Suave Kajko

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After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 2002, Suave turned his attention to his passion for audio, video and technology in general. Through hands on experience with an extensive number of audio video products, Suave provides a real world, expert perspective on the latest products and the technology surrounding them. As an enthusiast, he shows a true passion in his writing that is easy to understand by all consumers. Aside from contributing to NOVO, Suave has also written about audio for special sections of The Toronto Star, Son et Image Magazine (FSI Guide) and appeared several times on television. More recently Suave was interviewed and quoted in articles for the Globe and Mail and MSNBC.com. In 2010, Suave launched the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES), an annual consumer trade show that has witnessed tremendous growth year after year.  In 2014, the show was expanded to include a new technology & innovation pavilion and rebranded as the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show.  As of 2016, the show attracts over 7,600 attendees and exhibitors from around the globe.  TAVES showcases cutting-edge technology and innovation in the most exciting categories: virtual reality, drones, wearables, health & fitness, gaming, audio, home theater, robotics, 3D printing, personal transportation, smart devices and electric vehicles.  For more info, please visit www.taveshow.com.

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ZEISS VR ONE Connect CES 2018

The world’s greatest tech show has opened its doors for 2018 in Las Vegas and we are exploring the show floor to bring you the latest news and show highlights. Be sure to tune into the NOVO website daily over the next week as we continue to post updates. Just about every major electronics manufacturer from around the planet (with the exception of Apple) is set to reveal its latest and greatest at this year’s show — from the latest TVs, Hi-Fi goodness, computers/tablets, smart home devices, VR/AR headsets, robots, tech toys, wearables and gadgets — just to mention a few categories.

VR at CES 2018

HTC Vive Pro VR Headset and Vive Wireless Adaptor

HTC took the opportunity at this year’s CES to introduce a brand new HTC Vive Pro VR Headset, which offers significant upgrades over the existing HTC Vive. The Vive Pro is equipped with dual-OLED displays offering a resolution of 2880 x 1600 pixel combined, a 78% increase in resolution over the current Vive model. This increased resolution enhances immersion, and the improved clarity means text, graphics and overall experience all come into sharper view. Vive Pro also features integrated, high-performance headphones with a built-in amplifier to offer a heightened sense of presence and an overall richer sound. The Vive Pro also features a redesigned headstrap which offers increased comfort. Other improvements include dual microphones with active noise cancellation and dual front-facing cameras designed to empower developer creativity. Available and pricing was not announced yet.

HTC Vive Pro CES 2018

HTC also revealed the Vive Wireless Adaptor at CES, which will enable the use of both the Vive and the Vive Pro VR headsets in a completely wireless fashion. The Vive Wireless Adaptor features Intel’s WiGig technology that operates in the interference-free 60Ghz band, which means lower latency and better performance. The Vive Wireless Adaptor will ship in Q3 of 2018.

HTC Vive Wireless Adaptor

Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream VR Headset

Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset CES 2018 a

The Lenovo Mirage Solo is a first self-contained VR headset based on Google’s Daydream platform that will retail for under $400. Instead of relying on a smartphone, it contains all of its own hardware, which includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR platform, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage (expandable via microSD card) and a battery that lasts 7 hours. Each eye gets a 5.5-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1280 x 1440 pixels. The Lenovo Mirage Solo supports the same VR experiences as existing Daydream headsets. To further enhance gameplay, you can pair this headset with the wireless Daydream controller, turning it into a virtual baseball bat, steering wheel or whatever fits your chosen app. You can also create your own VR content by pairing the headset with the Lenovo Mirage Camera with Daydream. This pocket-sized point-and-shoot camera captures 3D photos and videos with its dual 13 MP fisheye camera and its 180 x 180° field of view.

ZEISS VR ONE Connect Headset

ZEISS VR ONE Connect CES 2018

The ZEISS VR ONE Connect bridges the gap between PC-connected VR gaming and mobile VR by connecting the smartphone in the mobile VR headset to your gaming PC. The product gives mobile VR users more interactive gaming possibilities than ever before by allowing them to play games through SteamVR, an online community that allows access to VR content. It boasts a high-quality VR experience, is compatible with iOS and Android phones and costs just $129 US. The ZEISS VR ONE Connect comes with two wireless 3DoF (degrees of freedom) controllers that are linked to the smartphone via Low Energy (LE) Bluetooth.

