Monthly Archives: March 2011

Looking for something new to drive those cans?  For those who haven’t caught on cans = headphones and for those seriously into their cans, just an iPod will never do.  So the announcement of a new headphone / pre-amp from 47 Labs, may be something that tickles your fancy. 

The Model 4733 Midnight Blue is possibly one of the more flexible headphone / pre-amplifiers out there.  It incorporates a headphone amp with a pre-amp and an onboard USB/DAC.  It also has a 2 watt into 8ohms output, which will allow it to even drive sensitive speakers, without adding on a power amplifier.  The 4733, along with a USB input has coaxial and 2 x RCA inputs.  Simplicity in circuit design is it’s promise for quality sound. 

MSRP is: $1750 U.S.

Look for more details at:  http://www.sakurasystems.com

To coin a proverbial phrase, “beauty is only skin deep”, well in this case the comment might be bezel deep.  With that in mind, I’d like to let you know that Sceptre has just launched a new line of 32-inch LED HDTVs in their Galaxy series.  The new panels feature nickel brush bezels and are available in different color schemes – hot pink anyone?

 Measuring only 1″ at its thinnest and 1.82″ at its thickest, these new 1080p HDTVs are slim enough to meet the most discriminating wants. 

 The E320(G,B,P)V-FHD TV’s include 3 HDMI ports, a beveled tempered glass stand swivel base, 50,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Radio and two integrated 9 Watt speakers with a 7-band equalizer.

 Prices are as follows:

•E320GV-FHD (Nickel Brush with Black Accent) ? $499 U.S.

•E320BV-FHD (Black with Nickel Brush Accent) ? $499 U.S.

•E320PV-FHD (Pink with Nickel Brush Accent) ? $499 U.S.

 Look for more at: http://www.sceptre.com

“I wear my sunglasses at night…” – okay, not the greatest demo tune but a catchy lyric.  Maybe someone was on to something, at least when it comes to music listening that is. 

 Audiophiles, know the benefits of closing your eyes and/or turning off the lights while listening to music.  It allows for greater concentration and at the same time, less potential for distraction. 

Musicmask is a mask to be used day or night, while listening to music on a hi-fi music system.  Musicmask was designed to cover the eyes completely, so that the wearer can relax, while leaving their eyes open.  Keeping your eyes open allows you to stay more alert then when you close your eyes.  I can attest to this, since generally, when I close my eyes while listening to music in the evening, I began to nod off – though that could be a sign of age.  The objective of the Musicmask is to allow you to listen in the dark with your eyes open, so that you can appreciate the details of the music to a greater degree, while being relaxed, yet alert.

Musicmask offers a 10-day money back satisfaction guarantee and sells for a MSRP of: $44.95 U.S. 

 Look for more details at: http://www.mymusicmask.com

Onkyo two-channel component line-up continues to grow with the introduction of the versatile TX-8050 network stereo receiver and C-7030 CD player. These precision-crafted components represent Onkyo’s contribution to a new generation of music enthusiasts seeking excellence in two-channel performance at an affordable price. Both products embrace the purity and simplicity of stereo sound, whether it is from a classic phonograph or CD, or the latest in new-technology and streaming network-sourced music.

The Onkyo TX-8050 Network Stereo Receiver will connect a wide range of modern and vintage music sources to one of the company’s classic, low-distortion power amplifier sections. A front-panel USB port allows direct digital connection for iPod/iPhone and other USB devices. An Ethernet jack provides streaming internet radio or audio from computer or network sources. Onkyo’s proprietary Universal Port provides for Onkyo-branded peripheral iPod/iPhone docks, HD radio tuner, and future wireless options. Finally, supports classic audio sources such as turntable, AM/FM, audio recorder, AV sources, and a CD player via analog or optical/coaxial digital connections. 

