Four days ago, Google officially announced they will be bidding on the 700MHz auction. There’s much speculation as to how much they are bidding, will they partner to do it, will they win, and if so, what will they do with it.
The 700MHz spectrum, owned by broadcasters, has been used for analog television for many years. Due to its broadcast-attractive physics (like its ability to penetrate walls), this spectrum is desirable for both broadband communications in general and public-safety uses in particular. February 2009, is the date set for the spectrum to be reclaimed by the U.S. government and reallocated for public safety and commercial broadband networks. At the same time, all television signals must finally become digital.
Digital signals makes much more efficient use of the spectrum by heavily compressing the signal. Since digital TV uses less bandwidth for the same number of channels than analog, this leaves some spare for the government to sell off.
Click HERE to read about what Google may have in mind.
[Good News for Old Homes]
Who ever thought of using the existing powerlines to run an entire whole-house music system? Russound, that’s who. They will soon be releasing their new “Avenue” system which does just that!
HomePlug technology has been around since 2001 networking over AC outlets. This Avenue system plugs into the home outlets for powering both speakers (20 watts/channel) and the zone keypad or touchscreen. Just imagine the retrofit applications, good news for old homes…
[Finally, a Rack-Mounted Receiver]
Direct TV is soon to release their newest creation, a rack-mountable, good-looking, high definition digital video recorder. The HR21 Pro series HD DVR will be capable of recording 100 hours of high definition programming. It incorporates optical HDMI outputs for lengthy wire runs, RS232 for remote control and may be the industries first for outputting 1080p signal!
There doesn’t seem to be any over-the-air antenna input (which could be a huge disappointment for some), besides that, it’s looking pretty nice.
I thought this was funny. Last September (scroll down below) I wrote about Yamahas’ digital sound projectors. Click HERE to watch a quick ‘how it works’ video explanation.
Coming October, Yamaha will release their latest DSP... the YSP-4000. Among some added features are HDMI up-conversion and built-in radio tuner. Click HERE to learn more.
[U-verse San Diego]
Exactly one month ago, AT&T began offering their new U-verse IPTV and high speed internet service to certain areas of San Diego. This fiber rich network to Internet Protocol (IP)-based service offers over 24 high definition channels as well as the fastest Internet around.
This service is dependent of fiber optic cabling in the streets to your area. If your home isn’t wired with fiber, don’t worry. Cat5e wire (copper) is sufficient once the signal is brought to your home. The internet service works wirelessly (for those with no home pre-wiring).
Learn more about U-verse by clicking HERE.
Last week Sony released a “razor-thin” display that bends like paper and show full-color video. Although they haven’t yet decided what to do with the technology there are many ideas surfacing. I would bet this technology soon will be a regular sighting on street signs, lampposts, used as wall-paper, clothing, the list goes on.
Some challenges right now are bringing down production costs while increasing durability and size. Currently they have a 2.5” display at a slim 0.2mm thick. The material is a combination of “Sony’s organic thin film transistor, which is required to make flexible displays, and organic electroluminescent display.” Other companies such as LG, Phillips and Seiko are also working on similar kinds of “electronic paper”. Click HERE to watch the video Sony released.
[One Second Movies]
IBM recently released a new chipset that is capable tackling speeds over eight times faster than optical components available today. Potentially this means a full-length HD movie could be downloaded from the internet in less than a second! ‘Prototype chipset =160 gigabits per second.’ Undoubtedly for this to become mainstream, we’d need fiber optics available at the doorsteps of households across the world. Then it would be up to Time Warner, Cox cable, etc. to figure out ways to pump out this amazing speed. Check the press release for details – IBM.
[Lights Controllers See]
Leviton Lighting just released Vizia, a new RF lighting control system. This system is based on Z-Wave control technology utilizing an intelligent Mesh network topology. Simultaneously, Home Automation Inc. (HAI) brought us a Vizia RF integration module for two-way communication between the two systems. This HAI/Leviton combo is the first integrated solution to fully grasp the two-way capabilities of the Z-Wave protocol. An HAI controller sends commands to the Vizia dimmers, and the changes are reflected back at the HAI touch-screen (or any Web browser coupled with an IP interface from HAI). At the same time, the Vizia dimmers track the changes of state via LED’s on the wallplate. Before this, no other third-party controller communicated two-way with Z-wave control products.
