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Multimedia - Home Servers

Google Rivals Echo Show With Smart Display

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Google Rivals Echo Show With Smart Display

Google clearly means business at its first CES 2018 appearance, with a massive booth hosting the reveal of Smart Display, the search giant's take on the Amazon Echo Show devices.

Smart Display is, essentially, a platform for Google Assistant-powered smart speakers featuring a display. Google insists such devices are not mere Android tablets, since they use a full voice interface and actually run on Android Things, a variant of the OS designed for IoT. Smart Display devices cannot run apps and present traditional assistant functionality using what appears to be a card-based UI.

YouTube support comes out of the box-- unlike the Echo Show, following the recent Google-Amazon kerfuffle-- while a built-in camera allows for Google Duo videoconferencing. It can also act as a home automation hub when paired with other Google Assistant-compatible devices, such as Nest cameras or thermostats.

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Xbox One X Streams 4K YouTube

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Xbox One X Streams 4K YouTube

The Xbox One X handles 4K video out of the box-- and after an app update it can also stream YouTube in 4K at up to 60fps, providing owners of 4K TVs to invest the latest Microsoft console.

Technically Microsoft has been supporting 4K video since 2016 with the launch of the Xbox One S, the smaller version of the Xbox One with 4K and HDR playback capabilities. However Google took its time to roll out support for the format. Currently only the Xbox One X handles 4K YouTube, but the Xbox One S should receive an update soon enough.

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HDMI 2.1 Specification Gets Release

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HDMI 2.1 Specification Gets Release

The HDMI Forum announces version 2.1 of the HDMI specification-- an update promising support for a range of higher video resolutions and refresh rates, including 8K60 and 4K120.

Version 2.1 handles resolutions up to 10K, together with dynamic HDR formats. Bandwidth capability is increased to 48Gbps through a Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable able to handle uncompressed 8K video with HDR with exceptionally low EMI (electro-magnetic interference) and backwards compatibility with existing HDMI devices.

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Microsoft Opens Xbox One X Preorders

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Microsoft Opens Xbox One X Preorders

The pre-Gamescom 2017 Microsoft press conference has the company open preorders for the upcoming Xbox One X with a special edition of the console-- the Project Scorpio Edition.

Named after the machine's original code name, the Project Scorpio Edition has a custom gradient design on the exterior, together with the Project Scorpio branding stamped on the controller and console. Meanwhile the retail packaging features a giant X reminiscent of the original Xbox.

However one has to keep in mind the Scorpio Edition is identical to the regular Xbox One X-- it is simply something special for the fans and early adopters.

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How to Turn an Android Box into a DVR

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How to Turn an Android Box into a DVR

Android STB maker Tablo announces a solution for customers wanting to record over-the-air (OTA) TV using their Android TV box-- the Tablo Tuner and Tablo Engine app combo.

First previewed back at CES 2016, the Tablo Tuner is a dual-tuner USB adapter connecting a TV adapter to the Android TV box in question (such as the Nvidia shield). Once connected, users need to install the Tablo Engine app on their STB, transforming it into a means to discover, watch and record live HDTV without need for DVR hardware or an always-on PC.

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Microsoft Presents Xbox One X

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Microsoft Presents Xbox One X

E3 2017 has Microsoft detail the next iteration of the Xbox games console-- the Xbox One X, a 4K-capable machine described as "the world's most powerful console."

First announced back at E3 2016 as "Project Scorpio," the Xbox One X (not to be confused with the Xbox One S, the more compact version of the Xbox One) promises to be more powerful than the Sony take on the 4K-capable consoles, the PlayStation 4 Pro. How so? Microsoft says it carries a custom 8-core AMD CPU clocked at 2.3GHz, a 6 teraflop GPU clocked at 1.17GHz and 12GB of GDDR5 video RAM. In comparison, the PS4 Pro has a 4.2 teraflop GPU.

The result is a machine able to push 4K resolution visuals at 60fps, as well as HDR and Dolby Atmos support. Customers without a 4K TV should also get some visual improvements, since the Xbox One X can refine 1080p visuals further through supersampling. Also included in the machine are a UHD Blu-ray drive for 4K movies and 1TB storage.

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ECJ Rules STBs With Piracy Add-Ons Illegal!

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ECJ Rules STBs With Piracy Add-Ons Illegal!

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) takes a further step against film and TV piracy as it declares STBs configured for easy streaming are against the law.

The ruling comes via decision taken in the Dutch district case against one Mr. Wullems, who used to sell multimedia players through the website Filmspeler.nl. The court decreed Wullems' actions as a "communication to the public" (a peculiar doctrine specific to European law) in breech of copyright law, and following the decision the sale of all such players is, essentially, illegal.

Filmspeler.nl sold Android-based STBs running a version of Kodi pre-loaded with plugins allowing for easy access to pirated streams. European law allows to the temporary reproduction of copyrighted work (which is what a stream technically does) but the court insists piracy-friendly boxes adversely affect the actual copyright holder, and thus go against the exemption.

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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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