Displays Tech Accessories

Minimax packs in the pixels in an add-on USB display

Anyone who has spent too many late hours leaned over a laptop screen knows the toll that the quality of the display can have on the eyes. Sencha Electronics have created the MiniMax to combat this very problem. The MiniMax is a portable, flat, lightweight 13” external display that is powered by USB and can plug into any device to offer higher quality visuals. With a 2560×1700 resolution and 239 PPI, the MiniMax is brighter and clearer than most standard laptop screens, meaning happier eyes for all. The Plug and Play feature isn’t device specific either, as the MiniMax functions with all Mac, Windows, and Linux platforms with a free USB slot.

The LCD screen is easy to pack up in a laptop bag or backpack and comes in a stylish clear housing to protect the display from scuffs and scratches. Sencha Electronics need $30,000 for assembly, quality assurance, and fulfillment costs. Interested consumers can get their MiniMax fully assembled for $329, delivered in February 2015. There are a lot of great options for additional portable displays, but MiniMax offers quality to put it above the competition. The only knock against it is that it may be a little late now that Apple’s Retina displays and the Microsoft Pro 3 offer built-in high DPI displays.


Geek Wave offers portable high-quality audio without sacrificing storage

geekwaveThe iPod made portable music players accessible to the masses and really launched the mass market for portable computing products. Unfortunately, most of them focus more on storage than on sound quality. Like PonoMusic and the Astell&Kern AK100, the Geek Wave places a much larger emphasis on sound quality than most other commercial portable music players. With up to 2 TB of storage space and compatible with every file type from 32 bit MP3 to DSD 128, the Geek Wave can deliver music any way users want it, from millions of tracks to thousands of the best-sounding audio around. The Geek Wave 64 player is expected out in March 2015 and is available for $269.


PonoMusic aims to set new audiophile listening standards with device, digital distribution

The Premise. Audiophiles and musicians alike have bemoaned the digital era for ripping all the humanity and natural sound away from listening to music. Despite a dedicated community who still swears by vinyl, the rest of the music-listening population has merely accepted these imperfections as something that comes with the territory.

The Product. Named for the Hawaiian word for “righteous,” PonoMusic makes it clear that it is not a new file format or audio standard, and yet what it does is revolutionizes the digital music store. Using FLAC as means to distribute sound  at a bitrate well above CD quality and without any compression, Pono wants to deliver users music the way it was meant to be heard. The player itself looks like an early MP3 player but has a unique, triangular shape and a LCD touch screen making control as easy as other personal music players.

The Pitch. With a lengthy campaign promo video, viewers are shown a parade of legendary music acts ranging from David Crosby and James Taylor to My Morning Jacket and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Each of these mega-stars talk about Pono as if it were the best thing that’s happened to home audio, a telling endorsement if nothing else. The rest of the campaign helps explain what makes Pono’s audio playback unique, and how it stands above other existing digital distribution models, making it more like the digital equivalent of a record album. Pono’s goal is to raise $800,000 to help establish the format for the consumer market.

The Perks. A first edition PonoPlayer can be had in yellow or black for a pledge of $300, with an expected release date of October 2014. For $100 extra, backers can get their hands on a limited-run chrome version with a laser-engraved signature from a variety of different artists supporting Pono.

The Potential. Even if the glowing praise from all of the high-profile rock stars in the video have more to do with how well Pono sounds versus trying to be respectful toward Neil Young’s vision, it is difficult to see Pono taking much momentum from smartphones and existing streaming services. Not only is the price high, but the campaign is built around the notion that hearing is believing; it will be some time before most folks can experience he triangular player versus lesser alternativs.