Built (that's the company's name) apparently makes interesting accessories, such as a unique backpack for a laptop. But that wasn't my main interest here. Take a look at the odd-looking "wall" that was used to set off Built's exhibit. It consists of an accordian-like construct of stiff brown paper, and when stretched out becomes free-standing with an outside edge that resembles thin vertical ribs with gaps in between. I immediately thought "acoustic room treatment." Just a thought, of course, and it might not work at all, but it's perhaps an interesting idea for a cheap (perhaps--I don't know the price of the product) diffusor. The product itself is made by a Canadian company called Molo, the paper is fire-retardant, and it apparently comes in a variety of colors.
The A-shaped Avalon Aspect boasts 92dB efficiency, which should make it compatible with home theater use as long as you're willing to buy five of them -- no complementary center or other models yet. For $8500/pair you get two 7-inch kevlar woofers and a one-inch proprietary neodymium composite tweeter. The latter gets a waveguide-like treatment thanks to a foam structure built into grille. You won't see it unless you pop the grille and look at the underside, as Avalon showed us.
Here's as closer view of the satellite in the systse described above. That's a ring radiator tweeter you see here, a tweeter design that's been popular in new speaker systems over the past couple of years.
Strictly speaking, we should be telling you more about NAD's first Blu-ray player, and you've already heard about its a/v receivers, but the Viso Two HTiB got our attention with stylish looks. It's a DVD (and DVD-Audio) player with built-in 50-watt stereo amp and Dolby Virtual Speaker (and Dolby Headphone). Price is $1299 if you want something really cool looking to play your old DVD library in the bedroom. But what's that underneath?
In other Dolby news, Dolby Volume, tamer of blaring ads and dodgy surround levels, is coming to Toshiba Regza TVs in both the U.S. and Europe, as well as in a Harman Kardon receiver. It's also built into the cool Airfonix transmitter/receiver device pictured above, which accepts two-channel sources both RCA and XLR. Dolby's mobile strategy is (of course) Dolby Mobile, which manipulates the soundstage in cells and other portable devices. Dolby Axon provides surround-like effects in online voice gaming applications. And Dolby Digital Plus is now being used in Italian as well as French television broadcasts.
With networked TVs and media sharing devices we can get online content from partners like YouTube, Netflix, CBS.com, etc. Now Boxee offers a software solution that creates an easy meny to find online content that works on computers including Macs and Linux-based operating systems. What’s really cool is that you can put the software on a flash drive and add it to an AppleTV. This adds the capability of watching many online streaming video partners including video streaming like Netflix, Hulu, CBS.com and MTV to the previously limited partners on AppleTV.
The Panorama is a $2200 bar speaker from Bowers & Wilkins, one of the world's coolest speaker manufacturers. Available in March, it has distinctive curves at the sides which distinguish it from other bar speakers. Behind the metal grille are two 3.5-inch drivers in the middle, handling the center channel; two 4-inch subs that go down to 40Hz, and at the sides, two pair of 3.5-inch full-range drivers. You'd think the latter would split the front and surrounds channels, but no, each driver mixes the two with some DSP magic. Unlike a lot of bar speakers, this one has three digital inputs (both coax and optical) and two analog ins, and onboard decoding for Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II (but not the new lossless stuff).
It’s not easy to admire a sleek flat panel on your wall when you have to look at a large, cumbersome mount behind it. Look no further than Premier Mount’s WTFM3765 ($230), a super-thin mount that will hold a flat panel on the wall with hardly any space between. Dubbed the “World’s Thinnest Flat-Panel Mount” for a reason, this mount places your flat panel less than a half inch from the wall.
Cambridge Audio makes good stuff. Though it has lagged behind in certain areas in the past, at CES it showed a strong will to catch up, unveiling the azur 640BD Blu-ray player, shipping in February for $999, and yes, befitting an expensive player it is Profile 2.0. The company also caught up with the HDMI revolution with the azur 640R receiver, shipping in March for $1695, and yes, it has HDMI 1.3 and all the goodies that go with it. All over the world the children sing for joy.
Wireless speaker connection is coming, as an option, to (nearly?) every speaker model in the Pure Acoustics Line -- now that's going wireless. It consists of a receiver mounted in the top of the speaker plus a dome-shaped transmitter. Note that we're not talking about self-powered speakers or room-to-room tranmission, just in-room.
By the way, iThing is my lonely protest against having to type both iPod and iPhone in blog after blog. The Marantz IS301 is a wireless Bluetooth dock package consisting of four pieces: dock, cradle, receiving station, and card remote. You can detach the wireless dock from the cradle, with your iThing in it, and wield them as though they were a remote control. The cradle is hardwired via dual CAT5 (one for audio, one for video) to the receiving station which has the usual jacks to connect to a receiver.