Getting XM satellite radio in your car is easy with Alpine's CDA-9820XM head unit. An XM tuner is built right into the standard-DIN-size CD receiver, so there's no need to hook up anything external aside from the tiny XM antenna (not shown). Of course, you'll also have to subscribe to the XM service, which provides access to 120-plus channels for $10 a month. The front panel has an eight-character scrolling display that shows the XM channel number and name, song title, and artist; there are presets for 18 channels. AM and FM radio are still there if you want them, and when you want to escape completely from the outside world, just cue up a CD - even one with MP3 files. Rated to deliver 18 watts x 4, the receiver has subwoofer controls and a pair of preamp outputs. Price: $349.
Having trouble finding a place for the center speaker in your home theater? Don't even worry about it - a pair of Portrait LCR speakers from Artison can create a phantom DualMono center-channel image, keeping the center spot speaker-free. The design was originally developed to complement flat-panel TVs (see inset photo), but Artison's new Tower stands let the Portraits come down off the wall if you want to use them with a direct-view or rear-projection TV. The Portraits stand 49 inches tall when snugly fit into the stands, which are available in silver or black. Rated down to 80 Hz (±3 dB), each Portrait LCR has dual 4 1/2-inch Kevlar cone woofers, a pair of 1-inch tweeters, and a 1/2-inch angled tweeter, which helps create the center "speaker." Prices: Portrait LCRs, $1,650 a pair; with Tower stands, $2,000 a pair.
V Inc.The compact size and titanium-white finish of V Inc.'s Vizio L13 earn it the moniker "kitchen TV" - you can even buy an under-cabinet mounting kit ($99). Resolution of the 13-inch LCD panel, in traditional 4:3 shape, is 640 x 480 pixels, and contrast ratio is rated as 500:1. A standard TV tuner is built in, and external video sources can connect to the component-, composite-, and S-video inputs. If the built-in stereo speakers are bothering folks in the dining room, you can jack in some headphones to keep things private. A remote control and the table stand shown are included. Price: $350.
A customized universal remote that can fire up your home theater at the touch of a button is a great idea, but who wants to do all the work of programming a bunch of multiple-command macros? Harmony's SST-688 remote handset makes the process more bearable by harnessing the power of the Internet. First you log onto a secure home page on the Web where you enter information on your system, like equipment brands, model numbers, and how you use your gear. Then the site automatically creates a file you can download and copy to the remote via the supplied USB cable. Now the buttons labeled Play DVD, Watch TV, and others are programmed with all the necessary commands. The keypad is backlit for easy wielding in the dark. Price: $225.
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