Like the best classic stereo receivers, the TX-8050 has a powerful discrete-component amplifier design that is FTC rated at 80 watts per channel with no more that 0.08% total harmonic distortion. It will easily drive typical 6-ohm speakers to 100 watts. A massive EI transformer and large 8,200 µF capacitors ensures a stable power supply with the ability to drive high-current loads with both channels, as reflected by it dynamic power rating of 160 watts into 4 ohms. This receiver features Onkyo’s proprietary WRAT amplifier technology, which incorporates a low negative-feedback design, closed ground-loop circuits, and a high instantaneous-current capability. Together, these work to reduce distortion and cancel circuit noise, ensuring cleaner and more accurate signal amplification.

The TX-8050’s network functionality enables owners to incorporate streaming PC audio and Internet radio into their main entertainment system. Audio played this way offers superior power and fidelity compared to typical PC audio. Supported file types include MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, and LPCM audio. Users can also take advantage of a variety of Internet streaming radio channels from Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster, SIRIUS XM Internet Radio, Slacker, Last.fm, Mediafly, and vTuner. The receiver is certified with Windows 7 and DLNA Version 1.5.

A further benefit of the TX-8050’s network function is the compatibility it provides with Onkyo’s Remote App for iPod/iPhone. This free, downloadable application enables owners to use an iPod touch or iPhone as a remote controller to control a range of functions on the receiver. As well as being able to select internet radio stations this way, users can select streaming audio input from a DLNA-compatible server.

The Onkyo TX-8050 also has a front-panel headphone jack, IR input/output, full-function remote control, A/B speaker outputs, and Zone 2 pre-outs that allow users to send audio to a second room equipped with an amplifier and a pair of speakers.

The Onkyo C-7030 CD player is a quality playback solution that incorporates a new high-precision clock to dramatically reduce timing errors, along with Onkyo’s original VLSC to reduce pulse noise. Driving the system is a massive, custom-built EI transformer that provides a clean and stable power supply. Build quality is exemplified by a 1.6 mm-thick flat chassis base that helps reduce unwanted vibrations. Like the TX-8050, the C-7030 sports a sleek aluminum front panel that makes a robust yet elegant design statement.

The Onkyo TX-8050 and C-7030 will be available in late April with suggested retail prices of $399 US and $249 US respectively.

For more info, please visit www.onkyo.ca.

Headphones come in all shapes, sizes and types. But with regards to full-size over-the-ear headphones, they fall into two main categories, “closed” and “open”, which refer to the acoustic seal in the ear-cups. In the case of open-back headphones, the ear-cup is open and there is no noise isolation from the surroundings and conversely the open ear-cups also leak some sound back into the surroundings. Generally speaking, open-back headphones can usually offer better and more dynamic sound than other types of similarly priced headphones. Open-back headphones are great if you need to remain aware of your surroundings or if you are in a quiet environment that does not mind the noise that the headphones will project outward into the surroundings. However, for times when you need to escape some low level ambient noise like a dryer or dishwasher, or if your surrounding environment is not interested in hearing what you are listening to, you will want to use a closed-back (sealed) headphone. The acoustic seal in the ear-cups works to provide noise isolation from outside noise and also limits sound escaping outward.

Headphones can offer an amazing music listening experience and even rival expensive loudspeaker systems at a mere fraction of the cost and space. The main reason for this is that headphones don’t have to deal with the listening room boundaries or reflections which can muddle the music. In recent years many improvements have been made to sealed headphones and some closed designs can sound nearly as good as similarly priced open-back headphones. In this group test we take a look at three closed-back circumaural (over the ear) headphones: a pair of the Shure SRH840, the Ultrasone PRO 650 and the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Premium (600 ohm version).

Shure SRH840 ($265 CAD) 

