Coalition to Fight Excessive DTV Patent Charges – Formed about six months ago, a citizens’ group called Coalition to Terminate Financial Abuses of the Television Transmission (or CUT FATT for short) wants to protect U.S. consumers from the purchase of DTVs with excessive unregulated patent fees charged by companies who claim to own the patents needed to comply with FCC standards. The group’s mission is to raise awareness among Congress members and the FCC about the uncontrolled price gouging. They have petitioned the FCC to hold the abusive parties responsible for excess charges to impose new rules for patent licensing. This is tied in with the FCC requirement that all TVs sold in the U.S. now must include a digital tuner, whether they are DTV or not. American consumers are paying between $20 and $30 per TV for the same patent rights that cost $1 or less in Europe, Japan and other parts of the world. HDTV firm VIZIO has announced their support of the CUT FATT coalition, and their cofounder Laynie Newsome has said, “Without action now, this abuse could continue for many years. We believe that the FCC must declare that any DTV royalty demands that exceed comparable international fees are a violation of FCC rules.” With over 62,000 DTVs being sold daily, the total cost to consumers for the rampant overcharging has already exceeded the cost of the transition subsidy provided to consumers thru the converter box coupon program.
Wadia’s $15K CD/SACD Player – Having been out of the picture for a time, a pioneer in super-high end digital processing components is back strongly with a new no-holds-barred disc player. Wadia’s 781i Player has the firm’s latest DigiMaster 2.5 upsampling software for Redbook CDs, and it also is one of few players to decode SACDs using its own proprietary number-crunching technology. The player affords four selectable decoding algorithms: one for SACD and three for CDs, with subtle differences between the CD options, depending on the music. The analog audio section of players is considered important in the sonics they produce, and Wadia builds its own Class A analog section using discreet parts. The player can also be used as a player/preamp, with its own volume and balance controls operating in the digital domain.
$15K Phono Cartridge – One of the many introductions at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show – officially opening January 8 in Las Vegas – is an indication that the current economic collapse is not being reflected at all in the super-high-end audio realm – which has more exhibitors at the show than ever before. It is a new handmade moving-coil phono cartridge (you know, that thing at the end of the tone arm that holds the stylus) from legendary Japanese phono cartridge maker Koetsu, with a body carved by hand from a piece of rare petrified coral. The Coralstone Platinum has ten turns of silver-plated copper coil wire, a platinum magnet and Koetsu precisely grinds the special-designed stylus. The idea is to enthrall deep-pocket vinyl enthusiasts by bringing LPs to life.