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Monday, 27 July 2009

An in depth look at Casa Tunes

Casa Tunes Review Document

Mirror Link

Ever since I first got in to Media Center, one of the first things I started searching for was a whole home audio solution that played nicely with Media Center. I liked the idea of being able to play the same music in two different rooms at the same time and for it to be in sync. I liked the idea of being able to play different music in different rooms at the same time and also to have a party mode where all rooms would play the same music at the same time. Zoned Audio!

Unfortunately Windows Vista / Seven Media Center does not provide these features out of the box so your only option is a 3rd party solution.

Searching Google nearly 3 years ago and Casa Tunes was the only real thing I could find and over this time things remain pretty much the same. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to take an in depth look at Casa Tunes which is a whole home audio solution with Windows Media Center integration. I’ve written a detailed review of this product and anyone who is seriously interested in purchasing Casa Tunes should take a look at the review here which is in PDF format.

Overall I like the Casa Tunes concept and functionality and the way it works, read the full review for my thoughts about the product.

zoned audio

Clubhouse Tags: Clubhouse”, Media Center”, Story”, Casa Tunes”, Zoned Audio

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Windows 7 released to manufacturing

We just noticed that Windows 7 RTM has been released. More details can be found on the Windows Team Blog.

I’ve just check my MSDN subscription however and its not yet listed on there for download, looks like we will have to wait a little while longer!

(Update: 6th of August for MSDN and Technet subcribers)

“I am pleased to announce that Windows 7 has RTM’d!

As I mentioned previously, RTM officially happens only after sign-off occurs. What happens is a build gets designated as a RTM contender after going through significant testing and meeting our quality bar for RTM. Then, it goes though all the validation checks required for RTM including having all languages of that build completed. If all the validation checks have passed – sign-off for RTM can occur. Today after all the validation checks were met, we signed off and declared build 7600 as RTM. “

Full article

When will you get Windows 7 RTM?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A look at the Luxa2 LM Series – HTPC Cases

Here we have two HTPC cases from Luxa2. On the bench today I have the LM 200 and LM 300 Pro models and the first thing you notice about these cases when viewing them in person is their size, they are massive and I mean big!

LM 300 Pro - Dimensions


203.5mm (8.01 inches) / food stand included: 218mm (8.58 inches)

460mm (18.11 inches)

410mm (16.14 inches)

However they look like really expensive bits of kit. The finish is excellent in Aluminium and the build quality has an attention to detail.

They both have a IR/VFD display from Soundgraph with the usual Imon Pad remote control. There are some control buttons on the front of the case, however not all of which are really doing anything for me in Media Center at the moment, despite installing the latest Imon software, this is something I need to fix.

Volume Knob – Not currently working with Media Center

Start – Not currently working should take me to the Media Center start menu

Imedian – When pressing this button Media Center jumps between windowed and full screen mode

Menu – Does seem to do anything when pressed

App Exit - Does seem to do anything when pressed

The Up, Down, Left, Right arrows do work and I can navigate the Media Center menu’s also the Esc (Back) and Enter buttons are working.

There is a flip down panel on the front under the LCD display which hides the usual USB and card reader ports.

I love the way the optical drive cover slowly closes back up, after you have inserted a disk in to the optical drive.

One thing I don’t like about these chassis in that despite their large size you can only fit two 3.5” Hard disk drives. There is a simple metal shelf that runs inside the case and your two HDD’s and the Optical drive simply sit on top of this shelf. There are no drive bays and there is lots of wasted space inside the chassis that is not used, there is plenty of room to have 4 HDD’s but no provision has been made for doing so. This is the biggest problem with the Luxa2 IMHO.

Below are some photographs I took of these two models, click to enlarge.

DSCN3566 DSCN3567

DSCN3568 DSCN3569

DSCN3570 DSCN3572

DSCN3573 DSCN3574


Overall a nice HTPC chassis, large in size but a little short on internal HDD bays.

Clubhouse Tags: Clubhouse”, Media Center”, Story”, HTPC CaseC Case”, Luxa2

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Green Button – Site Maintenance

This has been a long time coming, but The Green Button website is finally being migrated to the Microsoft data center and we are also getting an upgrade on the Community Server software hooray!

Site Under Maintenance is currently undergoing a site migration to the Microsoft hosting data center, as well as an upgrade to its Community Server platform. Expected timeframe for these changes is end of day 7/21/09.

Please check back here for updates

Monday, 20 July 2009

A look at the Moneual 312 HTPC case

UPDATE: There is a fault with the IR boards on these cases and the triple tap text input on the remote control for Windows Media Center does not work.

This is my favourite HTPC case at the moment, the micro ATX Moneual 312.

It looks like a DVD player which is why I like it so much, it blends in very nicely with your exiting A/V equipment. It’s available in Black and Silver, I prefer the black myself. The case is made from aluminium and they are of good build quality.


T-BOX One Silver

I haven’t needed to install the IMON software from SoundGraph on these cases which is always a good thing, The volume knob and IR receiver just work out of the box with Windows Vista. The drop down front panel hides an array of ports including:

Mic, Headphone, Firewire x 1, USB x 2, Card Reader – MS/Pro/Duo, SD/MMC, CF/Microdrive, SM.

Inside there is room for the micro ATX motherboard, DVD or Blu-ray optical drive and two 3.5” hard disk drives.

There can be an issue with the eject button for the optical drive not working correctly, if the drive bay is not lined up exactly. This is the only thing I think could be improved. Overall a nice product for the lower end HTPC build.

Spec of the machine in my photographs:

  • Motherboard:- Gigabye GA-MA78G-US2H Rev 1.0
  • Chipset:- AMD 780G
  • CPU:- AMD Athlon Dual Core 2.7 GHZ
  • GPU:- Onboard ATI Radeon HD 3200
  • Audio:- Realtek ALC889A 7.1-CH High Def
  • Ram:- 4GB
  • Hard Disk Drives:- Western Digital 500GB (OS) Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB (Data)
  • DVD Writer
  • PSU:- Cooler Master P/N RS-460-PCAR-A3 (312W)

IMG_0276 IMG_0277

IMG_0278 IMG_0279


Clubhouse Tags: Clubhouse”, Media center”, story”, HTPC Case”, Moneual 312