ASUS Windows Mixed Reality Headset CES 2018

ASUS Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Unlike competitor headsets, this headset doesn’t need external sensors, making initial setup very simple. It utilizes two built-in front-facing tracking cameras with six-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) position tracking, and 32 LED lights on each controller that allow the headset to map a user’s environment, and track their movements and controllers seamlessly.  The headset contains multiple sensors — gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer — that determine the user’s orientation, and thanks to its phenomenal inside-out tracking design, virtual and physical worlds will be perfectly synced, and free of latency or distortion. The ASUS Windows Mixed Reality Headset delivers crystal-clear visuals, thanks to a 3K (2880 x 1440) resolution display and up to a 90Hz refresh rate.  What’s more, the headset supports over 20,000 Windows apps and more than 2,000 Steam VR titles, so users can watch immersive 360° videos and play games like never before.  It “flip-able” design allows users to simply lift the visor for a temporary reality check, and flip it back down to instantly immerse themselves in the virtual world again.  At less than 400g, it is said to be ultralight and very comfortable.

Augmented Reality at CES 2018

WayRay NAVION AR Car Navigation System and Holographic AR Infotainment System

WayRay NAVION AR Car Navigation System 01

NAVION is the first True Augmented Reality car navigation system. Placed on a dashboard, it shows directions, trip details and display real-time indicators for things like pedestrians, POIs or alerting to hazards exactly where the driver needs them to be — on the road ahead — with no headgear or eyewear required. NAVION is able to work in a hands-free mode to get the driver safely to the destination. It responds to voice commands or hand gestures.

WayRay NAVION AR Car Navigation System 03

Another WayRay’s attraction at CES 2018 is a multicolored Holographic Augmented Reality display device designed to transform the car windshield into a new medium of information. 2018’s version has the greatest FOV (field of view) on the market and is capable of multicolored virtual objects creation. Moreover, the technology allows the solution to act like a fully-featured non-wearable augmented reality infotainment system. It shows relevant information at a comfortable distance for users’ eyes — from 3 ft to infinity. The company also launched a product named Element, an insightful interactive tracker car tracker for smart driving. It tracks driver’s activity at the wheel and overviews the driving performance.

Kolibree Magik AR Toothbrush CES 2018

Kolibree Magik AR Toothbrush

Kolibree, a manufacturer of connected oral care solutions launched the Magik toothbrush at CES, a kid’s AR-enabled toothbrush that turns any smartphone into a game console for fighting cavities and plaque. Kolibree uses Augmented Reality (AR) to gamify teeth brushing with its interactive toothbrush for children. It uses fun, imaginative filters, sticker packs and more to turn a chore into a magical experience. Magik bridges the gap between oral hygiene and fun by connecting kids toothbrushes to an in-app game through advanced AR technology. Magik’s app offers 15 different worlds for kids to immerse themselves in, turning the chore of getting ready for bed into a ‘choose your own adventure’.

Robots at CES 2018

Ubtech Walker

Ubtech Walker

Ubtech showed a number of really cool robots at this year’s CES. Among them was the Ubtech Walker, a biped robot designed to serve as your personal butler at home or work. Ubtech plans to add arms to the robot sometime this year, along with additional interactive functions, in order to turn it into a omplete intelligent humanoid robot.

Ubtech Lynx

The company also showed off the Ubtech Lynx, its first intelligent humanoid robot to feature Amazon’s cloud-based voice service. The Lynx features voice, facial and presence recognition, with key highlights that include a Surveillance Mode and an Avatar Mode. In addition to this Ubtech also demonstrated the Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper Robot (an interactive toy), Cruzr (a could-based AI robot designed for commercial applications) and Jimu Robot (an interactive robotic building block system for kids 8-14).

Honda 3E Concept – Honda Reveals Its Prediction of the Future with Four Robots

Honda 3E Concept CES 2018 a

3E stands for Empower, Experience and Empathy – 3 ways in which Honda thinks robots can enhance our lives in the future. All four of these robots are prototypes and although their functionality at this point is pretty vague, they are intended to work independently and in teams.

From left to right (in the above picture): The Honda 3E-A18 is an empathetic robot designed to make an emotional connection between machines and humans. Its face can show emotions, and the robot can recognize and respond to the emotions of a person. It is driven by an omnidirectional wheel and has a soft exterior skin that invites people to touch it. The 3E-B18 is a futuristic vision for the wheelchair, designed for indoor and outdoor use by the disabled or elderly. It is capable of maintaining an upright seat position even when travelling up or downhill. It can also transform into a motorized luggage cart or a stroller thanks to additional attachments. The 3E-C18 looks like a cute cooler on wheels and is designed to carry items, and has a deployable canopy that reveals a flat surface that can be used as a mobile workspace. Thanks to its built-in AI, it can observe people and move autonomously. Lastly, the 3E-D18 is a robot designed to be used by construction crews, firefighters, search and rescue and other professions that require heavy lifting. It has a rail system on the top which can accommodate different types of gear to fit the job. The 3E-D18 is equipped with AI, various sensors and a GPS, which together allow it to operate autonomously even in rough environments.

