Category: Cool Products

Home Theater PC Feb 2010 Update

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I recently upgraded my home theater pc. My HTPC of choice was the Dell Inspiron Zino HD.  I wanted something quiet, small and of course something cheap. The Zino fit the bill all around.  At 8″ square and about 4″ tall the compact size of the Zino keeps it from standing out in the living room.

I have all my game consoles and now the Zino sitting on a storage cabinet next to my TV. Sound was another big factor in choosing a HTPC. The Zino is quiet. The only thing you can hear when it is running is an occasional hard drive grinding. The Zino is also a little powerhouse. It has the power to handle both streaming and downloaded HD video. It has a pretty decent video card, nothing super fancy, but enough to play most games. I already had a wireless keyboard and mouse so I went with those. I would like to eventually get a mini keyboard such as the Logitech diNovo Mini I chose Windows 7 because I have been fairly happy with that on my desktop and laptop.

My home theater software of choice is Xbox Media Center (XBMC) because I just love the interface and it plays everything I need it to. I didn’t go with a video recording option, but you can do that if you want to turn your HTPC into a digital video recorcer (DVR) with windows media center or whatever.  All my storage is external so I went with the basic hard drive setup although you could probably make it more quiet by adding a solid state drive. If you do go the DVR route you will want as much storage as you can get.

From Dell: A Perfect Square Designed to fit just about anywhere, the Inspiron Zino HD packs power and entertainment into a 8″ by 8″ package. And with the option to interchange a choice of 7 vibrant colors plus 3 unique designs, the Zino HD can either blend in or stand out.

Choose the standard Piano Black finish or customize yours with one or more of these optional styles: Flamingo Pink, Formula Red, Tangerine Orange, Plum Purple, True Blue, Spring Green and a choice of 3 patterns by artists Derek Welch, Mike Ming and Brittany Waldner.

Highly Entertaining Transform your home entertainment center with these show-stopping features. Hi-def entertainment Experience all your favorite movies as if they were on the big screen with the built-in DVD-RW. Or, turn your living room into your own personal theater by connecting to a HD TV using the HDMI port. Media card reader Quickly transfer your digital photos and music from your digital camera with the optional 4-in-1 media card reader. Ports with potential Connect to your digital devices with the 4 USB ports, 2 of which are located in the front for convenient access. And with an additional 2 eSATA ports, you can connect to even more devices, like an external hard drive. Impressive Power The only thing that’s small about the Zino HD is its size. This mean and lean mini desktop has its fair share of powerful features. Processor Be prepared for today and tomorrow. The AMD AthlonTM  Dual-Core processors provide outstanding performance in an ever-changing world of technology. Graphics Watch your screen come to life with integrated ATI RadeonTM  HD3200 graphics3 and optional ATI discrete graphics3. Storage See it, love it, save it. Store your favorite music, photos and video with up to a 1TB2 hard drive.

A Perfect Square

Designed to fit just about anywhere, the Inspiron Zino HD packs power and entertainment into a 8″ by 8″ package. And with the option to interchange a choice of 7 vibrant colors plus 3 unique designs, the Zino HD can either blend in or stand out. Choose the standard Piano Black finish or customize yours with one or more of these optional styles: Flamingo Pink, Formula Red, Tangerine Orange, Plum Purple, True Blue, Spring Green and a choice of 3 patterns by artists Derek Welch, Mike Ming and Brittany Waldner.
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Eureka 71b The Best Vacumm Ever

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I recently became unhappy with the performance of our upright vacuum. It is a decent vacuum, but I am much more of a wand and quick mover when I vacuum around the house. My search for a solution turned to Amazon.com. I looked at thin stick vacuums, Dysons, and hand held vacuums. I didn’t want to splurge on a Dyson. I decided against the stick vacuums because I already have a swivel sweeper for smaller jobs. That left some sort of hand held solution. Now the choice became cordless or corded. I haven’t had much luck with cordless things so I decided on corded. I went through the reviews of the top rated hand held vacuums and picked the Eureka 71b. It has three settings, suck, suck and spin, and off. It came in today and boy am I impressed. It is is lighter than I thought it would be.

Some of the reviews mentioned how heavy it was, but with me being used to throwing around 40lb bags of dog food at work it isn’t that heavy at all. The second major complaint was about the noise. It wasn’t that noisy either, about on par with my current vacuum. Also not loud enough to wake a sleeping 3-week old. The suction power is great as well. I tested it out on the couches/chair in the living room and pulled up much more pet hair than I thought was on the chairs, now with six cats and a dog this will come in very handy. I then tested the swivel feature on the stairs and it worked out quite well again pulling up more pet hair than I thought we had. The hose is a nice touch. It is just long enough to help out in the tight spaces that the vacuum itself can’t get in to. The thin nozzle attachment fits into the back of the vacuum, the hose wraps around the vacuum for neat storage. You just have to remember to turn off the brushes when using the hose because they will keep spinning.