While home theater enthusiasts may not have given much thought to routers and other home network devices in the past, it’s time we started to pay attention. Whether we are streaming a high definition movie from Vudu, or everyone in the house wants to stream to their own TVs, the router must be able to handle the demand. Netgear, Linksys, D-Link, and Belkin all showed new routers that are capable of streaming several high definition mov
Dolby announced that movies and TV shows from HBO Go will include Dolby Digital Plus. Dolby Digital Plus supports up to 7.1 channel surround sound so you can experience a movie, or TV show, the way the director intended. This means that viewers can have a high definition movie experience with full surround sound similar to that of watching a Blu-ray Disc.
Dolby previously announced that Dolby Digital Plus is available Netflix and Vudu streaming services. Initially, the multichannel surround sound format could only be played through a Playstation 3 or XBox 360 video console.
With the CES announcement, Dolby Digital Plus will be available on TVs and Blu-ray Players with these video on demand apps.
Somebody at Newer Technology finally got fed up with all the USB wall wart chargers taking up all the available outlets - not to mention looking like a charger jigsaw puzzle. The company's Power2U AC/USB wall outlet combines two AC wall outlets with a pair of powered USB ports that'll charge and power up to four iOS/Android/etc devices - including being able to charge the amperage-hungry iPad. Unlike traditional wall-wart power supplies, the USB charging ports in the Power2U utilize a "Smart Power" design that is supposed to reduce your energy consumption costs by providing only the charging amount necessary for the connected devices, as well as turn off power to the USB ports when the connecting cable is removed. Safety shutters over the USB ports slide closed when not in use.
The UL-Listed Power2U installs into a standard single-gang outlet box (16 cubic inches or larger) with a 15A circuit and comes with detailed instructions for the intrepid do-it-yourselfer. In fact, Newer Technology says it can be installed in as little as 20 minutes. At the moment, the wall outlets are only available in an off-white finish. The wall plate itself has small caps to cover the wall plate's screws. The Power2U AC/USB wall outlets are available now for $39.95/each But if my house is any kind of a guide, you'll need more than just one to satisfy all your voracious portable devices.
One of the most important themes from CES this year is the continuing development of Internet-delivered content, which is quickly maturing into a viable alternative to cable and satellite. For example, the ES7500 LED-LCD TV (shown here), ES8000, and other premium Samsung TVs provide Smart Content, which offers over 1400 apps from providers such as CNBC Real Time, ESPN ScoreCenter, Hulu Plus, MTV Music Meter, Netflix, and Time TV. New apps in 2012 include Bravo, Technicolor M-Go, and The Daily as well as Media Hub, which was previously available on Galaxy S smartphones and Galaxy Tabs. This powerful app offers a diverse selection of movies and TV shows the day after they air as well as past seasons of the shows; some movies are available the same day they are released on DVD and Blu-ray.
Another important new app in the Samsung suite brings Verizon FiOS live TV directly to its Smart TVs and Blu-ray players. This app allows FiOS subscribers to watch 26 live TV channels and access more than 10,000 video-on-demand titles through Verizon's Flex View service without the need for a set-top box. Also provided is a full web browser.
I learned more about the flagship of Samsung's 2012 LED-LCD TV lineup since the press conference last Monday. For example, it will be available in screen sizes of 55, 60, and 75 inches. Like all Samsung LED-LCDs, this one is edgelit along the sides, and a new Micro Dimming Ultimate algorithm provides pseudo local dimming with more zones than previous versions. Also, Smart Evolution lets you upgrade the TV's hardware as well as firmware, making it essentially futureproof.
As one of only three major manufacturers of plasma TVs, Samsung continues its tradition of excellence with the E8000 flagship line, which offers screen sizes of 60 and 64 inches. A dual-core chipset is said to provide enhanced performance, with excellent 2D and 3D picture quality and deep blacks thanks to the company's Real Black filter. Its Smart TV functionality includes Samsung's Smart Content and Smart Interaction technology that lets you control the TV by motion and voice, and Smart Evolution lets you upgrade the hardware as new features become available.
