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August 2012 Archives

August 3, 2012

House of Marley Jammin' Earphones

The House of Marley makes great-sounding and durable audio equipment, but what really stands out is the focus on earth-friendly designs in the tradition of Bob Marley, with a distinctive look based on natural wood, organic fabrics and recyclable metals.

The Marley line includes on-ear headphones and in-ear earphones for personal audio, home and portable speakers for sharing the music, plus a variety of functional carry bags. The audio products are organized into multiple lines, with the colorful and vibrant Jammin’ collection and the higher-end Freedom collection.

For example, the basic Smile Jamaica earphones are built with sapele and beech wood and recyclable aluminum, and deliver strong sound with an 8-mm driver.

These start at $29.99, and come in a range of bright colors -- yellow, red, pink, and turquoise.

(FYI, sapele is an African wood reminiscent of mahogany that also is used in guitars and other musical instruments. -- see Wikipedia)

In comparison, the higher-end Zion earphones pump up the sound with 9mm moving coil drivers, and come with a three-button Apple remote (for volume) and mic.

The Zion design combines sapele and maple woods. They are available for $99 in understated silver and black.

Both feature a 52" fabric cord that reduces tangles, with a gold-plated connector set at a right angle for a low profile.

Find the House of Marley Smile Jamaica
and Marley Zion earphones on Amazon.com

August 12, 2012

House of Marley Headphones

The line of earphones from The House of Marley shows the Marley emphasis on distinctive and earth-friendly design (see previous post).

Then the Marley headphone line provides a larger canvas for this theme, including lightweight padded headbands made from natural canvas, soft leather ear cushions to isolate outside sounds, plus recyclable aluminum housing accents and stainless steel.

For example, the basic Rebel headphones for $69.99 feature 40mm moving coiled drivers in the metallic earpieces.

The canvas headband has grommets along the outer edges, and comes in dubwise (white), midnight (black), and colorful rasta styles, with catchy designs on the underside and even in the earcups.

And the similar Revolution headphones start at $89.99, or add a three-button Apple controller for $99.99.

These bring strong styles to the headband and earcups, with midnight (black) and especially the revolution (camo) design. The earcups also fold for easier travel.

For other distinctive looks, check out the Exodus model with recycled wood headband ($149.99) and Stir It Up model with beech wood and tanned leather earcups ($199.99).

See also my summer update on gadgets -- Portable Accessories - Mid 2012 -- for more on Portable Video, Audio, Photo, Power, and Cases.

Find the House of Marley Rebel and
Revolution headphones on Amazon.com

August 20, 2012

High Definition Television: the Creation, Development, and Implementation of HDTV Technology

The creation of High Definition Television was a long and torturous saga, not only on the technology side in creating a new digital infrastructure, but also in the contention between national and corporate interests for prestige and patents.

Luckily, Philip Cianci was there to record the story, as he worked with HDTV systems at Philips Research USA starting in 1984 to help develop the technology, and then at ESPN in 2003 to help deploy HD for sports.

He also served as the editor of Broadcast Engineering magazine's e-newsletter Transition to Digital from 2005 through 2007, and has written several books, including HDTV and the Transition to Digital Broadcasting: Understanding New Television Technologies (see earlier post).

But Cianci's labor of love is documenting the story of the development of HDTV, which he hosts at his site, The HDTV Archive Project.

And all this information is now crammed into Cianci's latest book, High Definition Television: the Creation, Development, and Implementation of HDTV Technology.

Cianci chronicles the development of HDTV from the beginnings of advanced TV at NHK Japan in the late 1960's, to the formation of the U.S. Grand Alliance in 1993, to worldwide deployment and the end of analog transmission in the U.S. in 2009.

The book has a broad range -- technology and business, technical testing and corporate politics, TV and broadcast infrastructure -- in Japan, the U.S., Europe, and around the world.

Yet its core is technical, with tables and diagrams on many two-page spreads, illustrating details including transmission, decoding, MPEG, pixel formats, resolutions and aspect ratios, timelines, and specifications.

Plus it provides fun peeks into the behind-the-scene negotiations at meetings and restaurants, as well as a look at the engineers crashing to implement these new designs -- though unfortunately there are only a handful of photographs of equipment, people, and test material.

The development of HDTV is an exciting story, especially with tremendous work done under tight time pressure to prove the viability of an all-digital system. And it's an impressive story of companies and nations working out differences to create a common standard for all of our sanity.

And HDTV is a success story -- the final compromise standard is holding up well, bridging between broadcast to cable to satellite, and on to discs and to the Internet and computers.

Cianci has done a great job of telling the story and showing how all these pieces fit together. Visit his HDTV Archive Project site for the extensive bibliography and his related artistic projects.

    Find High Definition Television on Amazon.com.

Contents and more details below ...

Continue reading "High Definition Television: the Creation, Development, and Implementation of HDTV Technology" »

August 26, 2012

SOL Republic - Tracks Interchangable Headphones

Headphones have evolved into a very interesting category for this holiday season. The technology is great (see earlier post) -- so the sound more and more becomes a matter of personal preference. But even more, the design options have proliferated (see earlier post) -- offering more variety to fit your personal style.

And some companies are going further, with configurable designs that let you more fully customize your own look.

The new SOL Republic Tracks headphones take this approach up to 11 -- with separate interchangeable headbands, pairs of ear speakers, and cables, available in a variety of colors to mix and match.

You start with the FlexTech headbands, available in an array of colors: red, white, black, purple, grey, blue, orange, and pink. These have a very clean look -- a simple polymer curve with a soft cushion in the top. They're strong enough to hold securely on your ears, but also highly flexible and even bend and twist, so you don't have to worry about damaging them. The headbands are available individually for $29.99.

Then add the Sound Engine ear speakers, which slide onto the ends of the headband so you can adjust them to fit your ears. SOL Republic offers two options for the speakers: the V8 model in black for $69.99, with "deep bass and high clarity," or step up to the V10 model in chrome for $89.99, with "deeper bass, higher vocal clarity, and crisp vocals."

Finally, plug in your choice of ClearTalk cables to match (or compliment) the headband. These are available in the same eight colors for $19.99, including a mic and single-button controller.

Since you probably want all three components together, you can buy a complete Tracks headset with V8 speaker for $99.99, or the Tracks HD with V10 speaker for $129.99. These include a three-button remote.

With the component design, you even can remove the speakers and use them independently as portable speakers.

So pick your color -- or colors -- and speaker styles, and enjoy the music your way.

See also my summer update on gadgets -- Portable Accessories - Mid 2012 -- for more on portable devices and accessories.

Find the SOL Republic Tracks headphones on Amazon.com

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About August 2012

Entries posted to Manifest Tech Blog in August 2012, listed from oldest to newest.

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