Shure has been a leader of the in-ear headphone category for years and the SRH series represents the company’s introduction to the full-size headphone market. The Shure SRH840 is its top-of-the-line model and features plush oversize ear-cups. The ear-cups are padded in a soft leather-type material that appears quite durable and should withstand heavy usage. The earpads are replaceable, if they ever wear out, which is a great feature for those who plan to get heavy use out of the headphones – an extra set is included. The plush ear-cups combined with the fully flexible headband make the SRH840 headphones quite comfortable and well suited for longer listening sessions. These headphones are comfortable enough that you can fall asleep while wearing them. The headband is durable and built to last but also flexible, which adds to the comfort of the headphones. Numbered click-pull settings are used for adjustment of the headband. The ear-cups are hinged and fold up and inward towards the headband for compact, convenient storage. The ear-cups do not rotate so the headphones will not lay flat on a surface. Included with the headphones is a 3 meter coiled cord which is removable from the headset via a cable lock and terminated with a gold plated 3.5 mm jack. A locking (screw-type) 3.5 mm to 6.5 mm full size adapter is also provided. Visually the headphones have an all-black finish and have a somewhat bulky profile. Another goodie included with the headphones is a soft faux leather carrying pouch which can store the headphones when collapsed. The specifications note that the SRH840 headphones use 40 mm drivers and neodymium magnet transducers. The acoustic isolation of the headphones is noted as -12 to -16 dB. Putting the headphones on without any music playing, demonstrated that the SRH840 keep a lot of the external noise out. With music playing you likely will not hear anything from your surroundings. The nominal impedance of the headphones is 44 ohms and generally speaking the SRH840 can be driven reasonably well with a portable media player.

For a sonic evaluation of the headphones I used the headphone output of my Behringer SRC2496 A/D and D/A converter connected to the digital output of a computer. The Shure SRH840 are relatively easy to drive and a computer sound card or a portable media player or will do just fine, but you will want to use an amplifier to get the most out of the headphones. My test music included various lossless high resolution albums from HDtracks. With tracks that I would generally consider bright, the brightness was still there but not as forward. The upper-end response was neutral to laid back, without giving up detail or excitement, hence these headphones are not going to cause listener fatigue during long listening sessions. On tracks with heavy bass notes, the bottom-end response was commendable and sonically pleasing (especially for closed-back headphones). The SRH840 had superb instrument separation and despite the big bass response I could easily distinguish the bass drum from the bass guitar. Their great balance, full, low-end response and an overall accurate response makes the SRH840 suitable for both casual and critical listening, as well as home studio and monitoring applications. Since the SRH840 headphones are durable, easy to drive and fold into a compact package they can also make a great portable companion.

Ultrasone PRO 650 ($399 CAD) 

I know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but right out of the box the Ultrasone PRO 650 impressed me with a much higher than expected build quality (at this price point) and their durable appearance. Holding the headphones in my hands I got an undeniable sense of great quality that put a smile on my face. The PRO 650 headphones, manufactured in Germany, are largely geared toward professional use but also well suited for discerning music lovers. The headphones are constructed on a plastic polymer headband which is fairly rigid. The underside of the headband is covered with a padded, plush leather to add comfort. The ear-cups are attached to the headband with a hinged, swiveling connection. This allows you to fold the headphones into a bundle for transport or storage and during use the swivel connection will allow them to lay flat on a surface. The large earpads are covered with plush black leather. The Ultrasone PRO 650 come as part of a fairly comprehensive package which includes a large hard-sided protective storage and travel case, an extra pair of earpads, a 6.3 mm to 3.5 mm gold plated adapter and two detachable cords, one coiled and one straight (each is about 3 meters long). The detachable cords plug into the left earpiece and are terminated with a full-size 6.3 mm gold-plated stereo plug. The black cloth hard-sided case measures about 220 x 220 x 90 mm and will offer a fair bit of protection during transport. A demo CD rounds out the accessory package. With the headphones on there is a good amount of isolation from the surroundings, but the seal is not complete so you can keep some sense of what is happening around you. During extended listening sessions I did find that the headphones became a little bit uncomfortable. The comfort level seems quite dependent on how you angle the ear-cups and adjust the headband extensions, so fine adjustments should maximize comfort. The Ultrasone PRO 650 headphones use large-element drivers and have a nominal impedance rating of 75 ohms, making these headphones best suited for use with a headphone amplifier.