If you were exhibiting at CES and you didn’t have any earphones or headphones to demonstrate, then you must not have gotten the memo that said everyone must make earbuds. Amidst the bewildering variety of mostly mediocre offerings, Sonomax was showing off their latest eers - custom molded earphones. Unlike most other custom molded earphones which have to be professionally fitted, eers come in a do-it-yourself kit that includes a special goo that flows into your ear and hardens to create a custom-fit for your specific ear. According to Sonomax, "Since ears are more unique than fingerprints, perfect fit and comfort can only be achieved with custom-fit earphones.” The PCS-150 uses a single driver. The PCS-250 uses dual drivers and a crossover. Both models include in-line microphones for use with mobile phones. Pricing will be approximately $199 and $299 respectively.
One of the surprise finds I stumbled upon on the last day of CES was a company called iOmounts. They make a very clever magnetic mounting system for iPhones and iPads (or any flat tablet or touchscreen device, really) that’s easy to use, very stable, and is designed for quick release. The mount uses a stainless ball with a round magnet that’s sculpted on one end to fit the ball. The other end is flat. A thin circle of metal gets attached to the back of your iOS device, and this is what is held in place by the flat end of the magnet that’s attached to the ball. While the magnet is holding the device, you can slide it around the surface of the ball in order to position the iOS device at almost any angle. When you’re done, you simply pull the device away from the magnet and go on your way. It’s a great idea for someone who wants to use his/her iPad as a second monitor - or especially for anyone who uses an iPad/iPhone as a temporary remote control in a home theater. The iOmounts come in two sizes. The shorter version starts at $69, while the taller version starts at $89. A wall mount will be available for $49. Everything (except the magnets) is made in Colorado, and they’re expected to begin shipping in March.
At CES, legendary audio company McIntosh introduced a special 50th Anniversary Limited Edition McIntosh MC275 tube power amplifier. According to McIntosh, the 75-watt x 2 MC275 was designed and engineered in 1961 by McIntosh co-founder Sidney Corderman and the McIntosh Engineering Team, and it's been an object of desire for McIntosh aficionados ever since. Adding to the excitement of the introduction, McIntosh handed out what has to be one of the best press kit flash drives in the history of CES: a miniature version of the MC275 with 4 GB of flash memory hidden inside one of the output transformers. McIntosh says they are only building 275 of the 50th Anniversary Limited Edition MC275 (hmmm, I wonder where they came up with that number?), so it's destined to be a highly sought after piece of gear. I'm not sure how many mini-MC275 flash drives McIntosh has to give out, but I know it's going to be quite a collector's item, too. Now, if I could just figure out where to connect the speaker wires...
To offer an alternative to cable, Boxee offers hundreds of channels of online content, a web browser and now live TV. Better than connecting an antenna directly to your TV where you simply surf through channels, connect an HD antenna to the Boxee Live TV USB dongle and browse cover art for TV shows on broadcast TV channels you receive.
Boxee believes that by adding live TV, more people will be able to “cut the cord,” that is quit their cable service. Premium content from Netflix and a variety of other online streaming sources along with your local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox channels are combined in the Boxee experience.
Until now, DLNA certifications were used for personal content--movies, music, and photos--stored in media libraries in your home network.
This is a revolutionary advance because manufacturers have been searching for a way to make movie and TV studios comfortable with sharing premium content in a way that cannot be pirated. Premium Video certified products will communicate digital rights management information for each movie or TV show and allow the streaming to take place but will not allow recording. In fact, devices that can record--NAS drives, computers--will probably not be Premium Video certified.
Chief Twit Leo Laporte and I explore the show floor at CES 2012. Our first stop is the DTS booth to interview legendary producer/engineer/musician Alan Parsons and engineer/producer Elliot Scheiner. Next, we head to the LG booth, where Leo is impressed with the 3D video wall and we take a look at the 55-inch OLED flat panel and Google TV. At the Sharp booth, Kerry Hodel explains the company's ICC-4K upscaling and shows us a stunning 8K display, after which we wander over to Samsung, where Stuart Silloway shows us the ES8000 LED-LCD TV, Samsung's 55-inch OLED, and the Verizon FiOS app. Finally, we take a quick look at Sony's Crystal LED flat panel, which seems to be that company's version of OLED.