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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for January 8, 2003

CES Opens This Week - The 2003 International Consumer Electronics Show opens this Thursday Jan. 9 in Las Vegas and continues thru the 12th. Locations are primarily the LV Convention Center and the Alexis Park Hotel. More than 2000 exhibitors from all over the world will be showing their electronic wares in a space of over 1.2 million net square feet. For more info: www.CESweb.org (The competing T.H.E. Show will be going on simultaneously at the San Remo Hotel in LV.)

New Chip Brings Surround Sound to Varied Electronic Devices - The first silicon implementation of two Dolby Labs processes to provide 5.1 surround sound from both a single pair of speakers and from stereo headphones has been made possible via a chipset from Analog Devices Inc. The Melody® SHARC® Ultra chipset provides not only Dolby Virtual Speaker technology and Dolby Headphone technology but also decodes Dolby Digital, Pro Logic, Pro Logic II, and the AAC Internet codec. The chipset detects and decodes either 5.1 or 6.1 digital audio with 32-bit quality, enabling users to enjoy surround effects - using only a pair of speakers or stereo headphones - with such popularly-priced consumer products as stereo mini-systems, video games, in-car entertainment, DVD-video players, portable DVD players and digital TVs.

TV Antenna Users Shrinking - Depending on the surveys, from 13 to 20 percent of American homes lack either dish satellite or cable connections. Due to the reduced audiences for the standard TV networks and the difficulties setting up antennas for terrestrial telecast reception, more and more people are becoming connected to dish or cable. (I just put up an HDTV antenna myself and I don’t ever want to go thru that again!) They’re obviously not into sports, because most important games are now on cable stations, as is most kids’ programming. There is even talk of the major TV networks completely eliminating evening newscasts. One pundit called rabbit ears “sort of like buggy whips.” Therefore the protests against the new FCC regulation that TV makers must put built-in digital tuners in most sets - when the cable and dish equipment for HDTV comes with its own tuner.

However, those of us without dish or cable are not necessarily deprived households by any means. Some do it to avoid the constantly-rising monthly charges, some do it to try to control their children’s voracious TV watching (or even their own progress toward becoming a “vidiot”). Some feel they want to support the idea of free broadcasting - which it isn’t with a monthly fee of $25 to $90. And others find they prefer to eliminate the hassle of time-shifting broadcasts that they then (especially if they have a PVR) feel guilty if they don’t watch. They would rather rent or buy DVDs that are exactly what they do want to watch when they want to watch them.

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