Kodi Developers Speak out about Piracy Box Sellers

The developers behind Kodi, the free, open source media player software formerly known as XBMC, are taking a stand against profiteers who are selling modified versions of its product as so-called “piracy boxes”. In the past, Team Kodi has always remained neutral on its software being used to illegally access copyrighted content – the developers believe that users should have the freedom to use and modify the software to suit their needs – while making clear that it does not endorse such practices. Now, though, the team has had enough of its name being dragged through the mud by sellers of “piracy boxes” using the Kodi brand, railing against the practice in a recent blog screed.

“There have been a wave of sellers who decided to make a quick buck modifying Kodi, installing broken piracy add-ons, advertising that Kodi let’s [sic] you watch free movies and TV, and then vanishing when the user buys the box and finds out that the add-on they were sold on was a crummy, constantly breaking mess,” the Kodi blog post reads. “These sellers are dragging users into the world of piracy without their knowledge and at the same time convincing new users that Kodi is a buggy mess, because they never differentiate Kodi from 3rd party add-ons. Every day a new user shows up on the Kodi forum, totally unaware that the free movies they’re watching have been pirated and surprised to discover that Kodi itself isn’t providing those movies.”

“Team Kodi is officially tired of this,” the post continues. “We are tired of new users coming into the forum, asking why the box that “we” sold them was broken. We are tired of this endless campaign by dishonest salesmen to push a single use of Kodi that nobody on the team actually recommends. We are tired of these salesmen lying to users, claiming that pirate streams and pirate boxes are “legal” when they are absolutely not at some level or other. We are tired of being told by companies that they don’t want to work with us, because we are selling pirate boxes. Being removed from an App Store this summer because of the campaigning of others was like a slap in the face. Most of all, we are tired of a thousand different salesmen and Youtubers making money off ruining our name.”

“It’s gotten bad enough that core Kodi developers have threatened to quit in protest,” Team Kodi adds.

In order to combat the rise of “piracy boxes” using the Kodi name, the team will now use ownership of the Kodi trademark to take legal action against anyone selling systems which includes its media player software: “[W]e will issue trademark takedown notices anywhere we think the likelihood for confusion is high. If you are selling a box on your website designed to trick users into thinking broken add-ons come from us and work perfectly, so you can make a buck, we’re going to do everything we can to stop you. If you are making a video in which you claim to be a Kodi developer or Kodi team member or you are just using the Kodi name while assuring users that some pirate add-on is totally legal and isn’t going to break next week, we will do everything we can to take you down.”

Team Kodi concludes the post by asking for help from the Kodi community: “If you see somebody selling a box that’s “fully loaded” or comes with the phrase “Free movies and TV with Kodi,” please, ask them to stop. And let us know.”

The World’s Most Popular Media Player Turns 15

VLC, the world’s most popular (and lauded) media player, is now fifteen years old, its creator VideoLAN has announced. While the genesis of VLC predates its Birthday of 1st February, 2001 – the software began life as Network 2000 five years previously – the date marks the point at which VLC was granted its GPL license.

“If you’ve been to one of my talks, (if you haven’t, you should come to one), you know that the project that became VideoLAN and VLC, is almost 5 years older than that, and was called Network 2000,” Jean-Baptiste Kempf, President of VideoLAN, said in a blog post. “Moreover, the first commit on the VideoLAN Client project is from August 8th 1999, by Michel Kaempf had 21275 lines of code already, so the VLC software was started earlier in 1999. However, the most important date for the birth of VLC is when it was allowed to be used outside of the school, and therefore when the project was GPL-ized: February 1st, 2001.”

VLC is now available for Windows, Mac, GNU/Linux, iOS, Windows RT, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Solaris, BSD, OS/2, Tizen, and Chrome OS, while the team is hard at work developing VLC 3.0, which will introduce improved GPU decoding, adaptive streaming, and Chromecast integration.

Image courtesy of VideoLAN.

Thecus N5810 Pro Zero-Crash 5-Bay High-Performance NAS Review

Introduction


Thecus have created a new NAS that is something just a little bit special, if not a lot of special. It looks pretty normal on the surface, but it comes packed full of great features, plenty of storage abilities, and with connectivity options as they’re rarely seen.

