Auro 3D Immersive Sound

Auro 3DDon and Todd get a demo of Auro 3D‘s immersive sound experience which until recently was only available in movie theatres. The newly launched consumer version of the Auro 3D audio system adds a height component into the sound mix, giving the equivalent of 9.1 sound. Coming from a digital cinema background with over 150 theatres already using the system, Auro 3D is being introduced into home theater, gaming, mobile and automotive markets.

Especially watch this video if you want to see Don and Todd looking like smurfs while discussing the merits of smooth jazz and alcoholic beverages….

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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QisDesign Designer Lighting from BenQ

QisDesignBenQ aren’t really known for their designer lighting but this is what Bob Wudeck brought along to Don and Todd at CES. BenQ has a range of about forty different lights and lamps sold under the QisDesign brand, and on show is a beautiful flexible table LED lamp. Inspired by the human spine, the Hatha LED table lamp won a series of design awards, including a Red Dot Design Award in 2012. It’s definitely designer lighting with a ticket of price of $450 and this is one of the cheaper ones!

BenQMore ordinarily for CES, Bob also brought along a BenQ GP20 projector. This 700 lumen HD projector is designed for cord-cutters and watching video rather than execs and Powerpoint slides. The HDMI input is ideal for connecting up a Roku for Netflix viewing and it’s quite portable at only 22 x 62 x 18 cm. Bob says in the video that it’s only 720p, but the specs at BenQ say 1080p; worth clarifying before shelling out around $700. It’s a nice little unit.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Omnimount PJT40 Projector Mount

Omnimount LogoIf you want to hang or support some piece of technology from a wall or ceiling, then Omnimount ought to be on your review list as they have a portfolio of mounts and brackets that will do the job for flat screen TVs, speakers and projectors. Todd and Don chat with Kevin Paulson, who has the latest ceiling mount, the PJT40, for digital projectors. They also discuss the merits of desks that go up and down to facilitate standing at work. Really.

The new PJT40 is a universal projector mount that offers easy one person installation and tool-less microadjustment in the pitch and roll axes, making it simple to get a perfect image in your home cinema. The PJT40 will be on sale in February priced at US$179, which Don thinks is a bargain. Omnimount products are available AV dealers throughout the US and there’s more information at www.omnimount.com.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Panasonic introduces three wall-mounted home theaters at CES

panasonic-SC-HTB880Panasonic debuted a number of new products at CES, ranging from tablets to home-ware for your kitchen, and also new home theater gear. Perhaps the latter is one of the most interesting of the launches.

The company is showing off three wall-mountable home theater systems. The SC-HTB880, SC-HTB580 and SC-HTB8 are all expected to hit retail later in 2014.

“The SC-HTB880, SC-HTB580 and SC-HTB8 Home Theater Systems feature speaker units with a triangular cross section to achieve a slim body size, and incorporate a Delta Form Design to deliver dynamic sound. The top panel of each model’s main unit is inclined to provide extra space inside for the installation of large speaker units. The Delta Form Design provides a stylish appearance to match and enhance room interiors, while its hybrid hardware design achieves superb sound quality”, the company announces.

The high-end SC-HTB880 model is capable on handling 4K video and the main unit houses the front, center and surround speakers; combined with the wireless subwoofer, this model’s sound system delivers 5.1-channel dynamic surround sound.

All models combine “Panasonic’s sound-enhancing technologies, cutting-edge network technologies and stylish designs to achieve versatile sound systems, creating true-to-life ambience from content such as movies, TV programs or music to make users feel as if they were actually in the movie scene”. Exact release dates were not announced, nor were prices.

Get Ready for HDMI 2.0

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The folks at HDMI Licensing leaked released what will be known as the HDMI 2.0 specification just prior to their official announcement at IFA. Actually, AVForums reader Vism found this in Google cache.

The new HDMI specification looks to be able to handle 4K displays and above. Panasonic – who hasn’t come out with a 4K TV – will be debuting their new line at IFA.

HDMI 1.4 (current version) only supports 4K content at 30 fps. HDMI 2.0 looks to allow 60 fps, which will be great for UHD movies and more.

Panasonic is keeping the wraps on their 4K WT600 TV until keynote time. One things for sure – HDMI 1 cables are going to get a lot cheaper now…

Logitech unveils Special Edition Logitech Touch Keyboard K400 in White

Logitech has recently been releasing a line of new slim keyboards with built-in mouse pads. The latest in that line is the brand new K400 Touch Keyboard, which now comes in a limited edition white version.

