New Products - July-August 2002

Sharp Flat-panel LCDs are starting to light up the TV world, and Sharp's 30-inch Aquos LC-30HV2U is one of the largest so far. With its wide 16:9 screen and 1,280 x 768-pixel (WXGA) resolution, the set is a respectable HDTV monitor, and its 3 1/2-inch depth makes it suitable for wall mounting. The Aquos panel boasts a viewing angle of 170°, and its contrast ratio is rated as 500:1. It has a built-in NTSC tuner and detachable speakers. To keep the panel slim, all connections are made to an external hub (not shown), which has VGA, component-, composite-, and S-video inputs. A table stand (shown) is supplied, and wall-mounting brackets are available as an option. The Aquos is said to have a lifetime greater than 60,000 viewing hours. Price: $8,000. www.sharp-usa.com, 800-237-4277

Hitachi Yeah, we know the story - you've spent a bundle on a new digital TV, and now you think you don't have enough left for a progressive-scan DVD player. Luckily, players like the Hitachi UltraVision DV-P725U aren't too pricey. In addition to its progressive-scan output (and, yes, it performs 2:3 pulldown to compensate for frame-rate differences between film and video), it can play CD-Rs and CD-RWs with MP3 files. There's a headphone jack with a level control for private listening, virtual surround sound for two-speaker setups, and 2x or 4x zoom. Composite- and S-video outputs round out your video hookup options, and it also has both coaxial and optical digital audio outputs. A universal remote is supplied. Price: $190. www.hitachi.com, 800-448-2244

Polk Audio Designed to keep your surround sound options open, Polk Audio's FXi50 surround speaker lets you switch between dipole operation (recommended for side walls) and bipole operation (better for rear-wall placement). Two baffles are set at a 45° angle. One holds the single 6 1/2-inch midrange/bass driver and a 1-inch dome tweeter, while the other has a second tweeter and the dipole/bipole switch. Bandwidth is rated as 40 Hz to 27 kHz. The vented, solid-wood cabinet measures 10 1/8 x 14 7/8 x 8 7/8 inches and is finished in black. Wall-mounting brackets are supplied. Each FXi50 weighs 15 pounds. Price: $600 a pair. www.polkaudio.com, 800-377-7655

Creative Labs You can free those MP3 files and DVD soundtracks from your computer speakers by bridging your PC to your audio system with Creative Labs' Sound Blaster Extigy, which connects to your PC via a USB port. The Extigy can turn stereo audio into 5.1-channel sound for playback on a multichannel system, or it can create a virtual surround sound effect if you have only two speakers. Its Audio Clean-Up mode removes scratches, pops, and hiss from recordings made from analog sources, while Time Scaling speeds up or slows down playback without changing the pitch. There's also a Dolby Digital decoder, a coaxial digital input, and multichannel line-level analog outputs. The front panel has an optical digital input and output, a minijack analog input, and a microphone input with level control. Price: $150. www.creative.com, 800-998-1000

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