News / Media

5 Decades of CES Hits and Epic Flops

by Julianne Pepitone, Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Consumer Electronics Show is the tech industry’s annual gadget lovefest. It’s launched some history-making devices – and some major disasters.

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1970: VCR

The Consumer Electronics Show spans five decades: It launched in New York City way back in 1967, mainly as a spinoff of the Chicago Music Show. The show experimented with different cities and twice-a-year schedules until 1998, when it moved permanently to Las Vegas and became an annual extravaganza.

In the 1970s, CES was still largely a trade show, with little mainstream media coverage. The first CES of the decade brought the commercial debut of the Videocassette Recorder, which was first marketed as an easy way to record TV shows for later viewing.

VCRs had been around since the mid-1950s, but they cost around $50,000 and were used mainly by TV networks.

An awestruck audience at the 1970 CES loved the VCR’s convenience – but Hollywood battled back, warning that piracy would run rampant and kill network television.

The VHS remained on top until the late 1990s, when the DVD (unveiled at the 1996 CES) began to take over. By the early 2000s, the DVD was king of pre-recorded releases. But even today, blank VHS tapes are a major medium for recording content – and VCRs are still big sellers, though they’re now most often found in DVD player combo units.

1976: Cheap Digital Watches

Texas Instruments was slogging through a tough decade. The company invented the single-chip microprocessor, which revolutionized small devices like calculators. Then it got caught in a price war that decimated its sales in the very market it created.

But TI turned itself around with a product that seems almost silly in retrospect: an electronic digital watch that sold for just $19.95. The trend took off overnight and became a bona fide craze – much to the chagrin of classic watch manufacturers, who saw their market share decrease rapidly.

TI was so successful, in fact, that it dropped the price of its digital watch to $9.95 less than a year later. But ever-cheaper knockoffs from Asia arrived in 1978, and TI’s digital watch sales plummeted in 1979. The company left the digital watch business in 1981, though the devices live on as a throwback symbol of nerdery everywhere.

1996: Apple Pippin

Apple’s a hotshot tech company now, but the mid-’90s saw the company fighting for relevance after several failed products. The Pippin launched at CES 1996 as a network computer that could also be used to play games. Apple licensed the technology to Japanese toymaker Bandai, and the pair launched the multimedia device as a team.

The San Jose Mercury News called the Pippin the “future of cyberspace,” but consumers were confused by the half-computer, half-console branding. The Pippin’s 14.4 kpbs modem made the device super-slow, and few games were available for the Mac operating system.

The Pippin cost $600 – almost double the price tag of consoles from rivals Nintendo and Sega. It’s estimated that only about 10,000 Pippins were purchased in the U.S. The device is now considered one of the Apple’s biggest flops.

PC World named the Pippin No. 22 on its list of the 25 worst tech products of all time. In their words: “Underpowered, overpriced, and underutilized – that pretty much describes everything that came out of Apple in the mid-90s.”

2001: Microsoft Xbox

Bill Gates unveiled the highly anticipated Xbox, Microsoft’s first video game console, in a keynote speech at the 2001 CES. The sleek black box included an Ethernet port, a built-in 8GB hard drive and the capability to play movie DVDs.

Professional wrestling star The Rock joined Gates on stage for the announcement of WWF’s “Raw is War” Xbox game. The unlikely pair bantered for a few minutes in front of the audience.

“To the untrained eye, it just might appear that The Rock and Bill Gates don’t have a heck of a lot in common,” The Rock quipped. “That can’t be further from the truth. Both The Rock and Bill Gates stand on top of their industry. And both The Rock and Bill Gates are bestselling authors.”

The Xbox was released a few months later to long lines and waiting lists. Some of the platform’s games that have become legendary, including the “Halo” series, various NFL titles and “Dead or Alive.” In 2002, Microsoft launched its Xbox Live online gaming service.

The next generation of the console came in 2005 with the launch of Xbox 360. But the original Xbox is still beloved, and video game sites including IGN have named it one of the top consoles ever launched.

