Every day, I wake up and think I've seen it all when it comes to iPod accessories; and then something comes along to renew my faith in the amazing power of human ingenuity to create ever-more-useless stuff. On my way through the international section of the convention center, a series of wooden iPod covers caught my eye. That's wooden as in real wood - not a vinyl or plastic lookalike. I don't know if any store sells these in the U.S., but if they did you'd probably pay $24.95 or more for one. (I'm sure the name on the package has some significance overseas, but it's just aching for bad puns and innuendo here in good old America.)
The future of mainstream multi-room entertainment is wireless, whether it be Wi-Fi, Powerline, RF, or some other magical, yet-to-be-discovered communication protocol. Easy end-user installation is important, too. (Thus the popularity and success of multi-room audio systems such as Sonos.) Klipsch is getting into the act with a new product called the LightSpeaker. Although it was impossible to hear a demo during last night’s CES Unveiled event, the LightSpeaker’s particulars make it something we’ll be searching for on the CES floor. The LightSpeaker combines an LED light with a powered speaker and fits most 5-inch and 6-inch recessed lighting fixtures using a standard Edison socket. Klipsch says there are only about 620 million recessed can light fixtures in the U.S. alone. (Now that’s a market worth paying attention to.)
Despite what you’ll hear from the other journalistic types, the only real reason why anyone who pontificates about electronics makes the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show is the free food and booze. And the free hats and t-shirts…and the pampering of the press…and the potential for (maybe) a free set of earphones or iPod case… Then, of course, there are all the attractive female booth greeters and canned-demonstration presenters who make you feel like you’re the first person they’ve talked to all week and that you’re someone very special…if you’d only sit through this incredibly fascinating presentation. I guess there are also some cool gadgets and gear to see here, too, but it really comes down to the free food. (Did I mention free booze, too?) Tonight, it’s the “Annual Pre-CES Sushi Feast 2010” sponsored by DTS. Can life get any better?
Price: $6,995 At A Glance: THX Ultra2 certified • Fits in a standard 2-by-4 wall • Easy to install in existing construction • Separate amplifier with remote control
It’s What You Don’t See
A bottle of vodka can’t make a speaker sound any better than it actually does. But it can make me think I sound better (smarter, and of course funnier). It might even make suggestible friends agree if you pass the bottle around the room. However, it still can’t change a subwoofer’s performance. Vodka, after all, isn’t a room treatment product—although enough (empty) bottles spread throughout the room might be just the thing.
My home began as a tiny two-room house on a hilltop in the middle of nowhere back in the late 1800s. A century later, I’m sitting in a cubbyhole office in the original upstairs section. Old and new sections butt up against one another. Some of the home’s old elements have been remade to look new, while its new parts have a patina of old. Straight lines and level floors are few and far between. With two totally separate (in both location and age) upstairs areas, it almost qualifies as a human Habitrail. As they say in the real estate business, it has character.
Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to introduce this hip-swinging HDMI adapter at Las Vegas, but NextGen brought the company's twisting, rotating, 360-degree HDMI connector to the sparsely attended Hall B in the Convention Center. While there was plenty of room there, this connector will make it easier to hook up HDMI gear when space is tight. Pricing is TBD (which is "to be determined" not "two billion dollars"). If it's like the rest of NextGen's products, it'll be surprisingly inexpensive and will work exceedingly well.
Walking around CEDIA, you'll see tools you never knew existed designed to solve problems you never knew anyone ever had. Although I've always believed that (1) you should always use the right tool for the right job,(2) you can never have enough tools, and (3) battery/electric tools are always better than ones that require my own muscle power; there are some tools on display here that even I can't justify having at home. My wife will probably say I have a hole in my head when I say I need this tool, but I can't help wanting the awesome Hole Pro Adjustable Hole Cutter drill attachment. It's capable of cutting smooth holes in all kinds of materials (dry wall, plywood, even some metal). But wait - there's more! As the name implies, it's adjustable; so this one tool can be used to drill anything from a 1 7/8-inch hole to a 17-inch hole. And the clear plastic housing not only catches all the dust and debris as you're cutting - it also serves as a support housing that makes sure you drill the hole perpendicular to the plain of the surface you're cutting. A built-in depth gauge prevents you from drilling too far into your wall and into a water pipe or speaker wire. Models range from $119.95 to $164.95 depending on the maximum size hole the tool will cut. Check out the videos of the Hole Pro in action at the company's web site www.holepro.com.
Mark's already mentioned in a previous post American Recorder Technologies' speaker package that comes with a laser alignment tool, but you can buy the laser tool - plus a fancy sound pressure level meter - in a cool, aluminum carrying case from ART for $249. It's overkill for the one-time HTiB setup, but anyone who is into home theater enough to be reading our blogs about CEDIA will want one of these packages. If you're really serious about setting up home theaters - as in, you're an installer or would like to be - the Basic Home Theater Kit is just a start. Other professionally oriented kits include digital inclinometers, laser line generators (for visualizing dispersion patterns), and laser alignment glasses.
I really shouldn't make fun of this because there can be some serious math work involved in putting together a complicated whole-house A/V and automation system, but I couldn't help chuckle at the title of this CEDIA University course being offered for installers and designers. Maybe CEDIA should have picked a more impressive name for this course, something like "Beyond Fingers: Why a Calculator Should be in Your Toolbox" or "Mathematical Profitability: Making Cents out of Numbers".