The Freedom of Wireless USB Technology

With the overwhelming success of USB technology as the preferred interface, comes the challenge of organizing all of the cabling from desktop peripherals. Users with multiple USB peripherals find the clutter of cables unsightly and inconvenient to their workspace. With many different USB connections for mobile devices, such as cellphones, cameras, MP3 players and PDAs, it becomes increasingly difficult to use them on the go. To overcome these challenges a new method for connecting peripherals has come to fruition. A method, which offers the same benefits of a physical USB connection without the need for unsightly cables, a technology known as certified wireless USB. Using an ultra-wideband radio frequency ranging from 3.1 - 10.6 GHz, 127 devices can connect to a single computer up to 10 meters away without a hub. Connections made less than 3 meters away from the host can benefit from speeds typically USB 2.0, while connections from 3 to 10 meters will operate at 110 Mbps. Devices that support dual role or direct connections with each other can also operate with wireless USB technology.

The Rebirth of 3-D - Part I: 3-D Is Born

There has probably been no cinematic special effect that has the longevity that the process of three-dimensional filmmaking has. From the B-movies of the 1950's right up to the state of the art big-budget blockbusters being presented in 3-D on cinema screens today, the effect of 3-D has held a tremendous grip on moviegoers since its very inception and the allure of this tantalizing effect has on the eyes and the mind have kept moviegoers enraptured and hungry for more. In order to fully understand how movies in three-dimension became popular in the first place we must go back to America circa the 1950's. With the advent of television after the Second World War, many moviegoers opted to stay home and watch their television sets instead of going out to the cinema. Filmmakers needed a gimmick… something that would make the movie going experience unique and the gimmick would have to be something that could not be replicated on television sets. Thus, the concept of three-dimensional entertainment was born. When the 3-D format was first introduced on the American cinematic scene, the format could only be replicated in movie theaters and in order to view the film in the three-dimensional format, a movie goer would need a special pair of glasses and keep the glasses on while the movie was shown.

TV - Q&A

What is the difference between 1080p and 1080i displays? The difference is how the source conveys the information to the display. Interlaced: 1080i sources get transferred on the screen sequentially. The odd-numbered lines of resolution appear on your screen first, followed by the even-numbered lines all within 1/30 of a second. Progressive: 1080p sources get transferred with all lines of resolution simultaneously, which makes for a smoother, cleaner image, especially with sports and other motion-intensive content. The right technology for you is dependant on the content you watch. The majority of HD content via satellite and cable will be available in 720p & 1080i. Your Blu-ray or HD DVDs will be available in 1080p with the appropriate player.

Wall Of Sound

We at McIntosh Labs were pretty impressed with ourselves when we realized the McIntosh 2K reference system weighed in at close to one full ton. It never even occurred to us to imagine what kind of McIntosh system might weigh 75 tons. As it turns out, our imagination was not required. Nearly 32 years earlier, Owsley 'Bear' Stanley, Dan Healy and Mark Raizene of the Grateful Dead sound crew and Ron Wickersham and Rick Turner of Alembic Sound dared to dream of such a system.

What the heck is a Smart Grid?

Nowadays we have several issues to face that are causing concern to humanity in general and the western world specifically. I don't think I need to repeat them here but basically they are environmental as well as geopolitical in nature. Hence, the old coal or oil burning power plant needs to be phased out and we must become much more efficient at generating and delivering electricity to end users or the costs become extraordinary over time.

A "Cedia" Low-Voltage Initiative Proposal

Somewhere in the mid 1980's, the NAHB Research Center in Washington was run by a guy I knew (whose name I can't seem to dig up) who had a wacky vision. His idea was to reinvent the way electrical power was distributed throughout the home. They called it Smart Home (not to be confused with the Disney movie of the same name or other stuff that uses that name now). I think it was the first use of the name.

Adoption of Wireless and Powerline Controls

One must consider all of these factors in determining whether electronic controls will replace electromechanical toggle switches. Wireless and powerline controls effectively address two factors in a positive way: absolute price and infrastructure. First, the cost of products based on these technologies is significantly less than traditional control systems installed by home systems integrators. Second, the infrastructure is already in place, so no new wires are needed.

Audio, Distortion and Feedback

Feedback is very large subject, and I am going to limit myself to some simple tutorial comments and a discussion of phenomena associated with complexity in distortion created by nonlinear gain stages, negative feedback, and the audio signal. Taken singly, these phenomena seem simple enough, but when they interact, they create distortions out of proportion to what you expect from the specifications found in product brochures. There are linear and non-linear forms of distortion. Linear distortions affect the amplitude and phase of audio signals, but don't show up on harmonic distortion analyzers as added frequency components that weren't there in the first place. Tone controls are a good example of circuits with linear distortion. Nonlinear distortions are those which add new frequency components to the original signal, either as harmonic multiples of the original frequencies or as sidebands resulting from their non-linear interaction between the original frequencies. Nonlinearities are often deliberately created in musical instruments themselves, but they are unwanted in music reproduction. We will be talking about nonlinear distortions.

CES 2009 - Special News Report

Hundreds of New Product announcements from CES 2009

CES 2009 - What is Hot

Every year for the last 20 years, I have been making the trek up to Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Over the years, the show has evolved from a giant bazaar selling toys, watches and other household gizmos to the most important United States show for electronics, cameras, computers, gaming, audio accessories, etc. This year is no different. So far I have not seen any revolutionary announcements but several trends are definitely emerging.

CES Wrap-Up

We don't agree that this year's CES attendance was an indicator of an industry decline. The lower numbers were good for a lot of reasons. Unfortunately when the economic tide turns the hordes will probably be back. 3D movies/TV, mininotebooks and the constant din that we need our entertainment everywhere were the major news points for the show. Beyond that there were incremental enhancements/improvements. Paradigm shifts were not to be seen. But as CEA's Shapiro said it may be tough for a few quarters but the industry is going to innovate itself out of the global economic downturn. Flying to the seat of national government for handouts is not in the companies' DNA. Surviving and thriving in the PC/CE/content industry isn't always easy, sometimes not much fun but it is always interesting. This is one of those really, really interesting periods.

ISE 2009 - Special News Report

Hundreds of New Product announcements from Integrated Systems Europe 2009

Next Generation Remote Controls

With a single, universal RF remote device, consumers will be able to control every aspect of their connected home. RF is engineered to control more than a TV and DVD, it can also control lighting, heating and air conditioning, blinds and shutters. Two-way communication can also be used to help you locate your lost remote control hidden in the couch pillows or under the table. This new generation of RF communication is opening up a market for low cost, reliable high speed RF remote controls and is expected to have a huge impact on the user experience, as IEEE 802.15.4 remote controls will allow a completely new way to use a remote control. In short, the development of radio frequency remote controls will replace IR remote controls and deliver richer communications, increase reliability and improve flexibility

Visions for 2009

Despite what a lot of "financial experts" say (weren't they the ones who got us into this position?) things aren't real bad -- yeah they're not real great either. But people in the business/consumer computer/entertainment/communications industry have never been short on optomism or ideas. Looking up from what is near the bottom of the valley it is fairly obvious that it will be a long, hard trek back up to the top of the hill. Some firms won't survive by this time next year. Those that focus on developing a strong consumer centric strategy and lead/listen to the marketplace will be light years ahead of the competition when we enter 2010. What's it going to take? What will the the leaders do? We've got a pretty good idea...hope you agree. We know most have what it takes to survive and prosper!

What Happened To The Smart Home?

Ten years ago, the "smart home" was all the rage. Almost every company in our market had a concept center or display house that showed the functionality of the digital home.

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