AirTies: Hands on

Let’s face it: streaming video technology tends to be a bit crap. The problem is, manufacturers make bold claims such as a line-of-sight range of 50 metres. And then when you bring it home, you get two metres and a kick in the face (metaphorical).  We met the nice people at AirTies, who then promised us a streaming video range of 50m LOS. Uh-oh.

AirTies

And everything turned out okay. The range held up in our real-world conditions, and we were streaming. Proving the device isn’t useless, let’s talk about the features.

The wireless inside the system works in either 2.4 or 5 GHz – 802.1 1b/g/n. The company seemed particularly excited by the 5 GHz band. It allows high-speed 300 Mbps transfers, which means the three HD streams can travel across the device without losing any quality.

It also means that the already crowded 2.4 GHz network will not interfere with your streaming operations. It also means that you’re not at risk from microwave interference.

And even if you do choose to operate on a slower speed, AirTies has a unique software that detects interfering channels and cycles through alternatives until it finds the least crowded network. Due to 2ms buffer on video content, the routers can do this without interrupting the streaming content. From our tests, that’s entirely true.

Setup is simple. The Air 4420 routers (of which you get two in the Wireless Kit) have a one-touch network set-up. Plug one into your existing route, the other into your DLNA-compatible device, and push a button on each. That’s it. The routers will then talk to each other and create a secure WPA connection. There’s a web-interface to access this later, but you’ll probably never need to.

If you have trouble with the device’s range, and always buying more and create a mesh network, extending the range by another 50m LOS.

There’s even a USB port for plugging in a USB stick or external hard drive. Any files on the USB device can then be accessed remotely over network. Every AirTies box can have a different USB device, and it does the same for USB printers, too.  A DLNA streamer with a built-in Media Server? Sweet.

All-in-all, it’s a great offering. For £89.99, you can get your DLNA TV connected, hook up your console to the internet at speeds of 300Mbps and create your own media server (or two). Oh, and we got it working through 10M and two quite thick walls.

AirTies: Dry your hair, cook dinner – and still enjoy a wireless connection

Connected TVs are big news nowadays – with the ability to download videos and catchup TV direct to your TV set, they sound like the perfect multimedia solution. But because our homes are so full of gadgetry (maybe some more than others!) there’s an added problem.

Wireless connections can be at the mercy of signals from other gadgetry such as microwaves and hair dryers, which means that your connection can prove jittery and suffer from lag.

AirTies-unit

Step in the good folk at AirTies, who have taken pity on us techno geeks by coming up with Air 4420, a solution that connects hybrid and IPTVs and Ethernet-enabled TVs and players wirelessly to your home network and the internet – and they promise it can all happen with one-touch self-service installation.

The Air 4420 wireless devices are installed in pairs. One is connected to the IP Gateway while the other connects to the IPTV set top-box or the Ethernet port of a network-enabled TV or player. Next, says AirTies, you simply press a button to wirelessly connect the TV or the player to the net or your home network. If you have several TVs, wireless repeaters can be added to extend the wireless range.

Because Air 4420 operates at 5GHz frequency, it offers 22 channels for interference-free, high-speed 300Mbps wireless networking, so you can watch High Definition video, listen to music or view photos at high speeds.

Add an external USB disk drive and you have a UPnP AV compatible media server which will allow video, music and photos to be displayed on UPnP AV compatible TVs and players.

For more details log on to www.airties.com

Altec Lansing inMotion Air: Music player of my streams

Altec Lansing’s inMotion Air is looking to redefine what a stereo can be – in the future consumers will no longer require a system that can play a multitude of mediums – the inMotion Air is looking to this future – a future where you just want to stream music from your many Bluetooth enabled devices including iPads, iPods, mobile phones and just about any other bluetooth device with music on it.

inMotion-Air

Not only can it stream music from devices it can stream Internet radio or other audio content from your computer using a wireless dongle.

Available in slate black or gunmetal, the inMotion Air has top-mounted controls, a soft-texture finish and built-in handle.

Its wireless adapter hooks into your computer and can transmit stereo audio up to a range of 100 metres. Which means it could be easily be used as an ideal product for anyone who wants music in the garden or a room away from your computer.

No software or driver installation is required – making setup simple and fast to pair the Air with the adaptor involves holding down the pairing button on the speaker and on the USB dongle, and when the lights alternately flash red and blue, they are paired.

The inMotion Air comes with a built-in rechargeable Lithium-ion battery for portable use, providing up to seven hours of music. So it’s the perfect device for getting your ever-burgeoning digital music collection out into your garden or lounge – and most importantly away from those horrible PC speakers.

A notable inclusion for those you concerned about the quality degradation is Altec Lansing’s apt-X Bluetooth codec, which supposedly gets around the main bugbear with Bluetooth, the lack of quality. It creates superior sound quality, and the Bluetooth Class 1 system used cuts down on interference from wi-fi networks and cordless phones.