2003: Blu-Ray Disc

The Blu-ray Disc, unveiled at CES 2003, was supposed to be the David to HD DVD’s Goliath.

Both formats offered improved picture and sound quality over the regular ol’ DVD. But HD DVD, developed by Toshiba and NEC, had already attracted the big players. Its supporters included Microsoft, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC - News) and Warner Bros – and the format was backed by the influential DVD Forum industry group.

USA Today dismissed Blu-ray as an also-ran in an article touting HD DVD’s quality: “Sony has developed the competing Blu-ray DVD, but hasn’t signed up any studios beyond its own.”

Despite HD’s major leg up, the Blu-ray Disc Association soldiered on as a joint venture between Sony and Philips – and slowly slowly garnered support from content manufacturers and major retailers.

A mere day before CES 2008, Warner Bros. announced it would drop HD DVD for Blu-ray. That signaled the end for HD. Less than one month later, Toshiba conceded defeat and discontinued its HD DVD business. Once again, a tortoise triumphed over the hare.

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Posted by chantal Fri, 07 Jan 2011 17:11:00 GMT

Home Theater for the Holidays

Author: Robert Schlecht,

Once you choose your room, decide between hanging a flat-screen HDTV or a video projection screen and corresponding video projector. The most popular aspect ratio is 16:9 widescreen. A projector/screen combo will help provide that authentic movie theater experience and is the recommended solution for a dedicated home theater. If you plan on watching lots of television in addition to movies, then a HDTV may be the better option, as projector bulbs have limited lifespans and are expensive to replace.

Images provided by Audio Impact, San Diego

Holiday time is all about families, and what better place to spend family time then in your own home theater! If you received new home theater AV components over the holidays, then now is the perfect time to begin. Use your holiday vacation time to have the whole family work together on this project. Not only will owning a home theater be fun for the whole family, but it will also add resale value to your house.

Room Considerations:

First, choose what room you will use. A dark basement room with no windows is ideal, but any existing room from a spare bedroom to a rec room can be converted into a home theater. Some considerations to keep-in-mind include room location, ceiling height, ambient lighting conditions, and the overall shape of the room. For example, locating the home theater next to an infant room might not be the best location when deep booming explosions are going off during a movie. High ceilings are ideal if you are planning on putting back rows of seats on riser platforms and/or hanging a video projector from the ceiling. Block out any ambient light by removing highly reflective objects, and covering windows with blackout drapery. A long rectangular room, similar in shape to an actual movie theater, is preferred. This will allow good viewing angles from all the seating positions, and dialogue from your center-channel speaker will also have greater impact down the middle of the room.


Ideally you want a dark room, especially on the end with the screen. Black is a safe-bet, but you can mix in other dark colors such as navy blue, dark green, burgundy, and grays. These colors come into play when considering theater seating, theater carpet and wall color. Keep your walls a dark shade to avoid reflecting light from the screen that has the undesirable effect of reducing the screen contrast. It is therefore important that the room is dark when the lights are off, so you feel like you are in a theater and there are no visual distractions. Also, make sure your screen frame is black and absorbs any light that hits it. And, you can paint your outlet covers to match your room color.

HDTV or Video Projector:

Once you choose your room, decide between hanging a flat-screen HDTV or a video projection screen and corresponding video projector. The most popular aspect ratio is 16:9 widescreen. A projector/screen combo will help provide that authentic movie theater experience and is the recommended solution for a dedicated home theater. If you plan on watching lots of television in addition to movies, then a HDTV may be the better option, as projector bulbs have limited lifespans and are expensive to replace.

