Ever had trouble matching a subwoofer to your main speakers and the room? Ever wonder, if Reese's can make peanut butter cups with the peanut butter on the outside, why can't someone make a subwoofer that's intelligent enough to make its own adjustments? If you have, then you can spend your life believing that Thiel Audio created their new SmartSub family of subwoofer products just for you. (The remainder of us will simply admire the technology in this collection that includes four new powered subwoofers, a SmartSub Integrator, and a pair of passive crossovers.)
The PE8700 DLP projector from BenQ has to qualify as the surprise product of early 2004. The first surprise is that it's made by a company I'd barely heard of before late last year. But with a claimed 13,000 employees worldwide, BenQ isn't exactly small. Its main corporate headquarters are in Taiwan, where the PE8700 is built.
The first thing my wife told me when I returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in January was that our eight-year-old garage-door opener was broken. When it still produced a banshee-like screech after a liberal dose of WD-40 - the universal cure-all for ailing mechanical devices - I decided we needed a new opener.
Many of us yearn to own a glistening flagship receiver: the prestige . . . the state-of-the-art performance . . . the vast array of features . . . the satisfaction of knowing that you own the very best. But flagships can be prohibitively expensive, as well as awkwardly large and extremely heavy. Ask any admiral. And then there's the complexity issue.
The list of North American channels offering Dolby Digital 5.1 sound has just grown by four. In a press release dated July 19, <A HREF="http://www.dolby.com">Dolby Laboratories</A> announced that City HD, Encore HD, TNT in HD, and The WB will all offer programming in Dolby Digital 5.1. This brings the total number of networks featuring the surround format to the mid-20s (and the number of individual channels to somewhere in the 80s—Dolby is not being terribly specific about the precise numbers).
Over the last few years, we've heard a lot about the "electronic house," an application that will seamlessly integrate personal computers and home entertainment systems throughout an entire household. If customers have been slow to adopt this concept, it may be because the existing options have tended to be complicated to use and install—not to mention expensive. <A HREF="http://www.skipjam.com/">SkipJam</A> may have a solution for all three objections.
Peter Putman reviews the <A HREF="/videoprojectors/604panasonic">Panasonic PT-AE500U front LCD projector</A>, noting that this product "comes with a great deal of buzz about its color and image quality—at least from those who saw a preview of it at last year's CEDIA expo." PP tests to see if the buzz was on target.
Of course, the world assumes that if you want a flat-panel TV that you'll want to hang it on the wall. Not according to Jeff White, President of Boltz USA. "Contrary to sexy television commercials featuring young 20-somethings fussing over which wall to hang their new, sleek, flat panel TV, we've heard from many customers who would much rather display their new toy on an attractive stand." (Personally, since as I young 20-something I suffered by watching TV on a miniscule 13-inch TV with rabbit ears and not even a Beta-tape VCR to keep it company, I feel that 20-somethings ought to be barred by law from owning a flat-panel TV until their 30th birthday. Think of it, as my mother used to say, as "character building"... But I digress.)