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.
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.
British speaker maker, VIBE (Vented Innovative Bass Enclosures), showed off some interesting hybrid in/on-wall speakers. The PICS (Picture Integrated Cinema Speakers) speaker cabinets are designed to extend into the wall in much the same way that a traditional in-wall speaker would, except the remainder of the speaker extends another inch or two out from the wall. In order to stealthify the speakers, they come with a basic picture frame bezel and a black, acoustically transparent grille cloth. The frame can be painted, or you can go to your local frame dealer and have a frame of your own made. VIBE says customers can choose from a number of images or submit their own image for printing on the grille cloth. Unlike other manufacturers who make art/photo grille clothes, VIBE fuses the image into the cloth. The process is supposed to maintain the acoustically transparent properties of the cloth. According to VIBE, traditional screen printing on grille cloth significantly changes the acoustic properties of the cloth.
Currently, PICS are not available in the U.S. due to a lack of distribution, but the company does intend to bring them to America. While pricing on the entire line was unavailable, the large grille-less speaker in the middle of the photo above sells for around $4,000/ea.
Vinyl is big lately in high-end audio so I had to include at least one turntable or risk appearing hopelessly out of date.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 turntableand 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.
Billed as the "ultimate home-theater experience at CES," a ballroom in the Sands Convention Center was equipped with a Digital Projection Titan projector, Kaleidescape Blu-ray server, Stewart CineCurve screen with masking (Studiotek 130, 14 feet wide), Totem Acoustic speakers, ADA power amps, and D-Box motion actuators in luxurious recliners. Because I'm sensitive to motion sickness, I can't tolerate motion-actuator systems, but the rest of the audience seemed to really enjoy it with clips from Avatar, Monster House, Top Gun, and Fast Five. The picture quality was outstanding, as was the sound.
Among various high-end audio products, Meridian also announced an upgrade to its HD621 HDMI switch/audio upsampler (sitting atop a G68 pre/pro in this photo) that adds 3D passthrough. This upgrade is free to existing owners from Meridian dealers.
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.
One manufacturer of pricey speakers (but not nearly as pricey as Magico) that does make center channels is Revel. The model shown here is the news Performa C208 $1700). The entire Revel Performa line has been revised (for mid-2012 delivery), with two floorstanders, two bookshelf models, two centers, a surround, and a subwoofer.