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.
Planar Home Theater is a new division of the parent company, Planar Systems (primarily known for commercial and industrial flat-panel displays), aimed at bringing unique video technologies to the specialty home theater market. The new division's first product is a front-projection screen, the Planar Xscreen.
Perhaps you're thinking, "Hey, that new Xbox 360 looks pretty hot," along with the thought, "Man, how many remote controls do I need to figure out in order to use my home entertainment system?" It might just be, then, that the idea of adding a remote control for the Xbox 360 into your living room will be too much for your precarious state of mind.
XStreamHD is a high definition media via satellite delivery service provider that's been gearing up for the last year. We've followed their progress, and now it looks like XStreamHD will be launching at the end of April. The XStreamHD hardware will let you rent HD movies (with Blu-ray bit-for-bit HD quality) with many other media-centric service to come, including game downloads. There's a $10/month subscription fee - after that, you simply pay for the movies/games/etc. that you want to rent or buy. Everything gets stored on the XStreamHD HD Media Server that comes standard with a 1TB drive (but is upgradeable to 2TB and 4TB). Movies can be streamed to HDTVs throughout your house using the basic HD Media Receiver or the more advanced PRO Media Receiver, which includes high-end DACs and 8-channel analog audio out for use with pre/pros that lack HDMI inputs. The basic package (1 Media Server + 1 HD Media Receiver) is scheduled to sell for $399. A Server and PRO Receiver package will be $499.
For as long as I can remember (although the time scale is questionable nowadays), Yamaha has been a strong player in the AV receiver game. While Yamaha is not really a "high-end" company mentioned in the same breath with the likes of, say, Krell, Classe, or Lexicon, it certainly pioneered the behemoth, all-in-one-piece- hernia-inducing monster AV receiver starting with the $4,499 RX-Z9 several years ago (Yamaha's latest, biggest, and baddest, the 11.2-channel RX-Z11, will appear in November for $5,499).
With an ad campaign and slogan like this, you'd never guess that one of the products this company makes is a Touch Pad Digital Bible Reader. No, seriously. (They also make digital media players, digital video recorders, and digital picture frames.)
Last year, one of the highlights of CES were the ivee voice-controlled talking radio and alarm clocks. This CES, ivee announced it’s tired of being just a bedtime companion. Later this year, ivee will introduce the ivee Sleek, a Wi-Fi, voice-activated intelligent “assistant” that can use natural language understanding, machine learning, and Wolfram Alpha’s computational knowledge engine to answer basic questions (regarding weather, stocks, or other internet-available information), obey commands (set alarms, reminders, and timers), and control a variety of Wi-Fi devices (thermostats, lights, security systems, etc.) ivee says the small, tabletop Sleek “assistant” will even be able to communicate with the super-slick Nest thermostat – something that most automation systems can’t do. The $199 ivee Sleek is available for preorder now and is scheduled to being shipping in May. (If you have any additional questions, you’ll have to ask ivee’s Sleek…)
Hannspree brought several of their unusual TVs to one of the giant press soirees that are filled with cheery PR people, good food, open bars, and every now and then an interesting product. I feel safe predicting that this set won't become the official TV of the Colbert Nation. I didn't see the remote control, but someone please tell me that it's not shaped like a baby seal...