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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 28, 2013 0 comments
NextGen’s Bluetooth-IR Extender was already a pretty cool device. It’s a small cone-like device that translates AV system commands from Android-based smartphones and tablets into IR using Bluetooth communication between the Extender and the Android device. After the IR Extender receives a command, it translates it into IR before blasting it out to your components from the base unit or via IR flashers. Neat idea, right?
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 06, 2015 0 comments
Mobile lifestyle product maker, E FUN, is joining the smart home fray with the introduction of a line of DIY home automation devices. The new smart home systems and devices will be sold under the Nexturn brand name. Neturn systems will initially be available in three starter kits labeled Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The systems are built around…
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 27, 2014 0 comments

PRICE $2,547

A 55-inch horizontal soundbar that can be installed without modifying the wall studs
Can learn volume and mute IR codes from your TV’s remote
Excellent simulated
surround and music
Really needs a subwoofer
Only one HDMI input

The Niles CSF55A is more expensive than a similarly performing active soundbar, but it’s well worth it for the person who wants the gear to disappear without giving up any sound quality.

It’s either the craziest flippin’ idea ever, or it’s absolutely brilliant. I mean, in-wall speakers are one thing. Soundbars, though, especially active soundbars, are completely different creatures. But somebody at Niles—whether inspired by an offhanded joke, an improbable Frankenstein-like engineering experiment, or an alcohol-infused haze after a tedious sales meeting—decided that what the world needs is an active, in-wall soundbar system to complement wall-mounted flat-panel TVs.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 03, 2006 0 comments
I no longer play video games - at least not in front of other people - because my children regularly beat the snot out of me when I'm foolish enough to engage them in a round of electronic mayhem and destruction. I'm hoping Nintendo's new "Brain Age" game will help push the touchpad in my direction.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2010 0 comments
You can't call it a sound bar, but the goal of Niro Nakamichi's latest system is to eliminate the need for rear speakers in a home theater. The new system uses two speaker cabinets - one below the TV that produces the LCR signals, and one above the TV that creates the pseudo surround information. The system also comes with a subwoofer and processor/amplifier. The system uses psychoacoustics to create its effects and doesn't rely on sound reflections off the side walls as many other no-rear-speakers systems do. Although it still can't compete against a full-blown discrete speaker system, I must say that in the brief amount of time I had to listen, it blew away any other soundbar I've ever heard. Of course, at $1,899 for the system, it's more expensive than any other sound bar that I can remember listening to. The cosmetics are a little industrial for my tastes, but it's definitely a high-performance system to consider if you can't have rear speakers.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2008 0 comments
Boston Acoustics is back in the computer speaker business again with two tabletop systems. The $99.99 version includes a pair of slender speakers with a ” tweeter and two 2” mid-bass drivers. The $179.99 package adds a subwoofer. The sub/sat system kicked some serious butt, and it was sitting out in the open on a little round table in a large demo room. And just like many of the new Boston speakers, these are part of the POP program which allows you to buy different colored grilles.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 10, 2014 0 comments
After four years of availability in over 55 countries around the world, smart home hub and device maker, FIBARO, is finally entering the U.S. market. In addition to the Home Center Lite (approx $280), FIBARO will also be making available the more powerful Home Center 2 (pricing TBA). The most significant feature that differentiates FIBARO from the competitive smart home hub systems (Revolv, $300; SmartThings, $99; Staples Connect, $49; etc.) is the systems’ abilities to interface with and control elements of home AV systems. Currently, Revolv and SmartThings offer extremely limited control of some Sonos components; but neither hub is capable of controlling gear in home theater systems.

FIBARO is also notable for its...

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 04, 2008 7 comments
Let’s say you have a nice home theater system in one end of the room and a powered subwoofer in the other. Everything sounds nice until you plug the subwoofer into the AC outlet next to it, and, viola, your system is now humming a new tune. Unfortunately, it’s not humming the tune you wanted it to.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 17, 2012 2 comments
Somebody at Newer Technology finally got fed up with all the USB wall wart chargers taking up all the available outlets - not to mention looking like a charger jigsaw puzzle. The company's Power2U AC/USB wall outlet combines two AC wall outlets with a pair of powered USB ports that'll charge and power up to four iOS/Android/etc devices - including being able to charge the amperage-hungry iPad. Unlike traditional wall-wart power supplies, the USB charging ports in the Power2U utilize a "Smart Power" design that is supposed to reduce your energy consumption costs by providing only the charging amount necessary for the connected devices, as well as turn off power to the USB ports when the connecting cable is removed. Safety shutters over the USB ports slide closed when not in use.

The UL-Listed Power2U installs into a standard single-gang outlet box (16 cubic inches or larger) with a 15A circuit and comes with detailed instructions for the intrepid do-it-yourselfer. In fact, Newer Technology says it can be installed in as little as 20 minutes. At the moment, the wall outlets are only available in an off-white finish. The wall plate itself has small caps to cover the wall plate's screws. The Power2U AC/USB wall outlets are available now for $39.95/each But if my house is any kind of a guide, you'll need more than just one to satisfy all your voracious portable devices.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2011 0 comments
I thought I’d seen just about every variation of an iPod case by now, but a quick walk-through of the section of CES devoted to all things iPod brought me to this booth. Beaheadcase has combined a bottle opener with an iPod case because you never know when you might be using your iPod and need to open a bottle of beer. Just remember, don’t drink and download.