Archives For January 4, 2006

Some of you may have seen my earlier thoughts on the Sonos Digital Music Player system. Today, Sonos addresses two of my big complaints with their ZP80 unit – Price and Audio Connectors.

The ZP80 ditches the built-in amplifier, allowing you to easily connect the device to your existing amplifier, home theater or the like using a optical or coaxial SP/DIF connector. The casing for the unit has also been updated.

Unfortunately still no support for Windows Media PlaysforSure Music Services or iTMS, but it will play non-DRMd WMA and a host of other formats. Both are specifically called out as “not able to be supported”. You can still connect an external source such as a PfS or iPod device and stream it around the house.

Still, this is a great step in the right direction of affordability and connectivity. Availability is slated for this Spring.

3kapsel.jpgYou have to hand it to Intel. Their runaway success with the branding of their Centrino mobile technology platform (basically a reference design/chipset for WiFi/Network/Video/Sound/Processor) has given birth to the Intel Viiv brand (pronounced “VIIVe” like Vibe with a “v”). Viiv PCs will offer Windows XP Media Center and bring new technologies like Intel’s Quick Resume technology, 7.1 surround sound and guaranteed HD video playback in a dual-core processor design that will offer a quieter solution than many on the market today. One of my favorite features is the ability to put the PC into a low-power state, where it appears to be off, but can continue to record TV, with Media Center at the helm.

Those in the know have discovered the coolest Media Center designs come from europe. Kapsel’s just-annonced Viiv-based Media Center is one such PC. I affectionately call it the “Mentos Media Center” because the design straight-on looks like the mint confection, chipped away to unveil a black licorice center. You can also position it horizontally, vertically, or even mount on a wall.

The picture is a bit deceptive- visit Kapsel’s site for a more front-on picture. It is a bit on the thick side but it has promise. I would like to see at least a small TFT display on the front or side, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

The Kapsel is slated to go into production first quarter of 2006, price has not yet been disclosed.