January Gear Roundup: Tattooed Headphones and Vacuum Speakers

High-concept gadgets kick off 2012

Courtesy of Sirius XM
Sirius XM Lynx
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As a prelude to the annual tech industry confab the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which opens January 10, high-tech music accessory and home audio gear manufacturers are already trotting out innovative new listening hardware for 2012.

Portable satellite radio the Sirius XM Lynx ranks among the new year’s earliest debuts, offering listeners the ability to store 200 hours of music or talk programming and enjoy time-shifting features. Currently available online for $249.99, it offers access to the provider’s full range of shows and allows fans to pause live performances on-demand or restart tunes being played on favorite channels. With the multi-touch system, 3.5-inch color display and WiFi connectivity, owners can pull up schedules for a week’s worth of sports, entertainment and music – then stop, rewind and replay broadcasts in-progress. Bluetooth wireless streaming connectivity allows for acoustic output through stereo speakers, headphones, autos and portable accessories, with optional vehicle and home expansion kits also available for $69.99 each.

Tattoo artist Ed Hardy is the latest well-known personality to roll out a line of celebrity-branded headphones. Multiple in-ear and over-ear models are available, at prices ranging from $29 to $66, including Tiger and Skull and Bones stereo and earbud units. As with Gavio’s The Pill, a pocket-sized speaker dock compatible with the 6th generation iPod Nano and designed to resemble a red-and-white medicine capsule, actual performance may prove secondary to aesthetic appeal. Providing hipsters a more offbeat way to enjoy music, both point towards consumer electronics makers’ growing emphasis on inventive designs and conversation-starting quirks.

At least one major manufacturer is also jumping on the gimmick bandwagon. See the debut of the DA-E750 Audio Dock, Samsung’s initial foray into space, said to be “the world’s first docking system that incorporates [its] proprietary hybrid vacuum tube technology.” Meant for use with manually-inserted or wirelessly connected Apple devices and the company’s own Galaxy S smartphones, the company claims that it bridges the gap between digital amplifiers’ machined crispness and more organic-sounding sonic output. It sports a 2.1-channel speaker and 100 watt subwoofer, as well as a USB port and MP3, WMA and WAV file support to complement its vintage wooden look; units are further compatible with the iPhone, iPod and iPad. AirPlay and Bluetooth wireless connections will also be available, as will the option to play music straight from a thumb drive, portable media player or external hard drive.

The manufacturer plans to offer similar vacuum technology in its HT-E6730 7.1 Channel 3D Blu-ray Home Theater system, which pairs the innovation with a digital amplifier. Promising similar sonic benefits as above, albeit meant for use with cranium-rattling movie and TV show soundtracks in living room surroundings, the 3D surround system aims to offer warmer and richer sound while minimizing distortion.

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