Sony Aibo Robot Dog

Sony Aibo CES 2018 a

Sony didn’t introduce anything particularly exciting at this year’s CES, but it did manage to steal the hearts of the media with one product. Sony’s robotic dog Aibo is back from 2018 and it’s cuter than ever! The original Aibo was introduced some 18 years ago and was prohibitively expensive, so chance are you’ve probably never seen one. The new Aibo features advanced mechatronics and AI to create a cuter, smarter, and more lifelike robotic pet companion. It’s still not cheap at approximately $1,750 US, but at this price point it is certainly more accessible than its predecessor. The new Aibo is outfitted with tiny 1- and 2-axis actuators which enable its body to move along a total of 22 axes. This produces smoother, more natural movements — such as ear and tail wagging, as well as mouth, paw, and body motions. Equipped with two cameras and a multitude of sensors, Aibo is capable of recognizing its owners, as well as analyzing sounds and images. All of this technology allows Aibo to analyze praise, interpret smiles, and respond to petting, which helps to create a bond with its owners, said to grow over time.

LG Cloi Home Robot

This cute little robot is designed to help you control your smart home. Assuming its software can be corrected (the robot failed repeated on the stage during LG’s press conference and quickly became mocked on social media), this robot is designed to help with various tasks around your home, such as controlling lighting, security systems, scheduling, looking up recipes and even interacting with LG’s washing machine. The future of smart homes is very interesting indeed, although a little glitchy at the same time (at least for now). Think of Cloi as a rolling Google Home. In South Korea, LG already has a range of robots designed for hotels, airports and shopping malls.

Kuri Home Robot

Kuri Robot CES 2018 NOVO magazine

Kuri is another robot we found cruising around the CES show floor this year.  Introduced in 2017, this is one of the coolest robots you can actually purchase today.  Pre-orders from 2017 have just started shipping and the company says that new orders will be shipping in about 2 months.  Often called a social robot, Kuri can recognize faces, answer questions, take pics and videos, play games and roam around your home smartly avoiding obstacles.  Kuri offers a friendly disposition, emotive eyes and can be yours for a reasonable $799 US.  We showcased KURI, along with other home robots, a few months ago in our “Robots to Rock Your World” feature.

Buddy Robot (from Blue Frog)

buddy-blue-frog-robotics

Buddy is another social home robot roaming the CES grounds and available for purchase today.  With an 8-inch tablet-like touchscreen it offers a wide range of adorable expressions that will make your heart melt.  It is packed with technology which includes a camera, ultrasound, infrared and thermal sensors, a range-finder sensor, a temperature sensor and ground detectors.  Buddy is happy to take pics and videos, recommend recipes, testing kids on homework, and even allows you to make video calls via its screen.  We showcased BUDDY, along with other home robots, a few months ago in our “Robots to Rock Your World” feature.

Aeolus Robot

Aeolus_Robot_NOVO magazine

The Aeolus robot looks like a character straight out of The Jetsons and may be the bot we’ve all been waiting for.  This home robot is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and comes equipped with an agile arm able to dynamically handle household objects. It can adapt to changing environments and independently learn, navigate and complete household tasks – wow!  The Aeolus robot’s advanced sensory and biometric technologies recognizes and differentiates between family members, the physical living space and household items.  It will even lookout for emergencies such as fire or a need to call for assistance.  Just some of the tasks it can do include recognizing thousands of items and putting them away (essentially cleaning your home), locating lost items, and vacuuming or dry mopping floors.  It also offers integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.  Perhaps the best news is that it will actually be available for purchase by the end of 2018!

Sophia from Hanson Robotics

Sophia Robot CES 2018 NOVO magazine a

Sophia is an advanced humanoid robot that was showcased at CES interacting with visitors.  She’s not a robot you can buy but rather a fantastic demo of where robotics and artificial intelligence is heading.  Sophia has been toured around the world for a couple of years now but she continues to show off new enhancements and features each time she is shown.  Partly powered by Google, she is capable of holding conversations almost like a real person.  One of her latest upgrades are legs so she can move around freely.  It’s just a matter of time before this kind of teach trickles down into home bots :-)

ForwardX CX-1 Autonomous Suitcase

You might be wondering how a suitcase made it on to our robot list but this is no ordinary suitcase. Hauling luggage with your hands is so 2017! The CX-1 is a hands-free, fully autonomous carry-on suitcase that is happy to follow you around the airport and wherever your travels may take you.

