As I was going through some old trade show photos earlier this week, it dawned on me that a lot of the products I’d photographed and subsequently reviewed turned out to be quite different from what I’d been led to expect by the demo. Sometimes products that sounded amazing at a show didn’t sound so great when I actually got a real production sample into my home.
Even with so many new headphones, Bluetooth speakers, and other new personal/portable audio products debuting at last week's CES, there was still plenty of room for new introductions in traditional audio products. In fact, the Venetian Hotel was full of 'em, with exhibits spanning five floors plus some of the convention space downstairs.
LEDs have risen from their original occupation as humble indicator lamps to serving as the light source for some of today's most advanced TVs. Electronics engineers prize the LED for its brightness and cool-running efficiency. Environmentalists and utility companies tout its low power consumption. Videophiles are warming to it for the performance enhancements it facilitates.
Surely there’s never been such a vast display of headphones in the history of the universe as at CES 2012. From super-high-end models to bottom-feeder stuff, there was something for every budget and every taste.
On June 11, 2009, I lost a cherished friend: the Sony Watchman TV I'd owned for 20 years. When analog TV broadcasts went dead that day, my Watchman, along with every other portable analog mini-TV, suddenly became useless. A few portable digital TVs have since appeared to fill the gap, but because the ATSC digital-TV standard wasn't designed for mobile use, none of them can deliver the reliable roving reception of my 1980s-vintage Watchman.
Hsu Research ranks high on home theater enthusiasts' "most favored brands" list, largely because of its high-performance, low-priced subwoofers. Indeed, the HB-1 MK2 ($318/pr) seems to be designed primarily as a home theater bruiser: At 15.4 inches high, it's the largest speaker in this roundup, and its 6.5-inch, polypropylene-cone woofer gives it more bass real estate than any but the Axiom M3v3.
Like panthers or hamsters or bats, video projectors do the bulk of their business in the dark. But darkness makes most humans uncomfortable, which may be why front projection has never made it into the mainstream — in order to get a good picture, you have to turn most, and preferably all, of the lights off.
When I first encountered the Exodus from House of Marley, during our test last fall of celebrity-branded headphones, I didn’t expect much. I assumed the company had put all its effort into the Exodus’ stunning styling, and little into sound quality.