Brings Dolby 7.1 surround sound to PC, discomfort surfaces in a short period of time
Trying to capture the true soundscape of video games can be a daunting task. Looking to surround-sound home theater options, users have to balance the price of speakers and a receiver with the space demands a setup would require. Due to this, gamers often turn to headphones to get the job done. Plantronics has released the Rig Surround headset as a way to fill the need for 7.1 surround sound experience without an expensive price tag or room full of speakers. But is the Rig headset something that consumers should look to, or would they be better off making room for the speakers? Find out in our review.
New technology backwards compatible with Blu-Ray, other content delivery
At an event earlier this week, Dolby announced a technology moving from the cinema to home theaters that challenges the channel-based stereo paradigm. Dubbed Dolby Atmos, the new protocol -- which is fully backwards compatible with older Blu-Ray players and other content delivery mechanisms -- uses up to 34 speakers to more accurately play back a moving sound, and enhance the home theater experience.
Pioneer announces Dolby Atmos-enabled Elite speakers, Elite SC series receivers
Pioneer has announced a new dedicated line of Dolby Atmos-enabled Elite speakers and Elite SC series of home theater receivers. Dolby Atmos technology was first established for cinema use, and the collaboration with Pioneer aims to offer a multi-dimensional sound experience. Dolby's partnerships will not stop at Pioneer, with Dolby Atmos branded Blu-ray and streaming video services to be launched this fall.
Higher brightness in Dolby system offers higher dynamic range
After redefining cinema audio with the Dolby Atmos system, Dolby has set itself to work creating a "super TV" technology that is able to display images at a higher level of brightness than current generations of television. The prototype monitor shown at the event and the underlying technology is hoped to eventually show Ultra HD-resolution video at a brightness of 4,000 nits, far brighter than the 100 nits available to consumers today.
Offering cheaper than Tritton, Turtle Beach sets with similar features
Monoprice is the place some of the Electronista crew goes when we need a funky cable. Four-pin to Firewire 800? No problem. Funky USB gender cables? Also carried. While various audio accessories have graced the shelves of the e-retailer, a brand new addition is a pair of gaming-oriented headsets, at a very low price point for the feature set. As with most audio features, build quality and attention to detail can make all the difference between an experience with excellent fidelity, and a static-laden hiss-fest. Can this new entrant into the gaming headset market make headway against the giants in the field? Our review gets to the bottom of the new, inexpensively priced Monoprice Dolby 7.1-certified gaming headset.
Neil Young continues crusade to improve digital music
Neil Young has made an appearance on the David Letterman show to promote a new music player and digital music service branded Pono. The new Pono players will support the playback of audio master files stored digitally in high-resolution, 192kHz/24-bit sound, reports Rolling Stone. The new Pono service, which will launch next year, has the backing of Warner Music Group with Meridian and Dolby involved as well.
Blade III confirmed in Finland, Sweden, other Euro countries before year's end
ZTE's upcoming flagship phone, the Blade III that was leaked about a month ago is now official. As the original report noted, the phone will come to Finland's Verkkokauppa first, later in September, before arriving in Sweden sometime in October. It will be available in white at the former and black at the latter.
Dolby TrueHD added to 100 e-onkyo albums
Dolby has declared that e-Onkyo music will be the first online music distribution service to use Dolby TrueHD 5.1-channel surround sound. The music service, a subsidiary of Japanese electronics maker Onkyo, will be letting users download 1000 tracks from 100 albums in the audio standard later this year, with two Onkyo receivers supporting the service.
Windows 8 to feature Dolby-friendly APIs
Dolby and Microsoft are partnering to bring Dolby Digital Plus' audio technology to Windows 8 tablets and PCs. The addition of Dolby Digital Plus will allow Windows 8 devices to play Dolby-encoded content. Microsoft has used Dolby encoding since Windows Vista shipped in 2007, but Dolby in 2008 raised the possibility that Windows 8 might not feature Dolby technology.
