Audio News for December 6, 2011

by | Dec 5, 2011 | Audio News

TV Uses No Power When in Standby – A new Toshiba 32-inch TV coming out in a week or so includes an “Eco Chip” preventing the HDTV from drawing any AC power after you turn it off with the remote. Other TVs typically go into a standby mode when you turn them off, to allow the set to quickly turn back on when you click the remote. This “vampire” power can draw around a watt on standby, thus adding up to about  a dollar of energy costs over a year. Energy Star 5.0 sets use less than one watt when in standby mode. When you add the TV consumption to the draws from all of the other electronic things you have plugged in, these little amounts begin to add up. The Toshiba 32BE3 TV also uses 27% less power than its predecessor, and has two power-waving modes, reducing backlight intensity by 50% and 75% respectively. LED-backlit LCD displays are the most efficient TVs; plasma screens—by comparison—use two or three times more power than LCDs to deliver images of equal brightness.
Electronic Gadgets Driving Holiday Sales – Hi-tech gifts constituted more than half of the  weekend shopping carts. Retailers report overall sales up more than 6% over last year, pointing toward the start of a successful holiday season. The average consumer is expected to spend around $250 on electronic gifts this season, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, a new all-time high. Smartphones, mobile video game consoles, MP3 players, e-readers and tablets are off to a strong holiday season start. Nearly half of Black Friday shoppers who purchased technology items did os online—a 24% jump over last year. Retailers such as EBay and Amazon are offering apps to scan bar codes on items while in retail stores, to compare prices and make purchases instantly, avoiding long checkout lines. Whether purchased online or put in their shipping carts, mobile devies and other sonsumer electronics products are expected to continue to drive sales as the year’s busiest gift-buying weeks commence.
Agreement Brings Internet Radio to More Cars – Livio, supplier of Internet-radio products for home and car aftermarket, has sturck a deal with a key Bluetooth chip maker—CSR in the UK—to bring more Internet radio services to more factory-installed car audio systems at a faster pace. Livio’s middleware is incorporated in the CSR Bluetooth chips, enabling head units to use Bluetooth to control many features on select Internet radio apps installed on Android, BlackBerry and Apple smartphones. It is now unnecessary for each Internet-radio app company to work with each automaker in developing an Internet radio solution. The middleware supports control and streaming of ten different Internet radio services, including the Livio Car Internet Radio app ($119) which provides access to 45,000 webcasters.  Other supported Internet radio services include 977 Music, AccuRadio, Digitally Imported, Grooveshark, and Live 365. Automakers can now use factory head units to control more Internet radio functions wirelessly then they could with the basic Bluetooth AVRC (audio-video remote control) profile. Drivers can even use their head unit to search for songs by genre. CSR’s chips are currently in 65% of vehicles sold with factory-installed Bluetooth, as well as appearing in consumer electronics products such as Bluetooth stereo headphones.
Watch Out for So-Called “Subwoofers” – An ad for a 2.1 computer audio speaker system for only $37 jogged our thinking about the current marketing ploy of calling tiny woofers in very basic two-channel speaker systems “subwoofers.”  A tiny bass driver in a small plastic cabinet cannot possibly have lower bass performance than well-designed conventional speakers in a proper enclosure. The use of the term “subwoofer” does not guarantee expanded bass performance; the bass drivers in such compact inexpensive system cannot possibly produce deep bass. The THX standard crossover point for subwoofers is 80Hz, and a good subwoofer would go down to 20-30Hz. Yet many of these so-called 2.1 speaker systems leave everything below about 120Hz to the tiny bass driver, which cannot possibly reproduce the lowest frequencies and instead draws attention to itself due to the localization effect heard at higher frequencies. A proper subwoofer is one sold individually, in a solid cabinet, self-powered, and with crossover circuitry to properly integrate into an existing speaker system. Two spin-offs from subwoofer technology (which began in the late ‘60s) are the bass shakers or tactile transducers, which produce bass frequencies so low that they are vibrations felt by the person sitting in the chair or sofa to which they are attached. Some feel they are better for sound effects in movies than music, while others point out the added realism of feeling the physical vibration of playing a piano or even a violin. Carrying this idea even further is the D-BOX technology, which puts small pistons under the chair or sofa legs and responds to lowest-end bass rumble which actually moves the chair or sofa in sync with the motions of an object on the screen, such as a car flipping over. Some action Blu-rays are now specially-encoded with D-BOX frequencies to control the motions of the on-screen actions to the viewer’s seat.

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