Tech Trends '09: Licensed to Thrill Page 3

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TECHNOLOGY IN MOTION: ROAD GEAR '09

The prognosis is good for mobile-electronics A/V advancements in 2009. Here are three road-gear items worth taking along for the ride.

INTUITIVE HEAD

ALPINE's iXA-W404 digital-media receiver couldn't be more user-friendly ($550, below; alpine-usa.com). Designed for the iPod, this double-DIN in-dash head unit's touchscreen interface functions similarly to the iPhone and iPod Touch. The 4.3-inch screen also controls devices like thumb drives and MP3 players, but don't expect to slide in any CDs; Alpine sent the disc drive the way of the 8-track. Fortunately, you won't miss DVDs since the unit plays back iPod and iPhone video. Optional add-ons include satellite radio, HD radio, Bluetooth, and navigation.

HIGH-END THESIS

Designed to raise the bar set by the com- pany's high-end amplifiers, AUDISON's new Thesis speaker series, which includes the 2-way System TH K2 coro ($N/A, above right; audison.eu), went through many rounds of prototyping and research. Features include a rare-earth neodymium magnet, copper-clad aluminum-wire voice coil, low-profile triple-wave rubber-butyl surround and X-pulp cone with Polycrystal dust cap, and other really fancy-sounding stuff. Together with the Thesis cooling system, crossovers, and other design elements, these speakers are said to offer musical reproduction worthy of the Thesis name.

COMPACT BUT POWERFUL

In both politics and audio, great speakers without sufficient power won't live up to their potential. JL AUDIO's HD800/5 amplifier ($1,099; jlaudio.com) provides plenty of power in a compact package. This 5-channel amp (which can also be configured as a 3-channel'er) squeezes 500 watts x 1 plus 75 watts x 4 amp into a chassis that measures less than a third the size of the classic JL Audio 500/1 and 300/4 amps. Single Cycle Control, the technology behind it all, compares the audio signal to the real PWM waveform and corrects it over 400,000 times per second.

- Brook Howell

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