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Although we don’t normally cover wired control systems, the Zon ZAC-60 is one amazing little device that kept catching my eye as I travelled the show floor: an interface and 60 watt digital amplifier bundled together in one compact single gang package. The attractive Zon features a graphical display, bright (and I do mean bright) blue backlighting, volume control, single speaker connector, control for EQ, tone, loudness and balance, IR receiver, microphone and compact remote control. Each ZAC-60 hooks up via CAT-5e or CAT-6 wire to a ZR-98 9-source audio router. Multiple routers can be cascaded together for up to 1000 zones.
Audio gets into the ZR-98 via the ZIM-4 audio input modules, which feature 24-bit A/D converters and once again hook up via simple CAT-5e wire connections. It’s even possible to loop two ZIM-4s together to get analog and/or digital audio from one place to another. Like many similar systems, convenience comes at a price: the main ZAC-60 sells for $599, the ZR-98 router goes for $1,159, while a two-pack of ZIM-4 inputs sell for $498.
If there’s a home theater brand name synonymous with plasma panels, it has to be Fujitsu. At CEDIA the company announced their largest ever model, a 63” screen, along with new 55”, 50” and 42” models. The keystone P63XHA and P55XHA progressive models feature e-ALiS, or “Extended Alternate Lighting of Surfaces” technology, which is designed for clear reproduction on plasma screens larger than 50 inches. Both models feature DVI/HDCP and component inputs, 10-bit color processing (for 1.07 billion colors), 1366 by 768 resolution, RS232 ports, and longer than 60,000 hours lifespan. That’s 5 hours a day for more than 32 years! The models will be available early 2004 at $24,999 and $14,999 respectively. Only $0.41 per hour!
Hopefully slightly more economical are the P50XHA30, P42HHA30 and P42VHA30, which will also be available in 2004 at an as yet unreleased price. All three incorporate the image enhancing AVM processor, DVI/HDCP input, RS232 serial ports and a slim design with built-in stereo speakers. The 50” model features a 1366x768 resolution, the middle 42” model with 1024x1024, and the P42VHA30 with 852x480.
Crestron is certainly a company that recognizes a good thing when they see it. Last year they introduced the MT-500, a rebadged and customized Philips ProntoPro designed as an economical way to control Crestron’s backend systems. This year Crestron has introduced the ML-500, a Home Theater Master MX-800 remote that, once again, carries the Crestron brand name. The ML-500 is sold in a charcoal black finish, much like the Home Theater Master MX-1000. It also supports RF communications to Crestron’s CNRFGWA-418 gateway.
Crestron was also demonstrating the WPR-48, a fully submersible waterproof remote control, inside of an aquarium complete with goldfish. The WPR-48 has 9 custom labelled buttons that can be programmed for up to 48 different functions, has bright blue EL backlighting, uses a lithium ion battery with recharging station and supports RF communications. It may not look like much at first, but it’s got some serious power under the hood!