Wearables at CES 2018

Mars Earbuds – Earbuds That Translate Conversations in Real-time

mars-earbuds

It might be hard to believe that such a product exists but it does indeed! The MARS earbuds are capable of in-ear translation in real-time and support 10 languages, including Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian. Only one pair of earbuds is required, with each person wearing just a single earbud. MARS also features automatic noise-blocking to reduce ambient noise and ensure clear voice recognition even in disruptive environments. With microphones placed “inside” the earpiece, MARS picks up a user’s voice directly through the ear canal, blocking outside sounds and providing clear phone calls. Even when used at a noisy location, like a rock concert or on a busy street, the user’s voice can be heard cleanly by the earbud microphones.

SOLOS Smart Performance Glasses CES 2018

SOLOS Smart Performance Glasses

This new generation of Kopin Corporation’s SOLOS Smart Glasses builds on the original features for cyclists by expanding the ecosystem to empower performance support for runners. SOLOS includes the most advanced Pupil display optics, which enable a ‘heads-up’ see-through experience with a larger eye box, enabling athletes to safely access their data in real-time. The latest smart glasses offer new audio features including voice control, phone calls, listening to music and group chat communication. For runners, the enhanced software facilitates running metrics such as elapsed time, speed, power, pace, cadence, heart rate and more. Athletes can leverage wearable sensors to measure their run performance, set targets and use the SOLOS platform to track progress on those targets. In addition to performance features, runners can also listen to music, view mobile notifications and even receive audio and visual turn-by-turn instructions. SOLOS will also connect to a variety of training platforms to facilitate real-time workout goal progress prompts and feedback based on athletes’ performance targets. Audio and visual cues offer live guidance prompts during training sessions, not only helping athletes train safer, but also enabling them to reach their maximum performance.

Kopin also demonstrated the Elf VR reference design, the world’s most compact and lightweight virtual reality headset that boasts stereo 4K resolution at 120Hz refresh rate. Elf is made possible by Kopin’s Lightning OLED microdisplays that boast an impressive pixel density of 2,940 PPI – approximately 400% higher than conventional TFT-LCD, OLED and AMOLED displays at 20% of the size. These display capabilities enables Elf VR reference design to eliminate the barriers and limitations that have long stood in the way of delivering an effective VR experience – uncomfortably bulky and heavy headset designs, the annoying pixelated “screen-door effect” due to insufficient display resolution, and frame rates that are too slow for fast action games, movies or sports.

Medical Guardian the Freedom Guardian Medical Alert Watch

Medical Guardian the Freedom Guardian Medical Alert Watch

The Freedom Guarding claims to be the industry’s most advanced medical alert device. This sophisticated wearable technology is designed to challenge industry stereotypes and revolutionize how older Americans age in place – or on the go. The Freedom Guardian is a discrete, customizable watch designed to blend in while providing round the clock monitoring, support and connectivity. The watch is lightweight and comfortable to wear, and it has a hi-res color touchscreen and oversized icons for ease of use. The device is audible, which is especially important for users whose eyesight may not be as good as it once was. It has the capability to read out the date, time and text messages sent through the Freedom Guardian app by members of the user’s care circle. Users can also dictate text messages in return. The Freedom Guardian’s safety features include: SOS with Two-Way Communication, GPS and Wi-Fi Location Finder, Voice Messaging and Safe Movement Zones.

MyKronoz ZeTime Petite Hybrid Smartwatch

MyKronoz ZeTime Petite Hybrid Smartwatch

After a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $6 million last year, MyKronoz is showing both ZeTime Petite (39mm) and Regular (44mm) hybrid smartwatches at CES 2018. The world’s first hybrid smartwatch with mechanical hands over a color touchscreen, ZeTime offers the classic design of a Swiss timepiece with the most advanced features of a smartwatch. MyKronoz’s proprietary ‘Smart Movement’ technology enables ZeTime’s always-on hands to function for up to 30 days with a single charge, ensuring the primary function of the watch – to tell time – is always running. Prices start at $199 US.

Lenovo New Glass C220

Lenovo New Glass C220

This Androiod-based system consists of a Glass Unit and Pocket Unit and works by recognizing and identifying real-life objects using AI technologies. You experience AR through one eye, while keeping the other on the real world. Just download the app and then plug the Pocket Unit into the phone. The New Glass C220 is designed to work in a variety of work and learning scenarios, from gathering information in your field of view, to giving step-by-step directions and instructions for repair, identifying disabled equipment and trouble-shooting issues with a remote colleague all while keeping your hands free.

