Digital Home Thoughts - News & Reviews for the Digital Home

Be sure to register in our forums and post your comments - we want to hear from you!

Zune Thoughts

Loading feed...

Apple Thoughts

Loading feed...

Laptop Thoughts

Loading feed...

All posts tagged "software"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

XBMC Finds Eden

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"XBMC, our favorite software for setting up a custom media center, upgraded to a new version this weekend with lots of new features. Here's a look at what you'll find."

From AirPlay to performance improvements, XBMC has gone through a major overhaul with its latest version. For myself, the most notable difference I've seen with Eden is the new interface. The old interface, while pleasant enough, started to feel somewhat dated. The new setup looks much slicker and feels easier to navigate. With all the effort and cost that goes into creating a decent sized collection of movies, tv shows, family videos and the like, it is nice to see all that hard work reflected with some wow factor. I am just waiting to see if XBMC will go the route of Boxee and start offering their own hardware solution!

Tags: software, htpc, xbmc

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Corel Releases VideoStudio Pro X5

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 05:00 PM

"Today Corel announced the release of Corel® VideoStudio® Pro X5, the most comprehensive version of the company's award-winning video editing software. VideoStudio Pro X5 breaks new ground with the introduction of screen recording and HTML5 authoring capabilities, multi-core acceleration, and advanced video compositing while still maintaining the key elements that users have come to know and love. With outstanding speed, a robust collection of creative tools, and its user-friendly approach, Corel VideoStudio Pro X5 continues to break down the barriers to video editing, opening the door to truly inspired and diverse productions."

Wow, this is a significant upgrade. If you are into PC-based video editing then you should check out the latest edition of Corel VideoStudio Pro X5. For about $79.95 (US), this software offers some very nice features, including HTML5 authoring capabilities. As VideoStudio Pro X5 outputs HTML5 videos in both WebM and MPEG-4 (H.264), videos can be displayed in any compatible browser. The software also has screen recording tools with which users can create screencasts complete with animations, effects, music, titles and voice-overs. VideoStudio Pro X5 also has new multimedia track handing, supporting up to 21 video or graphic tracks, two title or subtitle tracks, and four audio tracks. Among the other new capabilities are advanced multi-core acceleration, the ability to import multi-layer graphics, and Canon DSLR support for stop-motion animations. The Corel site has the full details of all the features and enhancements.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Windows 8 To Go (From USB drive)

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 06:00 AM

"But Windows 8 does offer a "mobile" alternative that may at least pique business and tech support users' curiosity: Windows to Go, an installation of Windows 8 that boots from a USB thumb drive. In theory, Windows to Go could give administrators a way of creating a verified, locked-down image of the Windows 8 OS that can be given to wandering users, temporary off-site contractors, or telecommuters to allow them to connect to the corporate network with confidence from their own (or someone else's) computer."

By now you probably have heard or read at least a story or two about Windows 8. Microsoft released a Windows 8 developer's preview about six months ago, and has just recently released a consumer preview. If you like to poke around at new technology then with the consumer preview you can download the code and test it out on your (hopefully) spare home computer. One of the really interesting aspects of this Windows 8 preview release is the ability to create a bootable USB drive. Ars Technica has been examining this capability and has suggested a number of scenarios where it could be very useful (e.g. tech support or temporary access to corporate networks). They have also prepared a recipe for how to create your own version of the bootable USB drive. The Read link has all the details.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Taking Your Apps With You

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 10:00 AM

"Windows is great. The way Windows installs applications, however, is an out-of-date mess, adding local dependencies and unnecessary cruft to your system. In this day and age, there's no reason to stick with Windows' antediluvian default. What's the alternative? Using portable apps, you can install an app once, have all of the necessary files in one place, and even sync its settings across different machines with Dropbox. Handy, right? Here's how it works, and why you should do it."

Portable apps have been around for a long time, and have matured over the years. Now they are quite easy to use, and cover a wide range of needs. While there is a lot of merit to portable apps, the paranoid voice in me screams that they are a bad idea. I have used them in the past, but now that I bring my own computer with me everywhere, either in tablet or laptop form, I find little need for being able to run apps on someone else's computer. I also find myself not trusting what else could be on their computer. When it comes down to it, I just remote into my PC at home if there is anything that needs to be done. What about you? What uses have you found for portable apps? Am I wrong?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Backup Alternatives - Something For Everyone

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 06:30 PM

"If you've considered backing up your entire DVD collection, or duplicating your hard-drives-full of RAW photos in case of electromagnetic terrorism, then you've looked at your backup options before. The thing is, there is no one single best way to backup tons of data. But there are several ways to protect yourself from data loss disaster. The experts at Q&A network Stack Exchange weigh in."

