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DirecTV Genie wholehome DVR review

We're very happy that 2012 ended up being the year of whole-home DVRs. We reviewed Dish Network's Hopper earlier this year and now we've spent some quality time with DirecTV's Genie -- can't say we expected the cute names. Capable of serving up to eight rooms in your house (but only four at once), the Genie system works with a variety of setups, including being built into some newer Samsung TVs. Only available as part of DirecTV service, the Genie can be had for free by some new DirecTV customers who are willing to sign a term agreement and select the right package, and available to existing customers as an upgrade for $300 depending on the circumstances. If DirecTV didn't already have you at five tuners, 1TB and up to eight rooms, then click through for a full rundown on the latest the original direct satellite broadcast TV provider has to offer.

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Ceton Echo Windows Media Center Extender review

It's been over three years since Microsoft released a new version of Windows Media Center, and while some have declared the platform dead, the ecosystem lives on in companies like Ceton. Besides continuing to support Media Center, releasing new tuners and developing software, the company is now the first to introduce an extender in four years. The primary function of the $179 Ceton Echo extender is the same as those that came before it: to bring the full-featured Windows Media Center experience to more TVs in the house while centralizing all your media on a single PC. Until now our favorite extender has been the Xbox 360, but it retails for $20 more and the power supply alone is bigger than the entire Echo, so perhaps there's room for innovation here? We'll tackle all of that after the break.

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Nintendo Wii U review

Nintendo's new console is an anomaly in the game console ecosystem, but not for Nintendo. The company that -- in just the last decade -- popularized stylus-powered gaming, microphone-powered gaming and motion-based gaming, is once again pushing game control inputs forward. And just like its previous consoles, lessons learned from past hardware build the foundation of its latest effort: the Wii U and its bizarre-looking, but conventionally named, "GamePad."

The Wii U console itself, for instance, looks almost exactly like the original Wii. It's longer (10.6 inches vs. 8.5 inches for the Wii), a bit rounder on the edges, and there's an HDMI port out back, but overall it's quite similar to its squatter predecessor. It's enough that you'd get the two confused if they were sitting in the same entertainment center. Naturally, the beefed-up internals and Wii backwards compatibility mean you'll likely be replacing the ol' virtual tennis machine should you choose to pick one up.

Of course, the GamePad is the real star of the show here, bolstered by Nintendo's ambitious "TVii" experiment. Everyone's favorite Italian plumber looks super in HD, no doubt, but how software employs the multifaceted touchscreen tablet / traditional game controller hybrid is what really matters. So, how does the Wii U fare? Find out below.

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SimpleTV review

Anyone who follows the home entertainment space closely probably agrees that TV is broken: archaic user interfaces, pricey bundles, six remotes that each do one thing, all limited to the confines of your home. Of course, realizing it's broken and knowing how to fix it are two different things. One attempt at a fix is Simple.TV. This $149 box (plus $59 a year for service) bridges the gap between the various devices you already own and the world of broadcast television. It allows you to access the plethora of content available via unencrypted digital cable, or for free via an antenna, on just about any device you own -- tablet, smartphone, PC or even a TV. Sounds pretty great, huh? But does it deliver? And can it replace your cable box and the high-priced service that goes with it? Just click on through, and you'll find out.

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Slingbox 350 and 500 review

It's hard to believe that the Slingbox has been around for seven years, but that only makes it harder to accept these are the first retail models that have been released since 2008. That finally changes today, though: Sling Media just introduced two new place-shifters: the Slingbox 500 and 350 (pictured). Available on October 14th for $299 and $179, respectively, these new set-top boxes replace the Solo and Pro-HD. While the 350 simply adds 1080p streaming for the same price, the 500 adds SlingProjector, a feature that lets you take photos stored on your iOS or Android device and send them to your television (video streaming will soon be supported as well). The Slingbox 500 will also soon be able to play content on USB-attached storage, but that will come in a future software update. The SlingPlayer apps get a refresh as well, adding reminders and an easier way to share your Slingbox with friends. What we set out to determine in this review -- and what you'll discover if you click through -- is how big of an upgrade this really is. Is it worth chucking your old hardware for one of these boxes? What if you're thinking of getting your first media streamer? We'll delve into all that after the break.

