Wireless music throughout the home is a reality, either via iTunes and an AirPort Express or similar product. What about those seeking to stream music around the house, with a little more panache?
The Philips Streamium WACS700 Wireless Music Center ($1,000, available second half of 2005) promises just that. With head turning looks and a 40GB hard drive capable of holding up to 750 CD’s, the WACS700 might just be the all in one answer to those desiring music anywhere around the home, without the potential headache of setting up a wireless network.
The Streamium hub uses an 802.11g Wi-Fi connection to stream music to up to five satellite stations ($300 each). Included with the system is a two-way remote control with an LCD for displaying artist and track information from the built-in Gracenote CDDB database. Another handy feature of the WACS700 is the ‘Music Follows Me’ feature which allows your music to move with you seamlessly as you go from room to room.
The Sonos digital music system may provide the whole-house what iPod delivered to individuals, your music your way, no compromises. Place up to 32 of Sono’s ZonePlayers throughout your home attach speakers to each, rinse and repeat as many times as you like and viola instant networked music throughout the home. The 10.2 x 7.2 x 4.4-inch boxes will establish a wireless network for distributing, playing, and amplifying digital music.
The Sonos ZonePlayers can handle MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, and Internet radio files. You’ll need to connect the first ZonePlayer to the computer or hard drive where your music is stored. The system works with Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, or a network-attached storage drive. It also has inputs for connecting an iPod or CD player. A proprietary 54-Mbps wireless network lets you either treat each room as an autonomous zone or group them. With the remote, you can route different songs to different rooms or sync up the same song on multiple players and have it play in perfect harmony throughout the house.
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Home theater projectors used to be plain white square boxes, meant to display video and that was about it. I suppose one day a enlightened individual thought to himself, “these things don’t have to be bland looking at all” viola stylish video projectors were born. Ok I might be over simplifying things a tad, but the InFocus ScreenPlay 777 is far from boring looking.
The 777 has the brawn to match it’s looks, when it comes to video reproduction. Using three DLP chips (one per color segment) rather than the typical one, the 777 is able to deliver front projection performance, that will likely keep it in a field of few competitors, at least until 1080i/1080p chips from Texas Instruments are more widely available. The 777 is sold through InFocus’s “Cinema level” dealer’s network, a listing of those dealers and more information on the SP777 can be found at InFocus’s 777 pages.
Stylish electronics don’t always have to be the latest cutting edge technology. Sometimes something as tried and true as a turntable can be a exercise in modern design. The Pro-ject RPM 9 turntable for example with its smooth clean uncluttered design, might be just the item for someone yearning to dust off those old lp’s and reminisce about the days when you still had to go down to the local record shop to hear new music.
This 15″LCD monitor from Toshiba can be placed on the desktop, stowed in a travel bag or even wall mounted. Sources include a built in progressive scan DVD player as well as CD playback. It even has an S-Video out to watch on a larger screen. I don’t travel much anymore, but if I did this would be on my shortlist of must have entertainment gadgets.
Toshiba SD-P5000 15” Portable LCD TV/DVD Player
But the Virgin Pulse portable TV/DVD is stylish nonetheless. With its 10.4″ LCD screen and built in DVD player , AM/FM and two headphone jacks, this product kind of screams take me with you. One of these would make a nice stocking stuffer if any of my secret Santa’s are reading?
Love them or hate them one thing’s for sure, Bang & Olufsen have never designed ordinary looking products. The Beolab5 follows along with those design principals, but by taking a slightly new direction they’ve built something new, while still reminiscent of older lines.
Incorporating an ‘Acoustic Lens’ B&O have been able to elevate their loudspeakers to performance levels that older B&O owners might not even recognize. The drivers in the Beolab5’s are placed vertically with the sound dispersed past the lenses, giving an open airy ‘natural’ sound. Custom built room correction software in the Beolab5’s allow them to adapt to the room, permitting them to sound their best almost anywhere.
One of the things discouraging many potential high definition television buyers, is the cost of the sets. Many newer HDTV displays average $1500.00 or more, this isn’t exorbitant, it’s just enough to make someone thinking twice, find their twice. The Sony KV-30HS420 might just be the set to see for those potential buyers. At 30″ diagonal its not one of the larger HDTV’s on the market, but if you take the buy in now and upgrade later path, this set would fit nicely in a bedroom or secondary viewing room.
