Griffin’s new smartphone universal remote control uses Bluetooth to send commands to an IR emitter that sits near your home theater system. As a result, the $69.99 Beacon doesn’t require the user to attach any dongles or special transmitters to the phone (something that makes other smartphone remotes a pain in the butt). The IR emitter is battery powered, so it can be placed wherever is most convenient without the need for running a power cable to it. Models are available for both iOS and Android smartphones.
I’m convinced that Soundmatters is doing something they shouldn’t be doing. It’s got to be illegal, or at least against the laws of acoustics. The company’s new foxLO is subwoofer that’s not much bigger than an external hard drive. Soundmatters says the $149 foxLO is “the world’s first palm-sized hi-fi subwoofer”. While the industrial design is very cool, that alone wouldn’t warrant giving it a listen. The claim of being “a true hi-fi subwoofer”, however, made me give it a highly skeptical listen - after which I became a true believer. This little 2.5” high x 4.5” wide x 6.3” deep unit incorporates an active woofer with passive radiator and a built-in 25-watt amplifier. And it absolutely rocks in a way that something that small shouldn’t be able to do. The foxLO is expected to be available this Spring.
Kogeto’s Dot is a super-clever add-on lens for Apple iPhone 4/4S that lets you take 360-degree videos just by holding the phone horizontally. A free app (Looker) from Kogeto let’s you view the videos. In regular mode, you can pan through the video from side to side by swiping your finger across the screen; or you can watch the entire 360-degree field of view in panorama mode. Videos can be emailed or shared via Facebook and Twitter. Dot kits are available in four different colors (black, red, pink, and green) for $79/each.
The folks at Etymotic Research were showing off the company’s ETY-Plugs, “the world’s highest fidelity non-custom earplugs.” Instead of just muffling the sound, the ETY-Plugs are actually able to reduce sound approximately 20 dB in all frequencies. That means music and speech sound natural and totally intelligible, just at a much-reduced volume. Since it’s only the overall volume level that’s affected and not the natural frequency response, Etymotic says they are perfect for both musicians and audience members who want to hear what is being played but at a lower volume level. The ETY-Plugs come in two sizes. Both sell for $12.95/pair.
British speaker maker, VIBE (Vented Innovative Bass Enclosures), showed off some interesting hybrid in/on-wall speakers. The PICS (Picture Integrated Cinema Speakers) speaker cabinets are designed to extend into the wall in much the same way that a traditional in-wall speaker would, except the remainder of the speaker extends another inch or two out from the wall. In order to stealthify the speakers, they come with a basic picture frame bezel and a black, acoustically transparent grille cloth. The frame can be painted, or you can go to your local frame dealer and have a frame of your own made. VIBE says customers can choose from a number of images or submit their own image for printing on the grille cloth. Unlike other manufacturers who make art/photo grille clothes, VIBE fuses the image into the cloth. The process is supposed to maintain the acoustically transparent properties of the cloth. According to VIBE, traditional screen printing on grille cloth significantly changes the acoustic properties of the cloth.
Currently, PICS are not available in the U.S. due to a lack of distribution, but the company does intend to bring them to America. While pricing on the entire line was unavailable, the large grille-less speaker in the middle of the photo above sells for around $4,000/ea.