Almost everyone who's into home theater loves surround sound, but even the staunchest audiophiles have to admit that the inevitable result--a room full of criss-crossing speaker cables--sours the deal. Just about every manufacturer is on a quest to kill the wires, but the solutions so far have had drawbacks--single speaker surround-sound systems just doesn't sound as good as a full 5.1 system; wireless rear speakers usually still have wires, exhibit an audible hiss or compression artifacts, and/or often use the interference-prone 2.4GHz wireless spectrum. Neosonik's solution avoids most of these pitfalls by using an … Read more
The gadgets at the International Consumer Electronics Show certainly take center stage, but the huge tech show attracts its fair share of human celebrities as well. Check out the people and the performances that caught our attention in our CES day of photos.
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
The non-tech media's been full of articles deploring the inferior sound of the MP3 era. Apparently Pioneer agrees. At CES, the company is demonstrating technology it calls Advanced Sound Retrieval, or ASR, which promises to restore some of the signal lost when audio is compressed into a "lossy" format like MP3 or compressed WMA or AAC.
Technically, it's much tricker to restore signal than it is to cut it--that's one of the first rules of audio recording, which is why you want to get the broadest dynamic and frequency range possible, then pare it down, … Read more
Philips is showing off two new Ambisound products--the first an HTiB, the $499 6515D, offers a 5.1 surround-sound experience while only using an actual 2.1 setup. It includes HDMI upscaling up to 1080p, along with USB support for playing music and video files.
The Ambisound soundbar, the HTS6100, is ultimately a step-down version of the HTS8100, which will retail for $599. It also includes a DVD player with 1080p upscaling via HDMI and an iPod dock that can be controlled through the system itself. However, this version will not support an onscreen display like we saw with the … Read more
SDI Technologies, the company behind the iHome series of affordable iPod audio systems, is not surprisingly embracing both iPods and iPhones in 2008, as well as Microsoft's Zune line of portable media devices. SDI is showing off several new products at CES, including an L-shaped alarm clock for the iPod and iTouch (as well as other iPod models) that allow you to change the orientation of the unit so you can watch videos, "while the clock display rotates accordingly to complement the position of the unit." We also liked the looks of the iP51 2.1 Micro … Read more
Aiming squarely at devices such as the Logitech Squeezebox and Roku Soundbridge, the recently announced Philips Streamium NP1100 might not break the mold on features, but it will be offered at a great price of just $149. The Philips Streamium NP1100 offers three basic functions: an Internet radio tuner; a PC-link for streaming audio from a local computer; and a dedicated Rhapsody subscription music feature. The Streamium NP1100 uses a built-in Wi-Fi connection (or hardwired Ethernet), to pull down streaming music from the Internet or your networked PC library.
On the back of the Philips Streamium NP1100 you'll find … Read more
Philips' Bluetooth Wireless Entertainment System, the BTM630, may not be among the "future" products Philips announced at CES, but it's making its official debut at the show, so we're going to write it up.
Along with Bluetooth connectivity for streaming music from Bluetooth-equipped cell phones and PCs, the BTM630 features an iPod dock, a slim-slot CD loading system, a USB port, and the ability to playback MP3 or WMA music from a SD or MMC card. With a built-in mic, the system also doubles as speakerphone for cell phone calls (you can switch between calls and … Read more
While Streamium systems are always hard to come by stateside, Philips has announced the next iteration of its wireless digital streaming devices. The WACS7500 hub ($999.99) and WAS7500 extenders ($299.99) feature 80GB hard drives, color LCD displays, and USB ports for connecting a variety of media devices.
The idea behind Streamium is to be able to wirelessly broadcast music to anywhere in your home. Using the WACS7500 you can control up to five WAS7500 extenders, either synchronizing them together or controlling them separately. Rip CDs directly to their hard drives or, through Wi-Fi, access files on your computer. … Read more
Panasonic has detailed its 2008 home-theater-in-a-box line, which includes three models in the consumer-friendly sub-$500 range. In and of itself, that's not big news--except that we've frequently found Panasonic HTIBs (such as 2007's SC-PT750) to deliver a great bang for the buck.
All of the systems come with five-disc DVD changers, iPod flip-down docks with audio and video playback capabilties, and HDMI upscaling up to 1080p. Furthermore, the $400 SC-PT760 and $500 SC-PT960 models include a wireless rear speaker module in the box (it's sold separately as an upgrade on the entry-level $300 SC-PT660). The SC-PT760 comes with front speaker stands while the SC-PT960 has tallboy-style front-, left-, and right-channel speakers. For a more detailed look at what each system has to offer, consult the chart after the jump.
On the high-end, Panasonic's SC-BT100 includes an integrated Blu-ray player (that's Profile 1.1 compatible to boot). The yet-to-be-priced system will compete with the currently available Samsung HT-BD2 when it's released in May 2008.… Read more