Cambridge SoundWorks, Bose, and Polk’s new i-Sonic, DVD creation with a computer

Week of July 23, 2006

Q: In one of your articles you recommended a less expensive competitor to the Bose table radio. We want one that can play CDs. Could you please advise on which one to buy?
-Bob Charny

A: You are referring to the Cambridge SoundWorks Radio CD 740, which sells for $349. It has better sound than the Bose and costs a lot less. For $199 you can get one that does not have the CD player.

For those of you willing to spend a bit more than the Bose to get the ultimate in a table radio/portable entertainment system, be sure to visit and check out Polk Audio’s new i-Sonic, due to be released very soon. It features class leading design, as well as super sound quality that fills the room by virtue of its four speakers- two in the front and two in the back of the unit. The Polk Audio i-Sonic incorporates a DVD player, XM Satellite Radio with an optional antenna, HD Radio a new digital radio format that is available for free in both AM and FM. It can play CDs, DVDs, MP3 Discs, Video & Picture CDs, and has two inputs that can be used for iPods and other digital music players, audio connections from camcorders, etc. And of course, it has a clock with two alarms- can’t forget that, and it would be easy to with all that other great stuff in there!

I wrote about the Polk Audio i-Sonic early last year but development delays kept it from being launched on time. Now that it is on the verge of being introduced I felt it is important to mention it again as I get quite a bit of mail about the Bose and Cambridge SoundWorks products, and the table radio category in general. While it is unfortunate the Polk Audio i-Sonic is coming to market a bit later that originally planned, I commend Polk Audio for not releasing it until it is ready and performs to their high standards. (Blu-ray manufacturers and studios, take note!) I’ve visited Polk’s Headquarters and they definitely love what they do, and I expect the production i-Sonic to be nothing less than spectacular.

Q: I would like to copy VHS tapes and camcorder tapes (HI-8)to a DVD. It is my understanding that I can either buy a DVD recorder or purchase software/hardware to use my computer. Which is the best way to go? Which is the least expensive? If you recommend the software/hardware route, which products would you recommend?
-John Parmelee, Centre Hall, PA

A: What is the best depends on you. With a computer the DVD’s picture quality will be better and you can make custom menus, but it will cost more and take a lot more time and effort. Unless you have a really good TV the difference in picture quality may not even be that noticeable. You can buy a DVD recorder for $100, connect it to your camcorder and VHS deck, and quickly and easily make good DVDs. For most people that is all they need. For DVD recorders, I prefer Lite-On products.

To use your computer you need software and an analog video capture card and software. Adobe Premiere Elements software is $99, or $149 bundled with Photoshop Elements- quite a buy! Decent video Capture cards are available for around $100, but spending more will make a noticeable difference in picture quality. I recommend the Canopus ADVC-50, $189, or the ADVC-55, $219, for superior results.

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