At first look, RCA’s Mobile TV Tablet is just another one of the many Android tablets on the market. But beneath the tablet’s eight-inch (1024 x 768) screen is what RCA claims is the “world’s first” dual-tuner mobile TV. In addition to a standard over-the-air DTV tuner, the new tablet includes a Dyle mobile TV-compatible DTV tuner that provides access to around 130 mobile TV stations in 35 markets around the country. (The built-in mobile DTV tuner also receives mobile digital TV channels from broadcasters not affiliated with Dyle. You can see if there’s a Mobile DTV station in your area here.) The multifunction tablet includes a built-in telescoping antenna, Wi-Fi connectivity, dual cameras, and GPS functionality. The tablet (Model DDA850R) has a battery life up to four hours in mobile TV mode, or up to 10 hours when web browsing. It will be available this Spring with a suggested retail price of $299.
Vizio’s new top-of-the-line range of 2K (1920 x 1080) LCD HDTVs is the M-Series shown here. The 3D models are expected to be available later this year in 50-inch ($859) 55-inch ($1200), 60-inch ($1600), 70-inch ($2500) and 80-inch ($4500) sizes. All will have a 240Hz refresh rate, passive 3D, Vizio’s Internet Apps, an ultra slim, thin bezel design, and local dimming. It was not clear from Vizio’s press materials, but we assume from the ultra slim design and the prices that the local dimming is edge-lit rather than the more complex and expensive to implement full backlit zone dimming. The picture here shows all but the 55-incher; only one of the four employs an IPS panel (which typically offers better off-axis performance). Ignore the room reflections and guess which one.
The M-series also includes 32-, 40-, and 47-inch models, which are 2D only.
They won’t be available until later in the year, so no prices were yet available, but Vizio joins other HDTV manufacturers (with Panasonic a notable exception) in making this CES the year of 4K launches—though 4K source material will be very thin on the ground. Nevertheless, this Vizio 70-inch 4K set looked outstanding in upconverting what was apparently a standard Blu-ray source. 65- and 55-inches Vizio 4K sets will also be available, though the latter size seems a tad small to take full advantage of the format.
Next to the 4K display, Vizio also showed a glasses-free 3D prototype, though this was apparently a technical demonstration rather than a product we should expect anytime soon. The 3D effect was modestly effective, but not equal to the glasses variety. And the picture was otherwise rather grainy (possibly due to the screen treatment needed for the glasses free experience) and not yet quite ready for prime time. As with other glasses free 3D we’ve seen, the 3D effect was only visible at several specific zones across the viewing area, but unlike those other sets, the picture merely went to 2D in the areas between those zones rather than breaking apart into the two separate eye images.
Tablets and smartphones are becoming constant companions - even more so now that there are so many apps and automation systems available that allow you to control your TV or multiroom audio system using an iOS or Android device. But not every place where you might use a smart device is as “environmentally friendly” as your living room. LifeProof's nüüd case is designed to protect an iPad in just about any situation you can think of. It's waterproof. (You can fully submerge it underwater down to two meters or 6.6 feet, whichever comes first.) It's dirt-proof (and totally sealed from minute dust particles to IP-68 standards). It's snow-proof (also to IP-68 standards). And it's shockingly shock-proof. (LifeProof says it's designed to military drop survivability specs of 4 feet - or 1.2 meters.) Although they didn't truck in a mountain of snow or build a dirt bike track at CES, they did bring a large tank full of water in which they regularly submerged a nüüd-clad iPad. When out of the water, the fully enclosed casing allows easy access to the charging and headphone ports. When under water, the access ports seal up tight and keep iPad warm and dry. (Well, not necessarily warm, but most certainly dry.) The nüüd case also includes a special “Sound Enhancement System” that channels the iPad's audio through the case cavity in order to improve the sound quality. Pricing for the nüüd case starts at $99.99 for the iPad 2/3/4. In addition to LifeProof cases for a variety of iPhone and the iPod touch Gen4, the company also offers a bright orange LifeJacket ($59.99) that prevents the iPad/nüüd combo from sinking when dropped in the pool, lake, or stream.
After filming a brief interview yesterday with Winston Cheng, VP of Development at Aeon Labs, at the Z-Wave Pavilion where the company was showing off its soon-to-be-released DIY LCD window film, I had the chance to stop by the SONTE booth for a brief demo today. Much like the product from Aeon Labs, the 0.7 mm SONTE FILM can be applied to any glass surface and can switch from transparent to opaque in under one second. SONTE FILM, however, is controlled via Wi-Fi, so it can be controlled by a wide variety of IP-based control/automation systems. The flexible film comes in 1 x 1 meter sheets, and they can be daisy chained to cover large windows. They can also be trimmed to fit smaller windows. One potential use on large windows is to incorporate multiple sheets side-by-side on the window, but without daisy chaining them together. Theoretically, you could then control each film-treated section independently – and be able to use your automation system to block out direct sunlight panel-by-panel as the sun moves across the sky. The SONTE FILM improves the window’s insulation rating, although the company did not give any specs on by how much. The SONTE FILM isn’t totally clear – nor does it block 100% of the light. In the transparent state (energized), the film is transparent with a “Haze Coefficient” of 7%. With the power off, the film turns opaque with a Haze Coefficient of 67%.
