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As is now a tradition, it's time to revisit our GearBits' predictions for 2010 to see if we were anywhere close to accurate. 
 
1) Cyberterrorism Becomes a Significant Issue
We've all read reports and stories that say cyberterrorism (the act of attacking a country via its computer networks) is a growing threat and that the US should take it seriously. We've even seen some limited cases where it was used to minor effect. I expect 2010 will see the first major example of the damage cyberterrorism can achieve, and we'll all be much more aware of it as a result. Sub-prediction: McAfee and Symantec sales grow significantly as a result.

thumbs-down.gifI'm REALLY happy that I got this one wrong. That is, of course, if you ignore the Chinese hacking of Google and other companies, and you don't consider WikiLeaks' activity "cyberterrorism" (I don't) or the "hacktivism" it prompted. Frankly, I was expecting some major outage -- a stock exchange taken down, a city's electrical grid compromised, or something on that order -- and it's great that that didn't happen in 2010. 
 
2) Microsoft Launches Windows Mobile 7, Enough to Stay in the Game
The smartphone space is inhabited mostly by 6 key platform players: Symbian, Blackberry, iPhone, Android, webOS, and Windows Mobile. Microsoft's recent endeavors in the mobile space haven't netted much (except perhaps some slight momentum on the media player side). WinMo 6.5 was late and generally uncompetitive with more contemporary offerings already in the marketplace. Pink was an absolute disaster. Even hardcore WinMo fans are getting restless for something really new. Windows Mobile 7 will have a daunting challenge in successfully fighting back against 5 competitors with better products and/or well-established market shares. Windows Mobile 7, when it comes out in the latter half of 2010, will still seem a little stale in comparison, but much better than 6.5. I do, however, fully expect 7 will tap into the other mobile products & services Microsoft has been cultivating, such as Bing and Zune (what is it with their onomotopoeic product names?). It won't be a barnburner, but, with some help from HTC and a couple other big-name handset producers Microsoft can count on, they'll have a small stable of fairly impressive devices available by the end of the year.

thumbs-up.gifYep...mostly. Windows Phone 7 did not come out seeming "stale," but it was roundly criticized for lacking a long list of features found on other platforms (e.g., copy & paste, tethering, multitasking, etc.). While it certainly doesn't have the fleet of handsets that Android boasts, WP7 has launched on an impressive number of devices and carriers across the globe. Add to that the fact that WP7, just a few months after launch, already has more apps than webOS does after more than 18 months, Microsoft appears to have gotten more right than wrong and certainly enough to keep their seat at the smartphone table. 
 
3) 3-D Gets Even More Press but No Real Traction in the Home
3-D televisions and video players will be all over the place at CES, but their availability and technical trade-offs will keep them from seeing significant adoption in 2010. Long-term, however, I think 3-D will eventually take off, but I doubt it will happen as long as viewers have to wear special glasses in order to not be nauseated by the image.

thumbs-up.gifBy any measure, 3D TV has been talked about in the press more than it's been brought into consumers' homes. In 2010, the combination of scant high-quality content and expensive/uncomfortable/incompatible gear failed to make 3D a compelling experience, and slow sales was the result.

4) Fervor over Social Search Subsides but Doesn't Die Out
Social search (i.e., using real-time social media as sources of useful information for returning search results) is all the rage as we enter 2010. I think that the major search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, Yahoo!, et al.) will all figure out by the end of the year that, while social search has some promise for a small subset of queries, information produced by social media is largely junk and an unreliable source of value to their customers (search engine users). However, there is some gold in them thar hills, and we'll start seeing the fruits of their efforts as they isolate those situations where social search can indeed be really, really valuable (e.g., product reviews and event status).

thumbs-up.gifThere's been relatively little discussion in 2010 of how social media should change search. While we saw a lot of sites become more integrated into social media, such as via Facebook's nearly ubiquitous "Like" button, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!'s attempts to add a social component to their search products never really gained traction. Clearly, it's harder than it seems to glean those rare nuggets of helpful, timely information from the vast noise of the social web.