[iPod better video]
The sixth generation iPods are here! They’ve actually been here for over a month but I finally had the experience of viewing iPod video on some 50” plasmas last night, not too bad.
These new iPods can handle video output resolutions of 640 by 480 at 30 frames per second, this is double what it was before! It’s not high definition but it’s much, much better than how it was… it looks better than any VCR I know of. The future of video looks promising for the world of DVRs (digital video recorders).
Last year, Pioneer was in the process of commandeering manufacturing factories previously used by Sony and other companies who discontinued their plasma lines. Then, they were a difficult product to acquire. Now, past the transition, they should be readily available to everyone who can appreciate their superior craftsmanship.
Hands down, Pioneer produces some of the finest plasma pictures around. This “fact” is due to many reasons. I’ll scratch the surface of two:
1) Crystal Emissive Layer – Generally, plasmas look bad in a bright room. Ambient light invades the screen and bleeds out the color. Pioneer has found a fix to this. This Crystal Emissive Layer between the glass and the light cells allows each cell to charge and discharge three times faster than before. The display is more energy efficient and at the same time improves light efficiency by 20%. Cutting down reflections for truer images in a bright room. Blacker blacks, brighter colors, etc. Go ahead and tap the screen of a non-Pioneer plasma, it sounds hollow. This is where light gets trapped. A Pioneer plasma will sound solid & look solid.
2) Deep Encased Cell Structure – Isolating each plasma cell in its own four-walled structure minimizes light leakage. This technique is patented only for Pioneer. With their improved red and blue phosphors, the result is outstanding clarity, color and brightness. The plasma will stay brighter, longer.
Those two reasons aren’t all. Some other contributors are: New First-Surface Pure Color Filter, higher standards than the NTSC standard, Pure Drive II, all around attention to detail and superior craftsmanship.
Now available in 42”, 50”, 60”. Still in the making is their 70” which won’t be available for another year or so.
[Small Camera Sees A-lot]
Axis recently released a new camera into its product line. It’s the 212 PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom) network camera. This camera sounds pretty good but I haven’t had any first hand experience with it, so click HERE to learn what I know.
[BIG NEWS!... not really]
California State License Board bonding requirement will be increasing as of January 1st 2007 to $12,500. Up $2,500 from it’s past 10Gs. Thought I’d mention that Wave Connects is already covered for this. I’ll also mention that in addition, we are fully insured, so don’t worry.
Also, click HERE, or the above picture to read about an interesting sting operation here in San Diego.
[Dish + camera/cable = need new wire]
All the new satellite dishes using five LNBs will no longer allow for diplexing (combining antennae or camera feeds with the satellite feeds). This is due to the new satellite dishes/receivers utilizing a frequency, overlapping that of cable/camera feeds/etc.
Before, the signal could easily be separated and shared on the same line with the cable signal, not so now. Go figure… I couldn’t find a good answer why the satellite engineers did this, when/if I do, I’ll be sure and post it here.
Universal Remote Controls just introduced their new MSC-400 into their professional product line. This piece is very similar to Destiny Network’s, the Domain 3000. Both provide two-way communication for your remote control system.
Properly setup, the MSC-400 knows what device (television/dvd- player/etc.) is powered on and what is off. It also knows what device is supposed to be on or off and it automatically corrects any problems.
Those times when you press the “watch TV” button to turn on your entire system, only to have your plasma not turn on but everything else, are over. This thing will know that the plasma didn’t turn on, so it corrects the problem. Another fun example would be having an X-box with your system. Turn the X-box on and the rest of your system fires up. Nice.