To test the PRO 650 I used the headphone output of an NAD C162 preamplifier with an NAD CD player as the source, listening to various standard CDs from my collection. The PRO 650 are not a difficult load to drive, but are best mated with a headphone amplifier. From the very first note I was pleasantly surprised, perhaps even shocked with the deep, powerful and warm bass response. These headphones achieve an incredibly deep response from a closed-back design. If you enjoy music with deep bass you would likely be very happy with these headphones. Even with the big bass, the uppermost range remained clear, with plenty of fine details and no signs of harshness. The midrange was somewhat recessed and mellow around the vocals, but the overall response came across smoothly. This allowed for long listening sessions without causing fatigue. Ultrasone uses “S-Logic” technology in the PRO 650, which arranges the drivers in the ear-cups in such a way that places the image higher up in the listener’s head, resulting in an expanded soundstage and giving the headphones a sonic signature that sounds much like tower speakers would in a room. These headphones provide great value for the cost, with an excellent built quality and sound performance to match. The PRO 650 are great for use in a listening room, around the home or for rugged use in a studio.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Premium – 600 ohm ($319 US) 

German audio equipment manufacturer Beyerdynamic has been around since 1924 and its DT 770 headphones have existed in the company’s product line-up for many years, in one form or another. Today, there are three versions of the DT 770 headphones, identified by their nominal impedance; 32, 250 and 600 ohms. In this review I test drive the 600 ohm version, noted on the packaging as an “audiophile model”. The extra high impedance makes these headphones rather difficult to drive, so in order to get the best sound from them you will need to use a higher powered headphone amplifier. The headphones have light grey-coloured, round ear-cups that are padded with a plush velour material. They fit very comfortably around my ears and felt surprisingly light on my head for a pair of full sized headphones. The headband design is very flexible which minimizes the clamping force, giving them a slightly looser but more comfortable fit than the other two headphones in this group test. The underside of the headband is covered by a soft leather-like padding which is comfortable against the top of the head. Overall the DT 770 headphones are incredibly comfortable and thus well suited for extended listening periods. Fixed position aluminum alloy supports connect the headband to the large ear-cups so these headphones will not fold up or lay flat on a surface. In my hands, the headphones felt and looked luxurious but did not appear to be overly rugged so they are likely best suited for use at home. There is a fixed, straight 3 meter cable that exits from the left ear-cup, terminated with a threaded 3.5 mm gold plated mini stereo plug. Included in the headphone package is a full-size 6.3 mm gold-plated adapter plug and a nice faux leather storage/travel bag that is soft-sided and foam-padded. The acoustic isolation of the headphones is noted at -12 dB and this keeps a lot of the outside noise out.

To power the headphones I used a 6AS7 OTL tube amplifier with an OPPO BDP-83 disc player as the source, listening to various CDs and Super Audio CDs from my collection. The 600 ohm impedance of the DT 770 headphones makes them ideal for use with high powered headphone amplifiers like this OTL. High impedance headphones combined with a quiet amplifier will produce an extremely quiet noise floor which is great for critical listening or serious studio work. During my listening sessions, the bass response was full and well textured from the DT 770 headphones. While the bass was not as warm nor did it dig as deep as with the other headphones reviewed here, it was nonetheless impressive for a sealed design. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 truly shined from the mid-bass up. They delivered superb clarity, excellent detail, transparency and smooth, crisp extension well into the treble ranges. The soundstage was expansive in all directions and the overall sound was very impressive. The balance of comfort and performance make the DT 770 headphones an excellent mate for a high quality amplifier and perfectly suitable in the listening room for both casual and critical listening.

HDTVs have gotten to the point where size, price, and specifications are relatively similar across different manufacturers, making the purchase decision take into account aesthetics, design and brand loyalty. This doesn’t mean that specifications should be ignored. Getting back to basics, one of the core numbers that should be taken into consideration is the refresh rate. While this specification hasn’t been subjected to the pointless marketing inflation that “dynamic” contrast ratio has (a useless specification which should be ignored altogether), it has still continued to climb, with the latest generation of HDTVs advertising 120 Hz, 240 Hz and even 480 Hz.