Another interesting use of the SONTE FILM suggested by SONTE is to use the film to turn any large window or glass partition into a rear-projection screen. (With the projector supplied by the homeowner, of course.)
Pricing hasn’t been determined, but SONTE hopes to have DIY product available in the next three to four months.
Call it a wireless musical gulleywasher. NuVo’s (accurately but very dryly named “Wireless Audio System”) uses both dual-band Wi-Fi and MIMO technologies to transmit up to 16 simultaneous audio streams at 600 kbps each, a feat that NuVo claims is the highest throughput of any Wi-Fi music network system. The system connects to home networks to play iTunes and Windows Media libraries and to the internet to access streaming services (Pandora, Rhapsody, SiriusXM, etc.) The system consists of three primary components, including two music player devices with built-in stereo amplifiers (P200, 60-watts x 2; and P100, 20-watts x2) and a network gateway (GW100). The P200 includes built-in aptX Bluetooth technology for wireless music streaming from tablets and smartphones. Each GW100 gateway has a range of about 300 ft (enough to cover an “average” 4,000 sq ft home), and multiple GW100s can be used in combination for larger homes. Prices are: P200, $599; P100, $479; GW100, $199. And, unlike when I first saw (and really liked) the system at CEDIA last year, NuVo says the Wireless Audio System is shipping now.
IN2UIT’s very stylish, very portable Filo sound system is light (about 1.7 pounds), less than 2.5-inches thick, includes Bluetooth connectivity and has a li-polymer battery that’s good for up to ten hours of operation. But it’s not just another pretty desktop speaker. The Filo incorporates IN2UIT’s unique electrostatic loudspeaker (ESL) technology the company calls “Electrostatz”. Like larger, more expensive ESL’s on the market, IN2UIT’s Electrostatz speakers are super-slim – in fact, the company claims its speakers are “the world’s slimmest, paper-thin speaker technology in the market”. Electrostatz speakers, however, include a proprietary self-biased (SBESL) nano-diaphragm design, so they don’t require high-voltage bias or transformers, which helps to keep the cost and power consumption low.
The Filo is available in three colors, Vogue red, Mod blue and Urbane grey. Each Filo also comes with a power adapter/charger and a wall mount bracket. Even on the noisy, open show floor, I was highly impressed with the sound quality of the many $299 Filo speaker systems IN2UIT had mounted on the walls of the company’s booth. In my opinion, it outclassed any other Bluetooth-enabled, portable speaker costing under $300 that I’ve ever heard. IN2UIT’s Filo is expected to be available in the US in the next several months.
WyreStorm Amps Up HDBaseT
If you’re not already familiar with HDBaseT, it’s an exciting connectivity technology that enables connectivity between HD video sources and remote displays through a single CAT5e/6 cable up to 100m/328ft long. What’s really cool and useful is the fact that it is capable of delivering uncompressed high definition video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, various control signals, and up to 100W of POWER. (Imagine running one CAT5e/6 cable to your flat panel from your AV system rack – and not needing to plug in an AC power cord from the display!) Now that Pioneer and Onkyo have joined the HDBaseT Alliance, widespread adoption of HDBaseT technology for regular-Joe AV gear looks like it’s just around the corner.
WyreStorm came to CES2013 with “the world’s first all-in-one HDBaseT and digital amplification solution” HDBaseT D Class Digital Audio Amplifier (AMP-001-010) that brings together the benefits of HDMI and HDBaseT connectivity, with local audio amplification. One of the device’s standout features is its ability to extract stereo audio from the digital audio signal within the HDBaseT signal and amplify it locally. This can eliminate the need for multiroom amps and having to mix digital and analog audio formats. The AMP includes a local source analog audio input to further expand its usefulness for a variety of applications.
While the WyreStorm AMP-001-010 isn’t designed as a consumer DIY-type piece, it’s still noteworthy for non-custom-install consumers because it shows how much flexibility is possible when implementing the HDBaseT technology. Although not yet officially set, pricing should be under $900 with availability in approximately three to four months.
Last year, one of the highlights of CES were the ivee voice-controlled talking radio and alarm clocks. This CES, ivee announced it’s tired of being just a bedtime companion. Later this year, ivee will introduce the ivee Sleek, a Wi-Fi, voice-activated intelligent “assistant” that can use natural language understanding, machine learning, and Wolfram Alpha’s computational knowledge engine to answer basic questions (regarding weather, stocks, or other internet-available information), obey commands (set alarms, reminders, and timers), and control a variety of Wi-Fi devices (thermostats, lights, security systems, etc.) ivee says the small, tabletop Sleek “assistant” will even be able to communicate with the super-slick Nest thermostat – something that most automation systems can’t do. The $199 ivee Sleek is available for preorder now and is scheduled to being shipping in May. (If you have any additional questions, you’ll have to ask ivee’s Sleek…)