The special edition keyboard boasts all the features you are used to in the traditional Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400, including a built-in touchpad, long range wireless and plug-and-play connectivity, only now available in a bright white color.

While the keyboard can certainly be used on the desktop, the keyboard layout is also optimized for the living-room environment — it’s compact, and gives you direct access to media and entertainment keys. The keyboard even stores vertically, making it easy to put away when not in use.

The special edition Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 in white is expected to be available in the U.S. and Europe this September for a suggested retail price of $39.99 and GNC is attempting to get a review unit, so stay tuned.

logitech k400 white

Logitech announces a keyboard for your living room

These days many of us have computer devices in our home entertainment centers, be it a Google TV, Roku or something else. All of these devices come with remote controls, some of which have tiny QWERTY keyboards on the flipside. These may work, but it is not the best solution for some tasks. Now Logitech seeks to make your living room life a bit easier with a new keyboard specifically designed for this need.

Logitech tells us “Whether you’re using an Apple TV to stream iTunes, or catching up on your current Netflix obsession by connecting your laptop to your TV, there’s one thing you’ll need when browsing the Internet and apps on your TV: an easy way to navigate”.

Logitech is releasing both the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 and the  Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard, with the latter being specifically for Apple TV customers.

logitech k400

The K400 claims a wireless range of up to 33 feet and multi-touch touchpad built right into the keyboard. Meanwhile, the Easy-Switch uses Apple TV remote commands like Menu, Media Control, Select, D-Pad, Play/Pause and Tab, plus its keys are backlit and laid out in the traditional Mac-specific way, so you can easily find your commands even in the dark. It can also be paired with up to three devices at once and allows you to switch and type from your iPad to iPhone to Apple TV with the simple push of a button.

The K400 retails for $39.99, while the Easy-Switch is a bit pricier at $99.99. Both keyboards are available for sale now.

Logitech Harmony unveils 2 new universal remotes

The Harmony line of universal remotes is a favorite in many living rooms, but the lineup has stagnated in recent times, with only the Harmony Touch being added and that came with mixed reviews. Rumors of Logitech refreshing the line have been around for several months, but today the company did just that.

Logitech’s Chad Thompson announced “the expansion of its Harmony universal remote control lineup with Logitech Harmony Ultimate and Logitech Harmony Smart Control“. Thompson goes on to elaborate “both products feature Logitech’s new Harmony Hub and Harmony Smartphone App to enable closed-cabinet and game console control. And, for the first time ever, Harmony can even help you set the mood in your living room: the Harmony Hub takes personalizing your activities a step further with the ability to control your Philips Hue lights with a tap of the Logitech Harmony Ultimate”.

I currently use a bottom of the line Harmony 300 and have been waiting for the new line to finally debut. The day has arrived and I suppose I must now spend some money, but I still will not be paying for that Philips Hue light bulb, no matter how cool it looks.

Silicon Dust

silicon dust logoIf you are a home theater enthusiast or HTPC owner, as I am, then you have probably heard of Silicon Dust and the HD Home Run. The box has been out for some time and retails for $199, but can be found somewhat cheaper in many locations.

The box takes a cable card and then sends its data out via ethernet to the rest of your network and, as a bonus, it contains 3 tuners. The data is distributed to your network in both ATSC and MP2 format. It all works great with many of your screens, but now Silicon Dust wants to solve the problem with devices like smartphones and tablets.

The new box is a 4 tuner version that can handle hardware transcode that transfers that MP2 and changes it to H.264. Now customers can send 4 separate streams independent of each other and have access to the data on mobile devices as well. It is also smart enough to recognize the difference in screens and resolution and encode for the device. All of this is done behind the scenes.

This latest Home Run box will be available in late spring or early summer. While no price is yet available, the company hopes to keep it in the same area as the previous version.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net

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Control your home theater with Zmart Remote for iOS, Android

There have been several hardware solutions over the past couple of years that turn your smartphone into a universal remote. I have previously looked at RedEye, which seems to no longer be available, but a new solution was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week — the Zmart Remote from Viatek.

This one involves a small device that you will need to plug into the micro-USB port on your phone. It works with both iPhone and Android. The company claims that “The setup takes less than a minute. Whether you are trying to choose which tv show to watch, need to pause the movie to pop some popcorn or even skip to your favorite song on a CD, now you can do all of this with just your smart phone.”

Setup of the RedEye was clunky and almost felt as if it required a computer science degree. Hopefully the newer technology will improve this process. The company claims it is capable of controlling 200,000 devices and 95 percent of those on the market. The ones it can’t control it can learn.

The package, including the app, will retail for $19.99 and can be purchased now.