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New Portable Speakers and Headphones at CES 2005

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Philips SHS420

Philips SHS420

Portable entertainment devices like iPods, portable DVD players and the like are only as good as the speakers or headphones they are hooked up to. A film may look great on a 7” inch screen, but a poor mono quality sound will ruin the overall portable theatre experience. At CES 2005 this year, a large number of companies rolled out new headphones and portable speakers which promise to bring better sounding audio to your ears. Check out some of the companies listed in this article to see what new quality sound gear they are bringing your way.

JVC:
JVC is definitely a company which knows a thing or two about high quality sound equipment. One of their most interesting CES announcements was the new SP-AP200 and SP-AP300 audio carrying cases with built in speakers.

The SP-AP200 (for MP3 players) and SP-AP300 (for portable CD players) each use flat panel technology in their built in speakers to produce what JVC calls a vibrant sound. Each style of semi tough polyurethane case also offers a built in 500mW amplifier for a little bit of bass boost and runs off of batteries for power.

Both cases, which are available now and priced at $27.95 and $29.95 respectively, can also hook to other sound sources through their mini-jack inputs. They come in either blue or silver colors and have a spring clip to hook it to a belt loop or backpack.

Along the line of headphones, JVC announced what they are calling the “world’s first ear clip-style noise canceling headphones”. Known as the HA-NC70, these small ear clip earpieces are currently set to be available in March for a suggested price of $59.95.

At the heart of the HA-NC70 headphones is a user controlled noise canceling technology which JVC says will reduce background noise by up to 70 percent. This is coupled with a high quality driver in the ear part to provide a clear sound. A volume control is included on a small module attached to the headphones’ five foot wire.

Shure:
Shure has come out with what looks to be a winning addition to their earphone line. The E4c sound isolating headphones, which rest snugly inside your ear canal, are priced at $299 and due to hit store shelves this spring.

The E4c headphones use high end components and drivers normally found in use in studios to provide a trademark sound quality which Shure says is one of the cleanest audio experiences you will ever have. They give “an ultra wide frequency soundstage with brilliant highs and extended bass”.

Shure feels the E4c’s design makes it a well suited fit for the iPod.

Altec Lansing:
Altec Lansing, already known for their line of inMotion portable speaker systems for the iPod, has a new addition to this lineup priced at $129.95 and due out in March. Known as the iM4, it promises to do for other MP3 players what it has already done for Apple's iPod.

The iM4 plugs into any portable audio device through a single retractable cable. It pipes sound through its two speakers which are integrated into the one piece system. In the center of the system is a no skid rubberized platform which will hold most small audio devices in place.

The sound quality of the iM4, according to Altec Lansing, is extremely full bodied. It uses an efficient digital amplifier to power drivers which give quality sound through the spectrum. Included bass boosting technology further enhances the lower end sound range.

Other notable features of the iM4 include the ability to fold the system into a small flat surface for greater portability, a second auxiliary input jack and power derived from either 4 AA batteries or an included AC adapter.

Philips:
Philips introduced two sets of products at CES 2005 which look to have great potential for portable sound to go. One is a set of headphones targeted towards active people and the other is portable speakers.

The SHS850 ($29.99) and SHS420 ($19.99) headphones will both be available in June. The former is a cloth neckband headphone with a lightweight design and foam ear cushions coupled with contoured ear hooks. It can also be folded to a smaller size. The SHS420, by contrast, offers adjustable ear loops which JVC says will stay securely in place during activity.

Those looking to Philips for portable speakers will have two sets to choose from in 2005. The SBA290 ($49.99) and SBA220 ($39.99) will, like the previously mentioned headphones, be available in June. Both sets of speakers are small, capable of fitting into a small bag or pocket. Each will offer good acoustics and bass boost, with the SBA290 also offering simulated surround sound.

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