5) Movies and TV Shows Go Mashup...and Not in a Good Way
A lot of media producers seem to be running out of ideas, so I think they'll start going for unique combinations of themes and concepts to fuel their movies and television shows. Think space vampires and hot robot/android women battling killer zombies driving souped-up, well-armed cars really fast around Las Vegas. Coming soon to theaters near you.

thumbs-down.gifLooking back at 2010, I don't see any noticeable increase in "trans-genre" movies and TV shows. And maybe that's for the best, really. But, if the forthcoming "Cowboys & Aliens" is any indication, I just might've been a year early on this prediction. 
 
6) Apple Announces a Tablet
Yes, I'm a sucker for this rumor-that-will-not-die. It's not like I'm even a fan of the tablet concept, so this isn't something I'm particularly hoping will happen. I just think it will. Imagine a 7"-to-10" iPhone Touch and you won't be too far off. Oh, and it will be more expensive than anyone who isn't an Apple shareholder thinks is reasonable, yet it will sell quite well (at least initially).

thumbs-up.gifPretty much, yeah. ;-) 
 
7) SuperSpeed USB Takes Off Quickly
I think we'll see SuperSpeed USB (a.k.a. USB 3.0) be adopted very rapidly in 2010. Signs from motherboard and accessory makers are that they're very eager to adopt this recently ratified standard, and I think everyone would agree that faster USB connections is only a good thing. As long as they don't screw up backward compatibility (one of the keys to USB 2.0 being as successful as it has been), it'll be another home run. On a related note, Wireless USB will not get the attention or traction we'd all like a stable, high-speed wireless connectivity standard to get, mostly because it just won't be as simple as plugging a wire into a hole.
thumbs-up.gifI'm going to give this one to me, but I'll admit that USB 3.0 adoption has been a bit softer than I thought it would be. I mean, we do now have motherboards, PCs, external external hard drives, and flash drives that all use USB 3.0, but it's clearly not ubiquitous yet. Wireless USB went nowhere in 2010, unfortunately, just as predicted. 
 
8) Steve Jobs Gives an Apple Keynote Presentation
Might Sir Jobs be the "one more thing" at WWDC?

thumbs-up.gifClearly a thumbs-up. You don't think Steve would've missed the grand unveiling of his "magical" iPad, now would you? 
 
9) Sprint is Acquired
The cellular carrier's weak valuation and lackluster performance in retaining customers and attracting new ones, combined with its continued WiMAX roll-out will make it a target for some kind of merger or acquisition, likely by a European carrier looking to get entry into the US market. The actual acquisition may not go through in 2010 due to extensive regulatory review, but the intent will be announced.

thumbs-down.gifBzzt! Wrong...thanks for playing. Sprint never got a buyout offer, but it did end 2010 on a much stronger note than it started the year. Not only has it met all its WiMax/4G rollout milestones, it is now being lauded for having among the best customer service in the US cellular market. Not that that's saying much ("tallest pygmy" and all that), but it's something. 
 
10) Twitter Grows at a Slower Rate than in 2009
Twitter will continue to gain new members faster than it loses them, but it will not see the huge surge it enjoyed in 2009. This will mostly be because the company's management has a tenuous, at best, grasp on what its users want (leading it to make bad design decisions) and a business model that does not support both rapid growth and scalable, reliable service (thereby turning off users). It's too bad, too, as Twitter could've become the next Facebook had they played their cards right. The only thing that can save it is an acquisition...Google, perhaps?

thumbs-up.gifTwitter grew a lot in 2010, but not as quickly as it did in 2009. Two stats support this assessment. In 2009, Twitter grew from an Alexa "reach" rating of essentially zero to about a 5; in 2010, it grew from a 5 to about an 8. While that's another big increase, it's a smaller increase than in 2009. Also, in 2009, Twitter grew from 100 million tweets per quarter to 2 billion, a 1900% growth rate. In 2010, it grew from 2 billion to a around 8 billion quarterly posts, a 400% increase. So, while Twitter is still growing hugely, 2010 just wasn't as blockbuster of a year as 2009 was.
   

