By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Sensory Science's audio plans include a high-end DVD player that up-samples PCM audio tracks to 88.2kHz or 96kHz, and two new solid-state Internet audio portables, including its first to support multiple audio codecs.
The multiple-codec model will also be the first Internet portable in the U.S. to use inexpensive Iomega Clik! discs to store music files.
Sensory Science is also developing an expanded line of DVD-amplifiers with built-in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1-channel decoding.
In DVD, the new CL-2500DVD, marketed under the California Audio Labs name, replaces two models and is the first designed "from the ground up" by the company, said marketing VP Paul Fredrickson.
The CL-2500DVD is targeted to ship in February at $2,500 and incorporates several audiophile features, including the ability to up-sample CD-audio tracks to 88.2kHz from 44.1kHz and to up-sample PCM audio tracks on DVD discs to 96kHz from 48kHz or from 44.1kHz to 88.2kHz. Other audiophile features include 94kHz/24-bit digital audio output, but it's not upgradable to DVD-Audio. The unit also features DD and DTS 5.1 passthrough and an RS-232 port.
In Internet audio portables, the company plans spring shipments of its MP-2200, which like the existing RaveMP model supports only MP3 playback.
Also like the existing models, it will come with 64MB embedded memory, built-in address book, and voice recorder, but it will feature USB instead of parallel-port connectivity.
Other major differences include an enhanced address book, an FM tuner, and the use of SmartMedia flash-memory cards rather than proprietary cards to expand memory capacity. The MP-2200 will be Windows 95/98-compatible and SDMI-compliant. It's tentatively priced at a suggested $279.
Sometime in the summer, Sensory Science will ship its first Internet audio portable that supports multiple codecs and stores music on Iomega Clik! discs.
The MP-2300, tentatively priced at a suggested $299, uses a programmable DSP with enough horsepower to support "any [codec] on the horizon," said Fredrickson. At the outset, however, it will ship with support for MP3 and Windows Media Audio but be field-upgradable to add other resident codecs.
The 1-inch-square Clik! discs hold 40MB of music and cost only $9.95 each in 10-packs, compared to 32MB flash-memory cards that start at about $80, Fredrickson said.
Although the discs spin in a mechanical drive, the technology is "virtually skip free," said Fredrickson, in part due to the use of buffer memory. Despite the mechanical drive, he added, the device's removable rechargeable lithium battery will deliver eight hours of operating time.
The 2300 will be Windows 95/98-compatible and feature USB connectivity and voice recorder. The company's intention is to make it SDMI-compliant, a spokesman said. It will lack an FM tuner but will feature the ability to automatically synchronize its database with Microsoft Outlook.
The company's first DVD/amplifier/ decoder -- the $499-suggested-retail DVS-3000 -- is already shipping, but Sensory "plans to expand the concept" this year, Fredrickson said.
The DVS-3000 incorporates a 5 x 40-watt amp, and at least one new model will offer higher power and component-video output. All of Sensory's DVD/amp/ decoders feature an analog input to amplify TV-program audio. The first new model is due in the first quarter.
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