Continue checking this page during the next week for daily updates, as more news comes out of CES 2018 :-)

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LGD_65_inch_UHD_rollable_OLED_display_1.0 (Custom)

The world’s greatest tech show has opened its doors for 2018 in Las Vegas and we are exploring the show floor to bring you the latest news and show highlights.  Be sure to tune into the NOVO website daily over the next week as we continue to post updates.  Just about every major electronics manufacturer from around the planet (with the exception of Apple) is set to reveal its latest and greatest at this year’s show — from the latest TVs, Hi-Fi goodness, computers/tablets, smart home devices, VR/AR headsets, robots, tech toys, wearables and gadgets — just to mention a few categories.

TVs at CES 2018

LGD_65_inch_UHD_rollable_OLED_display_2 (Custom)

TV manufacturers, including Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sharp always make a big splash at CES and this year is no different.

LG at CES 2018

Stealing this year’s show, in the TV department, LG showcased its remarkable looking 65-inch rollable OLED TV (just look at the pictures above!)  The entire TV screen rolls up neatly into a compact box, which stores all the electronics.  Two years ago, LG showed a small 18-inch rollable TV and it appears that the company has been able to scale this up all the way up to a UHD (4K) 65-inch TV.  At this point it is just a prototype, but a sure indication of things to come.  LG has also said that its future TVs will add a voice assistant (such as Google Assistant), and announced an 88-inch 8K TV.

LG_OLED_E8 a

LG also unveiled its full line of LG AI OLED and LG AI SUPER UHD TVs for release in 2018. The company will add nine new 4K LG AI OLED TVs in different design configurations and sizes, ranging from 55- to 77-inches (series W8, E8, C8 and B8). This year, LG will also introduce seven brand new 4K LG AI SUPER UHD TV models, ranging in size from 55- to 75-inches (series K9500, K9000 and K8000). All of these new models, from both series, will introduce a new feature called ThinQ artificial intelligence, enabling the implementation of hundreds of voice commands via webOS as well as third-party AI services. LG ThinQ combines the simple and fast webOS Smart TV platform with integrated Google Assistant and deep learning technology to create an AI capability that uses voice commands to control TV functions, search for content over-the-air or on various streaming partners, or control other connected IoT devices in the network.

Samsung The-Wall-Modular-MicroLED-146-inch-TV-1 (Custom)

Samsung at CES 2018

The big news from Samsung at CES 2018 is “The Wall” TV – the world’s first consumer modular MicroLED 146-inch TV. Samsung’s “The Wall,” a 146-inch modular TV with MicroLED technology delivers incredible definition, without restrictions to size, resolution or form. It is a self-emitting TV with micrometer (µm) scale LEDs – which are much smaller than current LEDs, and serve as their own source of light. MicroLED technology eliminates the need for color filters or backlight, yet allows the screen to offer the ultimate viewing experience. Also, the MicroLED screen excels in durability and effectiveness, including luminous efficiency, light source lifetime and power consumption. Thanks to its module-based, bezel-less design, The Wall also allows consumers to customize their television sizes and shapes to suit their needs. The screen can adapt to serve different purposes, such as creating a wall-size display or a display that covers your entire kitchen backsplash. Can you imagine?

Samsung The-Wall-Modular-MicroLED-146-inch-TV-2 (Custom)

Samsung has also announced that in Q2 of 2018, it will launch the world’s first QLED TV featuring 8K AI technology. This AI technology will upscale standard definition content to 8K resolution. It employs a proprietary algorithm to adjust screen resolution based on picture quality characteristics of each scene, to continuously improve picture quality and easily transform any type of content from any source into a high-resolution 8K. To top it all off, Samsung is also showing its enhanced 2018 Smart TV platform which includes Bixby, SmartThings and Universal Guide. Bixby is an assistant platform developed by Samsung that enables easier interaction between the TV and its users, thanks to its intuitive UX, and comprehensive voice analysis capabilities. 2018 Samsung Smart TVs will also offer easier sharing and connectivity, thanks to SmartThings, Samsung’s IoT platform hub. It offers a simpler way to control the television and sync with other devices. 2018 will also see the launch of Universal Guide – an advanced program guide which automatically recommends TV programs and content according to a user’s preferences.

