Consumers’ Large Purchases Improve US Economy – Retail business was ramped up last month and total sales rising .7% for the biggest gain in five months. Electronics and appliance sales rose 1.1%. But the survey suggested that Americans also cut back on smaller purchases after splurging on large items. Economists are optimistic about the current quarter. Consumer spending drives roughly 70% of growth. Wages have picked up 2% over the past year, outpacing inflation.
Atlantic Adds Bluetooth to SoundBar and Lowers Price – Their PowerBar active soundbar is now bundled with a bluetooth adapter and the price lowered to $799. It streams the aptX codec and its Bluetooth 4.0 receiver connects to the soundbar using its analog audio input. It offers H-PASS technology to deliver deep bass down to 47Hz without an outboard subwoofer. The PowerBar incorporates DSP with DTS and Dolby Digital, delivering two to five-channel experiences.
Marantz Upgrades Two-Channel Components – Marantz will ship next month anew integrated amp and a replacement SACD Player/DAC, adding support for hi-res DSD playback via USB. Both models also have improved components and circuitry to further improve audio quality. The SA8005 SACD play with DAC features optical and coax inputs to connect digital sources, a front-panel USB-A input for iPods or iPhones, and an asynchronous USB-B input for connection to a PC, which now supports decoding and playback of hi-res 2,8MHz and 5.6MHz DSD formats. A newly-developed ground/signal isolator is said to virtually eliminate PC noise. A fully discrete headphone amp and system remote are also included. The PM8005 integrated amp has Marantz’ proprietary hyper-dynamic amp modules and a triple-layer bottom plate to help eliminate vibration. It offers a moving-magnet phono input and source/direct mode to deliver the purest audio signal.
Videos and Snapshots on the Move – With their current capabilities to shoot hi-def stills and video, smartphones are beginning to make dedicated consumer still and video cameras pointless to many. They have greatly increased their megapixels, frames-per-second, and other features, and have added built-in stereo mics. Many feature built-in Wi-Fi so you can share or copy your videos and photos without need of a cable. Sony’s new Action Cam is however a dedicated video camera for high-quality videos without concerns about damaging the device. It has image stabilisation and a 170-degree Carl Zeiss Tessar lens, and can shoot at 480p, or 720p, with a choice of 720p at 60 or even 120 frames-per-second – making great slow-motion videos.It has a waterproof housing to make it suitable for extreme conditions.
Microsoft’s Takeover of Skype – A European court has made a decision that Microsoft can continue to market Skype’s video calls to consumers and businesses without making any concession to Cisco or others offering similar products. It said the merger of Microsoft and Skype does not restrict competition.