New Products -- October 2002


Not only does Kenwood's VR-6070 THX Select-certified receiver add an amplified sixth channel for Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES soundtracks, but you can configure it to drive a passive subwoofer instead of a back surround speaker. Dolby Pro Logic II can process stereo sources for 5.1-channel playback, and Circle Surround II processing can generate 6.1-channel sound from mono, stereo, or 5.1-channel audio. The receiver is rated to deliver 100 watts to each of six channels into 8 ohms and has two component-video inputs and outputs. There are five DSP modes (Arena, Theater, Jazz Club, Stadium, and Disco) and three EQ modes (Cinema, Music, and TV). Two coaxial and two optical digital audio inputs, one optical output, a multichannel analog audio input, and outputs for a second zone round out the connection facilities. A universal infrared/RF remote is supplied. Price: $600., 800-536-9663


Topping RCA's new Scenium line of integrated HDTVs is the 65-inch rear-projection HD65W140. The widescreen set uses 7-inch CRTs to display high-def images received by its built-in tuner, but it can also accept HDTV signals through its DVI (Digital Visual Interface), FireWire, and two wideband component-video inputs. It performs 2:3 pulldown to compensate for the different frame rates of film and video, and dual built-in analog tuners allow for convenient picture-in-picture display of standard channels. The audio system includes four built-in speakers and a 30-watt subwoofer. The set even has limited Web browsing ability, but only if you have a broadband connection - a wireless keyboard is optional ($50). It also has three composite/ S-video inputs as well as an optical digital audio output. Price: $4,299., 800-336-1900


Good friends are hard to come by, but radio lovers may want to get acquainted with Tivoli Audio's PAL. Short for Portable Audio Laboratory, the PAL is a portable AM/FM radio with a 2 1/2-inch speaker and a friendly face - at least one of the eight different colors it comes in should be easy on your eyes. The little guy is weather-resistant, weighs only 2 pounds, and measures 3 3/4 x 6 1/4 x 3 7/8 inches. Tuning is easy with the fine-adjustment knob and automatic frequency control, which locks onto a station's signal. There's a retractable antenna, a minijack input for listening to another source, and a stereo headphone jack. One charging of the built-in battery is said to last 16 hours, and an AC adapter for recharging is supplied. Price: $129., 617-464-0006


Point and shoot, but shoot what? With Canon's Elura 40MC camcorder, it could be standard digital video, still photos with up to 1.7-megapixel resolution, or short MPEG video clips. Standard digital video is captured on MiniDV tapes, while MPEG clips are stored in flash memory on a Secure Digital card or MultiMediaCard (either can fit in the cam's slot). Still pictures can be put on tape or in flash. The camera has a 1/6-inch, 680,000-pixel CCD image sensor and includes 10x optical and 200x digital zoom. You can transfer your images with the USB and FireWire connectors, and if you have Canon's CP-10 printer, you can print wallet-size photos without a computer. Software for both PCs and Macs is supplied.

Tivo Price: $999., 800-652-2666

Haven't thrown out your VCR yet? You don't have to wait for DVD recorders to get cheap - just get yourself a video hard-disk recorder like TiVo's Series2. The 15 x 11 1/2 x 3-inch deck has enough storage space for up to 60 hours (at the lowest quality) of whatever you want, whether it's the hottest new hit shows or reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard. The Series2, of course, keeps the convenient features that made hard-disk recorders so famous, like pausing live TV for up to 30 minutes or blazing past commercials. TiVo's Season Pass feature will automatically record every episode of a series, even skipping reruns, and there are two USB ports, so the deck can also manage digital music and photos. It connects to your TV through RF, composite- or S-video jacks. Price: $400, plus $13 a month., 877-289-8486


Finally ready for a home theater? Onkyo has your one-stop solution in its Envision Theater LSV-950 home theater system. You get an integrated DVD player/receiver along with four small left/right speakers, a center speaker, and a subwoofer. The player/receiver is rated to deliver 40 watts each to five channels and has built-in Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1-channel decoders along with Dolby Pro Logic II processing for stereo sources. It also plays CD-Rs/CD-RWs with MP3 files and has connections for up to four more components, including a VCR, cable box, and TV. The two-way satellite speakers have 3-inch midrange drivers (two on the center speaker), and the 9 1/4 x 19 1/2 x 19-inch subwoofer sports an 8-inch driver, powered by a 120-watt amplifier. The receiver's AM/FM tuner has 30 presets. Price: $900., 800-229-1687

