Yesterday, throughout the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center you saw wireless solutions or solutions designed to limit the amount of wiring you need to set up a multi-channel sound system. All in an effort to make it easier and more convenient for the average consumer to add audio to that new flat panel TV.
I had an opportunity to meet Mark Waldrep, owner of <A HREF="http://www.aixrecords.com/">AIX Records</A>, yesterday in his studio here in Los Angeles. Mark is probably the most out-spoken advocate for high-definition audio in the industry. As he points out, all too often high-definition audio is associated with lossless tracks that are downloaded from services such as MusicGiants, HDTracks, and the B&W Music Club. However, Mark vehemently disagrees with this definition.
When the press conference for CISCO filled to capacity they announced it could be watched from the Press Room. Several of us headed over to find them still trying to get the feed linked in. However, once they did there was no audio, only the Power Point slide show. But wait, you can view it online. Everyone pulls out their laptops, heads to the URL, only to find a screen that says you must register first. OK! Logging in now...uh but you don't have the most current version of Real Player. Honestly, I didn't know that people were still using that. I haven't come across that in so long that obviously I didn't have the most current version. A quick download, but the site didn't recognize the plug-in. NEVERMIND
After years in development, Gefen has finally released their wireless HDMI solution and it's not cheap at $999. The range is 30 feet, effectively doubling the maximum distance you can run an HDMI cable without a booster. The cost doesn't seem to be a problem, since the product is already backordered.
IOGEAR’s Wireless USB Audio / Video Kit creates a wire-free solution for streaming audio and video content to an in-room TV up to 30 feet away. The product consists of three adapters: audio for speaker connectivity, VGA for a TV or monitor and Wireless USB for the hosting PC. It provides HD streaming at resolutions up to 720p and supports stereo sound. It is compatible with
Windows XP 32-bit (Service Pack 2) or Vista (32-/64-bit) operating systems and will be available in March 2009 at an MSRP of $349.95.
As home networking not only becomes more popular but has become a necessity in complex home entertainment centers, Sharp introduced a new and simple networking solution, the Powerline Communication (PLC) adapter. It enables users to send high-definition data to their Internet-ready televisions, computers or other peripheral devices through a home’s existing power lines, offering a much easier alternative networking method that doesn't expensive installation of in-wall cabling. Users can connect multiple devices, such as TVs, set-top boxes, gaming consoles, PCs, and routers, using Sharp’s PLC adapters wherever there is a power outlet.
The PLC's offer stable communication with a high-speed connection of 85 Megabits per second (Mbps). Additionally, Sharp’s PLC networks achieve one of the highest levels of security with a government-adopted AES 128-bit encryption, ensuring data passes safely through the network.
Considering the potential cost of running long lengths of cable through the house, the Sharp PLC's are a bargain and about the same price as a high quality router. Three models will be available in March 08 for the following retail prices:
I've seen the XStreamHD satellite service demonstrated for the last couple of years at CES, but so far, it hasn't actually been available to consumers. Well, that's finally about to change—the service is due to launch on April 30. It allows users to download movies, music videos, and games from a satellite to a hard-disk-based server, from which they can be streamed to several receivers in the home—in fact, up to four HD streams can be served simultaneously. Users have the option of renting or buying the content, and they can even order physical discs if they wish. Movies are downloaded in 1080p/24 format with up to 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio (Dolby TrueHD is not supported as of now), and the server can download up to two titles at once, each with a maximum bandwidth of 100Mbps per stream.
Both Samsung and Sony announced partnerships with Yahoo. Integrated into their top line TVs customers will have access to the Yahoo Widget Engine, to expand and personalize their TV experience. It adds on-screen applications that provide real-time information such as weather reports, stock ticker updates, financial news, Yahoo! Video, Flickr images, and much more content to come.
New technologies have a way of becoming less expensive over a shorter period of time with each passing year. Case in point—the RX-V663 A/V receiver from Yamaha, which provides a complete 7.1-channel system (95Wpc) with some of the most advanced features available in an AVR for less than $600.