Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus and StreamMagic 6

Cambridge Audio LogoI think it would be fair to say that Cambridge Audio has successfully moved from being a budget hi-fi brand into a solid middle tier player with several of their products receiving praise from audio and home cinema magazines. Consequently, I was interested to see what Cambridge Audio was demonstrating at CES this year, especially as it’s a British company. Scott has the interview.

The DacMagic Plus is a digital-to-analogue converter that will take the digital output from a games console, PC or smartphone, analyse and upscale the signal and then produce a clean analogue signal vastly superior to that produced by the original device. Let’s be honest, the DAC in your average games console or PC probably cost pennies to the OEM so it’s unlikely to be hi-fi quality. The DacMagic Plus has a pair of digital inputs, both optical and co-axial, plus USB input for high data rates (24 bit). There’s also an optional Bluetooth adaptor which uses the new AptX high quality codec. Output is to headphones, phono (RCA) and XLR.

The StreamMagic 6 is a new network music player that streams from a wide variety of sources – PC, uPnP, DLNA, Internet radio, Pandora – and it connects to the network either by ethernet or wireless-n. Cambridge Audio provides an on-line music portal which lets the audiophile choose their listening selection from a PC or tablet before sending the playlist to the StreamMagic. This neatly avoids the problem of poking around thousands of tracks on a tiny screen trying to find the ones you want. Round the back, like the DacMagic Plus, two digital inputs can take signals from sources such as smartphones or music players.

Overall, two great products that are definitely worth checking out.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live.

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I’m Watch SmartPhone

I'm WatchI’m Watch is the worlds first smart phone on your wrist. It tethers to your smart phone by Bluetooth. Now almost everything you do on your smartphone you can do on your wrist. No need to mess around in your purse or briefcase looking for your phone when you get a call. Simply tap on your watch and start to talk. The I’m Watch is based on Android 1.6, it has 128 mb of ram and 4 GBs  of memory.

With normal use it will last about 8 hours. You can fit three applications on the main screen and you get to choose which ones. To get to the other applications you simply swipe to go into the library. Right now the applications available for the watch include; phone, address book, notifications, weather forecast, i’music, i’mage, appointments, multitasking, i’moticons, i’m Tweet and news just to name a few. There is a headphone and microphone jack on the side and also built-in speakers. The SDK has been released to developers so anyone can create an application for the I’m Watch. If you are a developer and are interested you can go to their developer Web site. It has a 1.54 inch display with 240×240 pixel resolution.

The watch comes in [three models starting at $49.00] six models starting at $329.00.  They are currently taking preorders and the watches should ship in about a month. They hope to have them in retail stores within the year. I’m Watch was an Innovation Winner at CES this year. It looks like a stylish watch and a cool concept, can’t wait to see how they work in the real world.

Interview by Courtney Wallin of SDRNews for the TechPodcast Network.

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Sennheiser Unveils High End Headphones

Sennheiser is one of the big names in headphones, so it’s not unsurprising that a few of the latest models were released at CES. Nick hears the latest for sound buffs from Eric.

First up are the HD 700s, an open headset approaching reference standard. With a wide soundstage, angled transducers give it a sound experience similar to listening to a speaker array; other features are designed keep the sound as pure as possible. These headphones are aimed at audiophiles who want to hear every nuance of the recording. Pricey at around $1000.

Next are the HD 800s, a futuristic-looking headset that takes audio purity and quality to an amazing level. Every detail has a purpose in the design, giving unparalleled acoustic reproduction for the total audio purist. Even more pricey at around $1500.

And finally, the Sennheiser Amperior brings the world-famous HD 25s to portable devices by optimising the impedance to give superior sound from a smaller unit. Suitable for all MP3 players, Apple iPods and iPhones, the Amperior comes with an inline remote and mic. Available from March for around $350.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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AikenLabs Immersive Motion Accessory System

AikenLabs Immersive Motion Desktop Starter KitAikenLabs Immersive Motion Accessory System is a body-worn motion controller that takes real world actions and puts them into video games. Andy checks out some moves with Ethan from AikenLabs.

The Immersive Motion Accessory System comprises small black boxes worn on bands that connect wirelessly to a master controller which in turn, is connected to PC or game console via USB. Each box has an accelerometer, a magnometer and  gyroscope to accurately track motion. No optical sensor or camera is needed.