First off, a primer: hertz (Hz) is simply a unit of measurement that describes how many times a second something occurs. For sound, it means how many vibrations per second. For example, the middle C on a piano is 440 Hz; the range of human hearing is approximately 15 Hz to 18,000 Hz. For an HDTV, it refers to how many times a second the image is refreshed or repainted on the screen. This is necessary because the image actually fades over time, similarly to how an incandescent light bulb fades if the power is turned off. In newer generation HDTVs, this fading and repainting happens too quickly for our eyes to see, except under certain conditions such as with fast-moving action on-screen. In earlier generation LCDs, the “fade-to-black” time was typically slow, causing “ghost” images to appear because a new image was being drawn overtop of an older image that had not yet completely faded away. Since this fade-to-black time has been reduced, refresh rates have increased to refresh images on the screen constantly.

Refresh rates should not be confused with frames per second (fps) or frame rate, which refers to how many images make up the viewing material. For example, Blu-ray discs are typically recorded at 24 fps, the frame rate of traditional cinema film; North American broadcast/cable TV is 30 or 60 fps.

You’ll now notice that the refresh rates employed by HDTVs are whole multiples of 24, 30 and 60, enabling them to display content from different sources without any “partial” frames. E.g. 24 x 5 = 120, 30 x 4 = 120, 60 x 2 = 120; 24 x 10 = 240, 30 x 8 = 240, 60 x 4 = 240. Refresh rates are also mostly confined to LCD HDTVs. Plasma HDTVs do not suffer from refresh rate issues like LCDs and use a different methodology to create the perception of motion, confining this issue to only LCD HDTVs.

The question now becomes “What is the advantage of a refresh rate of 120 Hz if there’s only 24, 30 or 60 frames of content?” Unfortunately, like the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, at times it can be rather subjective.

As stated previously, the increase in refresh rates means that frames are drawn on the screen multiple times. This alone shouldn’t produce any noticeable change in an image if it was the same content being multiplied and shown repeatedly. However, the main reason for the higher refresh rates is to eliminate “motion blur”. Motion blur typically occurs with fast moving objects or scenes, most notably action movies and sports. To combat motion blur, HDTVs don’t just multiply and repeat content, but interpolate between consecutive frames and generate additional frames for display.

Interpolation is the process of creating new data based upon similar, surrounding data. In the case of frames, it looks at frame #1 and frame #2 and generates a frame between them that bridges the difference. For a simplified analogy, think of a sequence of numbers: 2, 6, 10, and 14. To increase the number of data points, interpolating between those numbers might yield: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14. The quality and effectiveness of each manufacturer’s interpolation technique yields different results with the intention of smoothing out blurred motion. This is done by creating the “in-between” frames of a fast moving object, say a football flying from one end of the screen to the other. The technical term for this interpolation is “motion estimation-motion compensation”. Please take a look at the diagram at the top of this article for a visual representation of motion interpolation.

To illustrate with an example: for a refresh rate of 120 Hz and a 30 fps source, 3 additional frames must be generated for each frame (30 original frames + [30 x 3] artificial frames = 120). The frames could simply be repeated multiple times or interpolation could be used to generate the “in-between” frames. Different manufacturer’s interpolation techniques vary. One might use: “actual frame, repeated actual frame, interpolated frame, repeated interpolated frame” or they may utilize more interpolation for faster moving action with “actual frame, 1st interpolated frame, 2nd interpolated frame, 3rd interpolated frame”. Different techniques will generate different results and the effect will also vary depending on the content being interpolated – hence the reason why higher refresh rates are subjective.

This brings up the complimentary but separate “dejudder” function which is often lumped in with refresh rates. Judder refers to the stuttering motion that can occur when 24 fps film content is converted to 30 fps video content for display at 60 Hz, the base LCD refresh rate. This is achieved through a process called “3:2 pulldown” where 4 film frames (24 fps) are stretched to fill 5 video frames (30 fps). The judder effect is most noticeable during camera pans or zooming. With 120/240 Hz LCDs, this isn’t an issue because 24 fps can be interpolated directly into 120 or 240 Hz without the unnecessary stretching of frames. The juddering effect is also subjective, with proponents on both sides. One side argues that everything should be smooth, clear and sharp. The other side argues that the stuttering motion maintains the “feel” of film and the natural human visual perception of motion.

