Prestigio Emporio ION 330 nettop review

You may remember that we went to visit Prestigio a while back (you have been paying attention, haven’t you?) and saw some of their range of brand “lifestyle” goods, targeting men aged 30-50. Although some of this range was simply leather USB keys and mice emblazoned with Ferrari logos (I’m under 30 so am blind to the charms of these items) other more interesting products included a wireless HDMI bridge and the Emporio ION 330 – an HTPC/net top.

Emporio ION 330

Like all net top PCs the Emporio ION 330 is small, but unlike most net tops, the Emporio has a really slick looking design – it looking design – it’s unobtrusive on the average home theatre shelf and looks great. And if you really don’t like the look of it you can hide it behind your flatscreen using the included mounting bracket.

The curved design is pretty slim, but you can beef it out with an optical media drive if you so desire. There is a optional USB-connected DVD drive (which in 2010 you probably don’t need all that much) or a Blu Ray player, so you can have a fairly modern home theatre set up in a diminutive package (it doesn’t have 3D blu ray support but unless you are really keen on cloudy with a chance of Meatballs then this is not really an issue).

The onboard NVIDIA® ION™ with Intel® Atom™ processor means you can coax the unit into stutter free 1080p playback and 2—4Gb memory onboard makes most tasks that one would do from the sofa chug along nicely.

The unit ships with Windows 7 Home Premium or Prestigio Suite 2010 on Kubuntu Linux. The skinned Prestigio Linux distro is customised for couch surfing (adjust your TV for overscan to ensure the screen stays on the edges) and Prestigio score multiple bonus points for including XBMC preinstalled. XBMC or XBox Media Centre is a open source project that represents the best of what the open source community can do when it puts its mind to it. Originally a hack for the original XBox to playback music and video file, it quickly became the defining media organising experience – something that none of the professional companies with DLNA-capable devices such as Sony, Samsung or LG have come close to touching. XBMC is possibly the best thing I’ve ever touched. Still. So that was amazing inclusion.

However I did come across some audio issues with HDMI audio. If you are used to Linux, then you will be no strainer to the subsequent Googling, forum posts, and Terminal commands that are need to fix this. If the thought of using the command line in this day and age horrifies you, then you are probably better off installing Win 7. Or you could try wiping the whole thing and installing an XBMC live CD.

The Prestigio Emporio ION 330 is out now.

Acer Revo 100: Nettop and multimedia functionality

We seem to spend more time in our house connecting up various gadgets and gizmos than actually enjoying them, so anything that makes multimedia playing easier gets an automatic tick in my book. So on paper, at least, the multimedia nettop, the Acer Revo 100, sounds like a good idea.

Acer-Revo

How does it work? Well, the Revo 100 features Acer clear.fi, an application that you run on your home network, and which its makers say will automatically find all your home entertainment devices – smartphone, netbook, notebook, HD media player, home storage device, all-in-one PC – and lets you find, share, play, store and of course enjoy, all your multimedia content anywhere in your home. With a slim and elegant body, you can store the Revo vertically on its stand, or lay it flat as you would a DVD player.

It’s easy to set up, as you can immediately connect devices, and it provides a simple way to share your multimedia libraries; just drag and drop to play or save media files to any of your devices.

An unusual feature is the dual-mode wireless touchpad. A toggle allows you to transform it into a touch keyboard, or use as a touch pad browsing, rotating and zooming using your finger.

The Acer Revo 100 is powered by AMD Athlon™ II Neo dual-core processor and has next-generation NVIDIA® ION™ graphics solution for a premium 1080P full HD performance. It is configurable with an internal TV tuner plus either a DVD burner or a BD Combo optical drive. The BD Combo offers full 1080P 3D playback when connected to any 3D enabled HDMI display. It supports up to 4 GB of DDR3 memory.

It also has three USB ports and a multi-in-one card reader, wireless and wired LAN and is preloaded with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system for more traditional PC functions.

IOGEAR’s HTPC wireless keyboards: A new type of remote control?