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Vizio Co-Star

And then there were two. We're talking about standalone Google TV boxes, folks, with the Vizio Co-Star recently joining Sony's NSZ-GS7. Both feature the same version of Google's software and come with a remote offering a full QWERTY keyboard and touchpad. But with Vizio's model selling for just $99, it's half the price of Sony's entry, so you might be wondering how extensive the differences are. Now that we've had a chance to test both, we're ready to weigh in. Read on to find out if that 50 percent price difference makes the Co-Star worth it.

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TiVo Stream transcoder review

Back when we first reviewed the TiVo Premiere for iPad app, there were folks who complained about not being able to stream content. It seems, though, that TiVo was one step ahead of us: back at CES the company teased a transcoder -- a device that would later be known as the Stream. As its name suggests, this little box streams recordings from your TiVo Premiere to as many as four iOS devices with the help of your local network. You can also use it to transfer shows for on-the-go viewing. So is it worth the additional $129? Let's find out.

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DNP Nexus Q review Google's mysterious little social streamer

When setting up a gadget for review, delicately unboxing and smelling the carcinogenic whiff of freshly molded plastics, we typically feel some amount of excitement and anticipation to see how it stacks up against the competition. It's either that or a resigned sense of duty as we run yet another iterative evolution of this or that laptop through the same benchmarks to see just how this year's model stacks up to the older model now being sold on discount. With the Nexus Q, though, we felt something different altogether: genuine curiosity.

Why? Well, it's a high-end device with a $299 MSRP, a price that's multiple times higher higher than media streamers like the Apple TV, anything from Roku and, indeed, Google's own Google TV. And yet, the Q has considerably less functionality than any of them. Largely because of this, many who witnessed its unveiling at Google I/O were quick to write it off. Despite having our own doubts we pledged to give it a fair swing, a week of solid use at home and with friends. How did it do? Does this high-concept device with high-end componentry make up for some decidedly low-end capabilities? There's only one way to find out.

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Sonos Sub review

Every audio product Sonos has delivered so far has worked on the assumption that you would never need anything else after you bought it, whether it's linking to a sound system you already owned or an all-in-one system that Sonos built itself, like the Play:3 or Play:5 (born as the S5). The newly released Sub, by its nature, is entirely dependent on having one of the two Play speakers, and shows the company is becoming more of a traditional audio brand with a full ecosystem. A primary Sonos component can now be just the first step in a growing collection that improves as you expand it -- much as you'd buy a basic stereo, then better speakers, then more at a high-end audio shop. The Sub's $699 price certainly catapults any Sonos system into high-end territory, however, and sets some decidedly lofty expectations for how it will perform. We'll find out after the break if the sheer power and a few clever tricks are enough for the Sub to be an essential ingredient of a wireless home audio setup.

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Distro Issue 44 is here and its time to get fit!

Here in the states, it's just about time to start hitting the beach, and despite what you might have heard, not all of us here at Engadget are perpetually bikini-ready. In this week's issue of Distro, we'll follow our own Daniel Cooper on an eight-week quest to slim down before his summertime nuptials. In "Fitter, Happier" Daniel puts a series of fitness gadgets to the test to find out if machines really can make you a healthier, skinnier and, ultimately, happier human being. We'll also bring you the best of Computex 2012, a look at gaming's big three at E3 and give you our impressions of Microsoft's latest Windows 8 preview, Lenovo's ThinkPad X230 and Sony's NEX-F3. Rounding things out, we'll take a closer look at some of the biggest names in fit tech with "Eyes-On" and jog your memory with an early ancestor to the MP3 player in "Time Machines." So hit the appropriate link below and get to downloading.


