I recently had the opportunity to test out the Keyspan Tuneview remote control. The biggest feature with this remote control, that makes it different from all others, is the LCD display on the remote mimics the screen on your iPod. All of your Albums, Artists, Genres and Playlists are displayed on the remote, just as if you were using your iPod. If you have a newer iPod with video, you can also connect the dock to your TV to watch the videos.
The installation tookÂ 3 minutes. You plug the supplied cable into the back of the dock. You attach the 2 RCA type jacks to your stereo system. You insert the iPod into the dock, turn on the remote and within 5 seconds you have your menu on the remote.
The other benefit of this remote is that it is RF (radio frequency) as opposed to IR (infra-red). This means you do not have to have line of sight to the dock. You can be anywhere in your house and access your iPod. More importantly, you can see what you are playing and what you are accessing.
I recently had the opportunity to test new wireless keyboard from Adesso. This could be the closest to a perfect wireless keyboard for Windows Media Center. There are lots of wireless keyboards out there that use their own methods to connect. Most are good to about 6-8 feet before the signal gets to the point where the keyboard is no longer usable. Adesso uses 2.4 Ghz radio frequency. This is the same signal that wireless phones and wireless networks use. You should be good up to 50 ft. or more with this. (the keyboard supports up to 100 ft. but you may requre binoculars to see the screen at that distance 🙂
The keyboard also has an integrated trackball. The mouse buttons are located on the top, as well as another set under your trigger fingers .Scroll wheel on the left and left click on the right. The group of buttons on the top left are all related to media controls. Stop, Play, FF, REW etc.
Setup was the easiest process I have ever seen. There is a USB ‘dongle’ that you plug into any available USB slot. You push the button on the dongle, and an LED starts flashing. You push the ID button on the upper left of the keyboard and you are ready to go.
Are you getting tired of listening to the same old artists and the same old tracks on your iPod? There are 3 web services out there that can help you expand your music listening experience.
First is Pandora. This service asks you to enter some of your favorite artists and songs. It then uses a very sophisticated algorithm to mathematically quantify the music from those artists. Pandora will then play those artists as well as other artists and songs with a similar scoring.
You can play this through your computer, or if you have been reading my blog, via WiFi with the Sondigo Sirocco. Also, thanks to a partnership, Pandora also works with a WiFi player called Slim Devices (which was recently bought by Logitech).
The other service is lastFM. Similar to Pandora, it allows you to select your favorite artists and songs. It then uses the social community of its members to offer up other artists that were chosen by others as favorites along with your favorite artists.This service can also be played from your computer or wirelessly using the above devices.
The 3rd service is Yahoo’s Launchcast radio. You can select your favorites in several ways using this service. You can add a list of your favorite artists, albums, songs or genres. Or, you can simply select one of the previous options and start playing. As each song plays you have an option of rating the song, the artist or the album using 1-5 start or 0 for don’t play this again.To start, you may want to spend some time with this and quickly skip through the songs and rate them. Launchcast then uses these ratings to play other songs from artist or genre you have rated highly. Over time as your rate more and more songs, the “station” becomes more and more personalized.
So now you have 3 options to expand your musical tastes.
To say that Windows MCE is not something I would recommend to the general population is an understatement. It is one of those things, that if it goes right…no problem. But if it goes wrong, then (as in my case) you are in for 2 days of headaches. Now I see why it comes pre-installed on PC’s. I recently decided to upgrade my storage capacity on my main PC and thought it would be easy to upgrade to MCE at the same time. Everything was going fine, until I started doing the automatic updates. All of a sudden, updates started to fail, one after the other. I checked all over Microsoft’s site and knowledge base. They just kept saying to re-install. After 5 times, I figured I would have to re-install Windows XP and abandon my quest for a Media Center PC.
Then I happened to stumble across a blog site called The Green Button.This site was a Godsend. Not only did it explain in detail, exactly what the problem was with the updates, it broke out each update step by step with instructions on how to manually do the updates. Something about the order of the updates and whether you have .Net 1.0 or 2.0 installed and when you installed them.
