CES 2012

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
I’m convinced that Soundmatters is doing something they shouldn’t be doing. It’s got to be illegal, or at least against the laws of acoustics. The company’s new foxLO is subwoofer that’s not much bigger than an external hard drive. Soundmatters says the $149 foxLO is “the world’s first palm-sized hi-fi subwoofer”. While the industrial design is very cool, that alone wouldn’t warrant giving it a listen. The claim of being “a true hi-fi subwoofer”, however, made me give it a highly skeptical listen - after which I became a true believer. This little 2.5” high x 4.5” wide x 6.3” deep unit incorporates an active woofer with passive radiator and a built-in 25-watt amplifier. And it absolutely rocks in a way that something that small shouldn’t be able to do. The foxLO is expected to be available this Spring.
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Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Got modest plans for a modest home theater using modest-sized speakers but want a THX-Certified experience? At CES, THX announced the company’s latest certification program, the THX Compact Speaker System Certification. The new specifications are designed for systems used in rooms up to 1,000 cubic feet and cover two-channel (2.1 - two speakers and one subwoofer - is the minimum requirement) all the way to full-blown 7.1-channel systems.

In the company’s suite, the THX people showed off a sample of a new MK sub/sat 2.1 system based on the MK M7. The speaker hasn’t finished the certification process yet, but THX expects that MK will be the first company to begin selling THX Compact Speaker System Certified speakers. The matching subwoofer was not on display. Expected pricing was not available.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
In collaboration with Mark Levinson (the man, not the company), chip maker Intersil and its subsidiary D2Audio are developing a suite audio-enhancement algorithms called Mighty Cat. The idea is to use mastering tools to optimize the performance of audio hardware, such as soundbars, computer speakers, and TVs; manufacturers would "tune" the algorithms specifically for each individual product and then embed the code in the firmware of that product.

The demo I heard was played on a pair of inexpensive Logitech computer speakers. The ultimate goal is to make the Logitech speaker sound like the $25,000/pair Daniel Hertz M7 on which it is sitting in this photo—an impossible dream, to be sure, but the processing did improve the Logitech's sound dramatically, making it much richer and fuller. Intersil is in negotiations with various manufacturers to incorporate this technology into their products.

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jan 13, 2012 1 comments
LG showed an upgraded model of its Smart Upgrader media player and streamer. The new model is 3D compatible, and is able to play almost any kind of video file.

The 2012 model will come with the LG magic wand remote that can act like a virtual mouse for navigation.

Upgraded from last year’s models this LG Smart Ugrader has a web browser that includes both Flash 10 and HTML 5, which means it can stream videos from many TV and movie websites.

LG will still offer a less expensive model similar to its 2011 Smart Upgrader. Both include Vudu, Netflix, YouTube and access to download 1200 LG smart TV apps.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Shown here is the current top-of-the-range Revel F308 floorstander ($4500/pair). A bigger, somewhat higher-priced model that's otherwise similar but has three 8-inch woofers rather than the F308's two) is expected in the fall. All of the Performa models use similar aluminum-coned woofers and identical, aluminum dome, waveguide-loaded tweeters. While the listening environment in the Revel rooms was not ideal, brief auditions of both the largest bookshelf and the F308 sounded very promising.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Kogeto’s Dot is a super-clever add-on lens for Apple iPhone 4/4S that lets you take 360-degree videos just by holding the phone horizontally. A free app (Looker) from Kogeto let’s you view the videos. In regular mode, you can pan through the video from side to side by swiping your finger across the screen; or you can watch the entire 360-degree field of view in panorama mode. Videos can be emailed or shared via Facebook and Twitter. Dot kits are available in four different colors (black, red, pink, and green) for $79/each.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Vinyl is big lately in high-end audio so I had to include at least one turntable or risk appearing hopelessly out of date. It's the Merrill-Williams Audio table that worked so well in the Wharfedale system above. If $7200 sounds steep, you don't get out much; you can spend a lot more for a turntable. And oh, by the way, that price does not include either the Dynavector tonearm ($5000) or the Ortofon Anna cartridge that was used with it here ($8500). That's right, the cartridge costs more than the turntable—and more than a good high end surround preamp processor (I had to throw that in!). But if you want to get into vinyl and this is your first exposure to its potential prices, you can do so for a lot less than this.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Griffin’s new smartphone universal remote control uses Bluetooth to send commands to an IR emitter that sits near your home theater system. As a result, the $69.99 Beacon doesn’t require the user to attach any dongles or special transmitters to the phone (something that makes other smartphone remotes a pain in the butt). The IR emitter is battery powered, so it can be placed wherever is most convenient without the need for running a power cable to it. Models are available for both iOS and Android smartphones.

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