Accessory and cable maker Accell introduced the UltraCat HD, a transmitter/receiver package featuring HDBaseT technology. It can be used to send uncompressed full HD digital video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, power, RS232 and infrared control signals over a single Cat5e cable for up to 100 meters (approximately 328 feet). Accell says the extenders are optimized for HD video and support all resolutions and video formats including 1080p, 4K, and 3D. HDBaseT technology is an exciting alternative to HDMI for many applications and can even be used to power devices (including TVs) when built-in to the device. We should start seeing more HDBaseT-enabled products later this year.
The Xi3 Modular Computer is small, cube-like, completely modular, and less than 4 inches per side. It uses 64-bit x86 dual core processors running at 2.0 GHz and, since it uses less than 20 watts to operate, it is totally silent due to the lack of fans. The silent operation and solid state storage make it a great choice for a home theater PC or DVR. Pricing starts at $849 (with Linux operating system – add $149 for Windows 7). Additional storage memory and thin clients are available. The computer can be ordered in different colors and various configurations.
Custom install-exclusive Emotiva Pro recently acquired Sherbourn, the high-end manufacturer of amps and preamps. The new Sherbourn preamps will include Control4 HC-200B controllers that will allow for home theater and whole-home automation. Look for the first products to be available sometime around April.
Since you’re reading this on a computer, you’re obviously on the cutting edge. You can get even more edgier by subscribing to the digital version of Home Theater Magazine using Zinio for your iPhone, iPad, or computer. 12 issues are only $9.75.
I know that we in this country are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the form of some sort of iPod accessory; but I draw the line at karaoke – especially iKaraoke. Friends don’t let friends karaoke.
Vuzix’s new “augmented reality” glasses have tiny video cameras on the front and small high-resolution display screens (one for each eye) behind. The setup allows virtual images to be laid over 3D video of the real world captured by the front-facing cameras. Potential applications could include virtual instruction manuals or training videos.
Dish Network’s $99 Sling Adapter connects to a Dish ViP722 or ViP722k HD DVR receiver with a single USB connection. The adapter lets you access programming from your receiver using a PC, iPhone/touch/Pad, Android, or BlackBerry device anywhere you have a high-speed Internet or 3G mobile connection.
Immerz’s KOR-FX is an over-the-shoulders tactile transducer that converts the lowest bass frequencies into vibrations that you feel through your collar bones. The effect was definitely interesting, but it may have been turned up a little too much for my tastes in order to make sure different attendees actually felt the effect. Tentative price is $189.99 and should be available beginning in April.
Focal showed off a new multimedia speaker system called the XS Book. The system consists of a powered speaker (2 x 20 watts) that takes an analog audio output from your computer. A speaker cable is then run from the amp in the first speaker to the companion speaker. Even though the system doesn’t include a subwoofer, Focal claims a frequency response of 50 Hz to 22 kHz, which is very believable based on what I heard during a demo at Focal’s suite in the Mirage. In fact, these speakers are good enough to be used as main bookshelf audio or TV speakers in a small room. They’re compatible with Omnimount brackets for on-wall mounting. Pricing is expected to be $399.
There are quite a few add-on devices that will turn your iPod touch into a remote control, but most of them are cumbersome or require some sort of obtrusive dongel. The most interesting one I’ve found so far is the Surc, which is an iPhone case with a built-in IR emitter. The case isn’t much larger than the iPhone itself, and it’s easily removable if you only want to use it at home. A free app is available that lets you customize the remote by adding in remote control code sets already in the Surc database – or you can teach the remote codes that aren’t yet available. Multiple rooms and macros can be easily programmed into the iPhone/Surc combo in minutes. It’s extremely easy to set up, and the UI is configurable (buttons can be moved, added, or removed). Availability is targeted for early 2011 with pricing yet to be determined. Surc cases for the iPod touch and iPad are in development. You can learn more at www.getsurc.com.
I thought I’d seen just about every variation of an iPod case by now, but a quick walk-through of the section of CES devoted to all things iPod brought me to this booth. Beaheadcase has combined a bottle opener with an iPod case because you never know when you might be using your iPod and need to open a bottle of beer. Just remember, don’t drink and download.
Xbox Kinect users already know how cool it is to use motion control. PrimeSense, the folks who developed the technology behind the Kinect, are now actively licensing it to other companies and hope to have it built in to TVs in the near future. Computer maker, Asus, will be the first computer company to develop a product that will allow you to stream content from your PC to your TV and control it using hand gestures.