Harman Kardon

Progressive-scan video output? Check. Plays DVDs, CDs, Video CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RWs? Check. MP3 compatibility? Check. Yep, the Harman Kardon DVD 25 player delivers on a lot of your video and audio needs, including 2:3 pulldown to compensate for frame-rate differences between film- and video-based material. The back-panel connectors keep things simple: one set of component-video outputs for either interlaced or progressive-scan signals, one composite- and one S-video output, stereo audio jacks, and both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs. The fast-scan scan function has four speeds (2x, 4x, 8x, and 16x), and you can slow things down to 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, or 1/16 speed. A full-function backlit remote control is supplied. Price: $349., 800-422-8027


Connecting your PC to your home theater system isn't complicated when you have M-Audio's Sonica interface, since it has only three connectors. Signals from the USB port of your PC (Windows Me, 2000, or XP) or Mac (OS 9.2.2 or later) go into one side and come out on the other through either the 1/8-inch stereo minijack or the optical digital output. Both stereo and multichannel Dolby Digital and DTS signals can be fed through the interface, which also has a TruSurround setting that synthesizes surround sound playback from two speakers. CD-ROM software, a USB cable, and an audio CD with music from various artists are included. The Sonica measures only 2 1/8 x 3 1/2 x 7/8 inch. Price: $80., 800-969-6434

Vantage Point

It doesn't matter if you have small speakers or big speakers - Vantage Point's SoundStage speaker stand will adapt to your needs. Just choose a base and a riser that suit your speaker size and décor, pick up a screwdriver, and your stand will be ready for duty in 15 minutes. The base is available finished in black, silver, dark cherry, or light oak. The aluminum risers come in 12-, 24-, or 34-inch lengths and are hollow to accommodate speaker wiring. Available in black or silver, the risers are sold with matching clawed feet for the base, which have rubber tips, though removable carpet spikes are included. Prices: base, $40 a pair; riser, $70 or $90 a pair., 800-582-9595


Designed to be installed easily in most cars, Cerwin-Vega's V-Mag 5252 component speakers include pairs of 5 1/4-inch magnesium-cone midrange drivers and 3/4-inch silk-dome tweeters. Cutout dimensions are 4 1/2 and 1 7/8 inches in diameter, respectively, and 2 1/4 and 5/8 inch deep. The tweeters support swivel surface mounting, swivel flush mounting, and angle surface mounting options. Frequency response is rated as 30 Hz to 22 kHz ±10 dB, sensitivity as 90 dB. The supplied passive crossovers roll off at 12 dB per octave. Price: $229 a pair., 805-584-9332


If an alarm clock can be user-friendly, Proton's R5A Atomic Clock Radio certainly qualifies. Thanks to an internal receiver tuned to the broadcast time signals from the atomic clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the R5A sets its own time! The digital AM/FM tuner has 20 presets, and the 5-inch speaker is fed by a 5-watt amplifier. The dual alarms can be programmed separately to wake you up with music or a buzzer, gradually increasing the volume to its preset level over the course of a minute. The snooze button gives you a 7-minute respite. You can adjust the sound with bass and treble controls, but don't worry about the time display - a sensor automatically dims or brightens the LEDs according to ambient lighting. The R5A measures 11 1/2 x 6 x 3 3/4 inches and weighs 5 1/2 pounds. Price: $150., 562-404-2222


Decoding Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES 6.1-channel soundtracks is a snap for Proceed's AVP2 preamplifier, which also has Dolby Pro Logic II processing for stereo signals. An eight-channel analog audio output keeps you ahead of the format game, and there are also three balanced XLR outputs, one optical and four coaxial digital audio inputs and one coaxial output, plus independent analog and digital outputs for a second zone. The AVP2 incorporates some of the same circuitry used in Madrigal's recent $30,000 Mark Levinson No. 40 Media Console, including a SHARC DSP engine and an "intelligent" buffer that's said to reduce video jitter without introducing time delays. To switch component-video signals, you'll need the CVP2 processor, which fits conveniently underneath the AVP2 and is sold separately. Price: $6,495; CVP2, $1,495., 860-346-0896