AV Components:

Set up your audio components including a minimum 5.1-channel surround sound system. If Blu-ray movies are a top priority, then you may want to opt for a 7.1-channel system. You can save some money and get matched components by selecting one of the readily available Home-Theater-In-a-Box (HTiB) systems. Make sure the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of the AV Receiver (AVR) is very low… much less than 1% for clear sound at high volume levels. AV equipment can be hidden away in a cabinet, or placed on a rear shelf that also has the benefit of breaking up sound reflections from the front speakers. Room acoustics can be further improved by adding curtains and acoustic panels to the side walls, and carpeting the floor. Conceal your speaker cords behind baseboard or inside plastic cable concealers. Make sure to add surge protectors and/or battery-backup (UPS) systems to your sensitive electronics gear. Finally, you need to calibrate your AV system, so the picture and sound are set at their optimum levels for your environment. To calibrate, you can hire an expert or pick-up one of the many calibration DVDs for the DIY approach.


Home theater seating is another important consideration as you will be spending lots of time sitting, especially during epic movie marathons. For seating you have lots of choices from standard sofas and recliners, to authentic cinema chairs. If you have children, don’t forget to add some kid-friendly chairs, such as Video Rockers. With most of the cinema seats, you can also select the chair width and back height. These are important factors that can maximize comfort for your home theater guests, so be sure and take body size into consideration. If you plan to have multiple rows, it’s a good idea to place the rear rows up on a higher floor riser. Once you find the perfect seats for your room, you need to make sure that you arrange them at the correct distance from the screen. Depending on the size of the screen, there is an optimal seating distance.


Lighting is not only functional, but decorative as well. Consider standard wall sconces for a traditional theater look, or custom wall sconces featuring your theater name to set your theater apart from the rest. Adding subtle lighting effects such as rear-lit poster cases and LED edge-lit marquees can really add to the realism of an authentic movie theater experience. Aisle lighting and step lighting will not only add a nice touch, but make the room safer upon entry and exit. You can spice up the room lighting further by adding a dimmer switch.


Now for the fun part… the decor… it’s all about the trimmings, and this is an area where your personal taste can really shine through. Many people spend a lot of time thinking about the audio and video components, but forget the room aesthetics. If you are going to spend a lot of time in your home theater and have friends over for movie parties, then you want your media room to show off your love of movies. While decorating your home theater, you may want to consider a room theme based on your favorite movie such as Star Wars or Gone with the Wind. Or, a genre-based theme, such as Sci-Fi, Mystery, Action-Adventure, etc. You could also go with a generic movie theme, and add some film reels, movie clapboards, and wall sconces with movie themed logos and motifs.

If you are planning a specific theme, then scout out local flea markets, garage sales, and go online to find decorations, action figures, toys, props and collectibles that will complement your theme. You do-it-yourself types may even give a try at making a few custom props of your own. Framed posters of your favorite movies will also make nice decorations. If you want to give your room a unique look, then you may want to consider a personalized movie marquee or wall plaque. If you are going for that old-time, vintage look, then you may want to add an Old Fashioned MovieTime Popcorn Machine or Retro Hot Air Popper. Over the holidays, you can add some seasonal decorations for special occasions like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Don’t forget to make your room comfortable as well. Movie-themed blankets and pillows are not only comfortable, but look great too!

Let The Fun Begin:

Now it’s time to pop-in that favorite film or holiday DVD and enjoy watching movies in your own home theater!

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Posted by chantal Tue, 04 Jan 2011 17:15:00 GMT

Pioneer Ships Three 3D Blu-ray Players

All three include an iPhone remote control feature

December 22, 2010 by Grant Clauser

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Pioneer Electronics just got the memo that this week is kinda important for shoppers. Today the company began shipping its first line of 3D Blu-ray 3D players. The BDP-430 and two Elite models, BDP-41FD and BDP-43FD were all shown at the 2010 CEDIA Expo in Atlanta and will be hitting stores soon.

Among the features of the three models are HDMI 1.4a (single, not dual outputs), 1080p upconversion, Wi-Fi compatibility (with a Wi-Fi USB adaptor), online content partners (Youtube, Netflix and Pandora) and an iPod control feature called iControlAV App.

The Elite model BDP-41FD features an RS-232 port for connection to custom control systems. Model BDP-43FD adds to that an armored chassis and higher grade parts.

