Aiptek shows off a combo projector/battery pack for iPhone 5 available starting this month (Video)

Aiptek, the company behind a number of mobile projector products that we’ve seen in the past, is about to release a brand new pico projector for iPhone 5 and we just got our first look at the product during the ShowStoppers IFA event in Berlin. Texas Instruments, who provides the DLP technology powering the product’s projection experience, was on hand tonight at ShowStoppers showing off the new “MobileCinema i55.” It’s similar to other pico projector cases Aiptek has launched in the past, but this time provides a couple new features on top of built-in Lightning connector support for the iPhone 5. We went hands-on and have a video of the product in action below the fold.  Read more

Review: 29-inch 21:9 Philips Brilliance 298P4QJEB LCD monitor creates new MacBook/Desktop opportunities

I’ve been curious about the 21:9 display format since it started to creep into mainstream displays last year. Originally developed to display cinema grade movies natively, computer users are now snapping these up to give themselves a sort of wide ‘Bloomberg terminal’ without the break (and the swivel between displays).

I received the Philips 298P4 29-inch 21:9 display a few weeks ago and have set it up as my display at my desk.  It has an unusual 2560×1080 pixel display which is the same amount of pixels across as traditional 30 inch 16:10 displays or 27-inch 16:9 displays (like Apple’s 27-inch iMac or Thunderbolt Display). The 1080 pixels high however matches up with a typical 1080P display. I didn’t use it like a traditional desktop computer or with a laptop off to the side.

For me, I saw an opportunity to add a display on top of my Retina MacBook Pro whose keyboard/trackpad layout I find more usable than anything else out there including Apple’s Wireless Keyboard/Trackpad combo. The Philips’ stand (and this is the key part) allows the display to grow over the top of even the 15’inch Retina MacBook Pro so that I can continue to use the MBP keyboard and display even while looking up (for much improved posture) at the Philips display. It is also great for watching movies while working :D, unless productivity is a priority.

For this it was great, but how was the quality of the display?

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Apple *could* upgrade the little computer in the Lightning HDMI adapter to do better 1080p

Digital-A-V-connector-Lighting-take-apartWe reported over the weekend that there was some confusion over exactly how Apple’s new Lightning digital AV adapter works and why it lacks the ability to carry a native 1080p signal. One theory is that Apple was using an AirPlay wireless streaming protocol, but we’ve since learned that is not the case. According to a post  that purports to be from an anonymous Apple engineer explaining how the cables function, Apple does not use Airplay protocol. It instead uses the same H.264 encoding technology as AirPlay to encode the output into the ARM SoC. From there, the data is decoded and sent over HDMI:

It’s vastly the same thing with the HDMI adapter. Lightning doesn’t have anything to do with HDMI at all. Again, it’s just a high speed serial interface. Airplay uses a bunch of hardware h264 encoding technology that we’ve already got access to, so what happens here is that we use the same hardware to encode an output stream on the fly and fire it down the Lightning cable straight into the ARM SoC the guys at Panic discovered. Airplay itself (the network protocol) is NOT involved in this process. The encoded data is transferred as packetized data across the Lightning bus, where it is decoded by the ARM SoC and pushed out over HDMI.

Perhaps even more interesting is that Apple could improve the quality with future software updates since the firmware is stored in RAM as opposed to ROM. The poster noted that Apple deemed the quality “suitably acceptable” but *will* make improvements with future iOS updates: Read more

Quick Review and Gift Guide: Synology DiskStation, AOC 27″ IPS Monitor, DLP portable projectors

As we approach Christmas and the end of the year, we thought we would throw together some of the more interesting review items we received over the past months.

27-inch AOC LED IPS super slim monitor


First up is the $299 27-inch AOC LED IPS super slim monitor (I2757FH) that has a vague Mac aesthetic with a silver stand and ultra-thin bezel around the edges. This one comes with two HDMI ports, a VGA port, AUX audio ports, and some small speakers. The 27-inch IPS LED display is very nice, but it is obviously not as crisp as a Thunderbolt Display of the same size. And, after some adjustments to the default washed-out look, I was very happy with the color representation. Front capacitive controls are easy to deal with, and overall build quality is very nice, especially for AOC, but the downsides include: the lack of a USB hub, it is not easily wall-mountable, and the super small and poor tiny 4W speakers. You are definitely going to want to have separate speakers.

