The Grand Entryway exhibits featured this arrest-me-red 2011 Ford Focus (available in March). Why? Because of its high tech electronic features. This former Focus owner (2000) was more interested in its performanceplanned 160HP engine at first; later supplemented by a twin turbo version (I thought I heard them saay 240HP--torque-steer city?) and later still either a hybrid or electric (they weren't clear on which one).
I've always thought that Gallo Acoustics speakers look great, but they also sound great as I found out when I listened to the new $6000 Reference 3.5 being powered by a Spectron Musician 3 Signature amp and Resolution Audio CD player. It went surprisingly low for a relatively small speaker, and the mids and highs were clean as a whistle.
Anthony Gallo Acoustics is doing its first wood veneer speakers, but that doesn't mean the Classico Collection is like everyone else's speakers. The S2, shown, uses the same tweeter as other Gallo products. Inside the enclosure is the same polyfill bag dampening that expands or contracts according to driver movement. Though the speaker shown is a prototype, the final version is expected to ship in 90 days for $695/pair. Other members of the same family will include another stand-mount, two floorstanders, center, and sub.
From Liquid Imaging Co. LLC comes the Summit Series HD combination video camera and snow goggles. The integrated wide angle HD camera captures the wearer's point of view while the skier is shushing down the slopes!
Many video reviewers use the original <I>HQV Benchmark</I> DVD and Blu-ray test discs in their evaluations of displays, players, and processors, but those discs are getting a bit long in the tooth, and there are a couple of errors on them that limit their usefulness in certain tests. Now, IDT has released version 2.0 of both discs, and they look fantastic. (During the development process, IDT solicited feedback from several reviewers, including Tom Norton and me, and I'm gratified that they actually took our advice.)
As you may already know, the intellectual property rights for HQV video processing were purchased by IDT some time ago, and the company has been working on new chips since then. I've seen demos of prototypes a couple of times, but I was under NDA (non-disclosure agreement) until now. I can finally talk about the HQV Vida chip, which will soon be available in AVRs, Blu-ray players, and video processors.
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.
Optoma introduced the Neo-I, an all-in-one AV iPod dock with a built-in pico projector, speakers, 16-watt amplifier, and an HDMI input. The promotional materials say it’s capable of projecting up to a 120-inch image, but I think that’s pushing it a bit. Skins will be available for the bezel surrounding the speaker grilles that will allow you to personalize the dock. MSRP is $449.
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.
Now that the holidays are over—which, frankly, I was ready for days ago—it's time to turn an expectant eye toward Las Vegas and CES. Unlike many of my colleagues, I love going to the show, and this year is no exception. As usual, I'll be driving from Los Angeles, and I'm really looking forward to cruising through the beautiful desert landscape in a Lincoln MKZ with a kick-ass sound system courtesy of THX.
Watch out, Google TV. Fanhattan is a new service scheduled to launch in early 2011 that uses a very simple and easy-to-use UI to let you surf the world of video entertainment. It not only makes it easy to find the TV shows and movies you want to watch – it also lists the various services that provide that content and the prices charged (in the case of movies, for instance). Fanhattan will also provide a bunch of options having to do with the main content, such as related movie synopsis, bios, and YouTube videos.
While it wasn't new, and didn't have the ultimate refinement of the Revel/Levinson system playing in the adjacent room, the imaging of JBL's massive horn-loaded Synthesis 1400 was striking and endlessly engaging. With two of these, you don't need a center speaker. With Mark Levinson electronics, the system weighed in at $44,500.
Hardly cheap at a mere $11,800 per pair, but a bargain compared to some of the above systems, Joseph Audio's new Perspective floor standers are an outgrowth of the company's $7000 pulsar stand-mount monitor, with an added 5" woofer in a larger cabinet. They sounded superb, with far more bass than I expected.