Fulton Innovation had what I think was the most exciting booth at CES this year. (Yes, more exciting than 3DTV or a iPod karaoke docks.) Fulton Innovation is the developer of eCoupled intelligent wireless power technology. On display was a Tesla Roadster that was being charged through the air as it was parked over a large eCoupled charging pad. Also on display were eCoupled-enabled cereal boxes that had the eCoupled circuitry printed on the boxes using conductive ink. When placed on a shelf near an eCoupled transmitter, the various graphics on the boxes actually lit up. Another aspect of the technology allows a home to have smart cabinets that will monitor the eCoupled-equipped boxes and let you know what cereals, for example, are in the cabinet – and how full the boxes are. In another section of the CES booth, a wireless blender was being demonstrated. If Fulton Innovation has anything to say about it, in the future when we say “wireless” speakers, we’ll really mean it.
At $700/pair, PSB's Imagine Mini (second from left, on stand) may turn some heads. It did not have any deep bass, but was clean as far down as it went, and even when played loud (though not unreasonably loud) did not fall to pieces. With a good subwoofer, five of them plus a spare (unfortunately they are sold only in pairs), or four with an Imagine center, could make for a sweet, small room home theater setup.
Custom install-exclusive Emotiva Pro recently acquired Sherbourn, the high-end manufacturer of amps and preamps. The new Sherbourn preamps will include Control4 HC-200B controllers that will allow for home theater and whole-home automation. Look for the first products to be available sometime around April.
If you look at the back of NAD's new T787 AV Surround Sound Receiver ($3499) you'll see the plug-in modules that make the 120 WPC x 7 unit amenable to future upgrading. As delivered it includes the latest digital video, HDMI, and audio modules. A Control4 Director Series Module is an option. The T187 AV Preamp Processor ($2499) is similarly equipped.
Vuzix’s new “augmented reality” glasses have tiny video cameras on the front and small high-resolution display screens (one for each eye) behind. The setup allows virtual images to be laid over 3D video of the real world captured by the front-facing cameras. Potential applications could include virtual instruction manuals or training videos.
There are quite a few add-on devices that will turn your iPod touch into a remote control, but most of them are cumbersome or require some sort of obtrusive dongel. The most interesting one I’ve found so far is the Surc, which is an iPhone case with a built-in IR emitter. The case isn’t much larger than the iPhone itself, and it’s easily removable if you only want to use it at home. A free app is available that lets you customize the remote by adding in remote control code sets already in the Surc database – or you can teach the remote codes that aren’t yet available. Multiple rooms and macros can be easily programmed into the iPhone/Surc combo in minutes. It’s extremely easy to set up, and the UI is configurable (buttons can be moved, added, or removed). Availability is targeted for early 2011 with pricing yet to be determined. Surc cases for the iPod touch and iPad are in development. You can learn more at www.getsurc.com.
The new Speaker Box 5 from Project (the turntable people) sounded ridiculously dynamic for such a tiny feller. Distributed by Sumiko, they will sell for $400/pair in a variety of colors, such as this fire engine red. The electronics shown here are not included!
The Xi3 Modular Computer is small, cube-like, completely modular, and less than 4 inches per side. It uses 64-bit x86 dual core processors running at 2.0 GHz and, since it uses less than 20 watts to operate, it is totally silent due to the lack of fans. The silent operation and solid state storage make it a great choice for a home theater PC or DVR. Pricing starts at $849 (with Linux operating system – add $149 for Windows 7). Additional storage memory and thin clients are available. The computer can be ordered in different colors and various configurations.
And here's what it does, according to the carton. Note that the iPod streaming includes component and composite video, the former using a proprietary jack and dongle that physically resembles S-video with more pins.
Sonawall’s Spodak UW-200 system is an add-on to any surround system that’s designed to move the focal point of the sound up to where the TV image is. The system includes a pair of tiny on-wall pod speakers and a special crossover that lets you fine tune the blend of the pod speakers with the rest of your system. MSRP is $350 for the system. The company also makes a 5.1-channel system ($800) and a 2.1-channel desktop system ($500) using the same pod speakers and a subwoofer.