For 2010, things look pretty good: we got 7 right and 3 wrong.

Here are GearBits' previous years' predictions and results:

2004:Predictions,No Results
2006:Predictions,Results
2007:Predictions,Results
2008:Predictions,Results
2009:Predictions,Results
In the shower this morning, the germ of some song lyrics popped into my head.  Here's what I jotted down quickly after drying off:

YOUR HOUSE

You're the girl for me
I can feel it in my soul
Smile for my camera please
It's hidden and pinhole

I watch you from afar
And you give me hope
You're the shining star
In my Russian night scope

REFRAIN:
Into your heart I creep
To watch you while you sleep
And by "your heart" I mean
Your house

Don't misunderstand, I'm not a perv
Don't get me wrong for heaven's sake
I just don't have the nerve
To talk to you when you're awake

REFRAIN

I lay down next to you
An immediate release
The moment that you wake
Please don't call the police

REFRAIN

So you're playing hard to get
I'm better than other men
You will understand
When I see you in 5 to 10

REFRAIN

So...anyone want to write some music for this gem? ;-)

CDLast night, on a whim (mostly to see what the user experience was like), I downloaded an album from the MP3 Store at Amazon.com using my Palm Pre. Over three years ago, I posted "Why I Buy CDs". Looking back at my original reasons for obtaining my music solely via CD purchase, I thought it was time for an update. My original reasons are below with today's thoughts beneath.

1) It's a durable format that will last a long time on my shelf. In the case, I don't doubt that my CDs will last at least a few decades (I've had some since 1987 and they still play perfectly).

Still relevant. Hard drives crash, files get corrupted, but commercially pressed CDs rarely go bad just sitting in their jewel case on the shelf.

2) It's guaranteed to be accessible for a long, long time because CD-playing hardware is so ubiquitous and upcoming technologies (e.g. Blu-Ray and HD DVD) still include CDDA as a supported format. At a minimum, I can rip them into other formats that can then evolve as needed.

Right. The concept of an uncompressed "digital master," from which all other formats (Ogg, AAC, etc.) can be derived, is ultimately useful.

3) It's DRM free. I don't buy DRMed CDs because I want to make sure that advantage #2 isn't obviated through software restrictions.

Still relevant. Even though the music industry is moving towards DRM-free downloads, it's not ubiquitous, so you have to know who practices what policy.

4) It's reasonably portable. 10 CD jewel cases takes up a fair bit of space, but 10 CDs doesn't and 10 hours of music is quite a bit for one trip. Granted, for longer trips, I take ripped tracks, but to just toss a couple of albums in the car, CDs are still reasonably handy.

Irrelevant. I don't carry around my CDs at all anymore. A combination of streaming direct to most any device I own (using Orb) and portable media players (e.g., our Archos) has meant the physical CD never leaves our house.

5) I like albums. Even though I may initially buy a 12-song album for just a couple of songs, I often end up really liking a few other tracks as well that I probably wouldn't have bought individually. This allows/helps me to appreciate the artist more completely.

Still relevant, which is why I bought an entire album last night after only hearing a few tracks. Of course, it being by an artist I know I like (Paul Oakenfold) meant that the risk was lower.

6) CD jackets often contain entertaining and/or useful information, such as song lyrics and photos. Given that it's becoming increasingly hard to legally obtain song lyrics online, getting them "for free" in a jacket is an added benefit.

Still relevant. I don't know what I'm missing via the download since I'll possibly never see the liner notes.

