There's no question that OLEDs can produce eye-grabbing color as well as great blacks and off-axis performance. Like most displays at shows such as this, color is stretched and enhanced all out proportion. But it shur r purdy.
I hate – no, I loathe – headphone cords. Maybe it’s because I was traumatized as a child by a menacing coiled cord on an old landline phone that was mounted on the wall in our home. I can’t tell you how many times the handset was yanked out of my hand when I reached the outer limits of the coiled cord’s length. Nor can I tell you how many times I’ve had one or both earbuds forcibly ejected from my ears after I’ve gotten the headphone cord caught on something. In fact, I’ve broken more than one pair of earbuds that way… So you can understand my appreciation of CordCruncher’s new Earbud Headphones that come with a unique, tangle-free, "crunchable" headphone cord. There are two main aspects to the CordCruncher Cord Management System. The first is the special kinked-cord design that allows the cord to resist tangling as well as compress when not in use, in some ways similar to the way a coiled cord functions. The second component of the system is an elastic sleeve that covers the all or as much of the crunched headphone cord as you wish. The sleeve covers the cord and keeps it from tangling when you’re finished listening to music and have thrown the earbuds in your briefcase, purse, or on your desk. The 3.5 mm headphone jack can be inserted into the other end of the elastic sleeve to create a necklace or, when doubled up, a wrist band. Currently the CordCruncher Earbuds are available in Glo Orange, Matte Black, and Pearl Blue color options for $24.99 each. Unfortunately, the CordCruncher cord/sleeve combo isn’t available in a universal version to use with other brands of earbuds and headphones. (The sleeve, by the way, is made from 95% protein-free, medical-grade latex rubber, so people who are allergic to latex may want to look for some other type of cord management system.)
If you want your floorstanding speakers to have Bluetooth, the Crystal Matrix Tower does it with a small module that plugs into the back and a separate transmitter with 30-pin, USB, and mini jacks. Also interesting is the way the half-dozen tweeters are divided into two groups of three, each group aimed outward at a slightly different angle, to ensure wide dispersion. Pricing is $3000/pair.
D-Link announced a new router with StreamBoost technology for better high definition video streaming, and with a new dashboard to monitor and control your home network. The DGL5500 router is called a "gaming router" because it has low latency (no lag time) for online game play. This capability also makes it an excellent router choice for streaming movies.
Dish, the satellite TV provider that pleased TV viewers and upset broadcasters last year with the introduction of the Hopper DVR that automatically skips commercials on recorded prime-time shows, today introduced a second-generation Hopper with built-in Sling capability. The upgraded box lets users watch and control live TV and DVR recordings from smartphones, tablets and PCs, essentially replicating the living room TV experience wherever they go, and has built-in Wi-Fi for accessing a home network. Dish also upgraded processor speed to 1.3 GHz, which is said to deliver the fastest guide scrolling in the pay-TV industry.
Dish officials said the new Hopper, which has a 2-terabyte hard drive that holds more than 500 hours of high-def programming, will be offered to new customers at the same price as its predecessor with no monthly fee for the Sling functionality.
The Scandinavian speaker maker DLS started as a car audio company in 1979, moved into home audio in 2003, and released its first on-walls in 2008—and they are now a big part of its business. The Flat Box II is the large speaker on either side of the picture. Under the grille are an active woofer and passive radiator, made of Kevlar and aluminum, flanking a silk dome tweeter whose wave guide extends from the baffle to the grille, as a means of tightening up time alignment. It goes for $3500/pair. In the middle of the pic is a forthcoming full-range speaker which will be more design-oriented and will sell for $2000/pair. DLS also offers numerous other on-wall models combining 1.5-inch soft domes and three- to four-inch paper woofers, chosen for their efficiency with minimal amplification, selling for $500-1000/pair.
DTS offered one of the show's more interesting audio demos with DTS Headphone:X. The audience were given Sennheiser headphones selling for roughly $100. With headphones off, we heard an 11.1 channel check with front, front height, center, side surround, back surround, and back surround height channels (not including sub). Then the channel check was repeated with headphones on. It sounded precisely the same and the sound still seemed to be coming with the speakers. Finally we were invited to hear the channel check while removing and replacing the headphones. At this point it became clear that the sound was coming only from the headphones. The steering was impressive, with the side, back, and height channels occupying their places in the soundfield with the same confidence as the front channels. DTS also did an A/B demo of the Vizio VHT215 2.1-channel soundbar with various technologies acquired along with SRS Labs. Even amid the noise of the show floor, it was clear that what is now called DTS TruSurround (formerly SRS TruSurround) was lifting the soundstage clear of the bar's physical limits. Just a little, but enough to be noticeable.
When is a soundbar not a bar? When it's shaped like a console, a new form factor that provides more cabinet volume and potentially better sound. The Energy Power Base, pictured, is a 2.1-channel product with pairs of 0.75-inch tweeters, three-inch midranges, and three- by five-inch oval woofers. It comes with Dolby Digital surround decoding, Bluetooth wireless, and optical and stereo analog inputs. Ships in August for $399. Energy also showed two Power Bar Elite soundbars: a 40-incher for $599 and a 31-incher for $399. Oh, and there were a couple of new indoor/outdoor speakers as well.
Gallo is overhauling its acclaimed lines of orb-shaped metal-clad satellite speakers with the new A'Diva and Micro lines, which are five and four inches in diameter, and sell for $329 and $239 each. Both use a new full-range driver that is said to offer wider dispersion, though at the cost of a slight reduction in efficiency. Don't worry, an average receiver should be able to run them fine.