SIGNALS

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Sep 16, 2014 0 comments
When I reviewed the original Charge last year, I wrote, “Long playback time, decent sound quality, compact size, and last but not least – the ability to keep your phone charged - the Charge does it all. Amid a sea of small speakers, this one merits a look and a listen.” Apparently millions of people, well, thousands, or perhaps hundreds, or at least more than a handful, agreed. That prompted JBL to capitalize on the success of the original to bring out a successor, the Charge 2. JBL is of the opinion that it is new and improved. I agree that it is new, but is it improved?

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Sep 09, 2014 15 comments
Boy, oh boy, do I feel like an idiot. I read a news item this morning, and it unleashed a series of tremendously brilliant insights that rocketed through my brain . Surely, no one else had ever so deeply penetrated into the nature of the truth of things. Now, it occurs to me that in fact, everyone else had realized all this long ago. Captain Obvious had struck again.
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Sep 02, 2014 2 comments
I am not a cheapskate. I am, however, very careful with my money. Okay, actually I am a cheapskate. In my weak defense, I work hard for the money, and I feel bad, real bad, when I underutilize its value. The continual drip, drip, drip of monthly fees particularly drives me nuts. Thus cord-cutting greatly interests me. Aereo was shining bright on my radar until the Supreme Court shot it out of the sky. Hmm, how can I get a cable experience with an antenna? Enter the TiVo Roamio OTA.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Aug 19, 2014 4 comments
I am a huge fan of Dolby Atmos in commercial movie theaters. I routinely specifically choose to see movies in theaters that are Atmos-equipped, and will gladly pay a little extra if necessary. The immersion provided by Atmos playback, particularly from the array of ceiling speakers, is remarkable and in my opinion measurably improves the movie experience.

Thus I was overjoyed when the rumors of Atmos at home came true. The prospect of hearing Atmos soundtracks in my home theater suddenly made me excited about home-theater audio again. I could hardly wait for the specifications to be released, so I could install the necessary speakers, and buy whatever gear I would need. Now, comments from a Dolby heavyweight have made me a little nervous.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Aug 12, 2014 2 comments
You probably read about it in the news. Some filmmakers were making a documentary on the history of Atari, and they became intrigued by an urban legend of lost video games. To solve the mystery, they brought in heavy equipment and dug into a concrete-covered grave.
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Aug 05, 2014 2 comments
Although MP3 files may not entirely deserve all the scorn heaped on them, it is widely accepted that it was the proliferation of those files that put the whammy on high-end audio. Despite the availability of higher quality formats like CD, SACD and DVD-Audio, conventional wisdom says the convenience of MP3 led consumers to dumb down their audio expectations. Now, is it possible that an old-school audio company and a brand name largely associated with cassettes could lead the way back to high audio quality?

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jul 15, 2014 1 comments
It comes as no surprise to you that smartphones are taking over the world. Alexander Graham Bell’s invention is swiftly achieving total domination, 138 years after its invention. Of course, today’s smartphones are a far cry from “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” But I digress.

I offer you a data point demonstrating how firmly smartphones are in charge: Specifically, I offer the premise that smartphones will be a primary factor that drives adoption of 4K televisions. That’s right - your phone will persuade you to buy a new TV.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jul 01, 2014 6 comments
As you probably know, the Supreme Court took a dim view of Aereo, and ruled that its activities were illegal because Aereo violated broadcasters’ copyrights. In response, Aereo pulled the plug. Literally. Within hours, it notified its subscribers that the jig was up, and that it was shutting down. Signals went dark, and remaining subscriptions will be refunded. R.I.P. Aereo. But wait a minute.....

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jun 17, 2014 2 comments
Seat 9D is an aisle seat. The front cover of the Safety Instructions in my seat-back pocket advises me that, "Final assembly of this aircraft was completed in Brazil." I wonder why that is relevant. Should that make me feel more secure, or less? Are Brazilians good, or perhaps lacking, when it comes to assembling airplanes? In any case, I look around me to find the nearest exit. Then I notice that almost everyone on board has a consumer electronics device in their hands.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jun 10, 2014 5 comments
It’s often said that generals fight the last war. If the previous war was fought in trenches, you train and equip your armies for that kind of conflict. Then the enemy drives its fast-moving tanks around the ends of your fortified line, and before you know it, is eating croissants in Paris. So you re-equip and retrain for massive tank battles in the hedgerows of Europe, and suddenly you’re wading knee-deep in rice paddies in Vietnam. It’s tough on us troops.

The same could be said of the record and movie industries...

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jun 02, 2014 2 comments
I am so very, very, very disappointed in you. You recycle. You installed solar panels on your roof. You put up a wind turbine. You voted for Al Gore. You phased out incandescents. You bring your own hemp bags to the grocery store. You compost. You ride a bicycle to work. You water your xeriscape with gray water. You have a Greenpeace bumper sticker on your Prius. And then you have to go and ruin it all. You play a DVD. You traitor. I hate you.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: May 20, 2014 1 comments
I am deeply disappointed that many of you are still viewing a 1080p display. I mean, seriously. Why don’t you just take two rocks and bang them together and consider yourself technologically advanced? Don’t you realize that you are missing all of the nuance in the picture? Frankly, with such a low resolution, can you even tell if the display is turned on or not? 1080p is a joke. I want you to take your phone and just drop it in the toilet right now. That’s right - we’re talking about phone displays.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: May 13, 2014 2 comments
Unabashedly, I admire the power of the individual to accomplish great things. Nothing fascinates me more than extraordinary individuals who start with an idea, build an enabling means (such as a corporation), and then use that resource to change the world. Consider individuals like Bill Gates (Microsoft ), Steve Jobs (Apple), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and let’s not forget Thomas Edison (General Electric). These are men and women possessing genius (defined by Edison as 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration) who can profoundly rattle the status quo.
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: May 06, 2014 4 comments
The decades-long transition from home loudspeakers to earbuds as the preferred listening technology is well documented. Now we have another data point to help us examine the question of whether the same downward spiral is happening to television screens. The short answer is: Yes. The long answer is: Yes, and quickly.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Apr 22, 2014 2 comments
Editor’s Note: The following article appears in the May 2014 print edition of Sound & Vision.

How Was Your Day?

Friday afternoon, McCarran Airport. The International CES ends today. Some bitter-enders are still at the convention center, but for me, the show is over. With a mixture of relief and regret, I toss my press pass into a recycling bin. As I wait for my boarding call, I pull out some notes, trying to make sense of what just happened.

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