and wireless USB hubs allowing you to place your media PC or AV kit in a completely different room to that of your PC, but one of the more impressive devices was Cideko’s
Air Tune, a device able to wirelessly stream 720p over N WiFi to a dedicated set top box receiver box.
With wireless N’s large range and the addition of a wireless N USB hub the Air Tune could remove a lot of the constraints and concerns when building a media PC – who cares if a system is huge and noisy if it’s sat in far away from where you’re actually trying to watch your media! It also has the potential to easily bring the power of your desktop PC into the living room without having to build a separate system or install wiring.
We do have some concerns though, especially in the rather limited range of resolutions capable of being streamed – the maximum is currently 1,024x768, which seems pretty stingy considering the large amount of bandwidth wireless N is capable of.
Left: The Ciedeko Air Tune offers Wireless HD streaming; Right: The Xtreme Media Server is a bleeding edge Blu-Ray device with a price tag that you'd expect from a brand new car
Elsewhere there were insanely high end Blu-Ray player/entertainment server setups from Xtream Media Servers
, both of which offer similarly extravagantly expensive setups. Both are similar in the way that they’re based around a central unit capable of ripping the image of a Blu-ray, DVD or CD and then playing it through either the principle unit, or an extension unit connected via Gigabit LAN. It’s certainly a neat idea for those with mammoth Blu-ray or DVD collections, but the price tag is sure to put off all but the most Gangsta of Rappers
and DotCom millionaires – prices for the Xtream Media Servers start at £5,500 for a basic unit with just 1.5TB of storage! That’s a lot of money to pay just to avoid the bother of putting a disc in a drive.
The HDHomeRun turns any PC connected to your network into a TV, (even if you're in the bath apparently), while elsewhere multi-zone audio streaming also proved popular, but pricey.
Elsewhere in more affordable land is the HDHomeRun
, a device that’s able to turn any computer on your network into a Freeview TV, complete with with time lapse and PVR functions. It’s a refreshingly simple bit of kit compared to the myriad of media players and set top boxes we’ve looked at recently, and comes fitted with twin digital tuners able to output up to 1080i (if you live in a country where such services are available over the airwaves), and boasting full compatibility with Windows Media Centre and VLC.
It’s a very nifty looking bit of kit, and should be perfect for those living in a shared house or who want to watch TV anywhere – as long as you’ve got a laptop and decent WiFi you’re good to go. We’ll be looking at the HDHomeRun in a lot more detail when we review it shortly, but for now we’ve got pictures of a man in a bath – apparently he was showing off how the HomeRun lets you watch TV anywhere, but was a bit concerned about trying to sell the bath at the end of the show.