CES 2013

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
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.

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
The Fidelio HTL9100 soundbar Philips introduced at CES is the first we’ve seen with detachable wireless speakers. Remove the compact enclosures from either end of the wing-like soundbar and the system automatically shifts from virtual surround to discrete 5.1 surround. The speakers’ on-board amplifiers are battery powered and said to run up to 10 hours when fully charged. Other highlights include Bluetooth connectivity for streaming music from smartphones and tablets, two HDMI inputs, and a sensor/equalizer that detects whether the soundbar is mounted on the wall or sitting on a shelf and adjusts the sound accordingly. The HTL9100 comes with a wireless subwoofer and will be available in May with a suggested retail price of $800.
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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast discuss plans to implement the DLNA Premium Video standard for streaming video from set-top boxes to other Smart TVs, tablets and devices.
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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jan 11, 2013 2 comments
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
The boombox is alive and well in the form of the TDK Life on Record Wireless Boombox from Imation, which uses the TDK name under license. You won’t find a double cassette deck on this box, also known as the A73, but it does have an FM radio with presets and a feature few of us would have imagined back in the early ’80s: high-quality AAC wireless streaming via Bluetooth v2.1.

Features include good old-fashioned bass and treble knobs, a USB charging port so you can keep your phone powered up while you’re slinking down the street with the box on your shoulder, and an auxiliary input for when you want to go old-school and hook up your Teac tape deck. The A73’s rechargeable battery is said to last up to 6 hours when fully charged. List price is $400 but Amazon is currently selling it for $264.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
Plex is a media server and suite of apps for your computer, mobile devices, a variety of connected devices that helps you access and control your local and online media from just about anywhere and easily share it with friends and family. There are specific versions of Plex apps for Roku boxes, LG TVs, Samsung TVs, and Google TV. If it really is the “bacon of media apps”, though, digital-media-savvy vegetarians are going to be left out.
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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
As a general rule, home automation is pricey. When you add motorization into the mix, it can get even pricier. SABAJ, a vertically integrated, extremely automated manufacturer located in Poland, showed off a motorized TV lift mechanism designed to raise flat-panel TVs up out of hidden cabinets that is surprisingly affordable. The company’s various lift mechanisms include an RJ45 socket for use with home automation systems, power guard circuitry to prevent the mechanism to lower the TV if it is still on, an active safety system that stops the downward movement and raises the screen slightly if something gets in the way, a three-button programming sequence for programming a preset viewing-position, and comes flat-packed so shipping costs are low. The TV-LIFT K-LINE ECO and K-LINE PREMIUM models are designed for flat-panel TVs up to 60 inches and up to 155 pounds (depending upon the K-LINE model). Product will be available in the US market very soon, and pricing will likely start at well under $1,000 for the lift mechanism.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
HiFiMan is introducing two in-ear headphones aimed at “audiophiles on the go” and a high-performance portable music player at CES. The RE-600 “Songbird” ($399) and RE-400 “Waterline” ($99) earphones use custom-designed Titanium-coated drivers, neodymium magnets and premium cabling. Both are due out in the coming weeks.

The flagship HM-901 music player ($999) is slimmer than previous models, has a simplified user interface, and accepts most lossless audio formats, including Apple lossless. It uses 32-bit DAC chips and accommodates 24-bit/192 kHz upsampling. The player will be available in March with an optional $399 docking station to follow in April.

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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
LG's BH9430PW all in one home theater system may be a bit (OK, more than a bit) less ambitious than some of the components we discuss in this report and review in the pages of Home Theater, but for many folks it's all they think they can afford (which is not always the case). It's said to be a 9.1-channel system, but I saw only 5.1 channels in the demo. The small speaker cones use Kevlar, a material long used in some very high-end speakers. B&W, for example, began using Kevlar for some of its drivers in the mid 1970s. I didn't get to hear the LG system; the demo began with a far too loud (for me and the system) crash, boom, bang action scene and I was out of there like a shot.
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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
"Blue" and "Air" has become our notebook slang for products including both Bluetooth and AirPlay wireless capability. There are quite a few of them at this CES. HRT, a new company, features them in the Stage speakers, with analog amplification, preamp, and USB DAC built into a separate module. One-inch tweeters are treated fabric, 3.5-inch woofers are aluminum, and the system sounded fabulous with CD-resolution files of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (and we think it could have sounded even better with a 24-bit file). The price is $999 with Blue and Air or a hundred bucks less without—but why would you do that? Shipping in June.
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Tom Norton Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
Here's a front shot of the Theta Supernova preamp-processor covered in an earlier blog. It should sell for around $10K, just a bit more than half the cost of a fully configured Theta Casablanca. The only open question appears to be if the Supernova will offer the same advanced room correction that will grace the Casablanca. My vote is yes, it should.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
You just never know who or what you’re going to run into while walking the show floor…

Dancing Robots: Tosy’s mRobo Ultra Bass is actually an MP3 player with a built-in speaker. When the music starts to play, the little guy turns into a dancin’ fool with some serious moves. Best part: Watching his head pop out from his chest when the music starts (mRobo is a mere torso before he springs into action).

And then there's...

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Rob Sabin Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments

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