Audio News for February 10, 2017

New Astell&Kern AK70 Supports aptX HD Hi-Res Streaming – The hi-res digital audio player is an improvement over the AKJr. iPod nano-like digital music player which had a sluggish user interface and Spartan feature set. Now they have an almost perfect price-performance champ that is not their flagship player, but seems to right from every angle, and is $600. The  3.3-inch touchscreen user interface is slick and fluid. There’s a large numerical prompt of the volume, so you are never confused by it. The track you are playing is displayed with all the information on it. It weighs only 132 grams and is natural to hold in your hand. But if you also purchase their own leather-style case, you will have a hard time swiping the top of the screen accurately or cleanly. It is also obviously designed for right-handed users.

Cinegy Introduces Cinescore Video Encoding Benchmark – Up to now there has not been a relevant way to measure video encoding performance for commonly used broadcast and professional video formats for SD, HD or UHD. Now Cinescore has free software on their website at cinegy.com.  The commercial-off-the-shelf technology uses CPU-accelerated and graphic-card-equipped commodity machines, powered by Intel processors. A spokesman said “The industry has been waiting for a tool like Cinescore, which provides a simple way to assess the video processing performance of any given machine.”  No installation of the software is required. The user has only to download and unpack a small ZIP file, and double-click on the Cinescore application to start testing. It can even be run from a USB stick or a shared network location.

Advanced Home Automation Interfaces Shown in Las Vegas – At this year’s AHR Expo just passed, SMK Electronics Corporation showed its latest curved and frameless home capacitive touch panel controls, automation remotes, and other exciting new home automation interface solutions.

Amazon’s Alexa Will Take Over Your Smartphone and Office Next – Beyond the home, it is evident that Alexa will be embedded in mobile devices and in offices too. Alexa and Echo have been an unexpected hit in homes thruout America. Over 8.2 million people now have an Echo, which only became widely available a little less than two years ago.  At their annual  event in La Vegas late last year, Amazon unveiled two tools to help developers build speech recognition into their own software, and the add text-to-speech recognition. The tools are called Amazon Lex and Amazon Polly. Office workers may start controlling printers, coffee machines, and other electronics via spoken or typed commands.

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