This AOC display would be best suited in an office/dorm room/bedroom doing double duty as a PC/Mac external display and perhaps display for an Apple TV/Cable box. Recommended at $299, or check out the USB Display link powered 22-inch display

Synology Diskstation NAS… Read more

Sharp’s new 4K IGZO 32-inch display has Apple written all over it

Sharp is announcing a 32-inch 4K monitor today that uses its LGZO LCD tech expected to hit the Japanese market in February 2013. The roughly $5,500 PN-K321 monitor sports a 3,840-by-2,160 resolution and HDMI and DisplayPort inputs. According to Sharp, it will also be the thinnest monitor frame on the market at just 35mm. Even if analysts were wrong about a full-fledged TV set from Apple next year, these new Sharp displays would certainly make a pretty Thunderbolt display.

Sharp will put its IGZO displays in the hands of consumers in the near future, as it recently announced its first 7-inch tablet to take advantage of the technology’s low-power consumption features. Apple decided to not go with Sharps’ IGZO displays for its latest round of iPad launches. It instead sourced display components from AU Optronics, LG Display, and Samsung, but several reports in the past indicated Apple is interested in the technology. Apple was even recently rumored to be potentially making an investment in the failing company—much like Apple partner Foxconn previously agreed to.

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First third-party Lightning to 30-pin adapters show up on Amazon for $10-18 (Ebay too)

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Look what just popped up on Amazon: A company called Nanotch is offering pre-orders for 30-pin to Lightning adapters. There had been concern when a report last month said the 9-pin adapters were only going to cost $10 each and Apple would be the sole manufacturer, but neither looks to be true.

The company listed the following features:

  • Lightning cable adapter for newest generation of Apple products.
  • Adapter to use your new Apple products with older accessories.
  • Use your iPhone 5 with older models of accessories.
  • 20cm cord.
  • Small adapter for easy connection.

There was some controversy in the first few hours of the iPhone 5 pre-orders because Apple’s Store website said a 30-pin adapter was included with the iPhone 5. Apple quickly removed the error but confused some customers in the process.

The Nanotch item is currently listed for pre-order. As with most third-party Amazon sales, buyer beware.

Update: Ebay has these as well and another item, which more closely resembles Apple’s adapter, is from seller ‘iTronz” below and ships next week: Read more

Retina MacBook Pros run three external displays, refreshed Airs get dual external display support

Picture by Gabor Cselle

While Apple already recognized in its support documents for Thunderbolt that the new Retina MacBook Pro supports up to three external displays (as pictured above from Other World Computing’s recent tests of the setup), it has yet to confirm official support for the refreshed Ivy Bridge MacBook Airs. Today, we get word that the new MacBook Airs indeed support two external Thunderbolt displays thanks to the recent “Mac OS X Lion Update (Mid-2012 MacBook Air)” update that “improves external display support.” Apple has not updated the device’s specs page to reflect support for dual external Thunderbolt monitors.

The image below from OWC shows two iMacs running at 2,560-by-1,440 as Thunderbolt displays, and it shows an LG monitor at 1,920-by-1,200 via HDMI. The post noted “moving images and media didn’t create any lag and we were able to play video on all four displays simultaneously.” This makes the new MacBooks the first to support up to four displays at their native resolution. Note: You could theoretically add even more space with AOC DisplayLink displays.

The refreshed MacBook Air with dual external Thunderbolt displays is pictured above, while the MacBook Pro with three displays is below:
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Review: Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD Projector turns your iOS device into a portable home movie theater

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Just seeing Epson’s MegaPlex iOS device projector at tradeshows and in still pictures doesn’t do it justice. Set up in a small, awkward booth and surrounded by bright lights, the projector does not inspire a second look. It was not until I got a private screening at Macworld that I really saw what this thing could do.

The MegaPlex MG-850HD is an incredibly bright 2800 lumen 720P projector with some mighty 10-watt stereo speakers built-in, but it adds something that you would not find in many other high-end consumer projectors: a 30-pin iOS device dock. The dock will accommodate anything from an iPod touch, iPhone, or even any iPad.

Amazon has the MegaPlex MG-850HD for $612. Buy.com has it for $620.

This thing is a Portable. Home. Movie Theater—and I mean that in every sense of the word “portable.” At less than eight pounds and with a sturdy handle, it is easy to pack and take it to the parents’ house, or even move it from the basement to the bedroom. Your iOS device is the “brains” of this thing, and it starts working immediately upon plugging in, so it takes only seconds to set up. You can watch your iTunes, Hulu, or Netflix videos in under a minute after choosing a destination.