Sony at CES 2018

Sony A8F CES 2018 a

Sony revealed its new 4K OLED BRAVIA A8F TV Series at this year’s show. This series comes equipped with a 4K HDR image processor called the X1 Extreme together with the Sony’s proprietary Acoustic Surface technology that vibrates the display and enables sound to be output directly from the TV screen. The Sony A8F series will be available in 55- and 65-inch sizes, equipped with 4K resolution, HDR and Dolby Vision technology. The company also showcased an 8K display featuring the next-generation X1 Ultimate picture processor. Combined with Sony’s unique backlight technology, the prototype 8K display demo showed off real-time processing of 8K HDR content as well as a peak brightness of 10,000nits, the highest in the HDR format.

Panasonic at CES 2018

Panasonic-OLED-TV-FZ950-Lifestyle-CES 2018

Panasonic has launched four new OLED TVs at this year’s CES. The company’s 77-inch EZ1000 from 2017 will be joined in 2018 by the FZ950 and FZ800 series, both available in 65-inch and 55-inch screen sizes. Featuring new OLED panels, combined with the newest generation of Panasonic’s Hollywood-tuned HCX video processor, the FZ950 and FZ800 provide significant under-the-hood advancements. The four new models will be the first OLED screens which support HDR10+ dynamic metadata technology and able to stream several hundred hours of Amazon Prime Video HDR10+ catalogue.

Panasonic also expanded its line-up of Ultra HD Blu-ray players with the addition of two new models for 2018 – the DP-UB820 and DP-UB420. Both models support HDR10+ dynamic metadata technology, the next-generation HDR format. These two models join the existing DP-UB330/DP-UB320 models.

Sharp at CES 2018

At CES 2018, Sharp is showcasing room-size displays, taking attendees on a tour of the future home display experience. The company is transforming the old school one-to-one display experience to adapt to a new world of ubiquitous screens, multi-window, multi-display engagement, designed to seamlessly manage a variety of applications and content – entertainment, sports, social media, smart home functionality and new experiences – made possible through advances in form factor, display resolution, picture quality, processing and bandwidth. Sharp is demonstrating a Multi-Visual 85” 8K LCD Display and the company’s testament to mass produce 8K displays. Equipped with the latest, most powerful generation Panasonic designed HCX 4K video processor and latest generation HDR OLED panels, these new models are said to deliver the most accurate and compelling high dynamic range (HDR) pictures ever.

Come back to this page for more updates tomorrow and in the days to come!

 

Unison Research Unico 90 Integrated Amplifier and CD Due CD Player Review 01

Founded in 1987, Unison Research is an Italian manufacturer of exquisitely designed hifi products. Much like Christopher Columbus explored the waters of the world, Unison Research has been allowing music lovers to explore the sonic landscapes of their favourite music for many years. Today, the company’s portfolio of products is divided into three categories: valve (tube) amps and preamps; the Unico series which offers amps, preamps and digital sources; as well as loudspeakers. I am quite familiar with the company’s range of valve amplifiers, having the opportunity to hear many of them at audio shows but my hands-on experience comes from reviewing a couple of models in the last few years. In fact, the excellent sounding Unison Research Sinfonia integrated tube amp has been one of the staples of my personal hifi system for the last four years.

In this article, I’m happy with the chance to explore two of the latest additions to the company’s Unico range – the Unico 90 integrated amp ($5,000 US; silver finish) and the CD Due CD player / DAC ($4,500 US; silver finish).

Unison Research Unico 90 Integrated Amplifier and CD Due CD Player Review 02

The Unico 90 is a solid-built, traditionally styled integrated amplifier. Its three-piece front panel is constructed out of machined aluminum, available in silver or black finishes, and features two large dials: one for input selection and the other for volume. Placed between the dials are two rows of LEDs that show the selected input. At the heart of the Unico 90 lies a dual-mono hybrid design, which offers valves in the input and driver stages, and MOSFETs (transistors) in the output stage. Combining tube and transistor technologies is no easy feat yet if done properly can offer incredible sonic potential. Many hifi manufacturers have attempted this in the past with varying degrees of success. Backed by 30 years of engineering, Unison Research is considered an expert in hybrid designs. The Unico 90’s output stage delivers 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms, and 160 wpc into 4 ohms. The rear panel offers a great selection of inputs, including 4 line level RCA inputs and 2 balanced XLR inputs. There is also a bypass input which allows the Unico 90 to be used as a standalone amplifier or in a multi-channel system. Two pairs of speaker binding posts round out the back panel, which allow true bi-wiring.

