Audio News for May 2, 2008

by | May 2, 2008 | Audio News | 0 comments

Fourth Type of Electronic Circuit Discovered by HP – First, this is not a May Fools. Second, this is not that HP but Hewlett-Packard. Scientists there have discovered a fourth basic type of electrical circuit that could lead to computers that you never have to boot up. A UC Berkeley researcher theorized there should be a fourth fundamental element to a passive circuit of resistors, capacitors and inductors, and he worked it out mathematically. Now, a team at Hewlett-Packard has proven that ‘memristance’ exists and have produced a physical example of a “memristor” or memory resistor.

They use a water thru a garden hose metaphor to describe the memristor’s function. In standard circuits, the flow of current can go in both directions.  With a memory resistor in the circuit, the “hose” remembers what direction the “water” or current is flowing from, and “expands” (allows more charge to flow thru the circuit).  If the current flows from the other direction, the “hose shrinks” (less charge if passed thru).  This could lead to a new sort of computer memory that never needs time booting up to access its DRAM from the hard drive when the power is turned back on.  Even when the power is turned off the memory circuit never loses its place. The new circuit element could also help to build ever smaller devices and result in more reliable performance from the increasing amount of computer circuitry central to so much home electronics.

Another Home Theater PC Failure
– Speaking of computers, many electronics manufacturers have been attempting to come up with a simple and easy-to-use home theater entertainment package based on a PC.  The idea is to provide a DVD player, video recorder, CD player, set-top box, audio system, a full computer, and perhaps AV distribution to the rest of the home – all in a single box. Nobody has really done that yet.  Sony has a new entry, the Vaio VGX-TP25 Home Theater PC. It has a DVR, a Blu-ray and standard DVD/CD player, and a set-top box. You can record TV shows while watching another channel. You can rewind, pause and fast forward thru commercials.  The TP25 won’t work with standard analog TVs out of the box since it lacks the proper connection. It has two TV tuners, which instead of being integral to the unit are external components that must be plugged in and set up next to it. 

Its 500GB hard drive will fill up rather quickly, especially if you time-shift hi-res video programs. There is a TV program guide built in. To watch and record digital cable channels, you will need to purchase a CableCARD from your cable company. It doesn’t look like a standard PC, but is a fully functional one, running on the less-than-popular Windows Vista operating system. You can listen to downloaded music tracks and watch videos on YouTube and elsewhere online. The TP25 comes with applications allowing you to create videos and edit photos; it also has slots for SD and Memory Stick memory cards.  Among the unit’s cons would be its cobbled-together aspect (the separate TV tuners), the lack of expansion ability, no home distribution feature, and its high price of $3000.  Frankly, we Mac fans wouldn’t touch MS Vista, and what about when the PC crashes, you lose everything on the hard drive (which you never got around to backing up), and all you wanted to do was just listen to a CD?

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