Audio News for July 25, 2006

by | Jul 25, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

Queens’ Rolling Blackout Due to Computers and Big-Screen TVs? – Investigations into the cause of the rolling blackout in the NYC borough of Queens which had tens of thousands of residents without power for more than a week has determined it was due to a failure of ConEd’s distribution system. It wasn’t a glitch at a far-off power power or crippling of a major hi-voltage supply line, but simply that the local electricity infrastructure was overtaxed by a huge growth in consumer power demand. Multiple power lines failed, causing a meltdown of the local grid in Queens that didn’t just lose power but physically destroyed lines and transformers – requiring crews to toil in manholes for hours replacing equipment. The Edison Electric Institute estimated that the boom in home electronics accounted for 42 terawatt hours of power last year, vs. only 16.5 terawatt hours in 2001.  Add to that the growing urban populations and humming economy that have left less of a buffer during midsummer heat waves that have air conditioners and fans working overtime.  The prospect has been raised that not only the residents of Queens but perhaps all the rest of the U.S. will have to starting restricting their use of computers and big-screen TVs to the off-hours.

Networked Digital Device for Audiophiles – Slim Devices received attention for their Squeezebox, which stores CDs as digital files and delivers sound throughout the home. The new hi-end unit is the Transporter, the most advanced networked audio system available. Its sound quality is said to surpass hi-end CD-only players. In addition to the storage and networking of music on CDs, Transporter offers thousands of Internet radio stations, a personalized music service called Pandora, and Rhapsody’s two-million-track collection of online music downloads. Audiophiles can instantly find and listen to any of their collection, whether if was purchased on CD or downloaded on their computer. Transporter uses a “miracle DAC chip” from AKM known for exceptional performance at high frequencies. A gold-plated circuit board keeps digital and analog section separate, and a thick aluminum chassis protects the system from external noise. Transporter will begin shipping in September at an SRP of  $1,999.

Commerce Department Proposes Coupon Program for Digital Converter Boxes
– The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is enthusiastic about the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department’s call for public comment on rules establishing a national coupon program for inexpensive converter boxes so that those without HD TVs will be able to receive programming after the analog transmitters are turned off in 2009.  Their response said that they expect a 50% increase this year over 2005 in sales of hi-def sets, and that it will be the year that HDTV outsells analog TV units. Over $23 billion in total DTV sales revenue is expected. CEA CEO Gary Shapiro said, “A successful set-top box program represents the final piece of the transition to DTV puzzle.”

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