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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 15, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Supports lossless formats
Great-sounding headphone out
May be used as standalone DAC with a PC
Minus
Rudimentary touchscreen DAC use limited to 96-kHz or lesser files.

THE VERDICT
The AK100 successfully ventures beyond the iTunes universe to open a world of high-resolution portable playback.

Is Apple the biggest obstacle to progress in portable audio? The iPod has been around a full dozen years, and the iPhone for half that, yet even today the Apple ecosystem fails to support 24-bit audio file formats. All Apple-supported file formats—even the best of them, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV—are limited in iOS to 16 bits. That’s not high rez, that’s mid rez. Forget about playing your growing library of 24-bit FLACs. Leaving the Apple ecosystem can be painful because the company’s touchscreen and clickwheel devices are so ingratiating. But leave you must if you want better sound in your pocket, and the Astell & Kern AK100 may be on your list of destinations.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 26, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Native DSD decoding Superb sound Elegant styling
Minus
Jaw-droppingly expensive Bulky form factor

THE VERDICT
If you’re willing to pay big bucks for a portable music player, Astell & Kern’s AK240 delivers state-of-the-art sound with the big plus of unfaked DSD decoding.

Yes, this portable music player costs $2,500. That would buy you 10 Apple iPod classics. Let the gush of hate mail begin.

Look, if it’s a choice between buying this product or, say, paying the rent, or fixing your car, or otherwise keeping the wolf from the door, I’d advise you to attend to the essentials. I know what it’s like to live within limits. But if you have golden ears and cash to burn, then be aware that the Astell & Kern AK240 bids to become the prince of performance among portable music devices.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 28, 2016 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Compatible with DSD and 32-bit PCM
Streams to and from other devices
Extraordinary build quality
Minus
Breathtakingly high priced
32-bit capability is irrelevant to non-professionals

THE VERDICT
Astell & Kern’s AK380 offers copious network audio features and the unique plus of native 32-bit playback—but is it worth the high price to consumers?

Shock lead of the year: Astell & Kern’s AK380 music player retails for $3,499. That’s an awful lot to pay for a pocketful of music. But it seems unjust to start a review of such a product by carping over its price before evaluating its merits. After all, not many people muster moral outrage over the price tags on Porsches, Patek Philippe watches, or 99-point offerings in Wine Spectator. Why should high-end audio units—including the Pono, a comparative bargain at $400— be the only perfectionist products to face puritan scorn? No, as a consumer, I wouldn’t pay $3,499 for a music player. But as a critic, I’m willing to consider cost-noobject items on their own terms.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 09, 2008 0 comments
Legit download music sales have passed a notable milestone at Warner's historic Atlantic Records. The label now sells more downloads than CDs. This is believed to be a major-label first.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 11, 2015 0 comments
Barely a week after the FCC approved its merger with DirecTV, AT&T lost no time in offering new bundles exploiting the new entity’s many talents. “We’re going to deliver more TV and entertainment choices to more screens—when and where our customers want it,” said an executive.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 01, 2014 0 comments
The proposed merger between AT&T and DirecTV would create the nation’s second largest pay-TV company. With the telco bringing 5.7 million U-verse subscribers to the table, and the satellite operator a considerably greater 20.3 million, the merged entity would have 26 million video subscribers, ranking just below the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable with 30 million subscribers.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 15, 2008 0 comments
Customers of AT&T's U-verse will be offered free Total Home DVRs at no extra charge over the cost of their subscriptions.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 27, 2007 0 comments
Looking for a new way to get TV onto your PC? If you already subscribe to AT&T's next-generation U-verse service, you can also sign up for a free 14-day trial of OnTheGo. If you keep it, you'll pay an extra $10 month (over and above the usual U-verse cost) to access 30 channels from your PC. Mac users will not be pleased to hear that the service requires Windows XP, Internet Explorer, and the Windows Media Player. And the initial lineup may provoke further gripes: Fox News and Bloomberg but no CNN, Comedy Time but no Comedy Central. However, AT&T promises to add more channels as well as video on demand. OnTheGo is a joint venture with MobiTV, whose other activities include routing TV and XM channels to cell phones.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 18, 2006 7 comments
AT&T has snuck into the television-delivery market on silent cat feet. Without fanfare, the company formerly known as SBC has begun providing TV-over-IP service to a lucky handful in its hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Ironically, that's the same state where arch-rival Verizon has premiered its own television service. Unlike Verizon's capital-intensive all-fiber-optic approach, which extends fiber directly into the home, AT&T is building fiber only as far as "nodes" in the neighborhood, then compressing the signal into copper lines for the final leg of the journey. AT&T's initial offerings include 200 channels, including all the major networks, and some on-demand programming. This is a huge story and I'll get back to it as soon as I know more.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 27, 2009 0 comments
The bad news, at least for some, is that AT&T will begin sending warning notices to its internet service customers who engage in illegal file sharing. The good news is that this is the Recording Industry Association of America's new alternative to filing mass lawsuits.

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