If you buy two units they can be linked to the same transmitter for basic multi-room playback, and the remote gives control for both iTunes and Windows Media Centre – so you don’t have keep going back the computer to change tracks.

If you’re looking for a premium speaker box that’s a step above the average run of the mill iPhone speaker and you want to be able to stream music, with possibility of multiroom support, then we see no reason why shouldn’t consider the inMotion Air – it offers functionality, quality all at a reasonable price.

It costs around £180-£200 and is available from Apple, John Lewis, Dixons and PC World stores.

HomeFree Duet: Freeview comes to your iPad

AverMedia has come up with the bright idea of a network-attached TV tuner and an app that enable iPad fondlers to watch Freeview TV on their tablet devices.

AverMedia

The HomeFree Duet connects t your digital TV aerial and wireless network router. Then it can stream real-time digital TV to IPads, as well as Windows laptops and PCs. Using the HomeFree player app, available from Apple’s App Store, users can watch all the freely available digital stations. And because the Home Free Duet has two TV tuners, it is possible for two people to watch different channels on two different iPads or computers.

The HomeFree player has a touchscreen interface, allowing you to see channel and programme details as well as an electronic programme guide. To change channels, just tap and drag on the iPad display. You can even grab screenshots of anything you’re watching, to share with mates or upload onto social networking sites.

The HomeFree Duet will be on sale for £149.99 from Amazon in December. The HomeFree player app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store from the middle of December for £2.99.

And if you feel like your whole home is being overtaken by gadgetry (and yet don’t want to stop adding to it), the good news is that the HomeFree Duet is no hulking behemoth, but is, in fact, smaller than your iPad.

More details from Aver Media.

TWIG: Three’s Human Hotspots, Chilli WatchCam and LG’s NetCast

The Week in Gadgets

If you see one of these dudes in the streets, sidle up to them, they’ll probably have something you’ll find useful  – wifi. The ‘Human Hotspots’ will use Three’s MiFi®, which uses Three’s 3G network to create a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

Three-Human-HotSpots

I own a MiFi (I went out and bought one … well it was online so I stayed in and bought one … the point is Three didn’t give one to me) and it’s a spectacularly useful device – especially with the array of tablets, smartphones and gaming devices I carry on my person. Research by Three has shown that one third (31 per cent) of Brits are planning to buy one of this year’s hot mobile gadgets such as a tablet, Sony Playstation PSP and an Amazon Kindle, as a gift this Christmas, while 60 per cent of people already own a mobile gadget themselves.

You’ll find Three’s Human Hotspots in:

  • London  (Friday 19th November, if you can turn back time)
  • Cardiff (Friday 26th November)
  • Bristol (Saturday 27th November)
  • Nottingham (Saturday 4th December)
  • Newcastle (Saturday 11th December)

It seems like only yesterday that we were looking at Swann’s range of spy gadgets. Because it was. But it you didn’t quite get your fill of espionage related goods then you are in lucky as Chilli Technology have released the Watch Cam, a £44.99 time piece with a secret. Well a secret heavily implied in the name. The Watch Cam comes equipped with audio and video recording capabilities and can take jpeg stills as well. Recording is a one-touch affair and videos can be played back or edited on the PC. The internal memory is 2GB, which stores up to 2 hours of video captured via the 1.3 Megapixel/CMOS image sensor. The resolution is nothing fancy – simple 640 x 480 VGA, but you are unlikely to record a feature film on a watch (insert Clockers, Watchmen or War and Timepiece joke here). The battery should accommodate 2.5 hours of recording time. Chilli-Tech.

Own an LG TV? There’s a chance it just got a little bit better. Unlike the rapidly disappearing functionality of the Google TV, LG has enhanced its NetCast service to bring more internet TV services to users. Apps for your TV are the “next big thing” and LG have expanded their service offering to include Acetrax, Picasa, Google Maps, Facebook™, Twitter™ and an internet radio application. Bear in mind that a lot of these TVs feature DLNA, which means they can access your movies, pictures and music streamed over your home network. Which is insanely cool and slowly makes those set-top boxes piling up under your TV obsolete.

Q-waves: Supersize your laptop

How many times have you huddled on the couch around the laptop with your partner or friends to watch that hilarious YouTube video or bore them – I mean, enthrall them – with the latest photos of your holiday? How much easier would it be if you could view whatever you’re doing on your laptop screen on the TV screen, so you could all watch in comfort.

Well the folk at Q-waves have had the same thought – and have come up with a nifty gadget to wirelessly link a PC or laptop or netbook to your big screen TV.

Q-Waves

They say the Q-waves Wireless USB AV Kit lets you easily stream content straight onto a TV screen.
The gizmo takes whatever is showing on your small screen and puts it onto your wide screen, making it a great tool for PC gaming, Skype video calls, iPlayer content, movies, or photos.

