Audio Arts may be NYC's newest high-end audio shop, but you can tell it isn't really competing with the more established stores in the area. You see, the others carry a mix of high-end and mainstream brands to cater to the broadest possible market, but Audio Arts' Gideon Schwartz only sells products from the most esoteric manufacturers. That said, the services all of these NYC brick-and-mortar shops offer--side-by-side auditions of audio components and hands-on customer service--can't be duplicated by online retailers. Maybe that's why despite astronomical rents, NYC high-end retailers aren't just surviving, new shops … Read more
I've seen these types of things before, but now Iogear has jumped into the fray with a new surround processor for stereo headphones. The product, the USB Theater Sound Xperience, is a USB audio adapter featuring DTS Surround Sensation Headphone technology. Connecting directly to a computer's USB 2.0 port, the USB Theater Sound Xperience simulates a surround-sound effect over stereo headphones or stereo speakers. It's a PC-only compatible device and will not work with Apple computers.
I have no idea what it sounds like, but I love the design; it looks like a vacuum tube! Fear … Read more
Add personality to the list of must-have robot vacuum cleaner features. Turns out that showing some emotion makes you a better service robot, even if you're just a motorized disc that cleans floors for a living.
Researchers from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands determined the personality traits (PDF) that people want to see in a robo-vac, then figured out how to make it display those traits using motion, sound, and lights.
People successfully identified the traits in a video of a fake robo-vac (a remote control box on wheels) going through the motions (see the video below).
People readily anthropomorphize objects, and Robo-vac makers can make their products more predictable by deliberately pulling our strings, according to the researchers, adding that if we know what our little helpers are doing and how they're likely to react, we're more satisfied.… Read more
If you've ever bought a Dyson product--or even looked at one--you know that they tend to run pretty expensive.
In the case of the Dyson DC35 Digital Slim, you're looking at $299 for a cordless vacuum. That's a lot of dough, but the Slim, which is shaped more like a cleaning weapon than an appliance, has a dash of Dyson's usual innovative, fancy-sounding technology. It sustains suction level (even when the bin is filled up) with something called Root Cyclone technology, and it comes with a "fade-free" lithium ion battery that you just won'… Read more
Americans love power. We buy 320-horsepower Chevy Tahoes to haul the kids to soccer practice. For home theater, the magic power number for receivers is 100 watts, and it has to be a seven-channel model, even though 80 or 90 percent of home theater buyers are perfectly happy with five-channel sound.
Americans equate power with quality, but I'm here to tell you there's another way. Sure, power is cheap, and a the-more-the-merrier strategy works well enough most of the time. Let's just be clear on what amplifier power provides: it defines the upper limit of how loud … Read more
People who hate housework will soon have two more robots to handle the chores.
iRobot this week will unveil the Scooba 230 floor washer and the next-generation Roomba 700 series of vacuums.
iRobot already has a line of Scooba floor washers, but the company is touting the Scooba 230 as a leaner cleaner. At 3.5 inches high and 6.5 inches wide, the 230 is geared to squeeze into tight places, such as underneath furniture and around bathroom fixtures. The 230 holds enough cleaning fluid to take care of 150 square feet of space in one session, iRobot said.… Read more
Aside from all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains, it's been a relatively slow week for new gadget cravings. That said, we've got a few awesome gems to discuss in Jasmine's absence, including Delorean hard drives, the perfect vacuum shoes for Donald's recently admitted robot maid fetish, bike locks that take to the air, and social-network sneakers. Also, a pizza that should not be!
Nobody likes hoovering. It's an enormous chore, but sadly, until they invent non-crumbling cookies we're stuck with it. If running a vacuum cleaner 'round the place is doing your back and head in, you'll like the Foki shoe--a concept product that lets you "shoe-ver" your house.
Foki is a vacuum cleaner concept developed by Indonesian industrial designer Adika Titut Triyugo that definitely does not suck--even though it does. Don your housecoat and pinafore, put your hair up in rollers, and step into your Foki shoes to see what we mean.
Read more of "… Read more
Tube amplifiers sound different, and in many ways better than solid-state amps. Describing what better sound sounds like is a highly subjective call. But you can't argue the fact that tubes are still being manufactured, legions of guitarists use tube amplifiers, and a fair number of audiophiles crave tube sound. The catch? Tube designs are more expensive to build and sell than solid-state components.
The Jolida FX10 tube amp ($450) breaks that rule and sells for less than your average mid-price receiver. Jolida was founded in 1995, and has been a budget audiophile favorite right from the beginning. One of my closest audiophile pals bought an early Jolida amp, and he still uses it on a daily basis. So in terms of value, the FX10 will likely be a better long-term investment than most receivers (I get e-mails every week from people asking about dumping their five- or six -year-old receivers).
The FX10 is prettier than Jolida's old designs. Blue LEDs light up the Russian-made EL-84 power tubes and 12AX7 small signal tubes in the glass case, so the FX10 looks especially cool at night. The brushed aluminum chassis and safety glass tube cover are a big step up from what you find on similarly priced receivers. My sample was finished in sky blue, but the FX10 is also available in silver or black. Build quality feels substantial, and the solid-metal, gold-plated speaker wire connectors are a good indication of that. There are two RCA inputs on the rear panel and a 3.5mm input upfront.
The amp comes with a remote control and an iPod hookup cable. The 12-pound unit measures a trim 8x7x7 inches; so it's small enough to fit on a desktop.
The FX10 is a 10-watt-per-channel stereo amp, but don't worry, it can play pretty loud. Bass-heavy reggae music from Ras Mek Peace played nice and loud over my Zu Essence speakers. The little amp wasn't lacking in power or oomph, so yes, 10 watts can drive the right speaker to a remarkably loud volume. Soundstage depth was really good, so each instrument and vocals sounded fully present. This is an extremely well-recorded CD, without dynamic range compression, and the FX10 handled that sort of demanding music without raising a sweat. … Read more
Somewhere along the line, our idea of futuristic space-age culinary options got off track. Thankfully, here in 2010, we aren't all surviving off of food in pill form, but other good (or at least more delicious) ideas still have not come to fruition. We may not yet have the Black & Decker Hydrator from "Back to the Future," or the liquefied meal (including fish!) served on the moon shuttle in "2001: A Space Odyssey," but at least we have sous vide cooking.
Innovative cooking methods and innovative food storage solutions may not seem like they … Read more