The three models support the latest audio formats including DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD in addition to Pioneer’s own Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) for jitter-free reproduction of Blu-ray Disc, DVD and CD content when matched with a compatible Pioneer receiver…

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Posted by chantal Mon, 03 Jan 2011 19:23:00 GMT

Apple confirms it's sold one million new Apple TVs

By Donald Melanson Dec 27th 2010 on

Apple said last week that it expected its new Apple TV to cross the one million mark in sales before Christmas, and it’s now quietly confirmed that it’s managed to do just that. For those keeping score, that means it’s sold a million in three months, which is certainly impressive for something Apple still describes as a “hobby,” although that description does have the peculiar tendency to lower expectations somewhat. As you may recall, Roku also announced last week that it expected to sell a million units before the end of the year, and its CEO noted that the introduction of the new Apple TV actually seems to have led to a spike in sales of its own media streamers.

Posted by chantal Tue, 28 Dec 2010 17:07:00 GMT

Test Report: Onkyo TX-NR1008 A/V Receiver

Powerful and packed with features without the flagship price tag.

By Daniel Kumin December 2010

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A check of Onkyo’s Web site shows no fewer than 17 different A/V receivers on offer, an almost General Motors-like profusion of models. (I’m pretty certain, however, the U.S. government won’t be stepping in on Onkyo’s behalf should the consumer elec- tronics industry go south.) To be fair, a half-dozen or so are last year?s models, but still. C’mon, guys, 17???

However you want to count them, Onkyo’s new TX-NR1008, which is a couple hundred dollars cheaper (and some 10 pounds lighter) than the identically powered TX- NR1007, lies pretty much squarely in the middle of this embarrassment of riches. Its lighter weight suggests that Onkyo is exchanging a bit of power-supply copper for silicon-based features, most obviously the seven HDMI inputs (one on the front panel!) and dual outputs, all in the gloriously 3D-capable version v1.4 being more or less forced on all manufacturers by the 3D police.


Visually, the TX-NR1008 is indistinguishable from the model it replaces, at least on the outside. But upon con- necting my tangle of HDMI cables, audio and video in- terconnects, and speaker wires and then powering up, I observed a subtly updated GUI, with new, translucent overlays and menus as well as readouts that, while slightly more graphical than the previous generation’s, remain mostly text-driven, straightforward, and logical…

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Posted by chantal Mon, 27 Dec 2010 19:33:00 GMT

Major tech manufacturers to drop VGA by 2015

Major tech manufacturers to drop VGA by 2015, Apple wonders what took ‘em so long


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A syndicate of consumer electronics titans including AMD, Dell, Intel, Lenovo, Samsung and LG announced this week that its products will collectively drop support for VGA by 2015. Saying sayonara to the 20+ year-old analog technology is pretty self explanatory to us in this day and age, but the council of doom apparently felt compelled to cite DisplayPort’s and HDMI’s benefits of increased energy efficiency, smaller size and support for higher-resolutions as proof the move wasn’t personal – just business. AMD plans to lead the charge by starting the VGA removal process in 2013 and even intends to go the extra mile by stripping DVI-I and low voltage differential signaling technology (LVDS) support too. We definitely side with AMD’s desire to focus on cutting edge standards like Displayport 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a sooner, but if plenty of lead time and “going green” excuses help everyone else involved in the sentencing sleep better at night, then so be it.

Leading PC Companies Move to All Digital Display Technology, Phasing out Analog

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec. 8, 2010 – AMD, Dell, Intel Corporation, Lenovo, Samsung Electronics LCD Business and LG Display today announced intentions to accelerate adoption of scalable and lower power digital interfaces such as DisplayPort and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) into the PC.

Intel and AMD expect that analog display outputs such as Video Graphics Array (VGA) and the low voltage differential signaling technology (LVDS) panel interface would no longer be supported in their product lines by 2015. HDMI has increasingly been included in new PCs for easy connection to consumer electronics devices. DisplayPort is expected to become the single PC digital display output for embedded flat panels, PC monitors and projectors.