Similar to most high-end projectors, this one features manual movable feet to adjust projection angles, focus, zoom, and horizontal keystone. The MegaPlex also does auto-vertical keystone and iris controls to make setting it up at angles surprisingly easy.

This thing boasts some range, as well. With the early spring weather this year, we turned an evening birthday party into an impromptu outdoor movie showing on the backside of our house (with a sheet over a window). The MegaPlex is rated for an over 25-foot diagonal screen, and I can attest that it looks fantastic even before it is fully dark outside.

With that said, something even better happened with the release of the new iPad and 1080P Apple TV…

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Pioneer Airplay 3D Home Theater Receiver with iOS App controls: $300

Amazon offers the Pioneer 840-watt 7.1-Channel 3D Home Theater Receiver, model no. VSX-1021-K, for $299.99 (add it to your cart to see the price). With free shipping, that’s $20 under our mention from last month and the lowest total price we could find by $99. Features include 120 watts per channel into seven channels, Airplay streaming, iPod, iPhone, and iPad App compatibility, Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity, five HDMI inputs with 3D passthrough, one HDMI output, and more.

Just last week, the older model, without Airplay, was slashed to the same price.

Videos below: Read more

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 770W 7.1 3D Home Theater Receiver: $299

From 9to5Toys.com:

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Today only, Amazon has the Pioneer VSX-1020-K Home Theater Receiver for $299 with free shipping.  That’s close to half off the list price of this 770W 7.1 3D iPod/iPhone/iPad-controlled stereo system which features include six HDMI 1.4 inputs, 110 watts of power into seven channels, subwoofer output, and more.

iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2.

We covered the VSX-1020-K when it was launched last year for $549.  Since then it has been superseded by newer Pioneer products with Airplay. Read more

Hulu Plus app is ready for Apple TV, decision to update is “political not technical”

We’ve gotten word that inside Apple there are Apple TVs running the Hulu Plus app natively. The app is feature complete and ready to roll out to Apple TV users on current builds. In fact, it has been ready for at least a month and development is now on hold.

While there are no technical issues standing in the way of the Hulu Plus release on Apple TV, there appear to be some political ones. At some level at Apple, there appears to be some consideration that the Hulu Plus app could eat into iTunes TV sales on the Apple TV. Where Netflix tends to run older programming, iTunes is the Apple TV’s only outlet for current TV programming.

Hulu Plus is available on the iPad and other iOS devices but unlike many other content apps, you can’t AirPlay them to an Apple TV like Apple’s own iTunes videos. Additionally, you can use an HDMI cable to watch the iOS Hulu Plus through an iPad on your HDTV, but mysteriously only in Standard definition, not the native HD Hulu or iTunes quality. Plus, who needs an HDMI-tethered solution?

Adding to the political troubles, Hulu was recently trying to sell itself to players including Apple competitor Google (and Apple itself) but no bidders were willing to bid high enough. Perhaps Apple wanted to make sure that Hulu Plus didn’t turn into a Trojan Horse for one of its competitors?

Hulu Plus was originally barred from all TV platforms, but giving hope to Apple TV users, it recently appeared in HD on the $59 Roku (above) and even a few smaller platforms like the very capable Western Digital’s TV Live (pictured below).

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VMware View Client for iPad updated with iOS 5 support- Airplay, multitasking, more

In anticipation of Citrix Synergy 2011 in Barcelona, VMware has just pushed out a huge update to all of their mobile View clients, which are used to access a Windows virtual machine from your iPad and other mobile devices.

Other than a refined and slightly resdesinged UI, the name of the game for the iPad client update (version 1.2) is definitely iOS 5 support. That means you will now be able to use multitasking without losing your current session. Before today’s update, lack of the feature really took away from the experience of being able to use native iPad features/apps and your virtual machine’s apps simultaneously. Parallels ($79) has had much of this functionality for awhile now.

Also included as part of the iOS 5 support is AirPlay. While the previous client allowed you to hook up to a larger display via HDMI or VGA adapter, the updated View client has full AirPlay support allowing you to use the $99 Apple TV as a wireless go between. Another really nice addition that goes great with AirPlay support is a new full-screen keyboard and trackpad combo (image above). This will of course only be enabled when using an external display.

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