The new Thecus Zero-Crash N5810 Pro isn’t your everyday NAS, it is one that comes with superior performance, unmatched security, and with built-in mini-UPS. The N5810 Pro is a 5-bay unit and this is an NAS form-factor that is increasing in popularity due to the option for an extra hot-spare, or just the extra capacity.

Let us dive right into the hardware specification, because they are worth highlighting. At the core of the unit we find an Intel Celeron J1900 quad-core SoC processor with 2GHz and the N5810 Pro comes equipped with 4GB DDR3 RAM right out the box. You don’t need to worry about having to upgrade your NAS right away with that kind of RAM, it is easily enough to run all the apps and service you want at the same time.

Where other NAS devices come with two and sometimes four LAN ports, Thecus added one extra and equipped this unit with a total of five Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is full support for all types of Link Aggregation and Fail-over, leaving the setup completely up to you. Maximum performance, redundancy, or you could even use it as an access point if you wanted to.

It has three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is located on the front for quick and easy backups. The last two are on the rear side with the rest of the connections such as two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, and a Line-Out 3.5mm audio jack.

Thecus equipped the N5810 Pro with an internal 130W power supply. I really like the use of internal power supplies over the external power bricks, although the bricks are easier to replace if they should fail. Thecus also thought about that and made the PSU removable from the rear of the unit. It isn’t as easy as getting a new universal AC/DC adapter, but it’s close.

Another really awesome feature in this high-end NAS is the built-in mini-UPS with a removable battery. Again you save yourself having to get another piece of hardware and find room to place it near the NAS. You also save yourself the connecting and setting it up as everything is built-in. If the NAS should lose power, it will safely shut down without loss or corruption of your data. You can define the settings whether it should stay off or resume where it left off once the power is back.

The N5810 Pro NAS is placed on four large rubber feet that prevent any vibration from the mechanical hard drives to move onto whatever piece of furniture the NAS is placed on. They lift the unit far enough off the ground that it also has some extra air vents on the bottom that help to draw in more fresh and cold air for the system. The stickers with serial and product numbers are hidden away on the bottom if you should need those.

Security is an ever-growing issue and Thecus has this side of things handled with both their choice hardware, software and the physical build. Thecus has partnered with McAfee and bundled their Antivirus with the unit to keep the NAS save from itself. Those who prefer the private connections don’t need to worry either as the NAS fully supports VPN connections with the built-in server module.

Keeping the files safe means more than just to protect them from viruses and malware, and Thecus also has all the other sides of the story covered. The N5810 Pro supports scheduled Rsync backups and also comes bundled with Acronis True Image software for advanced one-click protection. Snapshot backup is equally supported with BTRFS support for subvolumes and easy rollback or restoration.

Those who wish to store their backup in the cloud are covered with support for DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive. If that still isn’t enough, Thecus also supports data burn directly to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disks with Data Burn. You can also choose to just ‘burn’ ISO files as another way of backing up your files. You can even clone entire disks with the NAS.

The five drive caddies can all be locked individually and Thecus included a total of four keys with this unit. Enough for even the most clumsy people that forget or lose them. The caddie’s base is built from steel and covered with a plastic encasing that holds the locking system and two LEDs. Thecus places padding inside the caddies to prevent damage to your drives and possible short-outs from the PCB touching the caddy. They support both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, so you’re covered no matter what drive you want to use, whether it’s small or big hard disks or even solid state drivers.

Thecus also built in a LCM display with four buttons on the front: enter, escape, up, and down. This not only allows you to view the current configuration, but also change settings. Not to worry, you’ll have to enter a password via the buttons in order to access that part.

Mobile connectivity is also supported with the T-OnTheGo and T-Dashboard apps. When I read those names I always think of Telecom first, but the T stands for Thecus in this case. You can connect from your iOS or Android device for up and downloading files, streaming media, or just to keep an eye on the device itself.

You can even turn the N5810 Pro into a direct multimedia hub for your living toom with the built-in HDMI. Connect it directly to your TV for device management, web browsing with Flash support, and also the most important function, HD video playback. No need to watch your movies on the PC monitor or have an extra HTPC running, just use your NAS. It also features a line-out connection to get the sound out to other devices if your monitor doesn’t have built-in speakers.

