Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bluetooth Speakers: The Next Market Phase for Bluetooth

Bluetooth has become a major player in wireless communications. It seems as though every portable device, from phones to MP3 players, is Bluetooth enabled. This technology has allowed people to share information and devices without complicated network hookups and cables. Portability and connectivity has become part of Bluetooth’s mission.

Everyone has seen people using the Bluetooth headsets that allow them hands-free use of their mobile phones. There are stereo headsets, mice, keyboards and other devices being released every year. As the Bluetooth market grows, so too does the range of products that now come Bluetooth enabled.

One area of great development is Bluetooth speakers. Until recently, the only Bluetooth speakers available were typically desktop speakers, which had limitations because of their small size. Now there are larger speakers, with rich, full stereo sound. With the convenience of Bluetooth, you do not have to worry about connecting your sound source to your speakers. Bluetooth connections make it easy to connect multiple devices without having to change wires or purchase expensive docking systems.

As the list of devices that incorporate MP3 players and Bluetooth grows, so does the convenience of using Bluetooth speakers. Even cell phones are able to store and play MP3 files. With all of these portable players available, the convenience of using full-sized speakers is even more evident. You do not need special equipment, and anyone can connect his or her devices to the speakers. This makes entertaining easier than ever before. With a push of a button, your speakers are ready to be linked with other devices. You do not need to have a single source for your music any longer.

Expect to start seeing more Bluetooth speakers in your retail shops. MANHATTAN has introduced the 2800 Acoustic Series Bluetooth Bookshelf Speaker System. The design is compact enough to fit into smaller spaces, but has the full sound of floor speakers. It follows the same easy connect methods that are in use with other devices, as well. Devices like this will be appearing more often.

MANHATTAN 2800 Acoustic Series Bluetooth Bookshelf Speaker System

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

HDMI 1.4 Specification - Ethernet Channel

HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC) consolidates video, audio and data streams into a single HDMI cable, supporting high-speed, bi-directional networking up to 100 Mbps. As a result of this cost- and space-saving feature, networking capability is being incorporated into a wide range of IP-enabled home entertainment devices. Look no further than your X-Box 360 and PlayStation3 to find some of the first examples of this, and more and more TVs and DVRs are adding an Ethernet channel for connectivity between home entertainment devices and the Internet.

Having an Ethernet channel incorporated for state-of-the-art audio/video cable reduces cable clutter, makes connections simpler and encourages the growth of the industry. The following images show how much simpler the HDMI with Ethernet cables will make this sort of connectivity.

In the image above, notice that any device that connects to the Internet must have two cables plugged into it. This configuration could be even more complicated if components use non-HDMI connections, requiring several connectors for audio and video. This tangle of cables takes longer to set up and troubleshoot, and it can even create hazards. Now compare that with the image below, showing how a setup would look using HDMI with Ethernet capability.

Networking capabilities are now becoming more available in a wide range of IP-enabled home entertainment devices. Consumers can have all the benefits of Ethernet connectivity through HDMI and further simplify their systems by eliminating the need for separate Ethernet cables. Below is a list of benefits offered by HEC devices.

1. Allow for growth of IP-based networking solutions for consumer electronics, such as DLNA, IPTV, LiquidHD, and UPnP
2. Allow connected devices to share an Internet connection
3. Enable native-format content distribution between connected devices, including recording and playback across a networked system
4. Provide a true one-cable solution for all your home entertainment needs, offering HDMI’s world-class quality and reliability plus all the benefits of home entertainment networking in one powerful connection
To make sure that you can benefit the most from HDMI Ethernet;

1. Look for devices that include HDMI Ethernet Channel functionality
2. Be sure to connect devices with one of the new cables designed to support HDMI Ethernet Channel functionality, either the Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet or the High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
3. Check with your manufacturer to determine which HDMI ports (if any) will support HDMI Ethernet Channel functionality

With the growth of Internet connectivity for your home entertainment devices, HDMI Ethernet cables and devices only make more sense. You can clean up the clutter of cables, get high-speed, bi-directional communications at 100 Mbps, and enjoy the ability to use IP-based applications over a single HDMI connection.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

HDMI 1.4 Specification - Audio Channel Return

Minimizing the Cable Clutter

This feature of HDMI 1.4 is a significant change in the way that we think about audio. In previous versions of HDMI and other A/V cable solutions, audio traveled in only one direction, as shown in the image below. 

Notice that the HDMI cable forms a connection from the input device, such as a DVD/CD player, to the stereo speaker/tuner system. From there, another HDMI cable extends from the audio output of the tuner to the display (which allows the input device — in this case, the DVD/CD player — to still be connected directly to the display, bypassing the stereo system). But for the display to send a signal back to the audio output of the tuner, you’d need a separate cable. 

 With the Audio Return Channel, the return audio can be sent back to the audio output without a secondary cable, resulting in these benefits:

• The single-cable design does not require additional HDMI cables, since it uses the same connections and wires as before.
• Fewer cables reduces the time and cost of installation.
• The lip-synch feature is carried back over the return channel to ensure that sound matches the video.
Obviously, these benefits are expected to make ARC a very popular feature.