DisplayPort and HDMI allow for slimmer laptop designs, and support higher resolutions with deeper color than VGA – a technology which is more than 20 years old. Additionally, as laptops get smaller and their embedded flat panel resolutions increase for more immersive experiences, the power advantages, bi-directional communications and design efficiency benefits of DisplayPort make it a superior choice over LVDS, the previous standard for LCD panel inputs.

Intel plans to end support of LVDS in 2013 and VGA in 2015 in its PC client processors and chipsets.

“Modern digital display interfaces like DisplayPort and HDMI enhance the consumer visual PC experience by immersing them with higher resolutions and deeper colors – all at lower power – to enhance battery life for laptops,” said Eric Mentzer, Intel’s vice president of Strategy, Planning and Operations for the Visual and Parallel Computing Group. “By moving to these new interfaces, Intel is able to focus investment on new innovations to enhance the PC experience rather than having to solve challenges of supporting legacy analog interfaces on our latest silicon process technology and products.”

AMD plans to begin phasing out legacy interfaces, starting with the removal of native LVDS output from most products in 2013. The company also plans to remove native VGA output starting in 2013, with expansion to all AMD products by 2015. This would mean DVI-I support will be eliminated in the same timeframe.

“Displays and display standards are rapidly evolving, with new features such as multi-display support, stereoscopic 3-D, higher resolutions and increased color depth quickly moving from early adopter and niche usage to mainstream application,” said Eric Demers, AMD’s chief technology officer, Graphics Division. “Legacy interfaces such as VGA, DVI and LVDS have not kept pace, and newer standards such as DisplayPort and HDMI clearly provide the best connectivity options moving forward. In our opinion, DisplayPort 1.2 is the future interface for PC monitors, along with HDMI 1.4a for TV connectivity.”

While the large installed base of existing VGA monitors and projectors will likely keep VGA on PC back panels beyond 2015, leading PC makers are in strong support of this transition. The DisplayPort connector interface provides backwards and forwards compatibility by supporting VGA and DVI output via certified adapters, while also providing new capabilities such as single connector multi-monitor support…

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Posted by chantal Thu, 23 Dec 2010 19:06:00 GMT

Control4 Unveils Operating System - OS 2.0


Click here to view the full article—os-20/

Control4 just showed its second-generation operating system (“OS 2.0”) at CEDIA EXPO 2009. Control4’s OS 2.0 will enable new levels of customization for the installer and personalization for the homeowner. This next-generation release offers new home-control functionality, easy-to-access whole-home systems, integration of third-party applications, and improved media management. Featuring an elegant new user interface, Control4® OS 2.0 will provide Control4 integrators with its most powerful automation and entertainment solution to date.

With a Flash-based software development kit (SDK) now available, the Control4 OS 2.0 will further the integration of third-party devices by adding the flexibility to design and integrate an interface to the control capabilities that is unique to the device and is delivered directly via the Control4 user interface (UI). Third-party companies can create applications that provide information to the customer, ranging from local weather and traffic reports to RSS Feeds. Installers can easily download applications that have been developed by third parties. They can also customize the interface without using the SDK, simply by taking advantage of pre-set macros and system shortcuts. The new OS 2.0 also features language localization to support the 37 countries where Control4 sells products today.

“The new Control4 OS 2.0 is at the heart of an expanding ecosystem of leading consumer electronics products designed to work together with ease,” stated Control4’s CEO Will West. “With this version, we make it easier to integrate partner products and applications, giving consumers and dealers a wider range of affordable options as they design scalable and powerful Control4® home-control solutions that are customized to address each user’s needs.”

Control4 OS 2.0 implements ZigBee® Pro standard, including the Home Automation (HA) profile, which allows a greater number of interoperable devices to be added to the Control4® system. The new OS 2.0 also implements the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standard, enabling media served up by other products to be automatically available for playback within the Control4 system–improving management of video and audio files.

The OS 2.0 has new whole-home capabilities to interact more effectively with media management, lighting, HVAC, and security. This enables easy expansion by third parties to support other subsystems.

