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New at CES: Turtle Beach Micro II & Klipsch Lightspeaker

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Another pre-CES announcement:


Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II USB Analog & Digital Audio Adapter


The Micro II USB sound card adds a stereo analog output and an optical digital output to a Mac® or PC. The stereo output drives powered speakers, headphones or an external recording device. Because it uses a USB digital connection, the Micro II isolates the audio signal from the noisy electronics inside a PC or laptop to provide higher-quality sound. A built-in amplifier delivers crisp, clear sound on headphones or ear buds.


Inserting the included TOSLINK adapter into the stereo jack converts it into a S/PDIF digital optical output, allowing you to connect your Mac or PC to the optical digital input on home theater systems, digital speakers and other digital audio devices. This digital connection lets you enjoy DVD or streaming digital movies on your Mac or PC with 5.1 channel Dolby® Digital or DTS™ surround sound on your home theater system.




Ok, so, it's not hi-fi, but FWIW, you can't beat that functionality (USB to optical) at that price -- engadget has the MSRP as $25.




Klipsch has a very different kind of product to showcase at this year's CES. The LightSpeaker – which has won a 2010 CES Innovation Award – is probably one of the most literally-named products in the history of consumer electronics. Both light and speaker, it screws into a socket just like a bulb, showering your house with both audio and energy-efficient, 20-watt LED light. Confused? Read on.


The LightSpeaker, which Klipsch acknowledges is not meant to replace your primary sound system (it's more for background music), was developed by Kadence Designs LLC. It acts as both an LED light bulb and a wireless audio receiver when screwed into a light socket. A LightSpeaker transmitter is thus required to make it all work – but you don't need a WiFi network, as the system uses 2.4GHz wireless technology. Other than an old microwave being placed too close to the LightSpeaker, there shouldn't be much interference to deal with – unless your nearby neighbor owns another type of audio-outputting 2.4GHz system. The transmitter streams audio from a connected iPod or laptop to the LightSpeakers above.


Sonos, the manufacturer of the multi-zone, $1000 wireless home audio system, probably has nothing to worry about, as the LightSpeaker system is expandable to only two zones. Klipsch claims that the speaker should fit most 5-and 6-inch recessed lighting fixtures with standard Edison sockets, and that accessories to be released down the road will make the LightSpeaker fit into most hanging light fixtures and lamps, as well.


The included remote control dims the lights and adjusts volume, independently of each other, and while the speaker is not intended to be your main audio source, its 2.5-inch driver ensures that it can get loud enough for your next cocktail party.


Klipsch is offering a $599 LightSpeaker bundle, which includes two LightSpeakers, one transmitter, a remote control, and a 3.5mm-to-RCA cable. A single speaker will cost $249, and it will be for sale on Klipsch's website this March. And should $599 seem steep, remember: LED bulbs can last up to 40,000 hours. No word on how long the speakers will last, but kudos to Klipsch for introducing one of the more unique products we're likely to see at CES this year.




Personally, this is the one I might get, especially if I can hook a mic up to it. One goes into the kids room, and at 10pm when they still haven't gone to sleep, the spectral voice in the ceiling says "QUIET!"


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