Once the boxes are in place on the player’s head, arms, legs or plastic sword, actions such as hitting, pushing or kicking in the real-world get translated into similar actions in the game. Cleverly, the system converts the gestures into standard game controllers actions such as button presses or joystick moves. Consequently the system can be used with nearly any game console straightaway; there’s no need to wait for developer support.

Interview by Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

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j5 create’s Wormhole Station

j5create logoj5 create‘s background in USB display adaptors means they know a thing or two about using both hardware and software to create unique solutions. j5 Create’s Wormhole cable is one such solution as it joins two computers into one…and they don’t even have to be running the same OS. Fred shows Jeffrey and Steve some of the benefits of this innovative technology, which won a CES Innovation Honoree award.

At its most basic the Wormhole switch is simply a USB 2 cable that connects between two computers, but clever software allows the computers to work together, with one keyboard and mouse being shared between the two. The OS of the two devices doesn’t have to be the same and an Android tablet being controlled by a Windows PC is perfectly possible. Files can be seamlessly transferred between the two machines as well. Pretty smart.

Moving on to a second product, j5 create has a very desirable line of small docking stations for laptops that are little more than foot-long shiny tubes with a plethora of ports. Branded “ultrastations” and connecting via USB 3, these take full advantage of the faster data rate to provide a myriad of connections, including HDMI, through a single USB 3 cable. Nice.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast and Steve Lee of Netcast Studio.

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Q2 Radio by Armour Home Electronics

There are a lot of Wi-Fi Internet radios around, many offer tons of options and stations to pick from. However most consumers have around four favorite stations they keep returning to again and again. Armour Home Electronics took this idea and produced the Q2 Radio.

The Q2 Radio is cube shaped and on each side is a preset radio station. You preset your choices by downloading the software from the Web and entering your access code. Once you have been identified you can then drag and drop your favorite stations. You can preset up to four stations one for each side of the cube. To change which preset station you are listening to you simply twist the cube until the station you want is at the top. To decrease or increase the volume start to tip the cube up or down. If you want to mute it turn it on its face. The Q2 Radio produces mono sound, but if you connect headphones you can listen in stereo. The Q2 Radio can run off of any Wi-Fi or mobile hot spot. It comes in multiple choice of colors. Q2 Radio is currently being launched in the United States. You can find more information on price and availability at the Q2 Radio Website.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin, of SDR News

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The Kodak ZI12

You may be familiar with the Kodak ZI8 or even the newer ZI10, but Kodak recently unveiled the brand new ZI12.  The new version combines the best features of the previous version, like 1080P video and an external microphone jack with the new additions such as turning the camera on it’s side now makes it a digital still-camera with an actual shutter button.  The still-camera features a 12 MP CMOS sensor.  The new ZI12 also features a flash, a better resolution screen, and a slightly smaller size.

The camera will be out this spring, although there isn’t yet an official release date or price point.  You can check it out here, along with the long list of features.  You can also view the video posted below for a quick preview.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast.

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The Casio Green Slim Projector

Casio makes a wide range of products from calculators to watches, and this year at the Consumer Electronics Show they unveiled a new line of projectors.  This slim and light, 3000 lumens mobile projector is known at the Green Slim line.  The projector uses a hybrid laser-LED light source that has a 20,000 hour life expectancy and no mercury, for those who want a green solution.  The Green Slim Projector, as Casio is calling it, is also suitable for ceiling mounting in an office meeting room and a home theater.

The projector will accept inputs from HDMI, VGA, composite video, and even a USB port.  The new line from Casio also features an app called Mobi Show which users can download an install on their mobile phone or tablet and then use to control presentations from the device. The new line starts at $999.  You can find out more by visiting Casio Projectors.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast.

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Toon Boom Brings Pro Graphics To The Masses

I am sure there are more than a few would-be artists in the audience out there, and some are probably fans of animation and cartoons.  Toon Boom is one of the forces behind some of the biggest movies, like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Simpsons, and more, but this year they are bringing their professional capabilities to the general public with new consumer-level software.

The new software allows users to draw, and then easily animate, their images.  We aren’t talking about sophisticated, high-end graphics programs like many you are probably thinking, but small apps that can run on things like iPads.  You can check out the video below where Andy McCaskey gets a demo that shows just how simple this is to use, and also gets word about some deals that Toon Boom has for users.

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GNC-2012-01-30 #738 The Voice

End of the month show, big Thank You to our sponsors and Thank You for supporting them. Starting to implement some hardware upgrades here in the studio we will see how they work out. If you have not checked it out yet be sure to listen to our live audio stream available 24/7 see sidebar links here on the website.

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