IN2UIT’s very stylish, very portable Filo sound system is light (about 1.7 pounds), less than 2.5-inches thick, includes Bluetooth connectivity and has a li-polymer battery that’s good for up to ten hours of operation. But it’s not just another pretty desktop speaker. The Filo incorporates IN2UIT’s unique electrostatic loudspeaker (ESL) technology the company calls “Electrostatz”. Like larger, more expensive ESL’s on the market, IN2UIT’s Electrostatz speakers are super-slim – in fact, the company claims its speakers are “the world’s slimmest, paper-thin speaker technology in the market”. Electrostatz speakers, however, include a proprietary self-biased (SBESL) nano-diaphragm design, so they don’t require high-voltage bias or transformers, which helps to keep the cost and power consumption low.
The Filo is available in three colors, Vogue red, Mod blue and Urbane grey. Each Filo also comes with a power adapter/charger and a wall mount bracket. Even on the noisy, open show floor, I was highly impressed with the sound quality of the many $299 Filo speaker systems IN2UIT had mounted on the walls of the company’s booth. In my opinion, it outclassed any other Bluetooth-enabled, portable speaker costing under $300 that I’ve ever heard. IN2UIT’s Filo is expected to be available in the US in the next several months.
As a general rule, home automation is pricey. When you add motorization into the mix, it can get even pricier. SABAJ, a vertically integrated, extremely automated manufacturer located in Poland, showed off a motorized TV lift mechanism designed to raise flat-panel TVs up out of hidden cabinets that is surprisingly affordable. The company’s various lift mechanisms include an RJ45 socket for use with home automation systems, power guard circuitry to prevent the mechanism to lower the TV if it is still on, an active safety system that stops the downward movement and raises the screen slightly if something gets in the way, a three-button programming sequence for programming a preset viewing-position, and comes flat-packed so shipping costs are low. The TV-LIFT K-LINE ECO and K-LINE PREMIUM models are designed for flat-panel TVs up to 60 inches and up to 155 pounds (depending upon the K-LINE model). Product will be available in the US market very soon, and pricing will likely start at well under $1,000 for the lift mechanism.
Waterproof iPad and iPhone cases don’t automatically jump out as being prime home theater-related items; but as outdoor TVs from companies like SunBriteTV and Seura become more and more popular, along with weather-resistant speakers (such as the Soundcast Outcast wireless speakers), plenty of iOS and Android devices are making their way out into the elements. I originally thought the various storage bags from LOKSAK were little more than high-teched-up versions of the basic Ziploc storage bags found in kitchens everywhere. In reality, these amazing bags are not only resealable, they’re also completely waterproof, dust proof, and humidity proof. In fact, the many different sizes of LOKSAK bags are all rated to withstand being submerged in 20 feet of water for up to two weeks. Most amazing, however, is the fact that the touchscreen on your tablet or smartphone will operate exactly as if there were no bag material present at all. And, just as remarkable, you can make/take phone calls without opening the bag – including using the phone’s built-in speaker and microphone! With all that technology going for it, you’d expect to pay an iPremium price for an aLOKSAK; instead, aLOKSAKs start at under $8 – for a package of three aLOKSAKs.
After filming a brief interview yesterday with Winston Cheng, VP of Development at Aeon Labs, at the Z-Wave Pavilion where the company was showing off its soon-to-be-released DIY LCD window film, I had the chance to stop by the SONTE booth for a brief demo today. Much like the product from Aeon Labs, the 0.7 mm SONTE FILM can be applied to any glass surface and can switch from transparent to opaque in under one second. SONTE FILM, however, is controlled via Wi-Fi, so it can be controlled by a wide variety of IP-based control/automation systems. The flexible film comes in 1 x 1 meter sheets, and they can be daisy chained to cover large windows. They can also be trimmed to fit smaller windows. One potential use on large windows is to incorporate multiple sheets side-by-side on the window, but without daisy chaining them together. Theoretically, you could then control each film-treated section independently – and be able to use your automation system to block out direct sunlight panel-by-panel as the sun moves across the sky. The SONTE FILM improves the window’s insulation rating, although the company did not give any specs on by how much. The SONTE FILM isn’t totally clear – nor does it block 100% of the light. In the transparent state (energized), the film is transparent with a “Haze Coefficient” of 7%. With the power off, the film turns opaque with a Haze Coefficient of 67%.
Another interesting use of the SONTE FILM suggested by SONTE is to use the film to turn any large window or glass partition into a rear-projection screen. (With the projector supplied by the homeowner, of course.)
Pricing hasn’t been determined, but SONTE hopes to have DIY product available in the next three to four months.