ASUSTOR Upgrades LooksGood with Media Converter Support

ASUSTOR has released a new version of the LooksGood App with an added Media Converter function for its 5 and 7 series NAS devices. The new functions include multimedia conversion, ability to configure a Smart Coversion Folder, and exclusive Hyper-Transcoding technology, allowing you to truly experience a powerful media player directly in your browser.

The system resources are well balanced so you can enjoy a smooth playback exprience along with a tenfold decrease in conversion times thanks to the  use of Intel’s CPU hardware acceleration function. The media converter utilizes background file conversions to overcome non-supported codecs on mobile device or videos that are uable to play smoothly. Files placed in the smart conversion folder will automatically be analyzed for the best optimization and you can use the task scheduler to convert only during hours where the system otherwise just idles.

LooksGood also features TV Recordings and Media explorer functions next to the above mentioned improvements. Users who have a compatible DVB-T/DTMB can receive, watch, and record digital broadcasting signals including access to the EPG, repeat, and manual settings. A feature that takes your NAS to the next level.

Stable Android VLC Player Launched on Google Play

VLC, the popular open-source media player and streaming media server from VideoLAN, has been in beta for Android for over four years, but now a stable version (v1.0.1) has been made available on Google Play. The beta version still exists for VideoLAN to test new features.

According to the Google Play listing, VLC for Android offers the following features:

  • VLC for Android plays most local video and audio files, as well as network streams (including adaptive streaming), DVD ISOs, like the desktop version of VLC;
  • All formats are supported, including MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, Ogg, FLAC, TS, M2TS and AAC. All codecs are included with no separate downloads;
  • VLC for Android has a media library for audio and video files, and allows to browse folders directly;
  • VLC has support for multi-track audio and subtitles. It supports auto-rotation, aspect-ratio adjustments and gestures to control volume, brightness and seeking;
  • It also includes a widget for audio control, supports audio headsets control, cover art and a complete audio media library.

VLC is compatible with current smartphones, with ARMv6 support planned for a future update.

Source: Android Central

Google Chromecast Now More Popular Than Apple TV

Google’s Chromecast TV streaming dongle outsold Apple TV over the first three quarters of 2014, according to Parks Associates, a market researcher. Google has been given the boost over their rival during a 10% upswing in the number of households now using home media players. Roku, the market leader for the past three years, remains in pole position with 29% market share, down from 46% last year.

Apple TV is now 7 years old, and has not had a major hardware update since 2012. Rumours have circulated this year that Apple is to update its TV system, adding App Store integration and Bluetooth controller support, but there has been no official confirmation regarding the new model. In the meantime, Google has forged ahead, stealing a significant slice of the home media market share.

Source: MacRumors

XBMC Breaks Away Xbox Roots, Becomes Kodi Entertainment Center

XBMC is one of the best media centre players around, it’s long been a popular choice for HTPC users thanks to its dedicated Linux distro, that allows you to boot directly into the software, or of course its multiformat software which can be installed in Windows, Linux and on many other platforms to do much the same.

Having started out as a piece of mod software for the original and hacker friendly Xbox, the software has long since developed into so much more, but retained its original Xbox moniker despite the fact the company hasn’t been developing Xbox-related software for almost six years.

“Users persisted in posting in our forums, comments on news sites, and in social media that XBMC meant “Xbox Media Center,” no matter how hard we tried to convince them otherwise. And as a result, we would invariably be asked the question, “When are you going to support the Xbox 360 or the Xbox One?””

Now the company has decided to take a new direction for the software, dropping the XBMC name in favour of “KODI” in a bid to distance its self from the Xbox brand, and to hopefully stop people asking “when will you be launching this for Xbox 360 and Xbox One”, as well as avoiding legal threats surrounding use of the name.

“To pick the new name, all the various team members submitting naming ideas. Kodi was submitted… because it is possible, using the play/pause, stop, etc. buttons of a remote control, to spell out a facsimile of the word. Ultimately, we didn’t really like the design of the word using those buttons, because it was incredibly difficult to read. But we did like the underlying concept. Our software acts as the remote control for all your content.”

