Many people now access the Internet at speeds as high as 1 to 3Mbps over their phone lines using DSL or their cable-TV service using a cable modem. But DSL speeds drop dramatically if the home is more than a certain distance from the nearest phone company switching station, and cable-modem bandwidth can be reduced if there are lots of subscribers in the same neighborhood.
Focal-JMlab has been manufacturing speaker drivers and systems from its home base in Saint-Etienne, France, since 1980. They first became known to audiophiles in the US for their range of Focal drive units, particularly their inverted-dome tweeters. The latter were used by a number of makers of speaker systems. One of them, Wilson Audio Specialties, has likely been Focal's most loyal customer over the years, having used various Focal drivers in most of its models since the original Wilson Audio Tiny Tot, aka the WATT, was produced in the mid-1980s.
Media servers - components designed to provide instant access to a large number of audio, and in some cases video, files stored in a central location - are hot. If you've never had a chance to use one, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. If, on the other hand, you've been fortunate enough to experience the ability to listen to any track of your music collection (or different tracks simultaneously in a multi-zone system), then you know what a joy it can be. It sounds silly, but using a system with such easy access to music can be incredibly addictive. It's even nicer to have instantaneous access to your entire DVD collection (with appropriate copyright respect, of course).
Everyone wants a piece of Apple's pie - or at least a piece of the iPod. With over ten million units sold (and more to come), the little digital music wonder is a clear favorite among music lovers. Manufacturers other than Apple have taken note of the iPod's popularity and are stumbling over each other in a rush to score big on the iPod craze by bringing out some sharp iPod accessories.
For the past five years, DVD has been the bright beam of sunshine spreading across the home-entertainment landscape, not only heating up movie sales and rentals but also, with its first-rate images and sound, helping to spark the whole home theater trend.
With LCD TVs nipping at their heels, plasma sets have quickly abandoned their industrial heritage and evolved to become a user-friendly centerpiece for your home theater. Basically, they've grown bigger - screen sizes will soon hit 70 inches - and accrued tons of cool features.