Dolby Atmos brings audio from above viewers
Dolby has revealed details on its new Atmos sound technology for movie theaters. It promises to significantly change the movie-watching experience by bringing sound from above the viewer and moving it around in any direction. During a horror movie, for example, footsteps from the floor above are recreated from above the seats to add to the realism.
Belle FP1 speeds processor and other improvements
Nokia are today rolling out its previously announced Belle Feature Pack 1 firmware for the Nokia 701, 700 and 603. Over the air updates now available include a processor boost from 1GHz to 1.3GHz, a version 8.2 web browser, and new widgets, amongst other improvements.
Acer Timeline Ultra M3 and V3 kick off CeBIT
Acer used Germany's CeBIT expo to unveil a pair of new notebooks to take its 2012 roster in new directions. The Timeline Ultra M3 stretches the definition of an ultrabook with a 15-inch screen and an optical drive, counting mostly on its 0.79-inch thickness as an edge. Its true rarity is the inclusion of dedicated graphics: it can afford to fit a GeForce GT 640M for video, making it useful for games.
Nokia Belle Feature Pack 1 promised within months
Nokia has provided many more details of Belle Feature Pack 1, which will arrive on some of its new smartphones starting this spring. The first to get it when it arrives is the 808 PureView. While the focus will be on boosting the entertainment experience for users, Nokia in a surprise step said it would boost the processor speed of the Nokia 700 and 701 by a full 30 percent with the update, from a 1GHz clock to 1.3GHz.
Pooled license simplifies technology dispersal
MPEG LA, which holds patent rights for several technologies including components of MPEG-2, MPEG-4, ATSC, and AVC, is now offering a consolidated license for patents pertaining to MVC (Multiview Video Coding). MVC is the standard for encoding and decoding video that is used in 3D-capable hardware, such as Blu-ray disc players and burners, video cameras, and PCs.
RIM gets Dolby suits dropped in return for deal
RIM put an end to Dolby's lawsuits over audio Monday by negotiating a patent licensing deal. BlackBerry phones and the PlayBook tablet will now have a license to use Dolby's mobile-friendly HE AAC audio format. Neither side said how much the deal costs, although RIM had quietly obtained the license on August 4.
Sony opens CEDIA with US launch of 3D headgear, 4K
Sony opened up the CEDIA home theater show with both new and newly US-bound gear. The HMZ-T1 wearable 3D viewer is now coming to the US and should be available in November for $799. The headset has a unique dual-panel OLED that outputs 720p to each eye more naturally than active shutter glasses.
Sony N200, VW95ES, BDP-S185 arrive
Home theater viewers received three new choices from Sony at the IFA show. The SMP-N200 Network Media Player updates Sony's early digital-only box and adds support for both 3D and HD video streaming as well as a new 'concave' design. It primarily taps into Sony's own music and video services, but it can take media from DLNA-equipped devices on the local network and supports the 'throw' sharing from the Tablet S.
System adds 3D "height" to listening experience
Sony is set to launch a new headphone system designed to be used while watching 3D media. The MDR-DS7500 is the first with Sony's new 3D VPT (Virtualphones Technology) which recreates 3D surround sound, and is optimized for 3D content. The headphones are also ergometrically designed to allow the user to wear both 3D glasses and the headphones simultaneously and comfortably.
Pioneer Elite receivers carry AirPlay, Air Jam
Pioneer wrapped up the week by adding two new Elite receivers with a heavy emphasis on their iOS links. The 7.1-channel SC-55 and 9.1-channel SC-57 hubs revolve chiefly around their new, Class-D3 amps. The two have quicker response times and reduced total harmonic distortion even as they consume less power and generate less heat.
Yamaha Aventage adds 9.2ch and more mobile
Yamaha on Tuesday revamped its Aventage home theater receivers with an increased focus on mobile. The entire line, the RX-A710, RX-A810, RX-A2010, RX-A1010, and RX-3010, now has complete support for both iPhone remote control as well as front USB ports to play music directly from iOS hardware. Android is also finally getting support and will have its own remote app in the fall.