The matching Unico CD Due is a highly versatile machine, which merges a high-end CD transport with a top-notch digital-to-analog converter (DAC) to enhance the playback from digital sources like your home network, laptop or multi-room system like Sonos. The DAC relies on the high-end ESS Sabre ES9018K2M chip. The CD Due will happily play just about any audio format available, including PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256. Thanks to its built-in Bluetooth aptX, it’ll also wirelessly stream CD-quality music from your phone, tablet or laptop. As with the Unico 90 amp, the CD Due combines a hybrid value / solid-state design (with valves in the output stage) to serve up the very best benefits of both worlds. On the rear panel, you’ll find a great wealth of digital inputs, including USB, optical, coaxial and balanced XLR. Digital outputs include balanced XLR, coaxial and optical, while analog outputs are offered in RCA and XLR styles.

Both the Unico 90 and the CD Due come with what look to be identical remotes, but a closer inspection shows a few differing buttons. The remotes are constructed out of wood and feature aluminium front panels. They are among the prettiest remotes you’ll find supplied with a hifi component (I love the fact that you can stand them up-right) but at the same time the supplied remote could benefit from a redesign. The buttons are tiny, all of the same shape, made out of hard plastic, not organized well and uncomfortable to press.
Together, the Unico 90 integrated amp and the CD Due CD player / DAC make up an almost complete system – all you need to add is a pair of speakers. In my case, I added the outstanding Raidho C 1.1 loudspeakers and wired everything up with Nordost Tyr 2 cables. I also connected my Gold Note Giglio turntable and the Sonos system into the Unison Research duo.

I kicked off my listening sessions with a glass of fine Italian wine in hand and digital music fed by Sonos, listening to my favourite tracks from the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack, like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “House of the Rising Sun”. What impressed me right away was the musicality and energetic nature of the Unico 90 amp. The liveliness and smoothness of the sound managed to suck me right into the music. There was something “fun” about listening to this system and I became deeply engaged by every track on this album.

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Danilo Ursini VR Artist TAVES 02

This fall, the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show will unleash numerous, very exciting special show features.  Among these, will be a live painting in Virtual Reality exhibit featuring award-winning artist Danilo Ursini.  Watch as Danilo creates art live on the show floor and then strap on a VR headset and experience his masterpieces in a three dimensional space!

This exhibit will be part of the growing JOLT! Art Gallery installation set up throughout the TAVES show floor, which will showcase digital, traditional and virtual reality artwork.  Danilo will also showcase some of his fine traditional art as part of JOLT!

For more info about Danilo and his art, jump to www.ursiniart.com or www.vrvision.ca

You can also see a couple of videos here:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVPLxIVg4-K/?taken-by=vrvisioninc

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVSzcLGgJaK/?taken-by=vrvisioninc

Danilo Ursini VR Artist TAVES 03

Danilo Ursini 02

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Facebook Graphic VRPlayin

 

That’s right gaming fans – arcades are coming back with a vengeance!  But this time in VR!  VRPlayin invites you to celebrate the grand opening of Canada’s most diverse virtual reality experience centre.  VRPlayin offers 18 gaming stations that can be shared with up to three people and offers a diverse selection of gaming choices that includes genres such as sports, adventure, action, car racing and passive experiences that allow you to explore faraway countries and cosmic destinations.  You have to see it to believe it!

The Grand Opening party will take place on Wednesday, June 14th, from 11am-4pm.

Following this, from 6pm-9pm, an invite-only function will take place, hosted by Amber Mac.  If you are interested in attending the evening function, please RSVP to lisa@herscugoldsilver.com by Tuesday, June 13th.

NOVO magazine recently got a behind the scenes look at VRPlayin – check out the full story here: http://novo.press/vrplayin-torontos-latest-virtual-reality-arcade-is-now-open/

VRPlayin VR Arcade

 

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“Good news everyone!”, as Professor Farnsworth of Futurama would say, arcades are coming back!  But this time… in VR!  VRPlayin is the latest VR arcade experience centre to open its doors in downtown Toronto and today I got a chance to visit this new location and meet the team.

VRPlayin is all about creating a high quality, out-of-this-world experience that is completely seamless for its customers.  The company has gone through all the trouble of selecting the equipment and setting it up in a comfortable, lounge-like environment.  All you have to do is show up and play.  The space consists of four separate areas and offers 18 HTC Vive VR headsets, each headset housed in a “station” able to accommodate a group of three (one person playing and two sitting at a bar that overlooks the action on a big screen TV).  If you’re a car racing fan, there is also a VR racing station equipped with a racing seat, as well as a Thrustmaster steering wheel and pedals.  Prices range between $29 and $39 per hour, and currently 30 games are available, spanning a number of different genres.

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Of course it wouldn’t be much of a tour if I didn’t try a few of the gaming experiences first-hand.  VRPlayin offers everything from sports games to puzzle solvers, first person shooters and passive cinematic experiences.  I’m a seasoned VR gamer so I jumped right into playing games but beginners will get a tutorial before starting from the friendly team at VRPlayin.

