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REMOTELY POSSIBLE

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 20, 2014 17 comments
My recent review of GoldenEar Technology’s newest speaker, the Triton One, generated a surprising number of entries in the Comments section at the end of the review. Some were short and to the point, such as the one from the reader who declared he or she “will not be renewing my subscription” because the piece was “a waste of a review.” (Okay, if you’ve got a beef with something I wrote, so be it. But don’t tar and feather Rob, Tom, Mark, and the rest of the S&V crew for a piece with my byline. Surely you ought to be able to find a subscription’s worth of value in the stuff they write.) But other comments were more substantive and warranted a more in-depth response than posting a brief reply...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 05, 2013 0 comments
The promise of HDBaseT is clear and compelling. With one, standard, off-the-shelf – relatively inexpensive – Cat5e/6 LAN cable, you can send full HD (3D and 2K or 4K) uncompressed video and audio (up to 10.2 Gbps), 100 Mbps Ethernet communication, various protocol control signals (RS232, for example), and up to 100W of power from one AV device to another up to 100 m (328 ft) away. (The HDBaseT Alliance refers to this set of features as “5Play”.) That means if you’re hooking up an HDBaseT-enabled flat-panel TV mounted on the wall to an HDBaseT-enabled AVR in a cabinet located in the back of the room, there’s no long, bulky HDMI cable (or HDMI extender baluns) to deal with (or spend the money on). No need for a repeater cable or wireless device to pass IR or RS232 control commands. And no separate Cat5e/6 cable to connect your TV or BD player to the internet via your home LAN. In my opinion, though, the most exciting part is that many components with integrated HDBaseT technology, including most TVs, won’t need an AC cord to plug into an outlet in the wall. It’ll get all the power it needs over that one, humble Cat5e or Cat 6 cable thanks to the magic of HDBaseT’s “5Play” technology.

Awesome, right? Absolutely…just not yet...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 23, 2012 1 comments
Even if you’re an infrequent reader of Home Theater and HomeTheater.com, I’m betting that you have at least one DVD lying around at home that you’ve never watched, won’t ever watch, don’t want to watch again, didn’t care for when you watched it the first time, or still has you wondering how your spouse could have ever thought that particular movie would make a great gift. In fact, chances are that you have a great many more than just one under-appreciated, space-taking, dust-collecting DVD in your possession. (Avid Blu-ray movie buyers probably have lots of unwatched DVDs that are packed in the same case along with the Blu-ray Disc.) At an absolute bare minimum, you at least know someone who has a few DVDs that fit into one of the above categories.

Some of those DVDs might be war-related, but you don’t have to watch a movie, such as Black Hawk Down, Born on the Fourth of July, or Apocalypse Now, to know that war is hell—and that it can often have long-lasting effects on the lives of those military men and women who choose to serve.

There are lots of people who show their “support” for our troops by placing a bumper sticker on their car—and leave it at that. We in the home theater community can do better, thanks to the vision of an organization called DVDs4Vets.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 29, 2014 0 comments
A lot of the sizzling hype at CES2014 was about home automation or, if you prefer using the gussied-up term, the “Smart Home”. Not everyone’s definition of a Smart Home (or home automation) is the same, though, and - as far as I know - there’s no standardized IQ test to determine how smart your Smart Home is.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 22, 2013 0 comments
When my kids were born, the obstetrician let me cut each one’s umbilical cord. Those cords were surprisingly tough to sever, even with a pair of super-sharp surgical scissors. Still, it’s no where near as easy as that was to cut through the clutter of cables we use to connect our AV gear together. (You didn’t see that segue coming, did you?) HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) simplified things quite a bit from the multiple-cable analog way of making connections; but, at the end of the day, an HDMI cable (regardless of its version number, speed rating, or whatever confusing denomination it happens to be a member of) is still a flippin’ cable. IOGEAR says its new $399 Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix (GWHDMS52) offers a way to get rid of one of those HDMI cables in your system – specifically one of those long suckers that are both costly and annoyingly difficult to run from component A to display B. To prove it, IOGEAR recently shipped a Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix for me to give a brief tryout. Considering the fact that I needed to rejigger the cable configuration running from the main system in my theater room to the 46” outdoor SunBriteTV still battling the elements on my back deck, I figured I had the perfect scenario to put the new wireless switcher to the test.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 06, 2013 0 comments
At CES 2013, DISH’s CEO, Joe Clayton, used the occasion to once again display his insatiable infatuation with Australian marsupials…as well as promote some key features included in the soon-to-be-released “Hopper with Sling” whole-home DVR. Surprisingly, after less than 12 months, DISH felt it was time to futz with what was arguably (and I’m not the only one to have made the argument) the world’s best whole-home satellite DVR available until now—the original “Hopper”.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 06, 2013 1 comments
Power cords. Three-prong adapters. Wall-wart power supplies and USB chargers with their thin, inevitably tangled cords. Running out of available outlets. These are all things I hate. Hell, even polarized plugs annoy the crap out of me. Let’s just say that when wireless power transmission – or power-harvesting devices – ever becomes a reality, I’m going to be a particularly happy individual. (If only Tesla were still alive…) In the meantime, the previously mentioned assortment vexing electrical necessities are things we all have no other choice than to deal with.

