Just to prove that great installation solutions are affordable for everybody, let us indroduce you to the QED uPlay Bluetooth reciever. Just plug into your amplifier or Multi room system pair your iTouch, iPhone or bluetooth compatible computer, sit on the sofa with your iPhone or iPod, choose your music and listen to it through your system. All for £64.99 inc. VAT.
The High End show in Munich is the biggest celebration of exreme hi-fi in Europe and you are always guaranteed a good array of cost no object kit. Amongst them there will be a few designs that stand out as being more dramatic than most whether they are cowhide clad speakers or huge valve amplifiers, but this year the most outrageous statement product on show was dedicated to jazz pianist Bill Evans.
The Italian Horo WJE168 is a turntable that’s built in the manner of a miniature grand piano with a violin bow for pick-up arm. Its makers claim that it’s built using the forms and techniques of a lute-maker and claim that every one they make is unique. They have even managed to get respected classical musician Andrea Bocelli to pose with it on their website. If you want a talking point that plays the resurgent vinyl format in true Italian style then look no further.
3D TV clearly going to be the next big thing in home entertainment, most of the big brands have TVs and 3D Blu-ray players on sale this month so we thought it might be an idea to explain the basics of this exciting technology.
There are two basic types of 3D TV, passive polarising and active shutter, the former are cheaper because you only need polarising glasses to watch them but they are not as effective because each eye only gets half HD quality. Active shutter systems require relatively expensive active glasses which have shutters in them that open and close in sync with the screen. Most TVs are being sold with two pairs of glasses, extra pairs will cost around £100.
Because different manufacturers are using different switching signals between screen and glasses it doesn’t look as though you will be able to use Panasonic glasses with a Pioneer screen. However, we have heard the opposite view from industry experts so this remains to be clarified.
Panasonic’s angle is that only plasma screens can switch left and right eye images fast enough to avoid motion-blur in 3D but Sony, Samsung and Philips are promoting LCD screens as being the best soliton. We will report our findings once we’ve had the chance to assess each system.
As mentioned in our blog on HDMI 1.4, only players and screens with this interface will be able to deliver 3D TV, existing HD TVs cannot be upgraded to offer this ‘killer app’. Finally there’s the issue of content, at present there is only a limited selection of Blu-ray 3D titles available and only Sky offers a 3D channel. Ironically only in the US will you be able to watch the world cup in 3D, ESPN is broadcasting the contest to a land where they think football is played in helmets and shoulder pads!
Two new touch panels have caught our eye thanks to the remarkably good value they offer. Both have features that have hitherto commanded a considerably greater asking price. The RTI RK3-V is a flush mount panel that has a high res 3.5 inch screen and can display pretty much anything you fancy but maybe not widescreen movies. Popular applications include weather feeds, jam cam traffic monitoring, CCTV for anywhere on your network – maybe a child’s room or the front door, the list goes on. At £995 this is the most competitively priced high resolution panel we’ve seen and it’s available in a number of finishes to match your décor.
Even more affordable is Universal’s KP-4000, this doesn’t offer the resolution of the RK3-V but at half the price it covers most requirements. You can scroll through your music collection and look at album artwork, check on RSS feeds for stocks and shares, weather etc, tune into radio stations and control lighting. We reckon this is a remarkably versatile panel for the money.
Last year the spec for HDMI 1.4, the latest generation of the audio visual interface for the high definition systems, was announced. Now it is beginning to turn up on the hardware. It incorporates a number of features that are designed to make watching 3D movies and streaming broadband content to your nearest flatscreen a realistic proposition. HDMI 1.4 requires a hardware change at the source, receiver and monitor and most existing equipment cannot easily be upgraded to accommodate it. Which means that if you want 3D TV the rest of the system is likely to require replacement along with the screen. On the plus side 1.4 does offer significantly higher definition because 3D requires as much and it allows a TV with a built in tuner to send the sound back to the receiver and thence out to the loudspeakers with a single cable.
There is also an HDMI micro connector for the first time, this is a bit like the small USB connectors used with cameras and camcorders and will provide a similar function albeit at higher resolution.
At POWERPLANT home automation we are very excited about the potential that this connection system offers, we will be fitting all future installations with HDMI 1.4 compatible hardware so that our customers can get the most out of this versatile system.
Sonos has updated its software for the S5 ZonePlayer so that you can use two S5s as a stereo pair. The S5 ZonePlayer is a one box Sonos client, amp and speaker that makes it very easy to play streamed or stored music anywhere in the home, there’s a video about the S5 here – it’s in American but it explains the concept. We think that it’s in places like the garden or for parties or even garden parties, where the stereo function will come in particularly useful, one S5 has the ability to fill an average size room but you need a bit more than that outdoors.
It could be that take up has not been overwhelming or it could be that 3D TV looks like the future but the most cinematic flatscreen on the market has been reduced in price by 30%. The Philips Cinema 21:9 LCD TV was £4,500 but has dropped to below three grand (£2995.00 inc VAT). This is a great price for a fabulous telly with a 56inch wide screen and an aspect ratio that you normally only find at the cinema or with a projector. So no more black bars just a full immersion cinematic experience with the high picture quality we’ve come to expect from Philips screens.