So you’re a committed audiophile. You used a laser to precisely toe in your front loudspeakers. You lie awake at night worrying about that 2-dB dip at 9 kHz in your room’s frequency response. You hire Mike Mettler to hand-deliver every issue of S+V. [I aim to please —Ed.] Well, that’s great.
It is the job of engineers to push the envelope and design the products of the future, not the products of today. When the first Compact Disc players were on the drawing board, 780-nm lasers were extremely expensive, but engineers anticipated that low-cost versions would soon become available. They bet right: cheap laser modules were perfected just before the CD format’s launch.
A post on the Olive One by my colleague Al Griffin got me to thinking. For a modest dollar sum, you can own a cool audio component with audiophile-quality specifications. But here’s the paradox: if it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, can audio gear really have audiophile cache?
TV manufacturing is a tough business. You’re making a perfectly good black-and-white TV and then someone comes along with a color TV. So you need to make color TVs. Then TVs become digital. Then they become high-def. Then they become flat. Then they become big. Then they become 3D. Then they become really big. Then they become 4K. It just never ends.
How many times has this happened to you? You’re rounding the Warsteiner-Kurve at the Nürburgring at about 3 lateral Gs and your iPad Mini flies out the window of your Porsche 997 GT2 and lands on a hausfrau’s schnitzel, and she exclaims, “Mein Gott in Himmel!”
There is one thing that Disney does better than anyone: monetize intellectual property. It isn’t easy to build an empire on the back of a rodent (trust me, I’ve tried) but Walt pulled it off. Now, with its newest acquisition, Disney is ready to expand beyond its earthly properties.
When you buy a Rolex Submariner from a guy with a dozen of them in a cardboard box in Times Square, there is absolutely no chance of misunderstanding. Both parties fully understand that the timepieces in question are fakes. But what if you buy a pair of high-end headphones from that kind-of-weird stereo store across from the mall?
"One size fits all" surround is dying. It's time for us all to consider a whole new dimension. First, a parallel to impart from the annals of tech history. In the earliest days of photography, the emulsions and lenses were extremely "slow." Even in bright sunlight, a plate might require hours of exposure time. As technology improved, exposure times decreased to a minute or so.
Boy, do I feel like a dope. I was under the impression that the decades of conspicuous consumption were finished. What with all the Occupy protesters and unemployed French literature majors out there, I thought that anything ostentatious was unfashionable. Or, as French literature majors would say, passé.
I get press releases. Oh boy, do I get press releases. My inbox runneth over. You think spam is bad? Multiply that by 100, and you’ll get an idea of my daily press-release pile. Everybody is flacking their newest and most innovative stuff. And occasionally they flack their oldest and least original.
Gee, who could have predicted this? The Internet is creating entirely new industries, and decimating others. Big-box electronics retailer Best Buy is among the latest bricks and mortar companies to be decimated by the web.
Google had revenue of $38 billion last year. So why would they mess around selling a consumer electronics gizmo? Frankly, I don't have the faintest idea. But they have served up a juicy meatball of a nice product.