One additional reason I prefer CDs is that they're a known quantity technically. Downloads can fail, sometimes meaning having to pursue corrective action through customer service. With a CD, the worst thing that happens is a scratched disc (rare if bought new) and a swap at the store.

A final reason I still prefer the CD that I didn't list back in 2006 is that downloads don't help support my local music stores. Cincinnati is blessed to still have some wonderful record and CD shops, staffed by knowledgeable people (not quite Jack Black in "Hi Fidelity"), and it would sadden me greatly to see those go away as they have in some other cities.

So, while I'm not ruling out entirely the occasional download in the future, I think the majority of my music purchases will still be via CD for some time to come.

lifespoke-logo.gifA week-and-a-half ago, I spent all weekend (well, about 34 hours of it) in a habitrail of meeting rooms with about 100 other people trying to do something pretty incredible: invent, build, and launch a new Internet startup in less than three days.

The event, InOneWeekend 2008, was the inaugural entrepreneurial exercise by this new Cincinnati organization, which hopes to jump-start new-venture creation in the technology-based services space (i.e., dot-coms).

After lots of thinking and working and coding and sweating (not to mention eating fast food and swilling highly caffeinated beverages), our concept was outlined and mocked up to a degree that we thought the world should be invited to share in its evolution from beta concept to fully operational service.

I, er, we give you...LifeSpoke.

Go on...click the link and check it out...it won't hurt, I promise.

LifeSpoke is, and soon will be more of, a place to save, organize, and share all your personal memorabilia and life's memories (assuming they come in handy digital format, of course). With an innovative, patent-pending interface (that we're not quite ready to share yet) and a family-oriented content model (that includes loads of privacy, security, and convenience), we're pretty stoked at the idea that moms, dads, kids, grandparents, and close friends will finally have a place to share their intimate memories and most precious media in a rich new environment.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Actually, you're thinking "I'm hungry...I wonder what's in the fridge." Hey, focus...there's just a little more to read here. You were also thinking "But aren't there a bazillion other media-sharing websites out there, like YouTube, most with sharing features?" To that I say of course! But LifeSpoke is different and will be the best solution for families and close-knit groups of friends to share their memories. While those other sites are great for stuff like watching someone's dog ride a skateboard or having anonymous 15-year-olds "friend" you, LifeSpoke focuses on the relationships in your life that mean the most.

So...go sign up for one of the limited beta invitations at LifeSpoke.com and join us as we ride this idea to wherever it takes us. Should be a fun trip.

If you're interested in reading more about the InOneWeekend adventure we had, check out these stories:
Official LifeSpoke press release (Marketwatch.com)
Cincinnati Business Courier article (bizjournals.com)

anc7.jpgBack in March, I reviewed the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 QuietPoint Noise-Cancelling Headphones (shown). I've continued enjoying them whenever I fly, as they greatly reduce the stress and fatigue I usually get when traveling on an airplane.

Tonight, however, I discovered a more mundane, and therefore, more useful, application for these noise-silencing cans: transforming the chore of grass-mowing into a nearly pleasurable activity.

While they can't eradicate the mower's noise entirely...it's just too overwhelming...the combination of (a) the over-the-ear seals, and (b) the noise-canceling technology effectively drops the drone of the mower to easily tolerable levels. In fact, while I usually struggle to hear the radio over the mower when using my jogging headphones, even at top volume, I was easily able to listen in total comfort at only 60% volume when wearing the Audio-Technicas.

So, if you have a pair of NC headphones, give this a shot and let me know if you notice a difference. And if you don't already have a set, and you mow the grass on occasion, go grab some...your ears will be thankful.