Dolby sues RIM over BlackBerry audio compression
Dolby on Wednesday sued RIM both in Northern California and Germany for allegedly violating its audio patents. The surround audio creator claimed that the BlackBerry smartphone lineup and the BlackBerry PlayBook were all copying Dolby compression technology. "All other" companies had already paid for the licenses, Dolby said which was used in formats like ultra-dense HE AAC audio.
Vudu movies go to web
Vudu filled an important gap on Tuesday by starting up web-based browsing. Viewers can now either buy or rent a movie for viewing on the web in the same formats that previously needed Vudu-capable hardware. The support extends from standard definition up through to HDX-encoded 1080p, including with Dolby 5.1 surround if supported.
We review Logitech's Z906 speakers
The Logitech Z-5500 achieved an almost cult-like status among a certain slice of the computer and gaming markets, and for good reason: along with a fierce level of power, they were one of the few surround sound setups equally suited to both a gaming PC and a home theater. With the arrival of the Z906, Logitech is blurring the lines even further. We're checking in our Z906 review whether it still has that credibility and if it's the sleeper choice for 5.1-channel audio.
Sharp readies three connected 3D Blu-ray players
Sharp this week announced the upcoming release of three new 3D Blu-ray players. They include the BD-HP75U, BD-HP35U and BD-HP25U, all of which can play back 1080p 3D content at 24FPS and support for Dolby True HD and DTS HD audio formats. More importantly, however, will be support for Netflix, Vudu, Pandora and YouTube streaming.
Apple TV update adds MLB.tv games
(Update: NBA too) In a quiet companion update to iOS 4.3, Apple on Wednesday also added MLB.tv to the Apple TV. Those using Apple TV 4.2 (build 2060) can watch both live and archived games, including in HD where the option exists. Users can hop to particular plays or at bats and can play the version of the broadcast from either city.
Logitech intros Z906 surround sound audio
Logitech produced a sequel to one of its best-known speaker lines on Wednesday and launched the Z906. As a successor to the veteran Z-5500, it builds on the formula of a THX-grade, 5.1-channel surround system and still puts out 500W of sustained power, 165W of which comes just from the subwoofer. The new design is shaped to stack easily in a home theater and can have as many as six devices attached, including Blu-ray players, game consoles, handhelds or computers.
Pioneer ships 3D Blu-ray players in Elite family
Pioneer hoped to seize on last-minute Christmas shopping Wednesday by shipping its promised 3D-capable Blu-ray players. The regular BDP-430 as well as the Elite BDP-41FD and BDP-43FD all have HDMI 1.4a both for stereoscopic 3D and for 36-bit color when the source and the TV support it. The electronics giant's iControlAV iOS app (free, App Store) will also stand out by giving iPhone and iPod users a way to steer the player over a local network, although this needs a firmware update.
Lenovo outs IdeaPad Y460p, Y560p with Sandy Bridge
Lenovo today brought out two IdeaPad notebooks that are the first known to be using processors based on Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture. The 14-inch Y460p and 15.6-inch Y560p will use the newer chips, up to and including the quad 2GHz Core i7 in the Y560p. Moving to the faster processors will also let buyers pick up to 8GB of 1,333MHz DDR3 memory.
Nokia N8 now at Rogers for $80
Canadian wireless provider Rogers has now confirmed it is getting Nokia's flagship offering, the N8, becoming its first provider in North America. The Symbian device focuses on photography first and sports a 12-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens as well as a Xenon flash. The video recording quality tops out at 720p and there is support for Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.
Acer unveils Liquid Metal in UK first
Acer officially launched the Liquid Metal, its true sequel to the Liquid E. The new Android phone focuses on speed first and has support for 14.4Mbps, HSPA-based 3G on networks that support it. It also upgrades to the same 800MHz MSM7230 Snapdragon found in the T-Mobile G2 and Desire Z.
Netflix streaming to get Dolby Digital Plus audio
Netflix this morning said it would add 5.1-channel surround sound to its Internet streaming component. Dolby Digital Plus will be embedded in movies and give any supporting title the extra audio depth. The movie service argued that it wanted a format that could reach as many devices as possible.
