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Audio News for August 21, 2015

Walmart & Sam’s Club CE Sales Still Sluggish – Partly due to new phone-leasing plans from mobile carriers, the second-quarter earnings drove tech comps lower, but the downturn was helped by better in-stocks and stronger online sales. Net sales at Walmart U.S. rose 4.8% due to lower gas prices, increased e-commerce traction, and better-staffed and stocked stores. Walmart.com tested an unlimited free shipping program, priced at $50 a year.

Apple’s Music Festival to Stream for Free – Performances during the ten-day event in London will be streamed live and on-demand around the world for free to help Apple boost the take rate of its Apple Music streaming service, which “could be higher.” The company’s Beats 1 radio stations will cover the event live and broadcast backstage news, and consumers can also watch the even in HD via Apple TV. It runs Sept. 19 thru 28.

Bluetooth Smart Technology Powers the Internet of Things – While standard Bluetooth has taken over wireless technology, Bluetooth Smart has more intelligence and is more power-friendly. The world is exploding with an array of devices connecting to hub devices like PCs, smartphones, cars and tablets. Many sports and fitness companies are rusing to integrate the new technology to connect to smartphone apps, and it is also becoming popular in the wearables area. However, keep in mind that for music transmission, Bluetooth, even with aptX, is not up to the fidelity of standard CD quality.

Three Tips for Making the Best Home Theater – 1) Install a dimmer switch, no matter what sort of lighting you have. 2) Consider a projector if you want larger than a 55-inch screen. They’ve come down in cost recently and often painting a wall with a special paint can save investment in a screen. You can also use them to play music videos or show slide shows of family photos. (You’ll also have to close drapes to darken the room nearly completely.) 3) Sound is important. Don’t go with the tiny speakers built into HDTVs – get a normal 5.1 surround system with at least one subwoofer. Note the material lining the room too – sometimes simple treatment of it can greatly improve the acoustics. You may not need a huge system to enjoy quality sonics in a smaller room.

Oculus Cinema Delivers Virtual Movie-Watching Experience – The Oculus Rift uses optics designed for vitual reality, and has a high refresh rate and low-persistence display. It ships with more social features built-in than the current Oculus Cinema, such as the ability to communicate with people over long distances and avatar systems. It is available for the Samsung Gear VR. Any videos recorded with a smartphone’s camera will automatically appear, and 3D videos and subtitles may also be loaded and viewed. The company recommends 1280×720 HD resolution to encode videos; higher resolutions will not provide better quality, will waste space and processing power.

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