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January 2007

CES: Enough Memory! Give Me Better Sound.

This year’s CES seemed larger than ever with aisles upon aisles of portable media and LCDs displaying HD content. This year wasn’t about new technologies as it was about the fruition of the industry’s innovation over the last few years. TVs are thinner than ever and now they’re becoming affordable to the average consumer. Portable media players are finally achieving the screen and batter life required, and MP3 players are getting increased storage.

Yet it wasn’t until I escaped from the hectic show floors and retreated to Texas Instrument’s relaxed atmosphere in their Hilton Suite that I was shown my two true loves of the show. On the fourth floor TI introduced me to their DirectPath Headphone Amplifier TPA6130A2 and their Stereo Audio Codec PCM3793/94.

These two products, while maybe not as impressive as a 32GB flash HDD for notebooks, are just as significant, because they address the last frontier in portable media: sound quality. What use is having an 800GB MP3 Player if I can’t get some high quality bass while cranking up the latest hits? What use is having a 10GB SD card on your camera for movies if you can constantly hear the camera zooming in and out?

The TPA613A2 has the highest PSRR (Power Supply Ripple Rejection) and the lowest quiescent current. These features make it possible to minimize outside noise, increase battery life, and maximize audio quality for any portable media player, while giving manufacturers a $.40 savings.

Freescale Semiconductor Announces Triple Axis MEMS Accelerometers for Consumer Applications

On January 8, 2007, at the CES show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Freescale Semiconductor announced the availability of three new micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) triple-axis acceleration sensors. Freescale is a major supplier of MEMS acceleration sensors for automotive applications, but the three new sensors extend Freescale’s capabilities into a wide variety of consumer applications. They feature low-power, zero-g detect for freefall protection, a small footprint for portable applications and a self-test function.

There are many potential applications for MEMS accelerometers in consumer products. One example is hard disk drive protection in portable electronic devices such as MP3 players or PDAs. Zero-g detection provides a logic interrupt signal when all three axes are at zero-g. Advanced motion sensing then detects when a device is falling so that steps can be taken to prevent damage to hard drives or other sensitive electronic components.

Another example is game controllers. Heightened multi-axis sensitivity and a full range of motion allow mobile and game users to make very small movements that result in accurate, controllable responses when scrolling, flying, driving or executing other quick responses. Other potential applications include recording falls or shock to limit warrant coverage, camera stabilization, electronic compass tilt compensation, GPS backup, image rotation, tap to mute and many others.

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