Epson and Atlantic Technology are teaming up to bring out the world's largest HTiB. There are two versions. Each one includes a drop-down screen with built-in Atlantic Technology speakers (LCR), a DVD-based media center (with HDMI inputs and upscaling capability), and rear speakers (also from Atlantic Technology) that can either hang on each side of the projector or be mounted on the wall. For $4,999, you get a 720p Epson LCD projector with the system. For $6,999, you get an Epson 1080p model. Both systems come with racetracks to help hide the wires for installations even I could do.
Sonance took great pleasure in touting their lifestyle approach to in-wall/in-ceiling/on-wall/the-wall-is-the-speaker speakers. One of the coolest of the new speakers was a model that used a circular mounting plate that could be mounted on the surface of a wall or flush with the wall. The speaker itself attached to the mounting plate using an array of very powerful magnets, and the wiring is routed through the wall plate. When in place, the speaker almost looks like a light fixture.
Proficient is laying claim to "the world's most powerful LCR ceiling speaker", and the C1030 just might be it. The new behemoth ceiling speaker uses a ten-inch Kevlar woofer, a three-inch pivoting midrange, and a one-inch pivoting tweeter. The woofer and midrange/tweeter bridge are set at a 15-degree angle to the speaker's mounting flange. Speaking of mounting, Proficient says you have to use its special mounting bracket to keep the C1030 from falling out of the ceiling. (That would be a bad thing as it would ruin an evening of home video entertainment.) A system of seven C1030 speakers has a MSRP of $4,000. (It would be especially bad if all seven fell at once, but it would make a cool YouTube video.)
In addition to bribing those members of the press who were smart enough to preregister for the press conference with 30GB iPods loaded with a special message from founder Jeremy Burkhart, SpeakerCraft showed off enough products to fill a mansion or two during one of the first press conferences here at CEDIA. First there was the new wireless MODE Free controller that can be in-wall mounted using a special bracket that allows for the controller to be removed whenever you want to take it for a walk. In addition to multi-room audio distribution, the MODE controllers allow a homeowner to link up to six iPods in the house and share music and metadata. Then came the new Accufit Ultra Slim in-ceiling speaker which is only 1 7/8" deep. It uses what SpeakerCraft calls a "sealed and ported" enclosure which is sealed on the back (the part that hides in the wall) but has a front-mounted prort that fires into the room. Also discussed were the new smaller TIME Mini speakers that descend from the ceiling and can be aimed toward the listening area.
Monster has embarked on a full frontal assault against the idea that "all HDMI cables are alike" with combination of education and marketing that will include the introduction of five rating levels for its HDMI cables. The top-end "Ultimate High Speed" HDMI cables will fall under Monster's "Cable for Life" program. HDMI cables with this rating will be "performance guaranteed", and Monster says they will replace the cables if the performance of future sources begin to outstrip what the cable is capable of.
Wireless transmission of data may look like the wave of the future, but it's a lot further along in the computer world than in the traditional AV environment. Yes, manufacturers are undoubtedly burning the midnight oil in hopes of becoming the first to develop a wireless standard for high quality transmission of audio and video programming inside the home. But for now, good old hard wiring is the only way to go.
So you've walked into an electronics store or decided to find a system online, and now you're confronted with scores of HTiB choices. Now what? Well, remember that HTiBs exist for two basic reasons. The first is cost; the other is convenience. If cost is your only concern, find the least expensive system that looks the coolest for the money (just stay away from the guys selling them out of the backs of white vans). The entire experience will be painless, mindless, although it might leave you feeling cheap and dirty – not to mention the fact that you run a high chance that it will sound like pig doo-doo on a swelteringly hot day.
What is an HTiB?
What exactly is a Home Theater in a Box, or, as those of us who prefer to use acronyms rather than real words call it, an HTiB? Before you guffaw and wonder what kind of an idiot put this bit of advice together, give this question a chance to sink in. Now let's consider just how difficult a creature this HTiB thing is to pin down.
Several years ago I was just setting up my current home theater room. While it was not scheduled to be equipped with multi-tiered stadium seating, faux art deco design, and a popcorn machine, I did have the luxury of setting it up strictly for movie and music listening. It didn't need to be compromised to serve any other purpose.
For years, Onkyo has been known for decent, dependable gear – nothing super fancy, mind you, just good, respectable, hardworking stuff. That's not to say Onkyo's AV receivers are plain-Jane, stripped-down jobs, however. The company's newest introduction, the $599 TX-SR605, is a perfect illustration of how the opposite is true. Sure, it sports a faceplate that, after you get past the various logos and (thankfully removable) stickers splashed across it, is not much different – and often less exciting – than that which you'll find on any of a hundred other receivers. But, as the logos and marketing stickers attest, behind the average-looking façade lies a feature and performance package that should put the TX-SR605 on the short list of anyone who's currently in the market for a mid-priced AV receiver.