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Multimedia - Home Servers

Fibaro Teams Up With QNAP

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Fibaro Teams Up With QNAP

Smart home device maker Fibaro announces a partnership with network attached storage (NAS) manufacturer QNAP, one adding the features of Fibaro systems to QNAP NAS servers.

As a result, customers will be able to create a smart home via server and peripheral devices such as motion sensors, leak sensors, shutters and lighting controllers, with the NAS server taking the role of hub device. All one needs to turn a server into a home automation hub is a USB Z-Wave stick.

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A Caavo STB to Rule All TV Devices?

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A Caavo STB to Rule All TV Devices?

A startup founded by the developers of the Sling box presents what it hopes is one STB to rule them all-- the Caavo, an STB able to control up to 8 different devices at once, as well popular streaming services.

The Caavo comes in the shape of an stylish console complete with a replaceable wooden top. It has 8 HDMI inputs paired with software the developer claims automatically recognises and configures just about any device, making it a universal input for all home entertainment needs. Control comes through companion universal remote armed with touchscreen and multi-functional buttons, as well as connected voice-controlled assistants such as Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.

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Pioneer Pioneers PC 4K Blu-ray Drives

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Pioneer Pioneers PC 4K Blu-ray Drives

Pioneer is the first company to launch PC Blu-ray drives capable of playing UHD Blu-rays, providing customers with means to check out disc-based 4K resolution content on their computers.

The Japanese company offers two flavours of drive-- the regular BDRBDR-S11J-BK and higher-end BDR-S11J-X promising improved audio CD playback quality as well as more quiet performance.

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Nvidia Updates Shield TV at CES

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Nvidia Updates Shield TV at CES

The Nvidia CES 2017 keynote has the company reveal a refresh of the Shield TV streaming box-- an update complete with 4K HDR streaming capability for both games and movies.

Described by the company as "the streamer for gamers," the latest Shield TV comes with both a game controller and a regular remote. Customers can also control it through voice via Google Assistant, with an optional microphone accessory (named the Nvidia Spot) acting as an equivalent to the Amazon Echo speaker. Integration with the SmartThings smart home hub adds control of devices compatible with the Samsung automation platform.

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Plex Starts Playing Nice With Kodi

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Plex Starts Playing Nice With Kodi

A new plug-in allows customers to enjoy the best of two worlds-- the Plex media server gets an official add-on for the Kodi media player, bringing the two XBMC off-shoots together.

Back in 2002, there was Xbox Media Player, a self explanatory piece of software for the original Xbox. Eventually it was dubbed XBMC, before the developers settled for the Kodi name. Plex is also the result of XBMC, but while Kodi remains a media player Plex grew into a powerful and user-friendly media server solution able to access media from anywhere in the world.

Plex is available for just about any device out there, be it Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Roku, Xbox and a range of smart TVs. Now it is also available for Kodi via aforementioned add-on, combining the Plex server UI with the customisable Kodi media player. It offers a range of major features, including server discovery, user switching and library browsing, with more to be added in the future.

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The Remix IO Android-Powered Home Theatre PC

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The Remix IO Android-Powered Home Theatre PC

Jide Technology claims the Remix IO is 3 devices in one-- media streamer, PC and games console-- although one can also describe it as an Android-powered home theatre PC designed for use with the latest TVs.

The device supports 4K and HDR content, and is powered by an octa-core CPU promising 4K@60 video output. It also features 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD card) and runs on Remix OS, a modified version of the Android operating system. As such it should be able to handle most, if not all, Android and Android TV apps.

Interestingly, the Remix IO offers dual use modes-- a TV mode complete with larger app icons and IR remote compatibility, and a Windows-style PC mode ideal for mouse and keyboard use. Wired connectivity comes through HDMI, VGA, x4 USB 2.0 and ethernet ports, while wifi and Bluetooth handle the wireless side.

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Nintendo Presents the Switch

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Nintendo Presents the Switch

Nintendo officially reveals its next piece of gaming hardware-- previously known as the "NX," the Switch is revealed to be a tablet-console hybrid with detachable controllers.

A slick announcement video has fashionable youths playing with the Switch in a variety of ways. For instance, a man first plays with the machine at home on an HDTV, before removing the tablet-style console from a base station, attaching a pair of controller accessories, and heading for a spot of outdoor gaming. Another scene has the two-part controller take the role of two separate gamepads, and players are also seen using regular wireless joypads.

The video also shows the machine used in a tournament setting (maybe a sign Nintendo wants to target the lucrative competitive e-sports scene?) between scenes of seamless transitions between home and portable gaming, as well as what looks like to be a built-in kickstand. As for games media, cartridges appear to be making a comeback.

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Google to Launch Chromecast Ultra?

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Google to Launch Chromecast Ultra?

The Google event taking place on 4 October 2016 will surely see the search giant reveal a smartphone or two, but both Android Police and VentureBeat claim the company has another surprise in store-- a 4K-capable Chromecast.

Reportedly dubbed the "Chromecast Ultra," the device will supposedly be sold alongside the current Chromecast dongle. Being 4K-capable the device carries more powerful hardware, allowing it to stream higher resolution content from mobile devices to HDMI-equipped displays. Android Police adds the 4K dongle was originally meant for a 2015 release, but the launch was scrapped for an unknown reason.

Interestingly, if one is to check the latest version of the Chromecast firmware (currently available in beta form to members of the Chromecast Preview program), the Chromecast logo appears no more in the software. Replacing it is the Google "G" logo, the same VentureBeat claims will adorn the Chromecast Ultra hardware.

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PlayStation 4 Goes Pro

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PlayStation 4 Goes Pro

Sony details the long rumoured 4K-capable version of the PlayStation 4 console-- the PlayStation 4 Pro (formerly known as the "Neo"), an upgrade featuring an improved GPU and a boosted clock rate.

The PS4 Pro is designed for use with the latest TVs, and as such it outputs both 4K and HDR video. However it is not meant to be a next generation console, at least according to Sony. "PS4 Pro is not intended to blur the line between console generations," chief architect Mark Cerny says. "Instead, the vision is to take the PS4 experience to extraordinary new levels."

For the curious, the console carries an AMD "Jaguar" 8-core processor clocked at 2.1GHz together with a Radeon-based GPU able to push 4.2 TFLOPs of performance, 8GB GDDR5 memory and a 1TB HDD. The result should allow for games with higher resolutions (up to 2160p) and frame rates, as well as 4K video support and the 4K upscaling of previous PS4 titles.

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