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Posted by chantal Wed, 08 Dec 2010 19:25:00 GMT

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide 2010 Part 4

A/V gear, gadgets, Blu-ray movies, video games, and more for your holiday shopping.
November 04, 2010 by EH Staff

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Sony PlayStation Move


Already available, the PlayStation Move is Sony’s direct competition to the Nintendo Wii. Some reviewers tout that it has the most precise tracking of any motion-controlled gaming console, but it comes at a price range. You can play with one bulb-tipped wand ($50), but you’ll also need the separate Eye camera ($40) and probably the navigation controller ($30) if you’re what Sony calls a “core” gamer.

Kinect (Project Natal) for Xbox 360

Whether or not you’ll get your hands on one remains to be seen, but Microsoft’s Kinect (formerly Project Natal) is sure to be a hot gift this holiday season. The Kinect makes you the controller (think Sony Move, Nintendo Wii). It might not be for hardcore gamers, but it will be fun for casual gamers and parties.

Wii Fit Accessories

Nintendo Wii games are fun, engaging, and—best of all—they burn calories. The Wii Fit platform offers a plethora of workout options, from yoga to skateboarding. And there are scads of awesome accessories, like a pair or adjustable Wii dumbbells and a Wii push-up bar to keep the heart pumping. Take your pick of nifty add-ons from CTA Digital, or package them together to create kickin’ workout combos.


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Posted by chantal Sat, 04 Dec 2010 05:11:00 GMT

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide 2010 Part 3

A/V gear, gadgets, Blu-ray movies, video games, and more for your holiday shopping.

November 04, 2010 by EH Staff

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Sony Bloggie Touch Camera

The Bloggie Touch packs a goofy name and insanely good camera specs into an iPhone-type shell. The device does 12.8-megapixel still images and 820 x 1080 video all on the go. Relive those memorable moments, by taking a quick peek on the unit’s 3-inch LCD touchscreen or hook the device up to any TV, via the camera’s HDMI output. If it’s an especially cute or embarrassing incident, you can tag photos and videos inside the camera. Then, next time the device meets your computer, those designated items will get instantly uploaded to Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, or YouTube. Choose between pink, blue, silver or black on the 8GB model; silver or black for 4GB users.

Clicker Universal Remote

Ever used a remote to crack open a beer? Someone must have. That’s the only explanation for this truly goofy, ingenious gadget. The Clicker is the ultimate universal remote, packing in a built-in bottle opener. First and foremost, it is a remote, which means it can change channels, crank the volume and do some of the things you’d expect from a normal remote. The company says the Clicker can accommodate 800 preset manufacturer device codes, and has both manual searching and learning functions. Every guy on our list is getting one of these this year—a few of the ladies as well.

iHome iB969 Charging Station

For the geek with every gadget, we have iHome’s new charging station. This hot little hub ditches cables for at least four of your must-have-ready-at-all-times gadgets. That includes a stand for your iPad, dueling docks for both an iPhone and iPod, and whatever else you can shove in there via USB. One of those docks also allows for syncing up to iTunes, while the other is just gets the juice. A rubberized rest area helps keep everything nice and contained, as does cord holders. It also comes packing with a mini-to-micro USB adapter, and cables for those USB add-ons.

ION Tape Express Plus Cassette Converter

Yes, we know you still have a box-load of mixed tapes leftover from junior high—or maybe even a few summers ago. It’s time to clear some space, but you don’t have to erase those memories. Pop in your favorite mixed tape (we suggest something involving “love,” “summer” or “rocks”), plug the device into your computer, and watch technology take over. No external cassette player is needed; this portable works with all kinds of tapes, as well as both Mac and PC computers. It also comes with ION’s own EZ Tape Converter software, which makes transferring and syncing music to iTunes a breeze.

TiVo Slide Remote

Sure, this remote only good for TiVo users and really won’t replace anyone’s universal controller. That said, it’s certainly a must-have for TiVo-addicted friends and family. Instead of the old remote, this packs in a retractable QWERTY keyboard, which makes it easy to search for programming as well as every and any whim on YouTube. Even better, it’s got Bluetooth, which means you can stuff that TiVo inside an A/V cabinet, without missing a beat.