Mitch, seeing my Hot/Not list from yesterday, compiled his own, so here it is:

HOT

  • iPod Touch - I tried the Archos 605 Wi-Fi first and its mediocrity makes the Touch that much more delightful. I really love well done user interfaces and this one is first rate. My only complaint is its picky eating habits when it comes to video formats.
  • iMac - I waited longer than any other tech purchase to finally go with Apple's all-in-one desktop PC. I opted for the top of the line 3.06 GHz 24" model and have been completely blown away by it. So far I have found no flaws. It is stunning.
  • High Gas Prices - Innovation rocks and if it takes $5/gallon gasoline to get us out of this oil addiction then I'm more than willing to pay my dues. Fewer SUVs and pickups, electric cars, solar energy, alternative fuels, more big butts on bicycles, less traffic congestion; I'm all for it. Let's drop our consumption by half and let OPEC drink their devalued crude.
  • Synology - A NAS will soon be as ubiquitous on a home network as the router is today. The clever, feature-filled offerings from Synology are the best of the breed. I'll have a DS508 please!
  • Subaru - Totally agree with Craig here. I've been
    in Imprezas now going on six years and I still feel like I'm cheating when I share the road with normal cars. Scoobys are fabulous.
  • Ken Follett's Historical Novels - "The Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End" are two of my favorite books of all time and I just took them in this Spring. I listened to both on my iPod (over 40 hours each) after downloading them from Audible and they made a month of 1000 mile weekly commutes totally enjoyable. Masterful stuff.
  • CrossFit - I was in good shape 20 years ago and at 44 I can wipe the floor with my 24 year old self (if that was possible). I've been CrossFitting for almost a year now and some of the things I can do now would have seemed outlandish back then.

NOT

  • General Motors - If you Google dinosaur, out of touch, lethargic, and unimaginative you should pull up GM's home page. I used to be a fan, but they have been disappointing me for 25 years now and don't seem to be planning any big changes. The sooner they finish themselves off, the better off we'll be.
  • Labor Unions - Working in the industrial world I cross paths with unions
    of all sorts way more than I would like. I completely understand why our manufacturing sector is fleeing to other countries. I have never seen such a lazy, selfish, destructive, regressive bunch of people in my life. They can't all be like that, but the ones I've met surely are.
  • Sheeple-Filled Corporate IT Departments - My 26,000 strong corporation is going to switch to Vista because they don't want to be left with no anti-virus support for their XP platform. Goodbye nice warm frying pan and hello fire.
  • Cable/Satellite TV - I'm SO tired of paying $80 a month for a bunch of
    garbage that I would never watch even if I had the time. It won't be long until I cut that cord and start rolling my own TV. If I could just decide which way I want to do it!
  • Global Markets - I realize that even the lowliest trader in/on most investment banks/trading floors/commodities exchanges is smarter than I am, but I would really love to see them use those brains rather than run with every emotion that riffles through the world markets. Do investors even pay attention to P/E ratios or supply and demand or is it all about what the hot analyst is saying or the sheeple are doing?

logitech squeezebox duetWe just got a Logitech Squeezebox Duet, the new low(er)-cost competitor to the rather amazing Sonos wireless music streaming system, and I thought I'd post some shots of its debut at our house.

We got the Squeezebox primarily to replace the SMC Networks EZ-Stream SMCWAA-G that no longer seems to want to work properly (I constantly have to unplug it and plug it back in repeatedly when starting it up before it will recognize the network and respond to remote control signals). But then sometimes even a bargain is worth less than what you pay for it.

At $399, the Squeezebox Duet certainly isn't cheap, but it's still $200 less than a comparable Sonos setup. Plus, unlike the Sonos, the Squeezebox benefits from Slim Devices' (which Logitech acquired in late 2006) rabid developer community, so there's tons of nifty extensions and add-ons.

logitech squeezebox duet

Click on the "continue reading" link for more pics and some initial reactions in lieu of a full review.

The 605 WiFi, a fifth-generation portable media player from the French electronics firm Archos, is an impressive device. It boasts a vivid, high-res 4.3" touchscreen, 802.11g Wi-Fi (more on that later), and the ability to handle a reasonably broad array of media formats (although the larger, more expensive Cowon A3 handles far more). Plus, the 605 WiFi is available with hard drives of 30, 80, and 160 gigabytes or with 4GB of flash storage (the flash model also sports an SDHC slot for unlimited expansion). This review focuses on the 4GB flash version, which can be had for under $200 online and at a few brick-and-mortar electronics retailers.