As technology and gadgets are becoming progressively smaller, the latest device to get a miniature makeover is a wireless keyboard – or two to be precise – designed to making navigating your HTPC a more luxurious experience.
The GKM571R and the GKM581R are elegantly designed, the former so elegant in fact that it can fit in the palm of your hand. Both of these interesting and innovative keyboards have an optical trackball, work in a 2.4GHz frequency band and have a 1200dpi sensor with a scroll wheel and hot keys. In simpler terms IOGEAR’s new keyboards provide a refreshing alternative to ungainly full-sized keyboards, and being wireless, you can snuggle on your bed or sofa and work your Home Theatre PC to your heart’s content.

IOGEAR-keyboard

As well as possessing ‘hotkeys’ to speed up the remote control process even further, the GKM571R key’s are also backlit so that they are easily visible in even the most dimly lit of surroundings. Whilst the GKM581R is slightly bigger than its palm-sized sibling, suiting those with ‘clumsier’ of fingers, and looks more like a conventional keyboard, both have been acutely engineered for aesthetics, ergonomics and mobility, and provide a comfortable solution for managing multimedia content of up to 33 meters away.

Both lazy-encouraging devices cost well under £100, and like any gadget aimed at making life easier, IOGEAR may well be onto a winner with its two new wireless HTPC keyboards.

Although innovative and languorous-enhancing remote controls do not stop here, as remote control apps for Smartphones are becoming increasingly popular. Earlier this year Verizon introduced a mobile app for HTC Imagio and Motorola Droid, that enables users to control channel changing, volume and DVR scheduling via their Smartphone for its FiOS TV digital TV service.

Whilst the traditional TV remote control, despite all the family bickers it has caused, has had an impressive 60 year run, we fear its days might be numbered, because as the world becomes more reliant on compact, wireless and rapid-functioning devices, squabbling over a mere remote control may be as antiquated as a VCR video recorder.

Preparing for the digital handover: the best of the set-top boxes

It all started off with a trial in the small Welsh communities of Ferryside and Llansteffan. 500 properties switched over to digital television in 2005, way before anyone else did, as part of a Government trial. Next was the Copeland area in the Borders in 2007. And now in 2010, BBC One and Two, ITV, Channel Four and five are systematically being dumped from the analogue airwaves as the Digital Switchover really starts to take a grip across the UK.

There’s a whole host of digital television set-top boxes out there to buy if you’ve never made the digital TV leap yet – but if you fancy something a little different, there’s also a load of other digital avenues to investigate.

Boxee-Box

There’s a host of HTPCs around – Home Theatre PCs – or integrated digital TVs too, but are these about to sound a death knell for the more traditional set-top box? LatestGadgets decided to look at some set-top boxes on the market and ponders if they’re about to become obsolete in the face of more upmarket and deviant forms of digital television.

1. Philips DTR220 Freeview Set-Top Box – With a guide price of £35, this set-top box is digital television at a modest price and perfect for those on analogue television needing to make the transition to digital.

2. Alba ALDTR160 Freeview+ recorder (guide price £70) – Taking the next step up, Freeview+ draws inspiration from Tivo and Sky+ and allows you to record digital televison. It’s got a 160GB hard drive, equating to 80 hours of material, so recording your episodes of Coronation St. hasn’t quite been so easy.

3. Sky+ HD – You can now pick up Sky+ boxes relatively cheaply if you’re about to join Sky – or if you’re an existing customer – so there hasn’t really been a better time to delve into satellite television. And with HD functionality too, super-sharp image quality is one of this box’s more redeeming features.

4. Sony Bravia KDL46EX503U (£996.55 on Amazon) – Splash out with the 46-inch Sony Bravia TV with built in Freeview HD. It’s got all the mod-cons – like WiFi and Internet Video capabilities – and of course, integrated Freeview HD. Freeview has never quite been so luxurious.

5. Boxee Box – Boxee is a novel concept – a free computer program allowing you to collate videos from your computer and the Internet, pulling content from a number of outside sources too, such as YouTube and Last.fm. D-Link have made the soon-to-be-released Boxee Box, a sleek looking box which removed the PC from the Boxee equation, allowing you to watch content from the Internet or your hard drive. It’s similar to Home Theater PCs, but is designed for the living room.