Slider brings speakers, not a keyboard
Many of the first Windows Phone 7 devices offer only slight variation from existing handsets, except for the HTC Surround. Electronista took a closer look at HTC's niche offering in the WP7 category. When deploying the slider mechanism, we expected a QWERTY keyboard to reveal itself from beneath the display. We were therefore surprised to find a wide speaker grill instead of a keyboard.
Buffalo outs 1080p home media player in Japan
Japanese electronics maker Buffalo has introduced its LT-V100 Link Theater media player. It can stream or play local 1080p video content from a USB-attached drive. The player has DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio support, while supported video formats include MPEG-2, MPEG-4 SP/ASP, and H.264 (AVC).
Plantronics outs latest headset with Dobly 7.1
Plantronics on Thursday introduced its latest gaming headset, the GameCom 777. It gets virtual 7.1 surround sound from Dolby Headphone and Dolby ProLogic IIx. The noise-cancelling microphone housed in the boom allows for two-way communication, and the boom can be detached.
Jobs warns not to confuse OSS with patent-free
Apple chief Steve Jobs has warned in a reply to an open latter that Ogg Theora wouldn't necessarily be the best choice for HTML5 video. Addressing a call by Free Software Foundation Europe to use the open-source codec for plugin-free video, Jobs warned that it may infringe on patents and could face a lawsuit, though not necessarily from Apple. He suggested that H.264 fit the definition of an open standard and admitted it wasn't necessarily what open-source advocates would expect.
Dolby bringing Axon 3D support to Mac, consoles
At the Game Developer's Conference, Dolby said it will make its Axon 3D voice chat technology available for gamers on the PS3, Xbox 360 and Mac platforms. Thus far, only PC users could benefit from the technology, and the software development kit (SDK) will be made available to game developers in April. It is currently undergoing beta testing with several unnamed software companies.
Sony STR-DN1010 handles 3D TV, iPhone
Sony today gave one of its company firsts in 3D to one of its mid-range AV receivers. The STR-DN1010 replaces the DN1000 (shown) and adds support for passing through 3D video from a Blu-ray player, PS3 or other source using any one of its four HDMI outputs. As the best receiver outside of the ES line, it also gets full 7.1-channel Dolby and DTS audio processing at 110W per channel, supports S-AIR wireless audio and carries a port for an iPhone- and iPod-capable audio dock.
Sony BDP-S470 to support 3D, iPod remote
Sony today touted a pair of firsts in a new Blu-ray player. The BDP-S470 is its first player explicitly labeled as 3D capable and will show the format in 1080p with a firmware upgrade due to arrive in the summer. It's also one of the first that can be controlled through an iPhone or iPod touch: a recently launched BD Remote app (free, App Store) not only provides basic control but will show related content for a given movie.
JVC intros first 5.1-channel sound system
On Monday, JVC introduced two new soundbar surround sound speaker systems, including the first wireless system, the TH-BA3, along with the slim but wired TH-BS7. The former is completely wireless between the subwoofer and rear speakers, and is rated at 280 watts across its 5.1 channels. The sound bar has four speakers, with the two outboard ones acting as the front right and left channels, with the two in the middle being the center channel. It also houses the power amplifier, surround decoding, system controls and the transmitter for the wireless surround speakers.
Panasonic BD system delivers 7.1 virtual audio
Panasonic on Wednesday said it will soon release its first 2.1-channel Blu-ray Disc home theater system, the SC-BTX70. The upright system uses a proprietary Panasonic technology that can reproduce virtual 7.1-channel sound in Dolby's TrueHD and DTS-HD virtual 7.1 formats. The two speakers, made of bamboo, have a top-mounted design for better sound dispersion. The system is rated at 375W of power, with each speaker and the subwoofer getting 125W.
Panasonic car BD player
Panasonic in Japan on Thursday introduced the first Blu-ray player made for cars with its CY-BB1000D along with a conventional but HD-capable counterpart, the HX-3000D. The former sports an HDMI input and 7-inch display with 1280x720 resolution that will play the Blu-ray content in HD. While the player will support Bonus View content on compatible BD media, accessing BD-Live content that requires an Internet connection isn't an option.
