Ever wish you could connect your smartphone to the TV in your living room while you’re lounging around so you could browse your apps on the big screen or watch that hilarious video you shot of your buddy impersonating Mitt Romney? Or maybe you’re on the road and want to kick back and stream a movie or watch a couple of crazy YouTube videos on the TV in your hotel room (assuming you’re not staying in a ’60s-era motel complete with the vintage Philco set). Or just think how cool it would be if instead of lugging your laptop to the boardroom, you could jack into the projector and run a PowerPoint presentation from your phone. If nothing else, you’d certainly impress the boss.
It’s 11:00 on a Sunday night. Your honey just went up to bed and you can’t wait to crank up your latest Blu-ray acquisition: Jimi Plays Berkeley, a long-forgotten 1970 documentary that has been restored and remixed in 5.1 surround. Seconds after Hendrix rips into the first number, the dreaded foot stomping from above begins. The party’s over before it even starts. Last time it was a cataclysmic crescendo from Inception that did you in. Frustrated, you vow to remedy the situation and, once and for all, soundproof the family room that doubles as your home theater.
I half expected an ordeal as I walked into Walmart carrying a small shopping bag with several movies, ready to take the new Disc-to-Digital service for a spin. I was directed to the electronics department where I was greeted by a large placard that read: “Access your movie collection. Any time. Any place. 3 Easy Steps...” Offered in Walmart stores across the country, the service is operated through the chain’s online streaming service, Vudu, and is intended to provide an easy way to set up a cloud-based digital movie library with DVDs and Blu-ray Discs you already own.
We tend to think of high-end video projection as the cornerstone of a larger-than-life home theater experience—you know, the kind that puts the local cinema to shame—rather than a source of creative lighting or fine art. But for SIM2 Multimedia, the Italian company known for high-style/high-performance projectors, the M.150 represents the intersection of home entertainment and interior design.
The Boundary B404 speaker Leon is demonstrating at CEDIA Expo may well be the most indoor-looking outdoor speaker you’ll see (shown above in an outdoor theater setup). Available in mahogany, white or black finished with a high-gloss marine varnish that would be at home on any boat, the weatherproof speaker has two 4-inch aluminum woofers and a 1-inch aluminum/magnesium dome tweeter, specially formulated to withstand the elements. Price: $2,200 apiece.
Along side its impressive lineup of A/V receivers, Onkyo is demonstrating the EnvisionCinema LS3100 at CEDIA Expo, a 2.1-channel powered TV speaker package featuring two oval speakers with removable stands to accommodate wall or cabinet mounting, a wireless powered subwoofer and a low-profile 20-watt digital amplifier/control center offering SRS audio processing and Bluetooth 2.1 for wireless streaming from compatible devices. The system, which comes pre-programmed for control with most TV remotes, switches on and off with the TV and responds to volume commands. Better yet, it incorporates SRS’s TruVolume equalizer that smoothes out fluctuations in volume as you switch channels, WOW HD audio processing for a more expansive soundstage and a Dialog Mode that enhances voice intelligibility. EnvisionCinema will be available in November with a suggested retail price of $499.
We can thank Michael Phelps for making it cool to wear over-ear headphones while on the go. In a nod to that trend, Yamaha will roll out the stylish Pro Series line of headphones at the end of the month. Good/better/ best models were previewed at CEDIA Expo: the Pro 500 ($399 in black or blue), the Pro 400 ($299 in blue or white) and the more compact Pro 300 ($199 in black, white or blue).
Artison, the company founded by respected audio designer Cary Christie nearly a decade ago, is replacing its SB-1 SoundBar with three low-profile models designed for seamless integration with the new generation of ultra-thin TVs. The numerical designations of the new Studio Series models---Studio39, Studio46 and Studio55---reflect the approximate width of the soundbar, although each grille is custom fitted and color matched to the TV it’s being used with as in the photo above.
Highlights of the soundbars include a 2.25-inch-deep extruded aluminum, bass-reflex cabinet, 3.5-inch carbon-fiber mid/woofers---Studio39 has four drivers, the other models have six---three 1-inch Vifa tweeters and two 1-inch “stage” tweeters that fire out the sides of the enclosure to expand the sound stage. Pricing is $999 for Studio39, $1,499 for Studio46 and $1,999 for Studio55. The Studio46 ships this month with the other models expected to be available in October/November.
Home-automation stalwart Crestron is demonstrating at CEDIA Expo a Near Field Communication (NFC)-based technology called airConnect that enables homeowners to trigger personal control settings for a home theater system and other devices connected to a central control system by simply holding an NFC-enabled smartphone close to an NFC tag in the room. The tag can be programmed to initiate any number of activities or automated routines, such as turning on system components, closing motorized shades, lowering a projector screen and launching a control app on the phone. The NFC tags, which are 1-inch, paper-thin squares, can be embedded in convenient locations, such as behind a wall keypad. A number of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices are NFC-enabled and Crestron says it will support iPhone and iPad as soon as they incorporate NFC technology.
Crestron is also demonstrating enhanced AirPlay functionality for its Sonnex multiroom audio system, which allows you to stream audio from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac PC to any room in the house without having to switch audio sources. Hit play and the system detects audio signals and automatically switches to the AirPlay source. The Sonnex system incorporates high-performance digital audio processing, full matrix switching and high-powered amplification.
Sonance, which introduced the first in-wall-speaker a couple decades ago, is demonstrating the third generation of its Invisible Series speaker panels at CEDIA Expo. The panels mount flush in the wall and can be covered with up to an eight of an inch of any flexible material---including spackling compound, wallpaper or plaster---and painted over without compromising the performance. Hailed as the company’s best sounding invisible speaker to date, the panels are designed to fit between the studs in standard 2 x 4 wall construction. Judging from the demo on the noisy show floor, the sound is surprisingly decent.
The four new models boast 90-dB sensitivity, enabling the panels to play much louder than previous generation panels. All models have an injection-molded polypropylene diaphragm, extruded aluminum frame and require only 2 inches of depth for mounting. Optional enclosures are said to reduce sound transmission to adjacent rooms by up to 20 dB. The IS4 three-way panel shown in the photo has a suggested retail price of $1,600 per pair. Other pricing: The two-way IS2 is $1,100 per pair, the single stereo IS4SST is $900 and the ISW Woofer is $600.