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AUDIOPHILE AUDITION - web magazine for music, audio & home theater
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March 24, 2004

Sony Cuts Jobs & Prices - To meet current tough home electronics market needs, Sony has eliminated hundreds of jobs and priced some of its previously premium gear more competitively. For example, a few years back the first widescreen 34-inch direct-view HDTV was $10,000 and now Sony will introduce in August a new model of their highly-rated WEGA series at $2000. More sets now have built-in HD tuners, and a new Grand WEGA 42-inch RPTV coming out in September will be only $2,800. The FCC-required CableCARD is part of Sonys units which will be sold in stores this fall instead of getting them from cable companies. Two of their cable boxes also have hard disk drives for recording either standard or HD video. Their entry-level multichannel AV receiver has both Dolby EX and DTS 6.1 plus 100 watts per channel amps. The 120-watt version also converts composite video to component, and includes the latest Dolby Pro Logic IIx.

Blind Test of Sound Quality With Video - Primedia plans to do some consumer research at their next home entertainment show in NYC May 20-23. They will have two identical home theater systems set up with the same large-screen TV, but one will have an entry level home-theater-in-a-box sound system and the other a quality component sound system. Participants will be asked to rate their perceptions of the picture quality, with no mention of the sound. It is expected, of course, that the set with the better surround sound will get the most votes.

Convergence in Home Electronics - David Doering writes in EMedia Live about the emphasis at CES 2003 on “convergence” products. His take on this very popular buzzword: It’s about simplifying content formats, employing cheap PC hardware for consumer use along with PCs’ flexible approach to both software and hardware, and then plugging it all together. He observes that the last one is the big problem, and he hasn’t really seen a single totally converged answer yet. He points out as an example the six completely different media storage devices for digital cameras - we need fewer formats so we can share easily. That also goes for all the different formats for both still photos and digital video. He would like to see a rackmount PC for multichannel sound that you could update based on the software installed rather than a piece of fixed hardware requiring you to purchase a whole new decoder. Then he grouses about the connectors and cables to plug it all together - we have Firewire, RJ-45, HDMI, S-Video, CAT5, even multimedia-over-standard coax (which was new to me).

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