Polk Audio has taken the wraps off the I-Sonic Entertainment System 2, the follow-up to the company's impressive 2006 tabletop AV system. The new ES2 model gets the iPod dock that was missing from the original I-Sonic, but it loses the Swiss-Army-knife luster of that all-in-one model: gone are CD/DVD player and XM satellite radio support (though an auxiliary line-in port lets you connect any external device of your choosing). Video output (for the increasingly burgeoning number of video-capable iPods) remains, as does the dual alarm clock and HD Radio tuner. And it's the interaction between the HD Radio and the iPod where the new I-Sonic debuts a first-of-its-kind feature called iTunes Tagging. … Read more
Here's a follow-up to my post about predicting the big tour of 2008, which referenced the upcoming album by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band...Bruce has released the first single from the album as a free download. It's available at the Guardian Unlimited site, the music site of the UK's Guardian newspaper. It's also available as a free download on iTunes.
Why's he doing this? Well, in the era where the radio hardly ever plays new songs by established artists, and most people are tuned into their iPod anyway, a free download is … Read more
Remember George? The iPod-friendly tabletop radio from audio start-up Chestnut Hill Sound garnered mostly positive reviews when it debuted earlier this year, thanks largely to its unique wireless remote control, but the $550 sticker price limited its appeal. Well, as of today, it's a decidedly better deal. Chestnut Hill has lowered the price to $500 and will bundle in the outboard remote charging stand--pretty much a must-have accessory--at no extra cost for units sold through the end of the year. To date, the charging stand cost an extra $50 as well, so the net savings on the new deal … Read more
There are plenty of critics who claim, however erroneously, that Second Life is a mess both structurally and technologically. And Linden Lab's decentralized and laissez-faire approach to the largely user-created virtual world, it could be argued, has allowed its identity to be shaped by its most prominent and press-worthy residents--who are, on occasion, blowing up buildings, stealing identities, and barraging lectures with oversized flying man-parts.
We won't really know until tonight … Read more
In Seattle, there's a classic rock station, KZOK, that's been around forever. It was already old when I discovered it in junior high school in the early 1980s, and of all the music stations in Seattle, it's the only one that still has exactly the same format. I mean, the playlist yesterday is exactly the same as the playlist in 1982, although they might stick in a song by an artist that used to be known as "new wave" (U2, Talking Heads, Pretenders), or a band that didn't exist in 1982 (Guns and Roses), … Read more
Anytime a product is described as "idiot-proof" it gets our attention, providing that we're able to understand the big words. Throw in Wi-Fi and music, and it's a no-brainer. (We're beginning to sense a theme here.)
All three of these elements come into play with the Revo Pico Wi-Fi radio, another example of what we call the "Radio Free World" revolution. Claiming to be "the world's first portable Wi-Fi Internet radio," it automatically connects to wireless broadband networks and streams Net transmissions.
The radio has a rechargeable battery that lasts … Read more
Looking for a deal on a high-end tabletop radio? Cambridge SoundWorks has cut the price on its four newest models:Cambridge SoundWorks 705 (was $120; now $80): This retro-styled AM/FM radio also features a line-in port, so it can double as an iPod speaker.
Cambridge SoundWorks 820HD (was $300; now $200): The only Cambridge model that receives all-digital HD Radio broadcasts also doubles as an excellent alarm clock.
Cambridge SoundWorks 735i (was $300; now $200): More conservatively styled than the 820HD, the 735i adds a dedicated iPod dock to its AM/FM clock radio functionality.
Cambridge SoundWorks 745i (was $… Read more
Yes, I'm still at Hot Chips. This post covers a special presentation by Reed Hundt of Frontline Wireless, who is a former chairman of the FCC. (Michael Kanellos has also blogged about this speech, here.) Previous Hot Chips installments include the AMD keynote, wireless networking, technology and software, process technology, multicore designs, IBM's Power 6 efforts, Vernor Vinge's keynote address and Nvidia. Other CNET coverage may be found here. Comments are welcome!
He opened his talk by regaling us with… Read more
Sony just sent me the XDR-S3HD tabletop HD Radio to review. I'm not quite done with it yet--I'm still evaluating the sound quality and reception versus the Polk Audio i-Sonic--but it appears to be a perfectly capable HD Radio. The big advantage of the Sony is that it's the first name-brand tabletop HD Radio that's available for under $200. That edges out the earlier Sangean HDR-1 ($250), as well as the Boston Acoustics Recepter HD and Cambridge SoundWorks 820HD (both $300). (While the Radiosophy HD100 is available for a scant $99, the photos alone don't exactly inspire confidence). The relative advantages and disadvantages of the Sony versus those competing models will be covered in the full review later this week, but the bigger question I keep running into when reviewing these products is this: is the HD Radio format good enough to justify the purchase of a dedicated radio?
HD Radio's extra stations For me, the supposed increase in sound quality just isn't that much of a selling point--you're just hearing those same lame Clear Channel playlists, albeit on a digital rather than an analog band. But the multicast (or HD2) stations are a different story. They're substations that offer alternative programming that's unavailable on the analog dial. For instance, New York's WPLJ offers adult contemporary music on its main station (analog and digital), but has two multicast stations--95.5-2 and 95.5-3--that play '70s and '80s music only, respectively. And because the industry is trying to hook people on HD Radio, these HD2 stations--for the time being, anyway--often broadcast free of commercials.
OK, now we're getting somewhere: there's some exclusive content dispersed throughout the HD Radio dial, so maybe it's got some value after all. But then I remembered something. When Tivoli Audio announced its two new NetWorksGo Wi-Fi radios last June, CEO Tom DeVesto defended their lack of HD Radio reception by saying that it was essentially superfluous: most of the multicast HD2 stations would still be available, just via Internet streaming instead of over the air. So I decided to put DeVesto's claim to the test.