Atlona AT-HDAir

You’ve got all this great stuff stored on the hard drive of your computer: pictures, videos, music. Your friends probably do to. Untie them—or yourself—from the tiny screen of the PC by giving them a wireless PC-to-HDTV adapter. Atlona’s AT-HDAir connects any Windows-based PC to an HDTV or another computer wirelessly. High-resolution content can be streamed up to 30 feet away from Point A to Point B. If seeing the PC content on one TV isn’t enough, the device can be configured to transmit the same video, photos, whatever, to a second TV.

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Posted by chantal Thu, 02 Dec 2010 17:29:00 GMT

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide 2010 Part 2

A/V gear, gadgets, Blu-ray movies, video games, and more for your holiday shopping.

November 04, 2010 by EH Staff

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SpeakerCraft FloBox

Every party needs music, and what better way to get everyone involved than with an iPod-, iPad-, iPhone-friendly audio system. As host, you can start things off with your tunes, then turn control over to guests, who can pop in their portables to play. The FloBox Mini from SpeakerCraft, available in glossy yellow, red, silver, black or white, is sure to be the life of the party. Its two 3-inch midrange drivers and two .75-inch tweeters sounds sweet, too.

Kula TV

There’s a lot of great video online. One of the handiest ways to tap into it is through a device like the Kula TV from Sungale. The 3.5-inch portable screen can grab and display more than 500 channels of online TV programs from all over the world. Channels are categorized by news, sports, shopping, etc. It’s built in battery lasts up to four hours, and there’s also 2GB of internal memory and a Micro SD card slot for storing your favorite videos, pictures, etc.

Juicebar Solar Charger

Want to charge your mobile electronics without using electricity? The pocket-size Juicebar solar charger can charge an iPod, iPhone or virtually any other cell phone or mobile device—with the sole power of the sun. Twelve different connectors come with the unit in a portable pouch for charging a variety of devices, and tiny LEDs on the business side of the unit indicate when it’s collecting energy and when it’s charging a device.

Powerhouse Dynamics eMonitor

For the energy geek in your home—or as a housewide present, there’s the eMonitor from Powerhouse Dynamics. It can monitor household electricity use by total usage and by individual circuits. It can also monitor the production of a solar electric system. An intuitive web interface provides info on how much electricity is being consumed, the biggest users among circuits, and how it compares with the consumption of other households. A subscription to the service sends alerts when appliances may need maintenance.

Cisco Umi

Wait, I can get HD-quality videoconferencing ability with a stylish HD camera that fits over my TV, a microphone and a set-top box—all for $599? I want that thing, and I don’t even like videoconferencing. With Cisco’s new umi system, you can talk to Grandma and Granddad without all the Skype-like stops and starts—or telecommute from home. And it doesn’t cost thousands.

Celery Communications

Have relatives without even email? You can keep in touch with them with Celery—the technology, not the vegetable. Celery works with a fax machine to convert your emails to faxes and their handwritten faxes to emails. It can print text, HTML based email messages, and JPEG, RTF, GIF, PNG, TIFF or PDF email attachments. It also supports RSS feeds: blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

Mi Casa Verde Vera

It can control lights, plus audio and video equipment, and even hook up to a digital lock for automated door locking—and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and maybe another leg. It’s Mi Casa Verde’s powerhouse little Vera system, and it works with wired or wireless web cams as well as Z-Wave compatible light switches and dimmers, outlets, thermostats and motion sensors. It can also be controlled by iPhone, iPod touch or Android phone—so you can stay in touch with your home.

Apple iPad

Well, what gift guide would be complete without an iPad. From our perspective here at Electronic House, we’re seeing the devices all over the place as controllers for home automation, distributed audio and more. But we love it also as a portable web surfer, Netflix player or watching sports highlights, or using any of the zillion apps out there.

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Posted by chantal Wed, 01 Dec 2010 18:06:00 GMT