2010 Consumer Electronics Show Set Optimistic Tone – The 2010 International CES, which closed January 10th in Las Vegas, featured more than 20,000 new products and had over 120,000 attendees, including 5000 media, bloggers and analysts. Some of the new products announced at the show were LG’s 15% OLED TV display, Panasonic’s 152-inch 3D TV, Samsung’s MP3 player with an OLED touchscreen display, Skype on both Panasonic and LG HDTVs, Sony’s partnership with Discovery and IMAX for the first 3D network, and Toshiba’s CELL TV with gesture technology.
Consumers Still Split on ‘Connected’ Home – According to Scott McGregor, CEO of Broadcom Corp., consumers still aren’t sure how they want to connect their TVs, computers and other home electronics to one another despite plenty of different products out there for that purpose. Broadcom makes chips for sending data and for cell phones, with its products in many home electronics. While firms such as Yahoo are trying to bring Net content to TVs, others – such as Seagate Technology – are creating storage drives that can be easily transferred between devices. Each tech device could serve as a hub around which a fully-connected home could be constructed. Broadcom and others are fighting chip giant Intel for portions of the smart phone and embedded chip markets as the semiconductor industry goes thru changes. McGregor said “What’s good for a PC isn’t necessarily good for a consumer electronics device.”
Audio-shaping Software and Hardware for Car Audio – Automakers are signing up partners in the high-end audio world like mad since good sound has now become a major selling in new cars. However, whether factory-installed or after-market, that runs into considerable investment. SRS Labs’ software and Visteon’s DSP hardware can together add 5.1-channel surround and virtual subwoofers to standard two-channel auto audio systems. They make it possible with the virtual subwoofer and psycho-acoustic programming to create a realistic surround sound experience in a car. The audio can even be set to place the sweet spot on any seat in the car, rather than in the center of the front, where no one is sitting.
Electrocompaniet HT in a Box – Norwegian hi-end audio maker Electrocompaniet will ship by this fall a new big box called the Maestro System, combining a Blu-ray palyer, AM/FM & HD Radio, Internet Radio, and LAN AV streamer plus a three-channel amp. It also includes a Wi-Fi wireless transmitter going to a separate stereo amp for the surround speakers, eliminating the biggest wiring headache in most rooms. The perfectionist unit will be priced at around $7500.
More Portables for HD Radio – 24 new HD Radio products were shown at CES. HD Radio reception is being embedded in more portable media players, MP3 players, audio preamps and receivers, and headphone-type portables. The lowest-priced AV receivers with HD Radio is a $999 Yamaha model, and Onkyo offers AV receivers for $399 which work with a small optional $159 HD Radio tuner. Aftermarket car audio and GSP devices with HD Radio are also turning up. There are even add-on HD Radio tuners for iPhones and iPods. Two new enhancements of HD Radio technology were also introduced. Requiring new compatible HD Radio tuners, they allow broadcasting of album cover art, and “live pause,” which allows users to pause a broadcast for up to 15 minutes. More than 2000 stations now broadcast their primary signal in digital, and they are also broadcasting more than 1000 additional new HD2 and HD3 channels. (HD does not stand for High Definition – it stands for Hybrid Digital, and the in-band digital signal compromises the signal-to-noise of the standard FM stereo signals.)