While older 60 Hz LCDs used to suffer from ghosting and motion blur, most LCDs are now 120 Hz and the improvement difference is immediately visible in side-by-side comparisons. Additionally, the “standard” motion smoothing settings are typically enough to deal with any motion blur whereas the “high” settings start to introduce an artificial quality in the image. Indeed, many consumers dislike the “unnaturally smooth” motion in movies when smoothing settings are cranked up high. Objects such as cars and people appear to effortlessly “glide” around in perfectly smooth motion.

Presently, 240 Hz displays do not appear to produce any discernable gains over 120 Hz displays using actual video content (as opposed to test images/clips designed to show judder and blur) and therefore, are not recommended due to their price premium.

The only area where a higher refresh rate is definitely useful is in 3D, a technology that is only slowly seeing adoption due to the price premium and consumers’ aversion to having to purchase and wear costly active-shutter glasses to view 3D content. With 3D, the refresh rate is effectively cut in half because the HDTV spends half the time showing an image for the left eye and the other half showing an image for the right eye. This effectively reduces a 120 Hz refresh rate to a 60 Hz refresh rate for the left eye and a 60 Hz refresh rate for the right eye, bringing back some of the motion blur and ghosting issues. This is another advantage for plasma HDTVs in the 3D space due to their significantly higher refresh rates.

Interpolation, smoothing and dejuddering functions have their positives and negatives and consumers should visually assess each with the type of content they intend to watch. This writer personally doesn’t use the excessive image manipulation functions and believes in maintaining the director’s intent and perspective of how they wanted the image to appear.

When you think of Hercules – you probably don’t think about diamonds; however, just new from the company Hercules is their XPS Diamond 2.0 USB Multimedia/PC Speakers.  Interestingly enough, these speakers have been designed with female users in mind – perhaps Delilah? 

 The new Hercules XPS Diamond 2.0 USB speaker kit has been designed for those who would like to add some functional style to their computer, laptop, mobile audio player.  The two satellites feature a unique shape and black lacquered finish, with transparent base. 

 The USB connection for power and audio signal, and wired miniature remote volume control makes these speakers very accommodating.

 The satellites’ measure just 3.5″ in diameter and include a black velvet carrying pouch with separate compartments to allow for ease of transport.  

Look for more details at: http://www.hercules.com

Magnify might be an appropriate name for this new tonearm from Clearaudio as that’s its objective, to magnify all that good stuff in the vinyl grooves.  The Clearaudio Magnify tonearm is an all new rigid design arm that is based on and improves on, their Exact tonearm. 

 The Magnify is said to take things a step further by utilizing a hybrid arm bearing, combining vertical precision ball races with a magnetic horizontal bearing featuring adjustable damping.  The two-piece carbon fibre arm tube incorporates micrometer adjustment of tracking force and azimuth

 Supplied as standard is a Linn-type mount or the Magnify can be used with Clearaudio’s vertical tracking angle (VTA) adjuster, even during playback.

 The construction of the unit includes ball bearing magnet hybrid technology and offers a cartridge balance range from 4 to 22 grams. Zero points are 66.04 inner and 120.9 mm outer and has an overhang of 17.3 mm with overall length of 345 mm. Other technicals include an effective tonearm length of 9.4 inches (239.3 mm), distance from pivot to stylus is 222 mm and the unit’s maximum of tilt angle according to the radius is 0.123 °/cm. Included with the tonearm is a one meter Clearaudio Sixstream cable or RCA Junction box and warranty is five years parts and labor.

 The Magnify has been released in the U.K. at an MSRP of £2375.

 More details at: http://www.clearaudio.de

Not to be out shadowed by the second version of Apple’s iPad which became available today, Samsung Electronics has just announced two new additions to its family of GALAXY Tabs, the GALAXY Tab 10.1 and GALAXY Tab 8.9, the world’s thinnest mobile tablets, measuring just 8.6 millimeters.

The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 feature Samsung’s own TouchWiz user interface implemented on the Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) platform, promising superior multi-tasking and enhanced user interaction and navigation.

The new GALAXY Tabs will support HSPA? network speeds of up to 21Mbps as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n connectivity to deliver rapid mobile download speeds and reduce data transfer times. Also, the GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 include a 1GHz dual core application processor for a powerful multimedia and web browsing experience.

