Volunteers connected with a joint public/private service program will help ease the transition from analog to digital television broadcasting for low-income households, minorities, seniors, the disabled, those who live in rural areas, and those who don't speak English.
Price: $1,299 At a Glance: DAC, headphone amp, preamp for digital sources • Asynchronous USB input • Makes your audio files sing
The Wadia 121 calls itself a decoding computer. While the term DAC (digital-to-analog converter) also fits, Wadia understands that nomenclature is destiny. This product just may be destined to change forever the way you hear high-resolution music files, signaling a new chapter in audio history that no audiophile can afford to ignore.
The Wadia 170 iTransport is the first iPod docking device to coax a digital signal out of the iPod (incidentally, my 82-year-old mom loves hers). Till now the iPod could output only a line-level analog signal to docks. How Wadia managed this is a story yet to be told. The company insists that there is no need to pay a hacker to crack the case –- the 170 is Apple-approved. Price: $379.
Back when digital-to-analog converters were a totally new component product, Wadia was out there will some of the first and best products. That tradition continues with the Wadia 151 PowerDAC mini. It's also a 50-watt stereo amp. Maybe just the thing for your two-channel hideaway. Price: $1195.
Wal-Mart has become the latest online music retailer to shut down the encryption-key servers for its DRM-encrusted downloads. As a result, anyone unfortunate enough to have bought the latter will have to burn them to CDs for archiving. Otherwise it will become impossible to transfer them to other computers and players in the future.
Wouldn't it be convenient if all satellite radio--meaning Sirius XM--receivers also handled over-the-air HD Radio? A bill in Congress would mandate this pairing. The Federal Communications Commission is also considering it as an outgrowth of its approval for the Sirius XM merger.
Have the big telcos brought next-generation IPTV to your household yet? They haven't? Well, don't worry. Market research firm iSuppli says IPTV will increase from 2.4 million subscribers in 2005 to 63 million in 2010. But if you can't wait till 2010, move to Monroe, Oregon, where the Monroe Telephone Co. is delivering Internet-protocol television to 50 homes in its 950-home service area. A planned marketing push may raise the total to 200. The price is about the same as a satellite subscription. "The rural areas have surpassed the cities largely because of nimbler local telecom companies that have taken matters into their own hands," says a story in The Wall Street Journal. Among other advantages, they can get loans from the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Division. Monroe Telephone was founded in 1912 and acquired by John Dillard in 1956 for $5000. When growing up, John Jr. dug holes for telephone poles and manually punched through calls on a patch bay. His words of consolation for you IPTV-less folks in the big cities: "It won't be too long before the bigger markets follow."
A successful format needs both hardware and software. Unfortunately for HD DVD, the software expected for the format's official March 28 launch date has just turned to vaporware. Warner Home Video announced that titles won't make it to the church on time due to unnamed technical problems. The delay may be only a week or two—"we just don't know." One possible explanation would be a delay with the content security system used, in some form, by both HD DVD and Blu-ray. The rumor mill said it hadn't gotten completed on time. A subsequent report said an interim agreement would let both formats move forward. And now—well, who knows? Though Paramount and Universal have also announced HD DVD titles, they’ve never provided a hard date. How this will affect Blu-ray's May 23 software launch remains unclear. Oh, one more thing—Disney is hinting it may support both formats, which would be welcome news in the HD DVD camp.