Pioneer's home-entertainment network hub, the Digital Library
The company joined the network fray with the Digital Library, its centerpiece for home entertainment and networking that works either wired, over Ethernet, or wireless.To support the product, which isn't expected to be available until late this year or early in 20003, Pioneer promised to have one networked product in every home-entertainment category by 2003. To help make this happen, it licensed the Metiabolic Digital Convergence Platform, which facilitates combining a music jukebox, photo albums, video clips, and Internet content and can provide three DVD-quality video streams and 21 audio streams simultaneously without degradation.
In DVD, Pioneer announced the $1,200 Elite DV-47A universal DVD player, which will handle DVD-Audio discs as well as multichannel SACDs. Finally, Pioneer showed new car speakers that look like expensive exotic wheels.
Eclipse, by Fujitsu Ten, announced the fruits of its collaboration with Bang & Olufsen -- an incredibly stylish, compact 1,000-watt Class D car amplifier. Eclipse also claimed that fewer of its head units are stolen than those of any other brand, 0.75% vs. 4%, and said it will replace any stolen head unit during the first year in the car.
The Philips Streamium MC-i200 Internet audio micro system
Philips Philips continued where it left off last year when it demonstrated an Internet radio minisystem. This year it introduced the Streamium MC-i200 Internet audio micro system. To complement it, Philips inked agreements with several major Internet music providers, or "aggregators" as it called them, including AOL. For video, Philips trumpeted Pixel Plus technology, which creates faux high-definition video from conventional sources by doubling the apparent horizontal and vertical resolution. (Over 15 years ago, Philips was one of the first companies to demonstrate line doubling.) The Pixel Plus system will debut on the Matchline 30- and 34-inch widescreen HDTV monitors. Philips will also follow RCA's lead in introducing large-screen sets using Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) technology.
In DVD, Philips announced a second DVD recorder, the DVDR985, which is slated to reach stores in February with a $1,000 price tag. The recorder incorporates the DVDi video processing chip from Faroudja, which is said to improve image quality and deliver excellent progressive-scan video performance. The company also introduced the $599 DVD962SA DVD player, which in addition to using the Faroudja video chip, will play multichannel SACDs. It's due in stores in February.
RCA announced it would sponsor transmission of the Super Bowl in the progressive-scan 480p enhanced-definition format, dubbed "Fox Widescreen." RCA claimed that 41% of the U.S. population would be able to receive and view the transmissions. This appeared to be a step backward from RCA's former efforts to promote true high-definition TV in the 1080i format. RCA also said it will divide its products into three lines: the technology-focused, high-end Scenium line, the Life line for more casual home products, and the Lyra line for portable gear.
RCA's Lyra portable products include the Personal Jukebox (right) with a 10-gigabyte hard drive for $299
In the last category is one of the coolest products we saw on press day, the Lyra Personal Jukebox, which uses a 10-GB hard drive to store 300 hours of music in the MP3-Pro format. It can also store any other digital data from still photos to documents to Power Point presentations and works with both PCs and Macs. The Lyra Jukebox is said to play music for 12 hours on one battery charge. If the user's motion should jar the hard drive, a memory buffer prevents skipping. The Lyra Personal Jukebox, about the size of the average digital camera, comes with MusicMatch software for $299.
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