BodyWave uses specially designed sensors that monitor the brain’s physiologic signal through the body to interpret your thoughts and allow you to control apps on computers and smartphones. It can also be used with computer simulations to “teach stress control, increase attention, and facilitate peak mental performance.” While I didn’t get a chance to try it myself, the guy who got to the booth just before I did learned how to drive a virtual forklift on the computer monitor in front of him within about a minute using only his thoughts and a stationary non-turning steering wheel with the company’s physiological sensors embedded on the wheel. The device “read” his thoughts – as long as he concentrated on it. When the presenter distracted the tester by tapping him on the arm, the forklift stopped moving. There was a slight ¼ second lag in time between the brain’s thoughts and the movement of the forklift on the screen, so you’re not going to be using this device for playing computer games at the moment.
WyreStorm Amps Up HDBaseT
If you’re not already familiar with HDBaseT, it’s an exciting connectivity technology that enables connectivity between HD video sources and remote displays through a single CAT5e/6 cable up to 100m/328ft long. What’s really cool and useful is the fact that it is capable of delivering uncompressed high definition video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, various control signals, and up to 100W of POWER. (Imagine running one CAT5e/6 cable to your flat panel from your AV system rack – and not needing to plug in an AC power cord from the display!) Now that Pioneer and Onkyo have joined the HDBaseT Alliance, widespread adoption of HDBaseT technology for regular-Joe AV gear looks like it’s just around the corner.
WyreStorm came to CES2013 with “the world’s first all-in-one HDBaseT and digital amplification solution” HDBaseT D Class Digital Audio Amplifier (AMP-001-010) that brings together the benefits of HDMI and HDBaseT connectivity, with local audio amplification. One of the device’s standout features is its ability to extract stereo audio from the digital audio signal within the HDBaseT signal and amplify it locally. This can eliminate the need for multiroom amps and having to mix digital and analog audio formats. The AMP includes a local source analog audio input to further expand its usefulness for a variety of applications.
While the WyreStorm AMP-001-010 isn’t designed as a consumer DIY-type piece, it’s still noteworthy for non-custom-install consumers because it shows how much flexibility is possible when implementing the HDBaseT technology. Although not yet officially set, pricing should be under $900 with availability in approximately three to four months.
Over the many years (this being my 24th or 25th trip to the magic kingdom known as Las Vegas during CES) of attending the International CES, I've noticed just a few changes. One small change, for example, is the ubiquity of this newfangled thing called “the internet”. From a journalistic perspective, one of the most notable changes has involved the lowly press release. No, they're not being written any better. (At least they're not being written any worse…) What's changed is the method of distribution. In the olden days, an intrepid fact-finding writer would scour the press room's stacks and stacks of press releases looking for a rare gem or two to write about. (All the while lamenting the loss of so many trees to produce so many useless sentences.) Not only was the process time-consuming and inefficient, it resulted in plenty of extra weight that had to be lugged home in briefcases and suitcases. You can imagine the shouts of joy that arose once the majority of PR departments switched to the now-archaic CD-ROM as the method of information distribution. The real breakthrough in making press coverage less backbreaking, however, was the introduction of the flash drive. Not too long ago, getting a press kit on a 256 MB flash drive was something you talked about in the taxi line. Now, the truly jaded among us don't even attempt to hide our disdain for flash drives with less than 2 GB capacity. Or, as a friend told me, “Two gig is the new 512 MB.” Unfortunately, it won't be long before the press page on the company's website becomes the new 2 GB…
JBL has continued to refine the design and performance of the flagship Project Everest DD66000 speaker it introduced six years, culminating in the $75,000-a-pair DD67000 unveiled at CES. Upgrades include a refined crossover network and extended frequency response thanks to new cast-aluminum-frame woofers, featuring three-layer laminated cone construction and 4-inch voice coils, a mid/high-frequency compression driver with a 4-inch beryllium diaphragm, and an ultrahigh-frequency compression driver with a 1-inch beryllium diaphragm and 2-inch neodymium magnet. Both compression drivers are mounted in JBL’s computer-optimized Bi-Radial horns, made from acoustically inert SonoGlass to eliminate unwanted colorations and shaped to optimize dispersion.
Available in rosewood or maple, the furniture-grade cabinet retains the curved and angled surfaces of its predecessor, including the signature flared horn, and introduces a carbon-fiber baffle trim panel. The speakers will be available in February.
The Fidelio HTL9100 soundbar Philips introduced at CES is the first we’ve seen with detachable wireless speakers. Remove the compact enclosures from either end of the wing-like soundbar and the system automatically shifts from virtual surround to discrete 5.1 surround. The speakers’ on-board amplifiers are battery powered and said to run up to 10 hours when fully charged. Other highlights include Bluetooth connectivity for streaming music from smartphones and tablets, two HDMI inputs, and a sensor/equalizer that detects whether the soundbar is mounted on the wall or sitting on a shelf and adjusts the sound accordingly. The HTL9100 comes with a wireless subwoofer and will be available in May with a suggested retail price of $800.