The kit includes a pair of wireless USB adapters. Plug one into your laptop or PC, and the other into your TV – this creates a wireless zone across which files and films can be transferred. You can even continue to work on email, documents or browsing the web, while that film, for instance, is being streamed.

And now for the technical bit – the kit offers HDMI with full video/audio support ; VGA video connectivity with audio support through 3.5mm audio jack (stereo); 32-bit True Colour depth for high-quality images; Up to SXGA+ (1400×1050) resolution (WXSGA+ optional); 48 kHz, 16-bit Stereo sound and HD video up to 720P.

The Q-waves Wireless USB AV Kit is available now from Advanced MP3 Players (), priced at £99.

Digital Stream DPS-1000: Catch-Up TV player … plays catch up

With the digital switch-over in full swing, now has never been a better time for manufacturers to unveil the latest in set-top box technology.

In August we had a look at some of the market’s best options for those who hadn’t made the step-up to digital television yet, with the Boxee Box – a hub allowing you to watch content from your computer – leading the way in innovation.

DigitalStream

But now John Lewis has announced that they’re putting on sale the Digital Stream DPS-1000 Catch-Up TV player, at a price of £89.50.

The box’s selling point is all about watching catch-up television (BBC’s iPlayer etc.) without the need to connect to a computer. Yes, that’s right – missed that episode of The Apprentice? Well you don’t need to get up, find your laptop and load up your browser anymore. Simply connect the set-top box to your Internet connection and your TV and away you go.

It also lets you connect to streaming outlets such as YouTube, CNN Daily Video and Delicious TV – but we’re left wondering if the first of three is the only one of real use.

One of the more redeeming features here however is social networking connectivity, with the likes of Facebook and Twitter on hand – although older devices like Microsoft’s XBOX 360 foreshadowed this some time ago.

One glaring drawback of the Catch-Up Player is its lack of wireless ability, meaning that you’ll have to have the box near enough to phone-line access to connect the Ethernet cable to – no Sunday morning catch-up of Doctor Who in the cosy loft then.

Compared to the other set-top boxes and digital television delights we looked at – including integrated Freeview HD – the Digital Stream Catch-Up TV player seems quite like the Emmerdale of set-top boxes. It’s got good intentions, but with strong competition, it doesn’t quite cut it.

Intempo RDI-02 iPod dock: Apple rumble

Steve Jobs once stood up and said, “an iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. These are not three separate devices. This is one device.” And in a single act of technological convergence, Apple changed the face of the mobile phone industry. The developers at Intempo also believe in uniting functionality, which is why they made the RDI iPhone dock with built-in DAB radio. And then, again like Apple, they made a newer version that blew the old one away – the RDI-02.

Intempo-iPod-dock

The built-in DAB radio is the key difference between an Intempo RDI-02 and a normal iPod dock. Intempo has been pushing DAB technology from the very start, and its advanced digital radios have filled houses around the UK for years.

It also means that they’re experts at packing a lot of sound from a very small space, which is what they’ve improved on over the RDI-01. Despite retaining the same, compact form, the engineers at Intempo have managed to squeeze in speakers that produce a huge 50 watts. The output comes from two mid-range speakers, accompanied by a bass-boosting sub-woofer.
While no-one has had a chance to play with one yet, CNET’s review of the older model seems like a fair summary of the Intempo sound: “

On the whole, sound quality’s pretty good for the price. Although a little heavy in the high-end, audio is well-driven and volume booms up to a good level. A little acoustic rock from Dashboard Confessional highlighted the RDI’s bright sound, but also that it offers enough oomph to give the floor a bit of a rumble.”

With the RDI-02’s bigger output (up from the 30 watts of the previous model), that “bit of a rumble” is sure to be more far more earth-shaking than before.

The other major upgrade is on the controls. Gone are the buttons of yester-year (another thing Apple helped innovate away), replaced by a touch-panel. This not only makes the piano black device more attractive, but it also feels more futuristic.
There’s a remote control (with 23 buttons, so much touch-panel there), letting you remotely change even the most nitty-gritty settings like treble and bass. It also includes a menu key to access all of your iPod settings and playlists, as well as up to 16 radio presets.

Our personal favourite touch, however, is the alarm clock. You can choose to wake up to a traditional buzzer, the radio or, and this is the best part, your favourite tunes from your iPod. Personally, we recommend recording an MP3 of a loved one gently whispering in your ear, ala Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky.

The DAB and FM radio itself has all the functions you’d expect from a brand like Intempo. There’s a pretty decent autoscan, and a simple button for switching between DAB or FM – as well as the iPod speaker dock. If your iPod or iPhone is away on leave, you can tuck the pull-out dock away to leave an almost seamless-looking radio.

If you are an iPhone user, it’ll even let you answer your phone while rocking out, automatically cutting in to a song when you receive a call. And if you’re not an Apple user at all, there is also an AUX-IN port for plugging in other audio devices via the 3.5mm mini-jack.