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Distro Issue 41 features a visit to the Lowcountry home of Twelve South, TiVo Premiere XL4 and HTC EVO 4G LTE

It's the most wonderful time of the week once again, pals. Like most seven-day periods, this one comes to a close with the latest issue of our e-magazine for your gadget reading pleasure. Front and center this time around, our own Darren Murph pays a visit to the South Carolina HQ of accessory maker Twelve South to chat about making a big splash while staying small. On the review side of things, we take a gander at the TiVo Premiere XL4 and the HTC EVO 4G LTE to see how they stack up and we go hands-on with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and Sounder's iOS app. Reaction Time makes an appearance too -- taking a long look at Max Payne 3 while listing this week's must-have game releases. The usual suspects fall in line as well, as you might expect. Switched On discusses RIM and Nokia, IRL sneaks a look in at our gear collections, former Doctor Who script editor Christopher H. Bidmead pauses for the Q&A and Dustin Harbin has the Last Word on what killed dinosaurs. Go ahead. Grab the device of your choice and hit the appropriate download link to grab a copy of this week's e-publication.

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Distro Issue 40: the battle for smartphone dominance continues and we go hands-on at CTIA 2012

Having trouble with the barrage of smartphone news in recent weeks? Don't worry, we've got you covered in this Friday's edition of our e-publication. The focus this week is the on-going quest for the ultimate smartphone champion. In our search, we take a look at the recently outted Samsung Galaxy S III while putting both the AT&T HTC One X and the Sprint Galaxy Nexus through their paces. While he's a fan of their thin frames, Darren Murph demands better battery life in new laptops and his editorial offers some thoughts on the matter. Our hands-on section is all CTIA this week, as we look back at a handful of gadgets that caught our eye. Smartphone reviews just not doing the trick this week? Well, we take the Jawbone Big Jambox for a spin in this week's issue as well. Yes, all the regulars are here -- including Reaction Time with a word on The Avengers and Call of Duty. Stat takes a look at phone profits, Switched On tackles smartplayers, IRL takes another peek in our backpacks, Square's CTO Bob Lee gets cozy with the Q&A and Dustin Harbin offers the Last Word on excessive texters. So, grab a seat in your favorite reading chair and hit the download link of your choice to get your copy of our tablet mag.

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TiVo Premiere XL4

With the recent spring TiVo Premiere update we figured it was as good of a time as any to spend some quality time with the newly-renamed TiVo Premiere XL4. The highest model in the TiVo line, the XL4 costs $399 plus $15 a month, or $499 for lifetime service. For the money, it records four HD shows at once with a single CableCARD and offers 2TB of storage. More tuners and space aren't the only things that have changed since we gave the original TiVo Premiere a once-over just two years ago. No, there have been a few notable releases as well as the release of the TiVo Slide Remote and a number of TiVo companion apps for phones and tablets. How all that comes together is exactly what you'll find out should you choose to click on through to the other side.

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Distro Issue 39 takes a look back at 40 years of Atari and the console's cultural impact

If you're in the market for some weekend reading, we've got quite the issue of our weekly tablet mag in the hopper. James Trew takes a look back at 40 years of cultural impact at the hands of Atari in this installment's feature. It doesn't matter to Darren Murph that Apple isn't making an iPad / MacBook Air hybrid, he still wants one and he tells why. Keeping with the gaming theme, Ludwig Kietzmann asks if Trials Evolution is the perfect game in this week's Reaction Time. The hands-on section pays a visit to BlackBerry World while spending some time with Spotify's iPad app and Microsoft's new SkyDrive software offerings. On the reviews side of things, we put the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, Acer Iconia Tab A510 and a duo of throwback mirrorless cameras through the wringer. Speaking of e-readers, Switched On offers some thoughts on the matter and IRL lets you in on three more of our go-to gadgets. If that's not enough, Stat shows how Android slates are feeling the Kindle Fire's heat, The Next Web's Martin Bryant has a go at the Q&A and Box Brown has the Last Word on a hero's required pixel density. Ready to feed that retro gaming appetite? Visit your link of choice below to grab a copy of the weekly to get started.

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Dish Hopper whole-home DVR review

A new DVR with a never-before-seen feature doesn't come around every day, and if it's the sort of amenity that works in every room of the house, without compromise, then we just have to review it. What would make the list? Try the Dish Hopper whole-home DVR, which can record six shows at once. Of course, there are specs and marketing claims, and then there's real-world performance. Is this set-top box everything we could have dreamed of? There's only one way to find out: you'll have to meet us past the break and take a walk through our full review.

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