Small. That’s what Toshiba’s new BDX2400 Blu-ray player is all about. It measures just 290 x 180 x 36mm and weighs a piffling 800g and buying one will only lighten your wallet to the tune of £65. That’s not bad for a networked Blu-ray deck that can play USB media as well as discs. As we’ll see there are a few drawbacks for shopping in the Blu-ray bargain basement, but on the whole the new budget Tosh is a lot of media player for the money.
The ideal Bluetooth portable speaker should be small, easy to use, cheap to buy, waterproof (or at least water resistant) and capable of producing an excellent sound. That's a very tall order but the new Boom from Ultimate Ears (now a subsidiary of Logitech) comes close to ticking every box. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you the best portable Bluetooth speaker...in the world.
Wireless charging and NFC (or Near Field Communication to those of us who don’t speak fluent acronym) are the two current Big Ideas in mobile technology and though neither has taken off quite as quickly as the hardware vendors had hoped they offer some interesting possibilities. JBL’s new PowerUp audio dock shows them off to perfection.
Soundbars are an increasingly popular choice for anyone wanting to improve the sound from their telly without recourse to the expense, size and wires of a good 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound speaker system. With no cables other than those connecting it to your TV, Blu-Ray player and set top box, a slim profile and an easy setup procedure a good soundbar is all the home audio many people will ever want or need. How good a unit you can get for £250 has now been redefined by the new Philips HTL5120.
With mobile devices now being the hub of many people’s digital music collections a reliable and high quality way to wirelessly transmit that music to a hi-fi or home theatre system is something to consider. Bluetooth is an obvious option but there are a couple of stumbling blocks. Firstly Bluetooth transmission can make audio files sound really crummy and secondly most Hi-Fis, powered speakers and HTS rigs don’t have a Bluetooth radio. If you have deep pockets Arcam has an answer to both those problems.
Fancy one-box iPad docks are all well and good but if you are like me and your master music library sits on your laptop and you spend more time listening to your tunes while typing away on your keyboard than while doing just about anything else then it makes sense to pay some attention to your PC’s audio setup. It’s with this in mind that British audio specialist Mission Audio is launching its new WS100 PC wireless speakers.
Multi-room wireless audio is without a shadow of a doubt a very convenient thing to have but it is also rather expensive. Sonos for example make some lovely boxes that will radiate your music collection throughout your home in superb quality but you do need rather deep pockets. Wireless music player and DAB radio wallahs Pure are now offering a more cost effective solution aimed at those of us who buy our home furnishings at Ikea rather than Harrods.
The Humax DTR-1000 heralds the arrival albeit nearly two years late of YouView (or Project Canvas as it was previously known) a multi-broadcaster initiative designed to give people using Freeview the same sort of unified viewing experience of combined catch-up and live TV that Virgin and Sky customers get from their subscription services but without the wallet-lightening monthly payment.
Some people will look at you as though you have taken leave of your senses when you tell them you’ve spent more than twice as much on a surround sound system as you have on a new telly but they’d be quite wrong. The eye and the imagination can make up for visual failings but the ears only pass on what’s hitting them. If you really want a cinema experience and have around four grand to spend I’d suggest splitting it 2:1 in favour of the audio. And the sound system I have in mind is Jamo’s new THX Ultra 2 certified D600.
People will tell you that the day of the personal media player or PMP is over, that from the iPod Touch to the latest Sony Walkmans they are a dying breed, all but killed off by the rise of the smartphone. But it’s not quite that simple. What I have here is the new Z2 from Korean audio specialists Cowon. If you want one it will set you back £250 which I grant you is a lot, but as we shall see it sounds better than just about any other portable media player or phone, will play each and every format and codec known to man and comes with 32GB of storage. If you want a phone with that sort of space of your audio and video files you are looking at paying out almost twice as much.
One of the most common tech questions I get asked by friends is “What’s the best good, huge but affordable smart telly?” Previously that was a hard one to answer there being so many options but now Samsung has simplified things by launching a 46 inch connected LED TV which if you hunt around can be picked up for less than £600 which isn’t at all bad for an all-singing, all-dancing monster TV.