I am sure all of our readers are the most conscientious backup creators around. But, I bet you know someone who could use a little advice as to which of the myriad of options available on the marketplace would work best for them. Fortunately, the folks at Lifehacker have put together a nice little piece on this subject matter. Amongst their advice is to avoid relying on one backup (technology and dataset). Particularly interesting is that some of the cloud-based options are pretty flexible and relatively cheap these days. Hit the Read link just to touch up your knowledge on this important issue, and then prepare to advise others on how you do it. Oh, if any of you use a cloud-based solution, I would be keen to hear your comments on how well it works.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oloneo PhotoEngine Review

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:00 AM

Product Category: HDR Software
Manufacturer: Oloneo SAS
Where to Buy: Oloneo's Website
Price: US$149
System Requirements: OS:Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (32-bit or 64-bit), Windows Vista (32-bit or 64-bit)
Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit) Hard disk: 200MB of available space CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel or AMD with SSE2, dual-core recommended RAM: 1.5GB Screen: 1280 x 720.
Specifications: Complete Feature List


  • Great-looking and pleasing HDR images in just a few clicks;
  • Fast rendering live preview of changes;
  • Offers a high level of control for the advanced user.


  • Auto-alignment for handheld HDR shots not perfect;
  • Active noise reduction controls not present.

Summary: Oloneo's PhotoEngine may be the most expensive, but it is easily the best HDR software available in the market currently. Its ease of use with beautiful and natural results makes it hard to beat. It also has an additional neat trick in the form of HDR ReLight. There are a few minor issues, but for a 1.0 product, they do not overshadow the positives as a whole.

[Editor's Note: Today we bring a special review, written by a top professional photographer with well over a decade of experience. Jed Wee will be reviewing Oloneo's PhotoEngine, which made a splash when the beta was first released back in 2010. Now that the product is shipping, how well does it live up to the early promise? Join Jed as he puts the software through its paces!]


Friday, February 3, 2012

Test Dropbox's Newest Photo and Video Import Feature, Get Up to 4.5GB Space Free

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Software" @ 06:30 AM

"You can never have too much Dropbox space, and now for a special beta period you can grab some additional free space while Dropbox is testing their automatic photo and video uploading feature. In exchange for trying their experimental build, you can get up to 4.5GB of extra space for free."

Free extra space, new features to try on Dropbox, what is there to not like? I just tried it, and the feature works very well. A bit too well for me, given I wanted it to sync the edited files folder on the phone, and not the original camera folder. There is no way to change the sync folder, so I guess the feature is not really for power users.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Corel's Re-introduces Bibble as AfterShot Pro

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Software" @ 02:00 PM

"The crew in Ottawa is now taking square aim at Aperture, Lightroom and other similarly situated products with its new product called AfterShot Pro. Available for Linux, Macintosh and Windows, the software retails for $99 and promises to deliver a complete workflow for RAW files, including file management, batch processing and non-destructive editing capabilities."

Remember Bibble? One of the earliest after-market RAW software, Bibble has been around for a long time, and was bought by Corel a year or so back. Now the software is back as Corel AfterShot Pro. Since I have not used Bibble, I am not sure what the differences are present, but long time Bibble users can check it out. Like Bibble, Corel has maintained a Linux version, so those of you on Linux will be happy for an alternative to Lightroom.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Adobe's Lightroom 4 Beta Previewed

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Software" @ 10:00 AM

"The Lightroom 4 beta introduces quite a list of features, including a completely new book-creation module, expanded support for video, soft proofing capability, and geo-tagging of still and video images via a Google Maps-powered module. Image editing tools have also been significantly updated, with a new process version (PV2012) that includes a reworking of the Basic panel controls and new localized editing options."

Adobe has announced a beta for Lightroom 4, and DPReview takes a look at the changes. While they look interesting, I am plenty invested in my current workflow to not start using a Lightroom-based one. I guess there are a lot more people who are excited though, so take a look at the comprehensive preview.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

There is a World Beyond Microsoft Office

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"Until last week, I'd never heard of Kingsoft or this product. I had, however, tried all the usual freebie Microsoft Office alternatives: OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Lotus Symphony, Google Docs, and so on. They're all OK--good enough, certainly, for most users--but I'll admit I've become spoiled by Microsoft's Ribbon interface, which made its debut in Office 2007 and carried over to Office 2010. The famed freebies mostly resemble Office 2003--if not an even earlier version."