So there you have it, stop looking for XBMC, remember it is now Kodi, and for those of you who haven’t used the software before, I recommend you check it out as it really is a great piece of media centre software.

Thank you Gigaom for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Gigaom.

4K Capable Android Tronsmart Vega S89 Media Hub Coming Soon

Anyone In the market for a new Android set-top box might be interested in the new Tronsmart Vega S89 which will soon be available to purchase from both Amazon and Geekbuying.

The technology market is currently awash in a sea of Android powered devices, smart-TV adaptors, streaming boxes, digital-things-galore, so it’s getting harder and harder to get a grip on which ones are worth buying and which ones are worth avoiding, especially given many feature attractive specifications and relatively low price tags. One that has caught our eye is the new Tronsmart Vega s89, not the catchiest name I’ll admit, but the specifications speak for themselves.

The Tronsmart Vega S89 is powered by a Amlogic S802 Cortex-A9 Quad Core Up to 2.0Ghz supported by Mali-450 graphics supported by 2GB of RAM and comes supplied running Google’s Android 4.4 Kitkat operating system. With that you’ll get support for dual band wireless using the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands, and support for 4K Ultra HD at 3840 x 2160.

Additionally you’ll find 16GB of built-in storage, 2 x USB ports, 1 x micro USB port, 1 x micro SD card slot, 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi, HDMI 1.4b, S/PDIF and a built in IR sensor for remote control support.

With 4K support, the latest version of Android, and plenty of connectivity options, this could make for a very affordable hub for anyone looking to invest in a 4KTV. More details on pricing will be available soon and the device is expected to hit Amazon in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you Geeky Gadgets for providing us with this information.

 

Image courtesy of Tronsmart.

RIP Winamp Media Player As Service Shuts Down After 15 Years

I’m starting to feel like a Leper today, like I’m the only one left who not only uses Winamp, but STILL uses Winamp. It seems like the whole digital music loving community has been corrupted by streaming services, or iTunes or some other junk that strips you away from a truly personal music collection.

OK so I know I’m not the only one who uses Winamp, but the way many other sites are reporting on the software you would think it died a long time ago, when in truth I still regard it as the only music player worth using on my PC and I haven’t found anything better than it in the 15 years I have been using it, that’s right, I’ve been with Winamp from the start! I had it on my Windows 95 PC no less.

However, despite my personal adoration for the software that still sit handsomely on my taskbar, still getting 8-10 hours use every single day, AOL have decided that the service will be no more. Of course I can still use my software, you can still download the software, but officially this is the end of it. Updates, support, the website, the whole lot is going to digital heaven.

Nullsoft sold Winamp to AOL back in 2002 for a cool $80 million in stock, but AOL have given no explanation for the shutdown. We can only suspect it is because interest in the software has waned in recent years as many users jumped ship to iTunes and similar platforms.

What software do you use to manage your music? Let us know in the comments section below.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Pivos XIOS DS Media Play! Android Media Player Review

If you’ve ever visited technology trade shows like Gadget Show Live, the Consumer Electronics Show and so on, then you will always hear that “Smart TVs” are the way of the future. Smart TVs are internet connected, can download, organise and play your favourite media content from the internet, can integrate your social media life into your entertainment and offer a wide variety of apps to do things that “normal” TVs wouldn’t normally be able to do.

However, if you’ve stayed connected to what’s going on with the latest gadgets then you will know that Smart TVs aren’t catching on as fast as most people might like, and as a result the prices are still high. That is where today’s product, the XIOS DS Media Play! from Pivos, comes in. The XIOS DS unit from Pivos bridges the gap between your standard HDMI TV to the much more expensive “Smart TV” without requiring that you buy a new TV. In its simplest form it can be described as an Android Media Player but it does bring support for the open source media player application XBMC, although XBMC is still only in Beta for this product despite this being out since early 2012.

Being a budget orientated Android Media player the Pivos XIOS DS isn’t going to bring any super high end features to the table, that we would expect to find on expensive tablets and smartphones, but it should prove capable of playing music, video clips, films and doing other light tasks that will help turn your TV into a Smart TV.

So without any further ado let us proceed through this review.