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Q. Are there any good sites to organise RSS feeds? I have tried netvibes, but it is very basic.
A. There are lots of personal page/RSS organisers like netvibes springing up based on ‘ajax’ technology that will pull in RSS feeds. Another popular one is protopage but I suspect you will also find that rather basic. Others include Google’s personal home page and my personal favurite, Microsoft’s start.com (www.start.com/3) which is still in beta but is clean and easy to use and organise RSS feeds.
There are also some interesting new standalone RSS aggregators/web sites including feeds Reddit (http://feeds.reddit.com).
For a list of some of them check out blogspace.com/rss/readers.
You might also take a look at a list of web-based organisers (and comments on them) at the RSS Feed Reader / News Aggregators Directory.
Hope you find something you like. Let me know what you think.
Home DVD/Audio Systems
Q. Further to your article on the digital distribution of films, I wanted to know whether you had heard of Kaleidescape, and what you think of it. It’s been described to me as “the iPod of films”, meaning that you upload your own DVDs and will eventually have a sort of iTunes where you can buy the films you want to watch. Do you know how it works, and whether it’s got any future?
A. Yes I have come across Kaleidescape and it is a very impressive (though pricey) system.
Basically it is an entertainment server that stores entire DVD - and now CD - collections on an array of hard disks. The complete system comprises four primary components: Servers, Movie Players, Music Players, and Readers. They can be combined in any number of ways to deliver movies and music throughout the home.
One of its most attractive features is that it also automatically organises and protects these collections and then makes this high-quality content available throughout the home. Users can import their own content into the system, and select the music or DVD content they want.
Essentially the Kaleidescape system is designed to be installed in high end homes by custom installers.
I hope it does have a future, but the cost is prohibitive for most people and there are cheaper (though less elegant) alternatives. I plan to write a column about whole house audio/visual systems shortly.
LCD TVC Connectors
Q. I enjoyed your article on the latest flat-panel TVs– but I am left with these critical questions:
Is there a flat panel LCD I can easily use for:
• Software development (monitor for my Dell D610 laptop)
• Xbox 360 monitor
• Cable TV
• DVD movie player (from my laptop’s drive)
Would this require what you referred to as ‘HDMI’ (High Definition Multimedia interface) input?
John C Katzendorn
A. Most new LCD TVs (including the BenQ and Dell models) also provide standard inputs for PCs so you can plug your laptop into the TV and switch from TV mode to PC mode easily. You usually want to look in the specifications for something called a D-Sub 15 input which is basically a standard PC input connector.
They will also come with a range of other connectors (component video, composite and often S video that can be used to plug in other video sources including an X-box 360 console, cable box and DVD player).
I would suggest you also choose a model that supports HDMI which is the emerging standard for high definition video content - many new LCD panels come with two HDMI sockets as well as a range of other inputs. While most current A/V equipment does not require an HDMI connector, next generation HD systems will need this.
As far as particular models are concerned, all the main manufacturers now offer systems that meet all these requirements. For example, the 40 inch Sony Bravia KDL40S2000 comes with 3 composite A/V (1 on the side), 2 S-Video (1 on the side), 2 component (Y/Pb/Pr) sockets, 1 HDMI sock and one standard RF connector. It also has 1 D-Sub15 input (with L/R stereo mini plug connection) for connecting a PC.
Among the most popular LCD TV brands I also particularly like the Sharp Aqous models come with virtually every connector you could want.
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