Ooma Voice-Over-IP System Now at Radio Shack – The Radio Shack chain now handles the ooma system phone device that operates with existing home phones and a broadband connection. It consists of an ooma Hub to connect to the Internet plus ooma Scout, which extends the system to additional phone jacks. The basic hardware bundle is $250 and there are optional higher levels of service offering advanced telephony features for the system. The basic ooma system allows free calls anywhere in the U.S. and you don’t need your computer connected to it. (No relation to Uma & Oprah…) (If you have a wired home security system you may not want to disconnect your land phone line, because that is the only dependable connection to your security service headquarters that is unaffected by loss of AC power.)
Ralink Delivers Hi-Def Wireless Video Streaming – Ralink Technology of Taiwan has announced that its 300 MB dual-band Wi-Fi chipset has been made part of Samsung’s LinkStick Wireless LAN Adapter in their HDTVs and Blu-ray players. The 802.11n technology enables users to connect to a wireless network for streaming access to Internet@TV, wireless DLNA content, InfoLink RSS and BD Live services. The system is said to have the industry’s highest thruput, range and reliability. Samsung evaluated many Wi-Fi vendors and found the Ralink technology the most robust and cost-effective solution.
Get Used to G.hn – No, that’s not a typo. It’s the emerging standard to come for the delivering of IP-based services in the home or office. Wireless networking is getting much attention today, but wires are a secure, fast, cheap and already-existing network in most homes – whether they be AC power lines, coax cable, copper phone wires, or some mix of these. The HomeGrid Forum is hoping that the entire electronics industry will finalize a standard called G.hn this fall, allowing chip companies making the silicon to deliver 700 Mbps speeds over AC lines, coax or copper wires. The chips, which should be out by next year, will make the new standard dominant, because a single box can be used for all types of homes. The economies of scale due to making so many chips will bring the cost down.
In the meantime various wired home-networking solutions are being used: MoCA is used by Verizon and cable companies in the U.S., delivering up to 175 Mbps and a new standard with up to 400 Mbps later this year. The Home Plug Alliance and Universal Powerline Association can provide speeds of up to 189 Mbps on the power lines, but are repurposing their expertise for the smart grid using G.hn. Most U.S. telecommunications companies have chosen Homepna as their present standard for copper or coax cables, with data rates of up to 320 Mbps. Some chipmakers like Intel have put their eggs in both baskets- wired and wireless – so they’ll be on top no matter which home entertainment delivery system wins out.
30 Million Blu-ray Players by 2013 – According to a new report from the Yankee Group, Internet connectivity beyond the computer to home networks, Blu-ray players and HDTVs, is expected to reach 60% household penetration in the U.S. – totalling 91 million devices – by 2013. 50 million HDTVs and 11 million digital media adapters are expected to be in operation by then as well. The latter refers to gadgets such as the Vudu and Roku players, Apple TV, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and TiVo HD DVR, among others. The Yankee Group said that consumer adoption of entertainment consumption will pressure pay-TV and subscription-based services to innovate in order to compete. And they referred to the “tidal wave of connectivity that is nearing the shore.”
1080p Video Streaming for Xbox 360 Owners – Microsoft is ignoring Blu-ray but has announced that beginning this fall select TV shows and movies will be available to Xbox 360 owners for streaming downloads at full 1080p resolution. A new technology developed by Zune will enable the HD movies to start playing immediately. The catch is that the video will begin at a lower resolution to speed up playback and then transition to 1080p once enough data has been streamed. There will be 5.1 audio support, but it is not mentioned whether it will be lossy or lossless. And once a movie completes downloading there will be rewind and fast-forward.