At first look, RCA’s Mobile TV Tablet is just another one of the many Android tablets on the market. But beneath the tablet’s eight-inch (1024 x 768) screen is what RCA claims is the “world’s first” dual-tuner mobile TV. In addition to a standard over-the-air DTV tuner, the new tablet includes a Dyle mobile TV-compatible DTV tuner that provides access to around 130 mobile TV stations in 35 markets around the country. (The built-in mobile DTV tuner also receives mobile digital TV channels from broadcasters not affiliated with Dyle. You can see if there’s a Mobile DTV station in your area here.) The multifunction tablet includes a built-in telescoping antenna, Wi-Fi connectivity, dual cameras, and GPS functionality. The tablet (Model DDA850R) has a battery life up to four hours in mobile TV mode, or up to 10 hours when web browsing. It will be available this Spring with a suggested retail price of $299.
I hate – no, I loathe – headphone cords. Maybe it’s because I was traumatized as a child by a menacing coiled cord on an old landline phone that was mounted on the wall in our home. I can’t tell you how many times the handset was yanked out of my hand when I reached the outer limits of the coiled cord’s length. Nor can I tell you how many times I’ve had one or both earbuds forcibly ejected from my ears after I’ve gotten the headphone cord caught on something. In fact, I’ve broken more than one pair of earbuds that way… So you can understand my appreciation of CordCruncher’s new Earbud Headphones that come with a unique, tangle-free, "crunchable" headphone cord. There are two main aspects to the CordCruncher Cord Management System. The first is the special kinked-cord design that allows the cord to resist tangling as well as compress when not in use, in some ways similar to the way a coiled cord functions. The second component of the system is an elastic sleeve that covers the all or as much of the crunched headphone cord as you wish. The sleeve covers the cord and keeps it from tangling when you’re finished listening to music and have thrown the earbuds in your briefcase, purse, or on your desk. The 3.5 mm headphone jack can be inserted into the other end of the elastic sleeve to create a necklace or, when doubled up, a wrist band. Currently the CordCruncher Earbuds are available in Glo Orange, Matte Black, and Pearl Blue color options for $24.99 each. Unfortunately, the CordCruncher cord/sleeve combo isn’t available in a universal version to use with other brands of earbuds and headphones. (The sleeve, by the way, is made from 95% protein-free, medical-grade latex rubber, so people who are allergic to latex may want to look for some other type of cord management system.)
Call it a wireless musical gulleywasher. NuVo’s (accurately but very dryly named “Wireless Audio System”) uses both dual-band Wi-Fi and MIMO technologies to transmit up to 16 simultaneous audio streams at 600 kbps each, a feat that NuVo claims is the highest throughput of any Wi-Fi music network system. The system connects to home networks to play iTunes and Windows Media libraries and to the internet to access streaming services (Pandora, Rhapsody, SiriusXM, etc.) The system consists of three primary components, including two music player devices with built-in stereo amplifiers (P200, 60-watts x 2; and P100, 20-watts x2) and a network gateway (GW100). The P200 includes built-in aptX Bluetooth technology for wireless music streaming from tablets and smartphones. Each GW100 gateway has a range of about 300 ft (enough to cover an “average” 4,000 sq ft home), and multiple GW100s can be used in combination for larger homes. Prices are: P200, $599; P100, $479; GW100, $199. And, unlike when I first saw (and really liked) the system at CEDIA last year, NuVo says the Wireless Audio System is shipping now.
Just when you thought eating utensils couldn’t get any better than the plastic spork, HAPILABS develops the HAPIfork – “an electronic fork that monitors your eating habits…and alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast.” In addition to larding it over the knife and spoon, the HAPIfork also connects to your iOS/Android/Windows device and keeps track of your eating performance, or you can use an online dashboard at HAPILABS website. (Now that I think of it, it could also be used to aid in training aspiring eating contest champions…) The HAPIfork has a unique HAPIbutton that lets you track HAPImoments by pressing and holding in the HAPIbutton from 1 (“meh”) to 10 (“orgasmic”) seconds. No doubt the next HAPIgadget to appear will be a HAPIremote that will warn you when you’ve been sitting on your butt for too long in front of the TV. It should also track how often you change the channel. And how often your family fights over who gets to hold the remote control.
Thanks to a bit of serendipitous timing, GoldenEar Technology's Sandy Gross gave a lucky trio of us a sneak peak at (and a quick listen to) the company’s newest tower speaker, the Triton Seven. Although the speaker is short on inches compared to the other Triton Towers (it’s only 40 1/4 inches tall) and is the first GoldenEar tower to come without a built-in powered subwoofer, the new Triton Seven is extremely long on performance. The Seven features a D’Appolito array of two 5.25-inch bass-midrange drivers above/below the same High Velocity Folded Ribbon Driver (HVFR) tweeter that’s in the taller Triton Two and Three siblings. Bass output is enhanced by a pair of side-mounted sub-bass radiators placed near the floor on the sides of the angled cabinet.
The clarity of sound and super-silky imaging definitely make the new Seven speaker a worthy addition to the stunning Triton family, but the depth and authenticity of the bass response makes it hard to believe there’s not a built-in powered subwoofer hidden behind the grille cloth. Even though we were limited on time for the demo and it’s always hard to truly evaluate speakers in a show environment, the combination of modest dimensions, phenomenal sound, and high affordability ($699.99 each), make it a good bet that the Triton Seven Tower is going to be on nearly everyone’s short list for Speaker of the Year in 2013.
For the past nine years, Lutron Electronics has brought together a number of editors and writers in the industry to review and judge a towering stack of anonymous submissions from dealers vying to win one of the lighting control company’s annual Excellence Awards. This year, six writers/editors plus myself were locked in a room at Lutron’s Residential & Commercial Experience Center in Irvine, California, and told we couldn’t leave until—after much discussion, arguing, hair-pulling, and some brutal name-calling—we had collectively decided which projects were the most amazingly cool, excellently conceived, and beautifully implemented in their categories.
Imagine a world in which headphone cords and other obnoxious wires can stretch from here...to...there. Researchers at North Carolina State University have and we have the video to prove it. (And, to make it even more awesome, it involves liquid metal, too!)
Soundbars promise to deliver a full home theater experience with much less complication and confusion—and usually at a much lower price—than a traditional home theater system with an A/V receiver and multiple speakers. But how close can a svelt 43-inch-wide cabinet with nine drivers crammed in it come to actually pulling it off? Veteran speaker reviewer Darryl Wilkinson hooks up Definitive Technology's new SoloCinema XTR to find out.
What I’m about to say borders on heresy. But before I risk being virtually burned at the digital stake, let me tell you that, although I am older than most of the writers in this industry, I am not old-fashioned. I don’t pine for the days of spending hours at the record store flipping through bins of vinyl albums, nor do I miss fiddling with my Nakamichi BX-300 (I couldn’t afford a Dragon...) in order to make cassette tapes of those albums for my car. I like - no, I love - most modern technology and crave more of it. (Bring on the domestic robots, I say! Just don’t make them with any of those scary-ass faces some Japanese researchers have designed. If they’re going to be our overlords, I want them to at least look good.)