For every person who loves the idea of 6-foot tower speakers at each corner of the room, there are 20 others who prefer their home theater to be heard but not seen. It's for that latter group that the Sony DAV-IS10 Micro Home Theater System was designed. The system crams an entire 5.1 home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) down to Mini-Me proportions: the 2-way 100-watt subwoofer barely outsizes a couple of phone books, the DVD/CD player head unit is a bit larger than a Mac Mini, and the five satellite speakers are--as Sony's press kit helpfully points out--"about the size of a golf ball." Despite the minuscule size, the DAV-IS10 will include the much of the same impressive features found on Sony's trio of Bravia HTIBs: DVD upscaling to 720p and 1080i via the HDMI output, automated speaker setup (which Sony calls "Digital Cinema Auto Calibration," or DCAC), and HDMI-CEC capability (the ability to control compatible TVs via the IS10's remote when connected via HDMI--"Bravia Theater Sync," in Sony speak). The system also features a Digital Media Port, so it can interface with Sony's quartet of proprietary digital audio accessories--though that's less of an enticement, now that we've been underwhelmed by the first two we've reviewed, the TDM-IP1 iPod dock and the TDM-BT1 Bluetooth interface. … Read more
One of my favorite pieces on the show floor at ICFF, which is headquartered at NYC's Jacob Javits Convention Center through Tuesday (and on Tuesday it's open to the public) was this piece, which is actually a project made by Philadelphia University sophomore Gary Bugno as part of the school's industrial design program. It holds three remote controls. That's what it does. And it tells you what it does, too. It might not be quite as ingenious as Sheriff John "Wayne" Falcone's holster-like display of five remotes at once, but it's quite … Read more
In this age of convergence and the uber-device, you'd think everyone was clamoring for the digital Swiss Army knife that has become such a cliche. But some of us are purists when it comes to electronic entertainment--especially when it comes to television. Not that we watch tons of TV, of course; we at Crave are strictly PBS types (cough).
For those who can't live without the same Seinfeld reruns they've already seen hundreds of times, Japan-based BlueDot has a mini-TV that's under 5 inches long and less than half an inch thick, with a 4-inch screen. … Read more
Among the first-generation Blu-ray players, Panasonic's DMP-BD10 was remarkable for its higher-than-average price tag ($1,300 versus the $1,000 norm) and the company's promise of a future firmware upgrade that would unleash the full sonic power of Blu-ray audio soundtracks. Having made good on the firmware upgrade in April, Panasonic has now shaved 54 percent off the price. In addition to sporting the upgraded firmware, the newly christened DMP-BD10A will retail for $600 and include five Blu-ray movies--Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Transporter, Fantastic Four, … Read more
HDMI isn't just for HDTVs any more. As the high-def movement continues to march forward, HDMI connections are becoming standard equipment on everything from cable and satellite boxes, DVRs, game consoles, AV receivers, and DVD players to network media devices, PC video cards, and even camcorders. That means even a fairly modest home theater setup--say, an HD DVR, PlayStation 3, Apple TV, and a DVD recorder--could have three or more HDMI-equipped AV sources. While many higher-end TVs and AV receivers are beginning to sport three or even four HDMI inputs, the industry standard is still stuck at around two.
Traditionally, HD aficionados suffering from an HDMI deficit would bite the bullet and run their sources via component once they ran out of HDMI inputs. But doing so obviates the whole advantage of HDMI to begin with; in addition to losing any fidelity advantage offered by HDMI, you quadruple or quintuple the cable needs (three separate component cables, plus one or two for audio) per source. But there's an easy and straightforward solution: an HDMI switcher. Switchers have one simple task--toggling between multiple inputs--and they can expand the number of available HDMI inputs to your HDTV or AV receiver by a factor of two, three, or even four. … Read more
For the past 12 to 18 months, astute readers may have noticed an increased bit of hedging in our reviews for AV receivers. Yes, even low-end receivers offer more features and flexibility than $1,500 models did just three or four years ago and yes, there are plenty of great-sounding receivers available out there at great prices. But smart shoppers looking for a no-compromise, future-proof AV receiver have been stymied, even if they've been willing to pay upwards of $2,000.
At least, that was the case--until today. Onkyo has become the first mainstream manufacturer to officially announce an array of home audio products that offer the two big features that have been MIA on home audio products to date: HDMI 1.3; and onboard decoding of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks found on HD DVD and Blu-ray discs. The news itself wasn't a surprise, as most of the details had been leaked on the Web earlier this month. And there is no doubt that other manufacturers will be announcing similarly equipped receivers in the next few weeks and months. But because specs, pricing, and availability have been confirmed, we can now say authoritatively that Onkyo looks to be offering some of the most exciting--and surprisingly affordable--A/V receivers seen in recent years.… Read more
Intel announced today the winners of its Intel Core Processor Challenge, a competition with a total of $1 million in prize money that encouraged computer manufacturers to use its Viiv processor technology to create a high-performance, media-savvy machine. The winners, well, aren't particularly earth-shattering.
You do have to keep in mind that these are legitimate working PCs, not trippy concept designs created under the influence of what-have-you. So when Intel talks about the "best mix of style, acoustics, functionality and features for digital home entertainment," you have to take that with a grain of (pragmatic) salt.
The … Read more
You've heard of home theater in a box. Now try home theater in a pool.
Apparently, these Wisconsin home owners weren't big swimmers--or perhaps even anti-exercise--and decided to drain their indoor pool and convert it into something more couch-potato friendly. The folks over at Electronic House magazine put the little showcase together, and it has to be one of the more unique looking theaters we've seen. Personally, instead of the expensive leather couch, I'd have gone for putting three of four giant beanbags at the deep end, so you could literally dive into your seat.
P.… Read more
You can't walk two steps around here without tripping over some company's latest Apple iPod-docking mini stereo. The majority of these gadgets are just landfill fodder, but the new Altec Lansing InMotion iM600 looks like it might stand out from the herd. First, it folds flat--down to 1.7 inches. With a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery rated at 7 hours, that flatness might come in handy if you want to take it on a romantic iPod picnic or even to a room in your house with an inconveniently located outlet. There's a built-in FM tuner with a … Read more
Chocolate lovers are everywhere, and LG knows it. So the company is taking its popular phone brand and milking it (sorry) for home entertainment products as well on the U.K. market.
The "J10HD Chocolate" is a home theater system with an 80GB hard drive and surround-sound speakers that can play DVDs, CDs and MPEG4 videos, as well as MP3 files. The only feature it shares with its handset cousin is a touchpad similar to one on the Chocolate phone, according to Coolest-Gadgets, but that's not the point. It's more about marketing than any technological ties.… Read more