The quality of electrical power is often the limiting factor for high performance audio and video systems. Many manufacturers have attempted to address this limitation---caused in large part by electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI)---by designing and marketing surge protectors, AC line filters, uninterruptible power supplies, and various sorts of AC enhancers and generators. Many of these solutions are bulky, expensive, or only partially effective.
Many home theater receivers have excellent audio capabilities, but not many boast state-of-the-art video features. Onkyo has changed that with its TX-DS696, a 5 x 100-watt home theater receiver with component video switching and the ability to mix and match composite and S-video components. This feature is the result of a proprietary YC separator/mixer that "reconciles the incompatibility of composite and S-Video signals," according to company publicity. "Without this circuit, the video source, receiver, and video monitor must all use the same type of video connection."
Convergence has taken another step forward with the newest offering from Princeton Graphics Systems. On June 13, the display and monitor maker introduced its Ai3.2HD, a 32" flatscreen CRT with HDTV compatibility and interactive television features.
Many home theater fans use in-wall speakers for rear/side channels. Some even use them for the front channels as well. It's a space saving strategy, but one fraught with acoustic problems, the most prominent being the unpredictable nature of the "bay" into which the in-wall speaker is installed. Is it big or small, empty or stuffed with insulation? These factors make a huge difference in the performance of typical open-back in-walls.
Passive radiators fell out of favor with loudspeaker manufacturers in the early 1980's, but the technology always showed promise for extending the low-end response from small cabinets. Tigard, OR-based Aperion Audio, formerly known as EdgeAudio, has revived the design with the introduction of a new 150-watt powered subwoofer selling for just under $400.
Loudspeaker manufacturer NHT is slimming down its offerings in more ways than one. The Benicia, CA-based company has announced that its new lineup will be reduced from the current 30 models to only 18. The new speakers themselves will be smaller than their predecessors, according to vice president and general manager Chris Byrne, thanks to advances in woofer technology that allow deeper bass to be generated from smaller cabinets with narrower front baffles.
On May 31, Panasonic announced the DMR-E20, its second-generation DVD video recorder. Carrying a suggested retail price of $1499.95, less than half the price of last year's DMR-E10, the new machine will hit the streets in October.
International Business Machines isn't a company anyone normally associates with home theater products. Movie fans, however, might do well to put aside their assumptions for a moment and take a look at IBM's new MicroPortable data/video projector. Capable of a light output of 1100 lumens, the new projector weighs only three pounds---and is claimed to be HDTV compatible.