Audio News for February 20, 2006

by | Feb 20, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

Audio Equipment Demand Rises – Kayye Consulting of Chapel Hill, NC, has published a report showing that the trend in home electronics is definitely a rising demand for audio gear. Many audiophiles may not be pleased to hear this, but as you probably guessed, the whole thing revolves around the across-the-board acceptance of the  iPod and its imitators – which even beats out the DVD player’s success story for instant mass sales of a new gadget. The iPod has become the “must-integrate” category for the high-end home today, believe it or not.

The other interesting point of the report is that the amount of audio gear sold – undoubtedly stimulated by huge sales in what CES calls the “mobile” category – is up 36%, while the same figure for video gear is only 3%.  This actually has nothing to do with the technology, but with money. Dealer margins for video gear have slipped way down – partly as a result of manufacturer efforts to bring down the retail prices of flat-screen displays. The typical margin on the sale of a video projector is less than 10%. Meanwhile, audio margins have remained where they were in 1996.

New IBM Chipset Promises Wireless Multimedia Components
– IBM has introduced a breakthrough CMOS chip is wants to make the backbone of a future wireless broadband home network.  The chipset is only 14mm square, has both receiving and transmitting antennae built in, and exchanges data at a 60 GHz rate. It would make it possible for consumer electronic devices to stream content between each other at gigabit speeds.  This is not a Wi-Fi chip – its extreme frequencies are not meant to travel very far – just between your hi-def tuner or TiVo and your plasma display, for example (instead of a costly separate HDMI cable). IBM’s Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) is the goal, making obsolete any cables at all between your various home electronics components. The idea is to integrate all the connection facilities into a single solution so you don’t have to deal with cables.

WPAN’s main competition in personal-space wireless connectivity is Bluetooth, but Bluetooth is nowhere near broadband in speed. An IBM spokesperson suggests you could think of WPAN as “Bluetooth on steroids.”  IBM hopes to have a final WPAN standard ready for production and approval by the IEEE in 2007 or 08. This falls in line with what is being called “the second generation of HDTV” – equipment using the new secure interconnect cable standards such as DVI, HDMI or Video Electronics Standards Association’s DisplayPort.  But at present WPAN is non-interchangeable with these since it so far only a transfer technology lacking the security protocol that the movie studios demand.

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