CES Report 6
Home AV Network Devices Introduced - Pioneer was one of the first at CES to demonstrate a new type of networked device for home AV entertainment uses. The prototype devices exhibited use both wired and wireless high-speed Ethernet connections to distribute multiple simultaneous streams of video, still photos and audio content on demand to multiple TVs and audio systems in a home. The core of the system is the Linux-based Digital Library Server. It stores on its 60 gig hard disc compressed music, full-motion video, and digital stills, and can also stream audio and video directly from special Internet streaming services. Remote controllers or Clients connect to the Library via Ethernet to deliver the programming to the TV sets and audio systems in the home. There are separate Clients for video and audio. Formats used are MP3, Windows Media Audio and Video, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, and JPEG and BMP for stills. The device wont offer web browsing, TV time-shifting (as with PVRs), email or CD-burning. It is felt those functions are best left to a standard PC. The devices are planned for release later this year.
Single-Speaker Surround? - 1Limited of Cambridge, England, demonstrated a proprietary technology said to deliver multichannel surround sound with a wide sweet spot from a single amplified speaker enclosure. The Digital Sound Projector is two by three feet in size but only five inches deep. It has 254 tiny drivers that produce multiple steerable sound beams bounced off the walls and ceiling to produce a remarkable surround sound experience... The company states that sound channels can be created even in situations where in-wall speakers are unsuitable, such as large windowed or curtained boundaries. The unit can deliver up to eight channels of sound and thus is compatible with Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES 6.1 formats.
SACD & DVD-A Not Yet Affecting Speaker Sales - High end loudspeaker-makers are not yet finding sales increases due to the emerging surround sound formats. One problem is that not many preamps and receivers yet have 6 channel analog inputs and there is not any six channel digital decoding available (except the proprietary Accuphase SACD combo). The lack of standards was decried by several manufacturers at CES. Several makers showed surround speaker systems designed to be equally adept at home theater sound and music reproduction. Chris Byrne of NHT observed that not many audio enthusiasts own separate two-channel and multichannel systems, and this fraction is diminishing further as the market for SACD and DVD Audio grows. NHT reduced their line of tower speakers because a surround system entirely of towers is unappealing spacewise and appearance-wise. Instead they are concentrating on smaller, unobtrusive speaker systems with subwoofers that can be placed out of the way.
Digital HDTV VHS Recorders Introduced - In spite of the proliferation of consumer-level optical disc burners for CDs and DVDs, JVC - the original developer of VHS videotape, and not wanting to see it disappear - has launched a new D-VHS deck for recording HDTV programs off the air or satellite as well as playing back prerecorded HDTV movies that were also just introduced. (There is no DVD format as yet allowing for HDTV.) Mitsubishi has also introduced a D- VHS deck at about $1000; the JVC is $2000. The other difference between the VCRs is that the JVC incorporates a new video copy protection scheme called D-Theater. New HDTV pre-recorded videos released with this proprietary encryption system will not play on the Mitsubishi deck. Oh boy...
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