Archos605.jpg

Wired has an interesting article that shows the media (recording artists, TV shows, and movies) most popular on the P2P networks (i.e., BitTorent). I was surprised...surprised by (a) two of my favorite shows were on the list, and (b) I'd heard of nearly nothing on the music list. I guess aging has its consequences, eh?

Anyway, here are the lists (for the full details, check out the Wired story):

Top Songs of 2007
1. Shop Boyz - "Party Like A Rock Star"
2. Akon - "I Wanna Luv U"
3. Sean Kingston - "Beautiful Girls"
4. Mims - "This Is Why I'm Hot"
5. Akon - "Don't Matter"
6. T-Pain - "Bartender"
7. Soulja Boy - "Crank Dat Soulja Boy"
8. Justin Timberlake - "My Love"
9. DJ Unk - "Walk It Out"
10. Jim Jones - "We Fly High"

Top Music Artists of 2007
1. T.I.
2. T-Pain
3. Akon
4. 50 Cent
5. R. Kelly
6. Lil Wayne
7. Justin Timberlake
8. Fergie
9. Ludacris
10. Snoop Dogg

Top Movies of 2007
1. Resident Evil: Extinction
2. Pirates of The Caribbean: At World's End
3. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
4. Ratatouille
5. Superbad
6. Beowulf
7. Transformers
8. American Gangster
9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
10. Stardust

Top TV Shows of 2007
1. Heroes
2. Prison Break
3. Top Gear
4. Smallville
5. Desperate Housewives
6. House, M.D.
7. Lost
8. Grey's Anatomy
9. 24
10. Dexter

nuvi370.jpgI've not posted about much technology recently. For that, I truly apologize. This is, after all, GearBits. So, to fill that void, here's a brief recap of some gadget and gear acquisitions over the last six months or so (and why they're my picks).

GPS: Garmin Nuvi 370
After borrowing Mitch's Garmin for a recent roadtrip to the Smoky Mountains, I was hooked. The Nuvi 370 is a terrific combination of features and portability. Text-to-speech keeps my eyes on the road and the bright screen and simple menu system makes it an easy-to-use travel aid. Plus, it's small and light enough to take with you on a walkabout, as I did recently when hiking around San Francisco.

lnt5271f.jpgTV: Samsung LNT-5271F 52" 1080p LCD
Yeah, this is a bit over-the-top, but I told my wife that I reserved the right to redo the basement TV setup if I got my promotion at work (I did). So far, it's a really nice TV. The first one died on me (the screen went weird a week into the relationship), but this second one is doing fine. Discovery HD Theater has never been more impressive, although crappy SD cable channels now look just as crappy, but bigger. Now I just need to start working on a way to justify getting a Blu-Ray/HD DVD combo player.

txsr705.jpgA/V Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705
As part of the upgrade of the basement TV area, our old receiver just had to be replaced. It was ca. 1996, so its idea of "A/V" meant two composite video inputs. The Onkyo is a nice balance between performance (100W x 7 and 3 HDMI inputs + upconversion) and bulk. It definitely is more capable than the Yamaha it replaced (although the Yamaha still sounds great).

DVD Player: Oppo DV-981HD
The new TV quickly showed just how awful our previous DVD player was. I shouldn't have been surprised, really. After all, it was a Sony VHS + progressive scan DVD combo unit that I got from Woot.com for like $40 last year. Man, the video signal it put out, even over component, just made my eyes bleed. The Oppo, on the other hand, makes standard-definition DVDs look really quite excellent, even converting them to 1080p and outputting via HDMI. Its video-processing circuitry is optimized for getting the best possible picture quality off those 480p discs we all know and love. And it's way cheaper than a high-def DVD player.

divxconnected.jpgMedia Streamer: DivX Connected (Beta)
I was invited to be part of the public beta of the DivX Connected wireless/wired media streamer concept platform that the DivX folks are currently refining in preparation for licensed production with D-Link. Suffice to say that it's a really nice user experience; much, much better than all of the other media streamers I've used that are supposed to handle video. I hope DivX and D-Link do well with it...I'd definitely consider buying one.

