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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Nov 24, 2015 1 comments
When you buy a Blu-ray Disc for $25, you expect the very best quality. When you rent a Blu-ray for $2, do you still expect the best? Or would the budget pricing lower your expectations? Do you simply assume that the bits comprising a rental movie are the same as the retail movie? You might be surprised to learn that not all bits are created equal. And therein lies a mystery.
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Nov 17, 2015 4 comments
Remember when flat-screen TVs first appeared? Whoa! That was the coolest thing ever! They were so flat! And so big! We couldn't get rid of our CRT TVs fast enough. We all bought them. Then when the prices dropped, we upgraded to bigger and better ones. Now we all have really nice TVs. So, are you planning to buy yet another new TV this holiday season?
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Nov 03, 2015 33 comments
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are defined as the demographic with birth years ranging from the early 80s to the early 00s. In other words, Millennials are about 15 to 35 years old. I am appealing to you. You account for almost half of all audio hardware sales. More than any other single group, you are the ones responsible for screwing it up for the rest of us.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Oct 20, 2015 2 comments
When we think of audio companies, images of tall buildings, rows of cubicles, and loading docks usually come to mind. And it’s true that many audio companies are still like that. But a more contemporary image of an audio company would be you in your pajamas. You see, technology manufacturing isn’t what it used to be.
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Oct 13, 2015 1 comments
You might recall a recent Signals column about a Google patent application that described an anthropomorphic entertainment controller. The microphones/ears and cameras/eyes of the proposed Chucky-like device really creeped me out. Then a reader alerted me to an Amazon product that has similar functionality. It's not a document in the Patent Office; it's a real thing keeping tabs on people in their homes.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Oct 06, 2015 0 comments
Everyone is familiar with virus attacks on PCs and Macs. We take precautions to minimize the risk - making sure the firewall is up, keeping our antivirus software up to date, and not clicking on scary attachments. We are perhaps less vigilant with virus attacks on our phones. Of course, the danger is just as scary. Adding even more anxiety is a new virus called Stagefright that can be embedded in MP3 and MP4 files.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Sep 29, 2015 0 comments
It's not easy being a corporation. Take Volkswagen, for example. Right about now, they are probably wishing that Ferdinand Porsche had never stuffed an air-cooled engine in the back of a Beetle-shaped car. Along similar lines, Toshiba probably wishes it had hired more ethical accountants. In particular, it recently announced that it had overstated its profits by $1.3 billion over seven years. Oops. Not exactly a rounding error.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Sep 22, 2015 0 comments
As you may have noticed, things are becoming more complex. Blame Moore’s Law, or whatever. But things are complicated. To help us manage that complexity, companies are devising even more complicated things that give us, the human users, the illusion of simplicity. However, a recent Google patent application, aimed at simplifying the operation of things like home entertainment systems, is just downright creepy.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Sep 08, 2015 3 comments
My To-Do list for the week:

1. Program my selfie-drone to follow me everywhere I go 24/7 and transmit live video across the Internet.

2. Drive a car across North America without using a single drop of gas.

3. Sign up for NASA's one-way mission to Mars. (Many thanks to all my friends and family who are strongly supporting and encouraging me to do this.)

4. Buy a record player.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Aug 25, 2015 1 comments
Some inventions are unquestionably awesome and tremendously useful. Things like the steam engine, electric battery, electric light, radio, internal combustion engine, and transistor were truly transformative. Other inventions are uber cool, but for some reason find it tougher to break through to broader application. Case in point: sound from ultrasound; more specifically, the generation of audible sound from modulated ultrasonic beams.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Aug 18, 2015 1 comments
Tombstone, Arizona Territory. October 26, 1881. It is a Wednesday, around 3:00 p.m. In a vacant lot adjacent to the O.K. Corral, four lawmen including Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday square off against five outlaws. Within 30 seconds, 30 shots are fired. When the gun smoke clears, three men lie on the ground, wounded. And three men lie on the ground, dead. Only Wyatt Earp walks away without a scratch. A Wild West legend is born.
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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Aug 11, 2015 1 comments
The TV business is lousy, right? Companies are getting out of that market like it was a house on fire. Just last week, we reported that Sharp is leaving the Americas. It sold its Mexico plant and name and rights to Hisense for a measly $23.7 million. Sharp follows Toshiba, Hitachi, Pioneer, Mitsubishi, Philips, Magnavox and Thomson in divesting and selling its TV interests for fire-sale prices. The TV business is lousy, right?

So, how would you like to buy a piece of a TV company?

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jul 28, 2015 0 comments
Some people think that digital audio is cold. That's debatable. But it's almost universally accepted that analog audio is cool. It is also funky, weird and apparently makes people say and do strange things. Digital audio comprises binary data offering relatively few opportunities for freakish mischief. Analog audio, on the other hand, offers endless possibilities. For example, I am sure you have noticed that flour tortillas fit nicely on a turntable platter.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jul 14, 2015 1 comments
If you have a home theater, it's easy to see that commercial movie theaters are both your friends, and your enemies. On one hand, without them and the billions of dollars they generate, movie studios would never spend the hundreds of millions of dollars required to make a movie. We owe the content we watch at home to the commercial theaters. On the other hand, adversarially, these theaters get first dibs on all content, and we must impatiently wait for home media to eventually appear. Don't like waiting? Well, if things work out, you soon might be able to cut in line.

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Ken C. Pohlmann Posted: Jun 30, 2015 0 comments
Many of the age-old audio problems have been solved, or at least beaten into submission. Ever since Edison recited “Mary had a little lamb,” countless audio engineers have poked and prodded, pulled all-nighters, made minor adjustments, had genius-caliber brainstorms, and generally worked far above their pay grade to lift audio technology to a very high state of the art.


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