MP3 Classical CDs Issued – For collectors who are into (ugh!) MP3 files but not into downloading, there are now beginning to be some classical releases as MP3 files on disc. Some of the most recent in-car head ends will play MP3 files on CDs, but these are intended mainly for playing on computers, porting over to music server hard drives, or on compatible CD/DVD players. (The Oppo BDP-83 plays MP3 files, for example.) One set is the complete works for organ solo by J.S. Bach, featuring organist Kevin Bowyer. It is on a bargain 8-disc MP3 set at the highest MP3 sampling rate of 320 kbps – which admittedly comes closer to standard CD than other MP3 forms. The organ works are presented in a series of recitals, and the last disc includes both an extended essay and an Excel spreadsheet listing the pieces by track number, title and BVW number. The entire lengthy Wagner opera Die Götterdämmerung, with soloists and the Halle Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder, is available either as a single-disc MP3 file for $16 or on 5 standard CDs for $32. Allegro Distribution handles the albums.
Computer Sales Up In Spite of Recession – In the U.S., PC shipments were up 25% for the last quarter of 2009, partly due to huge holiday period sales. This contrasted with the gloom expected due to the recession. HP and Dell remain the big sellers, and though Apple did well, it moved from No. 4 to No. 5 behind Toshiba and Acer, partly due to Toshiba’s 71% gain.
Anthem Announces First Line of Receivers – Anthem, maker of high-end audio electronics and part of the Paradigm Electronics Canadian firm, has entered the AV receiver market with a new 3D-Ready line. The MRX Series features four receivers, all with seven channels of amplification (9 on the top model), 4 HDMI In (7 on the top model), Anthem’s Room Correction system (ARC). The MRX 300 is 80 watts per channel, the MRX 500 is 100 watts, the MRX 700 is 120 watts and the MRX 900 140 watts. All the latest audio formats are supported, plus Internet radio via Ethernet on three of the models and HD Radio on two. The MRX series will process 3D movies and TV when paired with a 3D TV and 3D-capable source component. All models also have both front and rear USB inputs, 1080p video upconversion with Deep Color support, and a second two-channel zone. The optional MDX 1 iPod/iPhone dock has an on-screen display and no AC adaptor or inserts are required. The first two receiver models start at $999 and the iPod dock is $129. The MRX 700 will be $1999 and the top-of-line MRX 900 will have a SRP of $3999. Delivery is expected by late summer.
Grace Digital Updates Their iPhone Radio App – The new Radio App takes full advantage of iPhone OS4’s multitasking capabilities to let users listen to more than 17,000 free Internet radio stations while answering emails, responding to texts, and doing other work. The app can run in the background while conducting other operations on the iPhone or iPod Touch. The OS4 Radio App can be downloaded from iTunes for $4.99.
Electronics and Appliance Breakdown Coverage – For as little as $30 a year, consumers can avoid problems and costly repair bills when their homeowners’ insurance is enhanced with a protection policy for electronics and appliances in the home. Consumer Reports, for example, says that repair rates for 3-4-year-old major name home appliances range between 20% and 43%. Most computers require some sort of repair after 3-4 years of use. Capital Insurance Group coverage provides for out-of-pocket labor and parts expenses, cost of related damages or loss-of-use, and even additional living expenses if the homeowner’s dwelling becomes uninhabitable during the repair (that would have to be a pretty serious situation!).