Networking: TRENDnet TEG-S80TXE Gigabit 8-Port Switch
I know, wired networking is a little tame, but when you can get a reliable, all-metal, 8-port Gbit switch for $23 (after Newegg.com rebate), it's worth noting.

Oh, and I've found that MonoPrice.com has some terrific quality cables and audio parts (e.g., speaker mounts) at really excellent prices. Shipping is fast and cheap, too.

So, that about wraps it up for now. Any questions about these items, feel free to post a comment.

At least according to woot!, who is once again offering the much-maligned Zune at its lowest price to date...just $129.99. That's even lower than the very impressive $149.99 they had less than a month ago.

woot_zune2.gif

Check out today's woot! entry for a Steve Jobs iPhone rebate parody as well...terrific stuff.

A little less than a year ago, Microsoft launched its iPod competitor, the Zune, for $250.

Within 7 months, the price had fallen under $200. Now, 4 months later, the Zune is $150 and being sold through Woot.com, the online equivalent of the Dollar Store.

woot_zune.gif

I think it's safe to say the Zune wasn't exactly a home run.

Of course, an alternate explanation is that Zune version 2 is on its way and Microsoft is just clearing out the last of its old inventory through a lower-visibility channel. We shall see...

Update: Turns out that Woot had 6300 units and sold all of them over a 21-hour period. Seems demand for Zunes might be fairly elastic.

front.jpg

This is a review of the new Ziova Clearstream CS510 High-Definition Network Media Player. Ziova (nee Zensonic), a small Australian consumer electronics firm, announced this puppy at CES 2007, but just recently (i.e., last week) started shipping units out for review. After I submitted a review request to the company a few months ago, one landed on my doorstep on Friday and I put it through its paces over the past few days. Here are some initial thoughts.

First, what it is. The CS510 is a home A/V appliance that streams/plays content located on your home network (via Ethernet or 802.11b/g) or attached storage (USB 2.0) to your home theater (TV and/or stereo system). The CS510 differentiates itself from the unwashed masses of network media streamers by virtue of a few unique (or uncommon) features:
• It serves up HD-quality video output (720p and 1080i) and 5.1 surround sound
• It has the ability to play content directly from an attached mass storage device (i.e., no PC is needed to decode the content)
• It offers up Windows network browsing via SMB

I will not enumerate the unit's specs here because that information is available from the Ziova website: overview, features, and reasonably complete technical specs

Below are some photos of the CS510 hardware and screen shots of its on-screen interface and output (if some of the screen shots look a little off-kilter or skewed, realize that I simply took handheld snapshots of the TV...the CS510's output was always completely orthogonal ;-):

This from a well-known online electronics merchant (that I don't particularly want to promote), down 20% from the Zune's original price of $249 just a few months ago:

zune_price.gif

Economics tells us that things in high demand rarely see significant drops in price.

WOXY.com, that phoenix of Internet radio stations, recently launched The Futurist, a top-drawer indie/alternative music industry blog.

What separates The Futurist from the other entries in the music blogosphere is that it uniquely combines the insights of experienced DJs and music professionals with the level independence unmatched by professional blogs hindered by corporate oversight (such as one might have at a ClearChannel). Most music blogs are either the efforts of individuals, so they're uneven and/or highly biased, or are corporate efforts, so are subject to the whims of accountants, lawyers, and advertising/marketing initiatives. The Futurist so far appears to be none of those.

So, go check it out:

futurist_blog.gif