So 2 days after I started, I now have a functioning Media Center.
You don’t need any hardware on your computer. Other than your existing wireless router. The system allows you to play DRM protected music on your stereo system by making your stereo an extension of your computer. Just as if you were plugging speakers into your computer.
Once you load up you iPod there really isn’t any reason to have your CD player. There really isn’t any reason to move your CD’s from stereo to stereo in your house. You can have your whole collection play where you are. You can spend as little as $10 for a cable, or as much a $1000 for a high end system complete with a built in iPod dock. Starting with the least expensive. The iPod has a 3.5mm headphone jack. You can get cables that has a 3.5mm jack at one end and splits into 2 RCA jacks at the other. This is the easiest way to connect your iPod to your home stereo.Â This will run you about $10-$15
Â One step up from this is the iPod Dock. The advantage of this is that while is connects with virtually the same cable, it also allows for a power cable to be attached so you will not run down the battery. It also make it very easy to simply drop the iPod into the dock and listen to the tunes! This will cost about $40
Â Â Both the solutions above will require you do connect to a speaker system. This could be a boom box or a full surround sound system.Â The next step up is one of devices that I use. It is the JBL Onstage II. The sound that comes out of this small unit is amazing. The unit also comes with a radio frequency remote. An RF remote allows you to be anywhere within about 20 ft. of the system and control the iPod. This also makes a great set for travelling. No more CD’s to carry along with you. At the same time, there is an iPod jack in the back that allows you to connect to your computer to sychronize with iTunes. This costs about $150
Â The JBL unit allows you to control the iPod, it is difficult to see the Playlist or the Artist name etc. Until DLO came out with Homedock Deluxe. This system will require a speaker system to hear the sound. But the best part is that it allows you to see the iPod screen on your TV! It also comes with a remote, but the difference is now, you can scroll through the menus, choose your playlists, or the artists, because you can see it all on your TV. This will run you about $150. This system will require a speaker system to hear the sound.Â
Â From there, it is a bit of a leap to the next systems. There are a lot of stereo manufacturers coming out with either iPod docks built in, or iPod cable connectors. One of the neatest devices I have seen is for the home automation specialist. It provides a dock in your wall that would connect to your home stereo system.Â Each dock is $200
I have been asked by a few people to share on how to listen to their iPod through their car stereo system. There are a few methods of doing this. The most common is connecting your iPod to an FM transmitter and listening to your iPod via the radio. There are 2 products that I am familiar with that do this. The iTrip by Griffin Technology was one of the first. They have since come out with several versions, including one that supports the Nano. The iTrip sells for about $30 US.
The unit that I use is the Sonnet PodFreq. I was told it had a stronger transmitter. I like 2 things about this unit. First, the signal strenght is excellent. I have never had to search for multiple channels to get this to work. Even if you get into an area, where there is a lot of signal cross over, you can extend the antenna and get a stronger connection. The second reason that I chose this unit was because of their partership with Proclip USA, an auto specific bracket company. I ordered the bracket for my vehicle and now I have a permanent place to sit my iPod when I am in the car. It also comes with a charger for the iPod while it is in the car. They have a unit for the Nano. The PodFreq sells for about $100 US. Both the above units are FM transmitters. The next way of connecting your iPod is to hard wire it to your car stereo. There are 2 ways of doing this. Some car stereos today have an 3.5 mm stereo jack for aux. input. You can simply buy a cable with the 3.5 mm jack at both ends and plug one end into your iPod and the other into the jack on your stereo. The sound quality is a little better, and you don’t have to worry about FM signal reception.
The other way to hard wire your sytem into the car stereo is to buy and adapter that plugs into the CD changer plug in the back of the car stereo and connects to the iPod via the iPod dock. For sound quality, this is by far the best solution. However, you get what you pay for as this is also close to $200. The most available product I have seen is the iPod2Car from Peripheral Electronics. This system is available from BestBuy or Futureshop. Note, this installation is not for the general population.
Technology that Helps Us. Technology That Wows Us.