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Today’s Show:

Philips Prestigo SRU8008 Universal Remote Control

We’ll admit it, there are other companies that make remote controls.  We decided to try one this week.  The Prestigo 8008 is a cool remote with a color screen, but how does it stack up to the entry level Harmony 510?  Excellent question.

First of all, the Prestigo has a color screen, so it looks a little sexier than the Harmony’s circa 1974 green screen.  The Prestigo’s button layout is nice, and it even has a jog wheel for any device that may need something like that.  The Harmony’s button layout is pretty straight forward, so there’s really no clear winner on that side.  Overall the Prestigo probably looks a little cooler.

You program the Prestigo directly on the remote.  At first you may think this is an advantage over having to install software and connect the remote to your computer like you do with the Harmony.  After going through the steps to get it programmed, though, you realize the software is the right way to go.

To get the Prestigo all set you go through and add devices one at a time.  Using the jog wheel, for each device you spin until you find the manufacturer.  Then press some buttons so it can figure out which of the manufacturer’s codes to use and that device is set.  You come back later to set up activities.  After doing this for a while, you realize how simple a mouse and keyboard really are.

The Harmony is activity based, making it an ingenious device to control your home theater.  The Prestigo on the other hand, is really more device based.  You can program activities, but an activity is really just a sequence of button pushes (turning everything on for example), and then switching the remote to control a particular device.  If you want to control a different device to say, adjust volume, you have to go old school with it, switch devices to receiver, adjust volume, then switch devices back to your set top box.

Philips Prestigo SRU8008, $59
Logitech Harmony 510, $80

The Prestigo is a really nice looking remote, better looking than the Harmony, and it costs less.  But for an extra $21 you get a true activity based remote that will change the way you interact with your home theater.  The Prestigo is really just an old school universal remote in a fancy new package.  We happened to get our from Woot.com for $25, so in that case it makes a pretty sweet remote for a secondary room.  But in our opinion, the extra $21 is worth it for the Harmony.

brite-View CinemaTube Review

We had a chance this week to take a look at the CinemaTube from brite-View.  It’s a network media player that supports full 1080p/60 video and Dolby Digital and DTS audio, so it’s right up our alley.  After all, who wants to stream video if you can’t get it in high def?

Getting the CinemaTube up and running is trivial.  Connect an HDMI cable into your home theater and away you go.  Of course if you want the network side you’ll need an Ethernet cable as well.  It’s really that easy.

There is updated firmware on the website, so they recommend you apply that before using the player, but that’s just as easy.  Simply download a couple files to a USB drive, plug the drive into the CinemaTube and select the ’software update’ menu option.  The whole procedure takes three minutes tops.

Some of the early video players we tried were pretty rough.  They typically had very ugly, cumbersome menus and often the video playback was sub-par.  The CinemaTube is certainly a step up from those early models.  Sometimes it pays to wait a bit an get it right.

When you get down to it, the menu interface for playback is really just directory browsing, so you have to make sure your shared libraries are organized efficiently.  But brite-View has done alot to make the overall appearance and interactivity much more than just a folder browser.  There are some nice icons and even a preview window.  Any video you browse to plays in the preview window, so you can get a quick taste before hitting play.  Very nice.

Video playback is solid as well.  We played everything from Internet video content to 1080p movie clips and they all looked as good as we would have expected.  There isn’t much you can do with some of those Internet videos on a big 1080p screen.  Overall we didn’t have a single problem with playback – even FF and Rew worked as expected.

Video content can come from a USB drive plugged into the back of the unit, from a computer or NAS on the network, or from a DLNA server.  As a DLNA player, the CinemaTube will connect to your PlayOn server for direct access to CBS, ESPN, Hulu, Amazon VOD, Netflix and YouTube.  We had some issues with Hulu from PlayOn, but we’ve had issues with PlayOn on the PS3 as well, so there’s no evidence it was the CinemaTube’s fault.

Other stuff
Among the hundreds of different formats the CinemaTube supports, you’ll find the ISO file format.  This means you can play DVDs, even browse menus and everything, right on the player.  So if you’re looking for an affordable front-end for a home video server that allows full access to the entire DVD, not just the feature, the CinemaTube will work for you.

This nifty little player also takes advantage of your live network connection to work as a torrent downloader.  So while you’re busy during the day not watching video at home, the CinemaTube can be busy working to get you more content to watch.  You’ll need to connect a drive so it has somewhere to download the content to.

Supported Formats
From the website:

“It supports multiple Video formats including VCD 1.0/2.0, SVCD, MPEG1 (DAT/MPG/MPEG), MPEG2 (MPG/MPEG/VOB/ISO/IFO/TS/TP)/M2TS, MPEG4 (MP4/AVI/MOV) , DivX 3/4/5/6, Xvid (AVI/MKV), H.264/AVC (TS/AVI/MKV/MOV)/M2TS, VC-1 (TS/AVI/MKV/WMV)/M2TS, WMV9 (WMV), FLV, Real Video 8/9/10 (RM/RMVB * up to 720p); multiple Audio formats including DTS and Dolby Digital.

It supports ISO files, so you can navigate the DVD menu and watch your video as if there was a regular DVD!”
Overall the CinemaTube will playback just about anything from just about anywhere, and it can even go out and get you more to watch while you’re at work.  If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to get Internet video on your TV or create a home media network, the CinemaTube is a smart place to look for a nice front-end player.

brite-View CinemaTube MSRP $129.99, currently $114.99 w/free shipping.

Download Episode #395

Posted by The HT Guys, October 15, 2009 11:06 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.