Seeking to expand its presence in the broadcast, satellite radio, automotive and gaming markets, DTS announced the acquisition of Neural Audio of Kirkland, Washington. The acquisition also brought aboard several executives from Neural who were instrumental in the development of the AAC and MP3 digital formats. It's encouraging to see aggressive business strategies like this in difficult economic times.
Focal of France showed their new 814V 2 1⁄2-way bass reflex tower speaker with one 6 1⁄2" woofer, a 6 1⁄2" mid-bass driver and a 1" inverted dome tweeter. The gloss black finish on the 814V is designed to complement a flat panel television with a gloss black bezel. The 814V is available now with a suggested retail price of $1795/pair.
The Reference 3.5 from Anthony Gallo Acoustics replaces the Reference 3.1. It was shown at the last CES but is now moving into production. New features include a patented cylindrical piezo film tweeter. The woofer enclosure, just one-quarter of a cubic foot in volume, includes a dampening material that is encased in plastic mesh and therefore does its job exceptionally well. Results: sassy crystalline highs, well-developed and well-controlled bass, and since Anthony has a good ear, a musically adept midrange as well. A second set of speaker terminals is provided for speaker-level output to a sub.
Gefen's new ToolBox line includes wall-mounted "system integration devices" used for HDMI connectivity and distribution. The new models are designed to be installed on the wall near the gear rather than in a rack. Each unit comes with locking HDMI cables and are available in glossy cream or black. In addition to HDMI splitters and switchers (including matrix switchers), the line will include a wireless HDMI transmitter/receiver package that will extend HDMI signals at 1080p/60 full HD resolution up to 30 feet.
Every day, I wake up and think I've seen it all when it comes to iPod accessories; and then something comes along to renew my faith in the amazing power of human ingenuity to create ever-more-useless stuff. On my way through the international section of the convention center, a series of wooden iPod covers caught my eye. That's wooden as in real wood - not a vinyl or plastic lookalike. I don't know if any store sells these in the U.S., but if they did you'd probably pay $24.95 or more for one. (I'm sure the name on the package has some significance overseas, but it's just aching for bad puns and innuendo here in good old America.)
I was surprised to see Haier in a huge booth in the middle of the convention center's Central Hall. This Chinese company has been at CES in years past, but until now, they've had a smaller booth somewhere in the back. Based in Qindao (or Tsing Tao, where the beer of that name is brewed), Haier is one of China's largest appliance manufacturers, and it's been selling LCD TVs in the US market since 2006. Where are they sold, you ask? Mainly independent appliance and TV stores such as BrandSmart; they are also big on the QVC shopping network.
This Tokai Challenger, using Sharp solar cells, won the 2009 Global Green Challenge, an 1864 mile race across Australia. The weather was clear and sunny throughout, which was probably why they chose to race in the Australian Outback instead of from Juno to Seattle. The single seat, three wheeled car comes in any color as long as the underside is white and the top is plastered with 2176 black solar cells.
Distributed by Koetsu USA, Italian manufacturer Blacknote introduced a high-end solution for playing any type of digital file including Wav, Flac, AAC, OGG, DFF, WMA MP3, MP4, and M4O. The DSS30 (shown in foreground) uses a 24-bit DAC and features four USB ports (two in front, two in back) that accept hard drives as well as flash drives. It also accepts direct input from memory sticks and CD-Rom players. With both balanced and unbalanced outputs it can be integrated with a range of high-end audio gear. The Ethernet port allows it be integrated into a home network as well.
Among the many interesting concept areas in Hitachi's booth was the gestural remote control. By waving your hands in various simple gestures, you can control the volume, change the channel, dim the lights, and other tasks, and the onscreen user interface is simple and attractive. The system uses a 3D camera and infrared beams to sense your gestures. It felt a bit awkward at first, but I believe I could get the hang of it eventually.
Perhaps the most highlighted section of Hitachi's booth is called Style Unlimited, in which the current Ultra Thin TVs are wrapped in various designer frames, including the gold-leaf pictured here. The gold leaf was applied by a company called Hakuichi, one of the most famous in Japan for this skill. Hitachi had several people in the booth asking attendees which designs they preferred to gather data on the US market. Some of the designs were way cool and very beautiful, but I always prefer a black bezel that calls as little attention to itself as possible, and I said so to the pollster. However, I realize that I'm quite geeky and many Joe the (insert occupation here) types might really like this idea.
Yet another concept demo in the Hitachi booth was called Super Resolution, which interpolates new pixels on a frame-by-frame basis to increase an image's resolution. The split-screen demo was very impressive, as shown here.
Sure enough, Hitachi is demonstrating wireless HDMI using ADI's JPEG2000 codec and UWB wireless transmission. The LCD TV is the current Ultra Thin model with an outboard input/tuner/processor box (on the floor) whose output is connected to a transmitter (on the riser next to the box) that sends the signal to a receiver (mounted on the TV's pedestal), which is connected to the TV's HDMI input. The picture looked fine to me under less-than-ideal conditions.
HP was demonstrating the MediaSmart Server that will come out at the end of the month. Designed to store and stream your media, the unit comes with a 750GB drive for $599 and for $749 you get a 1.4TB drive. It provides automatic backups and allows for automatic collection of data and files from other computers on the network. It won Best in Show at the recent MacWorld (that overlaps CES). I figure if the Mac and PC world are finally learning to co-exist, there is still hope for peace in the Middle East.