This MSC-400 is currently compatible with the following remotes, all by Universal Remote Controls: MX-900, TX-1000, MX-950, MX-3000
Click HERE to learn more.
[Yamaha – some new stuff]
Today Yamaha released some new products. Among them are the RXV-2700 receiver and the YSP-1100 sound projector speaker.
This receiver is meant to replace the RXV-2600, featuring 1080p compatible HDMI, up-scaling, i-Pod compatibility, XM-ready, upgraded cinema DSP, further zone control for up to three independent audio zones and network receiver functions. It can also seamlessly be integrated with Yamaha’s MusicCAST home audio network system.
The up-scaling uses Anchor-Bay Technologies scaler engine (same as DVD-O). It can adjust the picture horizontally and vertically to 1080i eliminating those stupid sidebars associated with 4:3 picture broadcasts on a 16:9 display.
The optional i-Pod dock will play your i-Pod music and video through to your system. You can control your i-Pod with a remote browsing through artists/genres/etc. while viewing the menu right on the screen (Pioneer’s VSX-9110 also has this feature).
Anyhow, this receiver is pretty rad, but if you just have a home theater without the 2nd or 3rd zone of audio and you don’t need to easily listen to your i-Pod in this room, I’d still recommend the old RXV-2600 and save a few bucks. Retail on the RXV-2700 is $1,600 (our price isn’t that high).
The Intellibeam (YSP-1100) is a step up from the YSP-1000. I wouldn’t recommend this setup for your main theater, but maybe a bedroom or a smaller application. The size varies from fitting a 37” and above to a 42” and above. This thing actually has 42 mini speakers built into it to produce the sound, which, after setup correctly, projects and reflects off walls to reproduce a virtual 5 speaker surround system (5.1 with an optional subwoofer). It works too, I’ve set up a bunch of the YSP-1000’s and they do sound good. The 1100 has a ‘my beam” setting, meaning it can direct the sound within a two foot range to an individual location. Sound outside this beam is 1/4th the volume. So your wife can sleep in bed next to you while you get blasted with the beam. The new thing on the 1100 is being able to focus the beam directly at you simply by pointing the remote at the unit and pressing a button.
For more Yamaha products and info click HERE.
It's here! Recently, Toshiba started their High Definition DVD-player line. The same size HD-DVD holds about 24 times as much information as Regular DVD's can. This ability is contributed to a more efficient storage compression (usually MPEG-4) and the tracks/pits on the disc are burned closer together. In order to read these compacted files, a blue/violet laser is used instead of the traditional red laser (Blue/Violet is narrower because of a shorter wavelength). So for those of you with a HD-display larger than 36", this may be something you should consider. The downside right now (besides the cost), is there are a limited number of HD-DVD's out there.
[The Philips Remote issue]
The following is part of a recent e-mail correspondence:
- “I noticed Philips has something that is 1/2 the cost. I have
no idea if it is any good.
Philips USA RC9800i Universal remote control”
- “I used to sell Philips remotes, they make some less expensive touch-screens. However, after years of programming them I realized that about 80 percent of them would crash out and be completely disappointing. As of two weeks ago, I will never sell a Philips remote again.”
We apologize to any customers inconvenienced by one of these Philips remotes (particularly the TSU3500/TSU3000). All too often we found corrupted codes in the pre-programmed database, causing the remote to glitch and crash all very often. Unfortunately, Philips could offer no remedy. The “never” in, "Never sell again" was written to emphasize how deeply disappointed I am in their remotes. Presently, and until the issue is resolved, I will not sell any Philips remotes, sorry Philips fans.
Check the following links to some good remotes:
Universal Remote Control
Remote Technologies Inc.
[Direct TV local HD new Dish]
Direct TV recently released its new local HD-dish to San Diego. Compared to their previous dishes, they are much larger. This is because they collect signal from five different satellites instead of the usual three. This could be good news for HD connoisseurs with both room and tolerance to have the dish. You should be aware that upon any upgrade to your system, Direct TV’s technicians replace the dish for the new one, free of charge!
- Paul T. James