Sound Advance

Easy to hang on a ceiling or wall, lightweight, and extremely simple in their operation, Sound Advance's CT8F flat-panel speakers are designed to quickly add sound to a room away from your main system. Each circular speaker is 11 3/4 inches in diameter and 2 3/8 inches deep. They're paintable - but only with water-based paint - to suit the surrounding décor. Rated frequency response is 80 Hz to 15 kHz ±4 dB. Each speaker weighs 5 pounds and must be installed with a special mounting bracket ($20 each). Price: $182 a pair., 800-592-4644

Sonic Desktop

You may have mastered your camcorder, but your home videos are still missing something - the soundtrack. Sonic Desktop's SmartSound Movie Maestro software can add some mood music to your footage. Compatible with both Windows and Macintosh platforms, Movie Maestro has three steps: import digital video to your computer, add music with the software's Wizard application, and save the new music-enhanced video. You can create multiple musical arrangements for a single video, and Maestro will automatically re-edit music pieces to fit quick changes in video duration. The software includes 26 music tracks in categories like Sentimental, Cutting-Edge, and Blockbuster. Price: $50., 818-718-9999


The most challenging thing about setting up a big rear-projection TV is usually getting it through the door. Enter Toshiba's 65-inch 65HDX82 HDTV monitor, which has a split-cabinet design to ease transport. Its 16:9 aspect ratio screen will display high-def images once the set is connected to an external HDTV tuner through its DVI (Digital Visual Interface) or wideband component-video inputs. It accepts signals in the 1080i, 720p, and 480p formats and will perform 2:3 pulldown to compensate for the difference between film and video frame rates. Other video sources can hook up to the three composite-/S-video inputs. Two analog tuners allow for picture-in-picture display, and a backlit universal remote control is supplied. Price: $3,800., 800-631-3811


The Force must be with Snell's SR30THX surround speaker, as Lucasfilm has bestowed its highest certification, THX Ultra2. A switch toggles the speaker between dipole mode (to provide a diffuse sound field) and direct-radiating mode (for more localized surround-channel sound). It has three 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeters (one on each panel), dual 3 1/2-inch copolymer midrange drivers offset at a 45° angle, and a single, top-mounted 61/2-inch woofer in a sealed enclosure. Frequency response is rated as 70 Hz to 20 kHz ±3 dB. Measuring 16 1/4 x 16 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches, the trapezoidal-shaped cabinet comes finished in black or white. Price: $1,800 a pair., 978-373-6114


Plasma and LCD TVs are on the rise - quite literally, when you have one mounted in an Inca Plasmita TV lift for small, thin TVs that have a wide screen. The Plasmita 20 (shown) is premade for TVs with screens that measure 20 inches diagonal, while the Model 400 can be customized to fit a set up to 32 inches. The base, which spans the width of the set and holds the moving parts, is only 3 1/8 inches deep, and the aluminum side supports are 4 1/8 inches deep. An external junction box is wired to the base and can be configured to accept RF or infrared remote-control commands. Both models can lift up to 70 pounds. Prices: Plasmita 20, $1,340; Plasmita 400, $1,500., 310-808-0001


The Premiere System 300 from Mordaunt-Short (distributed by Marantz) comprises four 302 satellites, a 304 center speaker, and a 308 subwoofer. Each 302 has a 3 1/2-inch midrange driver and a 1-inch tweeter. Bandwidth is rated as 120 Hz to 20 kHz. The 304, measuring 7 1/8 x 4 1/2 x 5 1/8 inches, has dual midrange drivers, while the 80-watt subwoofer uses an 8-inch driver and is rated from 30 to 150 Hz. The speakers come finished in light cherry or graphite, and the 308 comes in graphite or silver. Price: $999., 630-741-0300