A source within Qualcomm has confirmed that the company quietly acquired Open Interface North America in December of 2007. Founded in 2000, Open Interface North America (OINA) is an embedded Bluetooth software developer that has provided Bluetooth software for companies such as Sharp, Sprint, Motorola, and LG. One of OINA's most recent accomplishments was a new Bluetooth streaming audio codec named Soundabout Lossless, which promised a dramatic improvement over the prevalent A2DP Bluetooth audio standard.
While the mid-fi brands scramble to load on the latest techno gizmos and race to the bottom with ever cheaper prices and quality, high-end audio brands shoot for the moon. Take Loiminchay Audio, manufacturers of limited-edition speakers for well-heeled audiophiles are introducing their wares at CES in Las Vegas today.
The Loiminchay Audio speakers are artisan-crafted from sensually shaped layers of solid Birch MultiPly. The interior space of each speaker is machined out, the driver holes opened, and substantial bracing added, resulting in a tremendously non-resonant driver support structure. The speaker is then finished with sixteen coats of lacquer--Loiminchay's … Read more
Anytime the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray is discussed on the Internet, there's always a commenter that chimes in to say that digital downloads are going to beat them both. While we've seen some successful products using the digital distribution model, such as Vudu, we've always been skeptical about true high-def digital distribution taking off in the near future, mostly because high-bandwidth Internet access just isn't cheap enough.
Instead of waiting for cheap, super-fast internet connections, XStreamHD is looking to an older technology to provide the extra bandwidth--a satellite dish. The XStreamHD system consists … Read more
Polk Audio has officially unveiled its first single-speaker all-in-one home theater system, the SurroundBar 360. The system is comprised of just two components--a single elongated speaker (44 inches wide) designed to sit beneath your flat-panel TV, and a DVD player/amplifier head unit that houses the electronics. While the SurroundBar concept isn't new for Polk (the speaker-only 2005 version was designed to be paired with an AV receiver), the latest iteration utilizes a new active (powered) design that's said to maximize the speaker's eight drivers. In addition to the disc player and AM/FM radio, the head unit offers all of the standard DVD player outputs (including HDMI). Input capabilities fall short of HD switching, but the 360's analog composite and S-Video inputs will be upconverted via the HDMI output. A USB input is also available for digital photo playback and music players.
We had the opportunity to hear an early version of the SurroundBar 360 put through its paces by company founder Matthew Polk himself.… Read more
One solid way to improve in-car audio quality is to install an amplifier, but many people don't want their cars heavily modified. Blaupunkt's THA 555 is a plug-and-play amplifier that can be installed by anyone who's handy with tools and doesn't mind getting a little dirty. The THA 555 is a digital amplifier putting out 55 watts through each of its four channels, with an extra subwoofer channel pumping 200 watts. But the beauty of this amp is that, with one of Blaupunkt's model-specific wiring harnesses, you can fit it into a car with very … Read more
If you're not supposed to cast stones at glass houses, it's probably not a good idea to throw them at glass speakers--especially when they cost $5,400 a pair. No word on whether these superslick towers are shatterproof, but we're glad to hear that the French company Waterfall Audio is introducing its line of glass loudspeakers to the American market at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show this week.
According to the press release, Waterfall will showcase its two flagship models, the Victoria EVO and Iguascu EVO, which are named for the "famous waterfalls in Africa and … Read more
It's like the difference in taste between a tomato you grew in your backyard or one of those plastic things at the supermarket, or frozen pizza vs. a slice fresh out of the oven in Little Italy. We're talking big differences here. And those are the sort of sensual pleasures high-end audio delivers compared to iPods and ear buds. Sure, the little buggers sound good enough, but if you really love music, don't you want to hear your tunes sound as good as they can?
I'm sitting here listening to the late British singer/songwriter Nick … Read more
Sophisticated baby boomers and Gen Xers pride themselves on their ability to appreciate the finer things in life. They're wine snobs, crave gourmet food, drive exotic cars, buy 1080p high definition TVs, but for some bizarre reason think low-end speakers are just dandy. At a New Year's Eve party I polled perfect strangers about their hi-fi systems, and the three men and one woman all said that, sure, music was once really important, but now it's mere background. And they now owned very small systems, because "I can't hear the difference anymore."
Hmmm, I … Read more
So whichever gift-giving deity you believe in has smiled on you this season and you're the recipient of a brand-new machine. Or maybe the computer gods have decided that December was the time for your PC to join that great server farm in the sky.
Either way, you're in need of some new programs. Free programs. You're in luck: CNET Download.com has compiled a brand-new Windows Starter Kit, complete with all that your freeware-coveting heart could ever desire. This year we bring you a Web Browser, an E-mail Client, Office and Productivity tools, Image Editors, Music and Video Jukeboxes, … Read more
The editors here at CNET Download.com have bashed our heads together trying to sort through the bloody mess that was the past 12 months in software. The rise of webware sure changed the playing field, but we think we've found 10 Windows applications that are either new to the world or had such a major upgrade that they might as well be. We present these in no particular order, but please feel free to add your favorites in the comments below.