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MP3 Players

Gear Heads or Hot Tips from The CEA Holiday Preview

Understandably, Consumer Electronic Association trade shows are generally showcases for the latest in computer technology. While there were certainly enough new laptops, Ipods and Ipads on display, a lot of exhibitors were thinking about audio as it pertains to both musicians and general consumers.

Logitech was heavily promoting its wireless speakers for mp3 players, as well as its Ultimate Ears line of noise-isolating earphones and headsets that are preferred by several rock luminaries, most notably Mick Jagger. Not to be outdone, Monster showcased its Beats Pro line of headphones that have the endorsements of such luminaries as Dr. Dre, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Lady Gaga.

Dolby has long been in a leader in audio technology and the company is making a major push in making consumers aware of the fact that the volume that viewers hear from their cable systems can vary from one minute to the next and from one channel to the next. It is not your imagination that some programs are louder than others even when you hold your television remote volume at the same level.

Dolby Volume addresses this issue by creating technology that allows viewers to enjoy a consistent audio level without losing any of the sound texture such as background vocals or low-pitch instruments. Dolby does not manufacture products but rather licenses out its technology to television set manufacturers as Toshiba, electronic accessory companies as Gefen, and various cable television systems.

On a slightly lower tech plane, a Pennsylvania physician. Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, has created “Sleep Phones,” that she likes to refer to as “pajamas for your ears.” Sleep Phones, is a fleece-like headband that has is connected to an mp3 player that ideally should play relaxing music. This is a helpful device if you are or your partner are sensitive to outside noises such as snoring or dog barks.

A Radio For The Internet

For far too long, the term “Internet radio” has been associated with logging onto a website on your PC or Mac and listen to the music stream through cyberspace. Wouldn’t it be great if you could actually listen to your favorite radio stations around the world by tuning an actual radio in the time-honored way?

An Internet radio device, also commonly called network music player is a hardware device that autonomously receives and plays music from a computer, Internet radio stations or online music services via the home network.

Thanks to Livio Radio, you can listen to your favorite music, as well as the music streaming via the popular Pandora website by tuning an actual table top radio; yes, the kind that you grew up listening to. This is an actual device that functions like a radio but taps into the stations available through the system --Pandora, NPR and 11,000 other stations.

Unlike Sirius XM Radio, there are no subscription fees to listen to any of the thousands of stations on Livio. There are certainly far more choices with Livio than there are with the flop known as High Definition radio.

Besides music, you can listen to other formats such as news, talk and sports. The only drawback is that out-of-market games are blacked out because of rightsholders agreements.




Handy Pocket-sized Devices

One of the great things about covering entertainment, and film in particular, is the tech toys that come across my desk--or I should say, my virtual desk, via the internet and e mail.  By the time I understand one set of ways to evaluate equipment, some thing new comes along that changes my valuations.

 So I am going to throw in some choice pocket-sized devices this time around.

Now take these cool little ear bud holders I have to play with.  These wacky looking BudFits insure that your iPod and iPhone earbuds won't fall out during even the most demanding physical activities ( and we won't say what those could be!). They maximize your comfort by eliminating the need to wedge the funky earbuds in your ear canals. Let the music rock through extreme sports or intense workouts. Retailing for $8.99, they come in three Colors - Frosted Clear, Stealth Black, and Vanilla White.

Lest I forget any support products for Apple and its family, I made sure that I wrote about a cool product for the iTunes ecosystem—including  PC, Mac and iPod® applications: The iWOW™ adaptor for iPod that SRS Labs, a leader in surround sound, audio, and voice technologies, has released. This is an accessory that attaches seamlessly to iPods, bringing this latest iWOW solution to these highly popular portable music and video devices.

The adaptor attaches to the iPod and delivers a thrilling and immersive music and video listening experience. Utilizing SRS audio solutions, this device restores the audio cues that are buried in the original source material so music and video files sound the way they were originally meant to be heard on your iPod—with remarkable depth and clarity. With a simple push of the button, users hear the amazing difference in music, videos and podcasts.

The immersive 3D audio, ultra-clear definition, and deep, rich bass will make users say “WOW!” after just one listen. SRS iWOW for iPod works with all iPods featuring a 30 pin connector, starting with the iPod classic, iPod nano 3G, and more.

Then there's this fine little device known as The magicJack. It's a PC accessory that enables you to make unlimited local and long-distance calls to the US and Canada for free from anywhere in the world. All you need is a broadband connection.

The magicJack is only $40 for the device and first year of service and $20 each year after.  

It's small (about the size of a matchbox), so very portable. Once plugged into the USB slot of the computer, you're ready to begin making calls within moments. Actual communication can be conducted by plugging a traditional hand-held phone into the free side of the magicJack (the most recognizable and familiar scenario) or by using any audio setting on the PC, such as a speaker and microphone, headset, etc. Now that's cool!—and I love how it defeats the corporate phone beast.

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