If you have spent any time in large corporations, I think there is a good chance, a really good chance, that you have come across Microsoft Office. While alternatives have sprung up, especially with people hopping onto the benefits of online office applications, I still see a sizable amount of people working with Microsoft Office. I will admit I have not tried Kingsoft Office myself yet, but work of it having a ribbon interface has me interested. I hated the ribbon interface at first, but after a while, I started to see its benefits. However, my word processing needs are fairly basic, and I notice that an Outlook replacement is missing from the selection. Yes, I still use Outlook. I am that old. Now I think I'll go back to my cave and bang a few rocks together.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Photodex Release ProShow 5 Gold and Producer

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 09:15 PM

"Photodex today announced version 5 of its award-winning ProShow Gold and ProShow Producer products. ProShow is an intuitive software tool that lets people easily mix photos, video clips and music together into polished video slideshows. The release of version 5 includes more than 300 updates as well as some major new features designed to improve the user interface and add unprecedented effects to users' slideshows.

The redesigned user interface (UI) brings extensive changes with larger, easier to view previews and work areas, improved slide editing workflow, improved keyframing, a new effects manager and new UI workspaces with unique program views. All of these updates enable users to see their work in greater detail and provide a new centralized layout for greater efficiency."

I'm a huge fan of Photodex's slideshow creation software, and with version 5.0 it looks like they've addressed some of the limitations v4 had and added some excellent new features. The video above walks through some of the most important ones; I'm personally most excited by the GPU acceleration for playback (I wonder if it's for encoding as well?) and the UI updates in the wizard and the new effects manager. They were both a little clunky before and I'm liking what I'm seeing in the new version.

If you're the kind of person who enjoys sharing your photos with others in slideshow format, trust me, this is a trial download you should take advantage of.

Home Automation Is Fire Hot!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

"As a number of the country’s biggest telecommunications and cable organizations keep making their drive into the home security industry, the usage of home automation technology has increased substantially."

I have been seeing an increasing amount of advertising and solutions coming out that tout home automation and security. It looks as if companies are finally starting to notice that a lot of us like to know what is going on at home while we are away, or even to be able to control things in our homes with a wave of the hand. Of course, the technology has vastly improved over the years. Commercial solutions for home automation components like Zigbee and Z-Wave have risen to replace the old X-10 standard that I not so fondly remember. Costs are still high, but have come down, and the polish on setup and interfaces have improved. Even without going with your cable provider, you also have options such as Logitech. I am certain that in a few more years, home automation and security should be in the reach of most of us without much work. Have you set up your own dream home? What did you use and how did you accomplish it?

New Live TV Functionality For Boxee Box Users

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 10:30 AM

"Initially announced back in November, this tool pipes coaxial signals through to a user's Boxee Box, allowing users to connect their antennas to a Box and stream select channels at no monthly fee. The system also features Facebook integration, allowing you to see what shows your friends are watching, with their profiles displayed under each show within the sidebar menu."

You should be able to find this new Boxee product in stores in the next few days. It will set you back $50 (US), but it does offer some impressive new functionality. Check out the Read link for a demo video.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Fast, Free Image Viewer: Nexus Image

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:00 AM

"Nexus Image (no relation to Google or the Nexus line of phones) is a free, sharp-looking image viewer that loads images quickly, displays EXIF information in a transparent overlay, lets you browse images via keyboard shortcuts, and can even dim your desktop to provide a lightbox effect while you browse."

I've tended to use Picasa as my image viewer, or ACDSee's Quick Viewer if I've got it installed on the computer I'm working on, but this looks like a fast, lightweight solution. I took it for a quick spin, and it's indeed fast and has some decent features. On the plus side, you can use a scroll-wheel or track pack to move through images in a folder. Weirdly though, the keyboard arrow keys won't work if the image window is in focus (you need to click on the column of thumbnails for them to work). Minor gripe though - this looks like a winner to me!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Begone Storage Problems With Windows 8!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"Windows 8's new Storage Spaces functionality will easily allow users and system administrators to pool different physical drives together into one logical drive, writes Rajeev Nagar on the Building Windows 8 blog. This functionality, which is similar in some ways to the now-discontinued Windows Home Server Drive Extender, will allow drives of any capacity connected to a PC by USB, SATA, or SAS interfaces to be seen by the OS as one large drive."

