Bring together any two people at CES and you'll inevitably hear the question, "What's the coolest thing you've seen so far?" At the moment, my answer is the plug-less Flipower USB Charger from Powertech. Plug-less? Yes. When you're ready to use the Plipower, you slide what looks like a credit-card-thin outlet cover away from the charger. This fits over a standard electrical outlet, and you use another electric device's plug to hold the Flipower in place - getting two-for-one usage from that outlet. Price and availability have yet to be determined, but let's hope it's soon because this thing is really cool.
The iPod's plot to dominate the audio industry is now complete with Peachtree Audio's musicBox, a stereo tube amp decked out with three-inch full-range speakers. The DAC is hardwired to the iPod dock, so this baby can take a true digital signal off an iPod and process it with virtually no jitter. Price, maybe, oh, a grand or so.
DTS, one of the home theater world's guardians of surround standards, was showing these dongles which are designed to adapt stereo signals to surround headphone use. The resemblance to vacuum tubes was neither here nor there. The company was also talking up its DTS Premium Suite of licensed DSP technologies. They include DTS Connect, for upconverting two channels to 5.1; DTS Surround Sensation, for headphones; DTS Symmetry, which balances levels among input sources; and DTS Boost, which makes laptop sound louder, clearer, and more immersive. Also new to us was the 7.1-channel version of Neural, the stereo-to-surround technology purchased from original developer THX a year ago.
The Sound Egg is a complete 5.1 personal surround sound chair with five speakers and an integrated 10-inch subwoofer under the seat. The company says "the chair is a mobile acoustic chamber that will give you the most realistic sound in audio technology with a full 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency spectrum." The Sound Egg chair is available in a variety of colors for $1,450 (shipping included).
Pure Acoustics, hitherto a pure speaker manufacturer, is moving into compact systems both surround and stereo. In the former category are the RZ-3200 5.1-channel system and the UX-99 5.0-channel system, both with DVD drives plus USB and iPod connectivity. Pure also showed a bevy of colorful satellites, pictured.
We hope Bowers & Wilkins will forgive us for using the once ubiquitous acronym B&W – we are old fashioned that way. Any changes in the company's world-beating 800 line, lately known as the Diamond Series, qualifies as major news. The original 13 models have been reduced to 7 ranging in price from $2500 to $24,000. Lineup is what you see here plus two centers not pictured. New stuff includes new crossovers, magnets, gloss black finish, and every model has the cool Diamond tweeter.
Toshiba's big announcement concerned the incoporation of the advanced Cell processor into selected models of its new, 2010 Cell series of HDTVs. The Cell was developed by Toshiba but is best known up to now as the brains in Sony's PlayStation3.
Every day, I wake up and think I've seen it all when it comes to iPod accessories; and then something comes along to renew my faith in the amazing power of human ingenuity to create ever-more-useless stuff. On my way through the international section of the convention center, a series of wooden iPod covers caught my eye. That's wooden as in real wood - not a vinyl or plastic lookalike. I don't know if any store sells these in the U.S., but if they did you'd probably pay $24.95 or more for one. (I'm sure the name on the package has some significance overseas, but it's just aching for bad puns and innuendo here in good old America.)
Surround sound reaches a new and more affordable price point with the Sherwood RD-5405 a/v receiver, just $149 list. You get five channels of 70 watts each and HDMI connectivity. The step-up model, the RS-7405, may be available with or without HD Radio. Our poster boy is a prototype of the iNet 2.0 which offers iPod, USB, ethernet, and wi-fi connectivity plus internet and FM radio -- and it's a photo frame.
With an ad campaign and slogan like this, you'd never guess that one of the products this company makes is a Touch Pad Digital Bible Reader. No, seriously. (They also make digital media players, digital video recorders, and digital picture frames.)