Fortunately there are plenty of devices out there that are specifically designed to lessen the pain of dealing with power cords and power supplies...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 08, 2013 1 comments
Several months ago, Win Jeanfreau, the Founder/Director of Aperion Audio, would take a listen to the company’s Allaire ARIS Wireless Speaker System. Technically, the Allaire ARIS isn’t a new wireless speaker system from Aperion. It’s been available for a little over a year. In fact, we ran a very favorable review of the ARIS in October of 2012. So what gives? This is an industry that thrives on the newest, the latest, and anything that can lay claim to being enhanced, upgraded, or otherwise improved.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 13, 2012 0 comments
I recently had to send my favorite watch in for repair. I am especially fond of this watch because, in addition to looking expensive, it has both an analog dial and a digital display. Unlike with audio, about which one can argue whether digital or analog sounds better, the two timekeeping technologies combined in my watch are identical in terms of displaying the correct time. And, quite the opposite of so many digital AV devices nowadays, in the 12 years I’ve owned this watch, I’ve never once had to download new firmware or a new time-deciphering codec in order to keep the watch current.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Apr 01, 2013 1 comments
Einstein disliked it, famously calling the phenomenon “spooky action at a distance”; but if a team of scientists at the Linear Research Particle Accelerator (LRPA) facility have their way, the bizarre effects of “quantum entanglement” could bring about loudspeakers that are both truly wireless and totally invisible.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 30, 2013 0 comments
“Use only as directed” is great advice when it comes to not taking Tylenol if you’re drinking alcohol and then not smearing Preparation H on your puffy eyes the next morning (when it’s okay to take Tylenol to relieve the effects of the previous night’s imbibing). But I don’t always do things as directed. I don’t even do a lot of things as suggested. Half the time I don’t even look at an instruction manual until I’ve encountered a near fatal error whenever I’m putting something together or learning how to operate it. (This often includes power tools. It’s a wonder I still have all my fingers…and toes.) So it’s no surprise that I forgot to put the protective dust cover on the outdoor TV sitting on my back deck before winter set in...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 30, 2014 1 comments
The future of home automation, the so-called “smart home”, is so bright, you’re going to have to wear shades—you’re BS shades, that is. If you believe the seriously over-heated hype, the new smart home hubs and home automation systems will save you money, keep you safe, make your life more convenient, improve your love life, grow hair where you want it (and keep it from growing where you don’t), and promote peace and harmony (the noun, not the remote control company) around the world. The enthusiasm is genuinely infectious, and I have to remind myself every now and then that the promised techno-utopia and the eventual techno-reality are often quite disparate. But dreams of a better smart home future give us something to strive for, and that Jetsons-like journey begins with small steps. Buying one of the new smart home hubs and installing a couple of sensors and devices, however, may be a bigger step than you’re ready for. What happens if you’re interested in home automation, but all you’re comfortable with now is sticking your big toe over the starting line...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 23, 2013 0 comments
It didn’t start out being about knowing what time it is. Nor did it have anything to do with making a techno-fashion statement. It all stemmed from a random comment I heard on the radio about so-called “smart watches”. “I’d have no use,” the voice declared, “for a smart watch of any kind...unless maybe it displayed the caller ID from my smart phone so I could look at my wrist instead of pulling my phone out of my pocket to decide whether or not to take the call.” That thought sent a tweet to my cerebral cortex, which then forwarded on an email to one of my frontal lobes which then flashed an Instagram picture. “I’d like that, too,” I thought. “But,” my normally incoherent pattern of thought went on, “I’d really like it if I could use the watch to control my home theater – or, better yet, control the entire Control4/Lutron automation system in my house.” Of course, once you’re on this kind of a roll, it’s hard to stop anywhere near reality. “And I want it to have voice recognition for commands – like Siri, but without the sulking “unable to take requests” rebuffs – so I can just talk to my watch and make things happen!”

Oh, Lady Technology, you can be such a tease...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Apr 19, 2013 4 comments
If the folks at SONTE have their way, the company’s new Kickstarter project is going to be curtains for the window treatment industry. Or, rather, it won’t be curtains…
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 29, 2013 0 comments
Portable Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen; and, based on the way they sound, that’s about all some of them are worth. Good portable Bluetooth speakers are much more difficult to find. Really good portable Bluetooth speakers that are also weather-resistant and include a long-lasting, built-in rechargeable battery – heck, while we’re at it, let’s include that they’re not ultra-techie-looking, too – are about as easy to come across as a Big Foot cavorting through the woods wearing a bikini.

Soundcast Systems, the people who make the outstanding OutCast and OutCast Jr., dynamic duo of weather-resistant, wireless, transportable speakers, have been hinting for months about a new portable Bluetooth speaker that they think is so much better than anything else on the market that it’s more than simply the equivalent of finding a Big Foot in a bikini, it’s more akin to stumbling across a bikini-clad Big Foot pole dancing in a forest clearing. (What Soundcast actually claims is that Melody is “What other Bluetooth speakers want to be when they grow up.” Okay, that’s cool. But I think my pole-dancing Big Foot mental image is a more memorable.)

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