Yes! Yesyesyesyes, and oh yes! Like any self-respecting geek, I maintain a NAS at home for all my storage needs. Currently, I use Windows Home Server 2003 and the primary reason for it is a nice little feature called Drive Extender. Basically, it manages your hard drives so that they look like a single drive. Why not use something like RAID or JBOD? Well, RAID, while nice, has limitations that usually are set when you initially set up the array, while JBOD has its own issues with drive failure. Drive Extender manages everything for you so you can stop worrying and just enjoy a mega-terrabyte drive. Microsoft, in its evil ways, decided to cut DE from WHS 2008 so I have been stuck with my existing storage system, but it looks like Windows 8, while not a NAS OS, might let me keep up to date and use newer hard drives!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Soluto Helps You Become The Family CTO

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home News" @ 11:29 PM

"Put simply, the Soluto's value proposition has been its simple application that, once downloaded, allows the millions of PC users across the globe to quickly run diagnostics on their hard drives to locate all things wonky."

Soluto's original software available via download was designed to help users find and identify problems with printing, add-ons, speed and performance issues, etc. on the computer in which it was installed. With three million downloads without advertising, the software was considered a hit. However, with their new beta version, Soluto has decided to go web based and change focus to what their user base was mainly using the software for. It turns out the typical user of Soluto were mainly doing repairs for other people's computers, namely friends and family.

The new version will be web based and can do all of the functions of the old install based version remotely. Users will be able to see non-responsive apps, install apps or browsers, monitor system vitals, etc.

If you are ever called on by a friend or family member for CTO duties, you may want to take a look at Soluto.

Tags: software, soluto

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Windows 8 Beta Release Not Far Off (Early 2012)

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 05:30 AM

"Over at The Next Web (TNW), they've spoken to sources close to Microsoft who claim that the public beta has been pegged for late Febraury, though what exactly will be included in this version of Windows 8 is still being finalised."

Windows 8, Microsoft's forthcoming desktop and tablet-based operating system, has been previewed a few times over the last year or so. It has sparked a fair bit of interest for a variety of reasons, including its purported ability to work effectively on a tablet and for its implementation of their Windows Phone 7 Metro-like interface. We may see the next iteration of the software at CES in January, and following that a public beta is expected in late January or February.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Be Different: Host Your Photos Online Elsewhere

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 09:00 AM

"Today, you can't swing a 500mm lens without hitting a business that wants nothing more than to store your pics. The question is: Do you dare stray from the familiar entities? We can't give you that answer, but we can tell you that truly excellent sites, perhaps just right for you, do indeed exist in other corners of the Web. And it's our intention here to point you in some of those directions."

MaximumPC takes a look at some other online photo hosting services, and a few look quite interesting. That said, 500px (pictured above) reminds me why I don't like the popularity contests that follow such services. Luckily Smugmug is on the list, and if you can afford the fees, I think it is the best of the lot. As always, I am curious to know of new photo hosts. Does anyone have their own favourite photo hosting service that is not mentioned in the article?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Online Music Stores Compared

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 PM

"Each music store is a little different. This showdown is all about the music stores that these companies offer-not their respective players, applications, or services. We can't help but mention them in terms of usability and integration with the store and the user experience, but we're going to try and focus on the features of the stores and steer clear of the bugs or quirks of each player."

Online music stores have garnered attention of late for a number reasons, including the recent launch of the new Google music store. Lifehacker has done another nice job comparing products, this time focusing primarily on the iTunes store, the new Google store and the Amazon music store offerings. If you are outside of the US you may not even have access to all of these stores and their related services, but the review is still useful as you get a feel for what the offerings encompass, and in the future you may indeed get to use them. There is something unique, positive, and negative about each store. The Read link will provide that insight for you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Boxee Box Gains Live TV Tuner Via USB Dongle

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home News" @ 10:52 PM

"Boxee Box owners will soon be able to watch live television through the device, with the help of a special USB dongle that functions as a tuner for free over-the-air HD TV signals."

Owners of the Boxee Box will soon get an update that will enable their devices to capture over the air HDTV feeds with a special USB dongle. This update will also let the Boxee Box access unencrypted basic cable TV feeds.

Availability of the update has not yet been announced but it is expected to be right around the corner.

Featured Product

The Canon PowerShot S100 - The incredibly fun and small camera that offers you 12.1 megapixels with a bright f/2.0 lens and full 1080p video recording . MORE INFO

News Tip or Feedback?

Contact us

Thoughts Media Sites

Windows Phone Thoughts

Digital Home Thoughts

Zune Thoughts

Apple Thoughts

Laptop Thoughts

Android Thoughts

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...