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I started with first person sci-fi shooter Raw Data and immediately fell in love with the game.  This game places you in the middle of a futuristic environment and sends wave after wave of hostile humanoid robots and drones at you.  With two guns in your hands, the game is an absolute blast as you eliminate the enemies and duck their gunfire.  The level of entertainment and immersion with this title is absolutely spectacular.

Next, I stepped into a completely different world with QuiVr, a game that puts you in control of a bow and arrow.  In this game, you are in charge of defending your keep as waves of enemies attempt to break in. Much like Raw Data, this game is a full-body experience that you have to try to believe.  I had a thrill paying it!

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Lastly, I also got to do some driving in Project Cars – my first car racing VR experience.  This gaming station offered a racing seat, steering wheel and pedals.  I’ve been a casual car racing gamer ever since I was a little kid but this was unlike any other racing game I’ve played.  Racing in VR added a staggering level of realism and near real-life immersion of driving a sports car.  The game was easy to pick up and I managed to come in first place in a Porsche race on my second attempt.  With a big grin on my face, I put the VR headset down… realizing that I could easily spend the rest of my day here.

VRPlayin is a wicked experience to try with friends, something cool to try on a date-night and a perfect spot to host a corporate function.  The fun, laid-back atmosphere and super friendly staff make this an ideal place for those trying VR for the first time, and seasoned gamers alike.

Check them out today!  VRPlayin is located at 294 College St, Toronto, ON.

Although VRPlayin is already open, they will be hosting an official launch party on Wednesday, June 14th.  Everyone’s invite!

For more info, jump to www.vrplayin.ca

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Montreal technology company Mighty Cast has began taking orders for its second-generation wearable, called the Nex Evolution. Unlike other single-use wearables on the market, the Nex Evolution gives users the creative control to adapt their wearables to their changing interests and create a new smartband whenever they like.

Users can turn the Nex Evolution into smart home switches, gaming controllers, or any other use they can imagine by using the accompanying iOS and Android smartphone app,. Aimed primarily at Gen  Z and millennials, the Nex Evolution pairs with any Bluetooth or IoT device in the user’s vicinity and enables the creation of “hacks”.

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The band also comes with ready-to-go quick hacks, including a camera and music controller, geo-fenced notifications, location pin dropping and exclusive mini-games. Traditional offerings such as phone notifications and step-counting are also embedded into the Nex Evolution.

Order yours for $79 US at www.thenexband.com

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In 2008, Sony became the first TV maker to retail an OLED TV – it was the Sony XEL-1.  Offering a screen size of just 11 inches and a staggering price of $2,499, this TV was a foresight into future display technology.  Scaling the technology up to size that we are happy to place in our living proved to be a massive challenge however and took 10 years.

Now, finally Sony OLED TVs are available in large screen sizes!  The new series called the Sony A1E offers three choices: 55-inch (model XBR-55A1E; $3,999 US), 65-inch (model XBR-65A1E; $5,499 US) and 77-inch (coming soon; price TBA).

The picture quality of these TVs is simply jaw dropping.

For more info, jump to www.sony.com

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Record Store Day 2017

Celebrate this year’s Record Store Day this Saturday, April 22, 2017 by taking a stroll to a couple of your favourite record shops.  Most shops offer special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products made exclusively for Record Store Day.  Many stores also feature live performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, DJs spinning records,  and other cool activities.

For a list of participating stores, jump to www.recordstoreday.com

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Music Technology Meetup

Good news everyone!  The TAVES Consumer Electronics Show is delighted to welcome the Music Technology Meetup as one of its partners for 2017.

The Music Technology Meetup is a monthly event (in Toronto, Ontario) for those interested in connecting with veterans in the music and technology industries and those who simply love music and want to learn more about how technology has shaped the way we consume, create, and monetize music. Whether you are a software developer working on a music-related project, someone interested in working in the music industry, or a musician seeking to learn more about how technology can help record and promote your band, this it the Meetup group for you.

This meetup is co-founded by Alan Cross, one of Canada’s most prestigious and experienced broadcasters, as well as Nathalia Ribeiro and Andrew Dick.  Together the team has a long history of working in the technology and music industries and facilitates networking and partnership opportunities at the Meetup.  Alan Cross is a regular speaker at the monthly event.

We are thrilled to announce that the October 2017 edition of the Music Technology Meetup will be hosted on the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show floor and led by a talk by Alan Cross.

For more info, please jump to www.meetup.com