Sure, home theater sound is synonymous with five, six, or seven speakers and a subwoofer. And sure, multichannel audio can sound great, and more and more of today's films rely on a room-filling surround experience to convey their full impact. But a lot of folks cringe at the very idea of dealing with a mess of wires and speakers filling their living rooms. Enter HT2.0, a concept I've been writing about for nearly ten years; stereo home theater really can sound amazing on films that don't rely on special effects. If you mostly watch dramas, comedies, … Read more
It seems like the Sirius-XM merger been dragging on for years, and both sides are eager to get it done, but what would I get out of it? I've been a happy Sirius subscriber for years. I love the commercial-free music channels, and the uninhibited talk channels are hugely entertaining. At least maybe Sirius' sound quality will get closer to XM's--it's always sounded a little better.
They still need approval from the Federal Communications Commission before the deal is done. If you ask me, it seems anticompetitive to let the only two satellite-radio companies in the U.… Read more
Updated March 22, 2008. Edits explained at the end of the post. - ST
I was reading a news item about the resignation of Mathstar's chief financial officer. I was surprised to see a publicly traded semiconductor company I'd never heard of, so I checked it out.
Turns out that Mathstar is like a number of companies I've come across over the years: they come in under the radar screen and, as such, investors think they've found something special.
Sure, these companies are special, but not in a good way.
Mathstar markets itself as a development-stage fabless semiconductor company. Its products are called field-programmable object arrays, or FPOAs, and are targeted at high-performance, data-intensive applications like defense, security, medical imaging, and video.
Sounds good, right?… Read more
High-definition, 1080p, Blu-ray, blah, blah, blah. There's a lot of talk about quality--manufacturers, consumers, and yes, and maybe most of all, by reviewers--but out in the real world, does anybody really give a crap about quality? The rush to HDTV is all well and good, but last night in a trendy midtown bar, I was appalled by the picture plastered on their 60 inch plasma. It was in eyeball searing mode, faces were an intense shade of orange, and of course, the aspect ratio was off, so even the skinniest TV hotties were fat and wide.
OK, it was … Read more
Last night a song called "21st Century (Digital Boy)" by Bad Religion just popped into my head. I don't know why, it just did.
The lyrics seem to reject our growing dependency on technology. The chorus begins with "I'm a 21st century digital boy, I don't know how to live (or read) but I've got a lot of toys."… Read more
It can happen at any time: market bubbles burst, companies crash and burn, investment portfolios become worthless overnight. The common denominator in these events is overconfidence, irrational exuberance, call it what you want, it all comes down to lots and lots of people taking risks they shouldn't take.
Why do we do this to ourselves, in spite of all logic to the contrary?
We even have age-old sayings we choose to ignore all the time: What goes up, must come down; the bigger they are, the harder they fall; don't put all your eggs in one basket. Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead sang, "'Cause when life looks like easy street there is danger at your door."
Do we listen? Nope.… Read more
Here's the concept: It's no secret young consumers don't get high-end audio. It just seems like either total BS or an extravagance for the rich. Yes, it can be both of those things, but there's a lot of great, affordable high-end audio that's available to anyone who's truly passionate about music. Here's one quick example, Usher Audio's staggeringly good S-520 speakers that go for $400 a pair (I'll review them in this space soon).
Anyway, a high-end publicist friend of mine proposed this reach out to the youth concept through Rolling … Read more
The SACD is a "super" CD, it sounds better, offers multichannel, high-resolution sound, and hybrid SACDs are backwards compatible with CD players. Sony initially pushed SACD as a CD replacement and the market yawned. OK, but you would have thought that audiophiles would have, en mass, supported SACD, especially after so many of them bashed CD for its harsh digital sound. SACDs, at least ones sourced from high quality recordings, really do sound better than CD (but a crappy original recording, remastered to SACD, still sounds crappy). No, just a small segment of the audiophile market embraced SACD, … Read more
Ever wonder how we got along without cell phones, BlackBerrys, notebook computers, and fax machines? How did we manage to have fun without video games, MP3 players, and DVRs?
Come to think of it, how did we ever survive without the Internet?
I don't know how, but we did. And you know what? I don't remember ever thinking I was missing something. I played records, wrote letters, used the phone book, and shopped at stores.
As for work, well, the business of designing chips was a bit archaic back then. Still, at Texas Instruments we did manage to get our designs done and out the door. In fact, TI's venerable TMS320 Digital Signal Processor--the chip inside most of the world's cell phones--was invented back then in the early '80s. How about that?… Read more