The KV-30HS420 like many other hi-def CRT’s offers 1080i 16:9 native resolution and 3:2 pulldown detection, among other features. The KV-30HS420 doesn’t offer a tuner capable of receiving off air HDTV broadcasts, but the suggested retail of $999.00 and picture quality rivaling many of its competitors, make HD satellite service or hi-def cable for this set, a must.
Sony 30″ Hi-Scan FD Trinitron WEGA TV – KV-30HS420
Without a doubt the iPod has been one of the most important trends in not just home entertainment, but entertainment in general. ipod users spend a lot of time collecting and organizing their music collections, and many users can find a song on their ipod quicker than finding the CD it came from. With this in mind the recently announced iPort from Sonance, is a great way of extending that ease of use to the home.
The iPort allows users to simply “dock” the iPod into the wall and begin playing songs through the homes audio system. Sonance states the product will integrate not just with their whole0house audio systems, but those from other manufactures as well.
You may or may not know about active speaker systems, but the theory isn’t all that new, and it’s a very efficient means of audio playback. The idea is instead of amplifying the full frequency range, and then letting a passive crossover split the frequencies between the bass, mid and treble ranges, an electronic active crossover is used, splitting the frequencies, before their amplified.
The end result is instead of, say a 100 watt amplifier powering the entire frequency range, multiple smaller amplifiers handle bass mid and treble. So the power the speaker receives is actually more pronounced than if a single bigger power amplifier was used. Crossing over the frequencies via electronics also provides the ability to insert digital signal correction, in the path, compensating for room deficiencies.
NHT’s (Now Hear This) new Xd speaker system uses such an electronic crossover to achieve their impressive sound. The speakers themselves are very small and stylish, making them suitable for rooms with less than ideal space for large freestanding speakers.
For the most part, the speakers that are attached to, or included with most plasma television displays sound at best mediocre. The majority of the time you can get much better sound, with an accompanying surround sound system or at least a good pair of stereo speakers, providing the sound for the plasma.
For situations where the overall look needs to remain uncluttered, The Martin Logan Voyage, hybrid in-walls, are worth a look. At around $1995.00 suggested retail, they certainly aren’t the cheapest in-walls on the market, but they may be some of the best.
The Martin Logan Voyage’s use a hybrid driver configuration, only the woofers remain standard cone type drivers. The tweeter and mid-range are ML’s ATF (Advanced Thin Film) material, a derivative of Martin Logans famous electrostatic transducers, this ‘ATF’ driver material is said to offer extremely realistic highs and midrange.
This television from Samsung, kind of sums-up what were about here. Sleek, stylish electronics from manufacturers who understand style, as well as function. The HL-P5085W from Samsung, has that classic simple elegance, of a parked Vespa scooter. But the Television might actually perform better. This set use’s DLP technology, so the case is very shallow compared to the picture size, roughly 20″ compared to its 50″ screen size.
With a native resolution of 1280 x 720, this set can more than handle Hi-definition signals, and signal choices won’t be a problem, as the HL-P5085W offers a full array of HDMI and DVI connections.
Toshiba launches new SED or ‘surface-conduction electron-emitter display’. Said to offer better image quality than LCD, Plasma or DLP, the new SED displays are based on older cathode ray tube technology, but aren’t constrained by the same case depth limitations.
Hard drive based music and movie server systems are here to stay. The trend of late can only gain momentum as time goes on. It’s really just a natural progression started by the MP3 based music servers, and adopted by systems like Kaleidescape and AMX’s MAX Integrated Content Server.
Content rich appliances aren’t always hard drive based, most notably, Escient’s DVDM-100. But these types of products, in future years will become the exception not the rule, up until now, the cost hard drive space and standardization have been the biggest pitfall of such systems, this will change in the coming months and years, as hardware prices fall.
Look for consumer electronic appliances that store movies music photos and more to become the norm, standardization will likely be the biggest hurdle but if the TiVo model is applied, a general if not universal standard shouldn’t be out of the question.
Video projectors need not look like square boxes hung from the ceiling, take for example the Dreamvision Dreamweaver Plus, Dreamvision’s latest addition to their, home theater projector lineup. The case of the weaver+ is sleek and smooth, making the squareish projectors of the past, look like air conditioning units. Based on Texas Instruments proven Mustang HD2+ chipset, the weaver+ is more than capable for almost any home theater setup. Details can be found at Projector central, one particular user rated it 5 out of 5 stars.