The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 are the thinnest mobile tablets available. The GALAXY Tab 10.1 weighs 595 grams and 8.9 weighs 470 grams. Combining the GALAXY Tabs’ ultra-thin form factor with a lightweight design adds to the outstanding mobility of these two products.

Samsung’s TouchWiz user experience is designed with a Live Panel menu users can customize to display a variety of content on the home screen including digital pictures, favorite Web sites and social network feeds.

In addition, the interface includes an application tray of commonly used features such as task manager, calendar and music player which can be launched while other major applications are also in use, including large file downloads and document editing. This Mini Apps Tray provides a mixture of convenience and flexibility previously unheard of with tablet devices.

The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 are pre-loaded with Readers Hub and Music Hub giving consumers instant access to more than 2.2 million books, 2,000 newspaper (49 languages), 2,300 magazines (22 languages), and 13 million songs. The devices are also designed with Samsung’s Social Hub, which will aggregate email, instant messaging, contacts, calendar and social network connections into a single interface.

The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 feature a 3 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front camera, providing smooth transition and seamless 1080p HD video and Flash playback for a rich entertainment experience.

The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 will include an industry leading suite of solutions designed to give enterprise customers and IT managers more security. Developed in collaboration with industry-leading partners such as Cisco, Sybase, SAP and Citrix, Samsung?s enterprise mobility solutions will provide flexibility and connectivity for mobile workforces, ensuring that users are able to operate more efficiently on–the-move.

GALAXY Tab 10.1

GALAXY Tab 10.1, with its WXGA TFT LCD display (1280 x 800) powered by 1GHz dual core AP, is 8.6mm thin and weighs only 595g. It is the perfect device for sharing and enjoying media content with family and friends. In addition, with its surround-sound stereo speakers and support for Flash 10.2, the GALAXY Tab 10.1 will deliver premium entertainment experience whether watching videos, movies or playing games.

GALAXY Tab 8.9

At just 8.6mm thin and weighing only 470g, the GALAXY Tab 8.9 is the perfect device for today’s mobile professional. Whether writing emails on a trip or reading an eBook on the couch, the GALAXY Tab 8.9 provides the ultimate tablet experience without compromising mobility.

The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 now join the original 7-inch GALAXY Tab to provide consumers with an unmatched array of choices to select the mobile tablet experience that fits their needs the best.

For more info, please visit www.samsung.ca.

There will be no shortage of tablets this year.  Following in Apple’s successful footsteps, BlackBerry is yet another company that will be introducing a tablet very shortly.  Customers eagerly awaiting the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet can now preorder the device online through Bestbuy in Canada and the US.

The BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi will come in three models, featuring 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage at $499, $599 and $699 respectively. It is scheduled to be available from all Best Buy stores and Best Buy Mobile stores in the US, as well as Best Buy and Future Shop stores in Canada, on April 19.

Canada – www.bestbuy.ca/blackberry or www.futureshop.ca/blackberry

U.S. – www.bestbuy.com/playbook

BlackBerry PlayBook is the world’s first professional-grade tablet. It features an ultra-portable design and delivers industry leading performance, uncompromised web browsing with support for Adobe Flash Player 10.1, true multitasking, HD multimedia, advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support and a robust development environment.

BlackBerry PlayBook specifications:

7″ 1024×600 WSVGA capacitive LCD touch screen
Ultra-portable at less than a pound and less than one-half inch thick: 0.9 lbs (425g) and 5.1″ x 7.6″ x 0.4″ (130mm x 194mm x 10mm)
1 GHz dual-core processor
BlackBerry Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
MP3, AAC and WMA audio playback
Support for high resolution video playback (H.264, MPEG4, WMV)
1080p HDMI output
Dual 1080p HD cameras for video conferencing and video capture (3MP front and 5MP rear)
1 GB RAM memory
Up to 64 GB internal storage (16, 32 and 64 GB models)
GPS, Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), 6-Axis Motion Sensor (Gyroscope), Digital Compass (Magnetometer)
Stereo speakers and stereo microphones
Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) connectivity
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR support

For more info, please visit www.blackberry.com.

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