Onkyo 7.1-channel systems
Onkyo has recently announced the upcoming release of two 7.1-channel home theater systems with advanced audio processing, including support for all current audio formats, including the vertical dimensions added by ProLogic IIz. The HT-S7200 and HT-S6200 surround sound systems are rated at the same 130 watts per channel, with a speaker system that includes an active 230W subwoofer. Onkyo's U-Port iPod dock is included with each system.
Sony 400-disc B Ray Player
Sony this afternoon aggressively bolstered its Blu-ray player lineup with three high-end models. The BDP-CX960 MegaChanger is built to address a whole movie collection and manages 400 titles whether they're Blu-ray, DVD or audio CD. It also has an Ethernet port that helps auto-tag movies and music for easier searching as well as BD-Live support for newer Blu-ray releases.
Lenovo IdeaPad S12
Lenovo chose Memorial Day to launch a range of PC updates that include a world-first. The IdeaPad S12 is the first netbook to have an option for NVIDIA's Ion platform and overcomes one of the performance setbacks for netbooks: the advanced graphics can fully decode 1080p HD in hardware and is capable of 3D that would be off limits for Intel-based video. It also helps drive visuals on the newly enlarged 12-inch, 1280x800 display or the (optional) HDMI output.
LG Arena Ships in Europe
LG on Monday said it has launched the Arena in Europe. The company's new range-topping phone should be available today through carriers like Orange and T-Mobile in the continent's "major" markets and is still claimed as one of LG's most anticipated phones with more than 1 million pre-orders, though this includes carriers in Asia and other regions besides Europe. No mention has been made of how many Arenas are expected to sell through on launch day.
Onkyo SR607 Receiver
Onkyo has launched a trio of new AV receivers that are topped by an industry first. The TX-SR607 is the first to include Dolby Pro Logic IIz support and can add a vertical dimension to the sound in movies that support it: the element lets home theaters with two extra, elevated front channel speakers register sounds that would appear above the movie viewer, such as an aircraft. It additionally brings support for 7.2-channel surround at 90W per channel with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio as well as a rear port for add-ons like an iPod dock or HD Radio tuner.
LG Viewty 2 Details
LG today was revealed to have provided early details of its likely update to the Viewty in a largely unnoticed booth area at last week's CeBIT show. In addition to specifcations, Phone Arena has obtained photos that effectively confirm the GC900 will replace its camera-centric predecessor: the device will have an upgraded 8-megapixel sensor with a Schneider-Kreuznach lens and Xenon flash. It should also have a much sharper 800x480, 3-inch touchscreen useful for the phone's DivX video and Dolby Mobile sound support.
LG Arena Multi Touch
LG's KM900 Arena should beat out the Palm Pre to be one of the first non-Apple phones to support multi-touch input, LG Korea's press site shows. The interface, known as S-Class, will let users pinch to zoom in the web browser and while viewing photos. While its main home screen has a conspicuously iPhone-influenced design, the 3D aspect divides the front end into core phone tasks, apps, media playback and a section for widget apps like clocks and calculators.
Logitech G19 G35 G9x
Logitech on Tuesday exploited the run-up to CES to revise its G series gaming peripherals, including the addition of its first Mac-friendly gaming keyboard. The G19 is the company's new flagship keyboard for play and centers on a 320x240, color LCD that can be used to provide information on active games with support for the company's GamePanel software, such as World of Warcraft. It also performs double duty as a VoIP call panel, media viewer and performance tracker; users can switch between many of these without having to leave a currently running app, the company notes.
MSI Wind NetOn at CES
MSI today outlined its plans for CES and confirmed the presence of the company's first all-in-one nettop. The Wind NetOn (shown) competes against ASUS' Eee Top and also described as one of the fastest; in the US-specific AE1901 model, the 19-inch system will come with a dual-core 1.6GHz Atom that should significantly improve performance while keeping power use down to just 50W. IT and the other 16- and 22-inch systems have yet to receive full details but should come with 16:9 ratio, 1366x768 touchscreens (1920x1080 in the 22-inch version) that simplify their respective interfaces.