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Added Value

Andy Vandervell


As Riyad pointed out in an editorial back in April, a great number of products that pass through our doors these days are exceedingly accomplished. Gone are the days when the difference between the appalling and the superb was clear, since truly bad products just don't some along as often as they once did. Moreover, with production of key components dominated by a small group of companies, many products share a lot more than you might imagine. Take the car industry, how many cars out there are genuinely different? Even the casual observer will know that many share identical floor plans, some even entire engines and trim finishes.

Much the same can be applied to many products we look at. For example, although there are many companies in the business of selling LCD PC monitors, there are only a limited number of companies who actually make the LCD panels that go in them. As a result, there are plenty of monitors out there which may use the same panel manufactured in the same factory, just with a different name on the box. When you think of things like this, you begin to wonder whether you're new premium LCD monitor is a dressed up version of something more mundane.

Ultimately, with the market as it is, it's becoming all the more important to distinguish one's products through innovative design and features. It's a point that can be applied especially to notebooks, but also to televisions, where the demand for 'HD Ready' Flat Screen TVs continues apace. With so many TVs out there, good design and unique features are worth a great deal and it was with this in mind that I was drawn to a new technology recently announced at this year's IFA.

Just imagine, for a moment, that it's a Sunday. There you are, slouched on the couch, beer in hand, readying yourself to snooze through the latest round of the Formula 1 season. It's around half way through the race and, as ever, it has settled down into a comfortable stalemate from which it'll never return. As such, you're just about ready to slip into a bleary eyed slumber that'll last well into late afternoon. That is until…

"Lift me up, lift me up. Higher now up…errrr"

That sound can only mean one thing: adverts. And, as we all know, that means the volume has to be pumped up to ridiculous levels so we can hear about the latest shaving products and deodorants that act like magic love potions. Naturally, the combination of Moby in all his nasal glory and the power ballads of those Bridgestone adverts have shaken you from your slumber, annoyed and grumpier than ever. Where's the justice, eh?

It is this regular annoyance that Dolby's new technology addresses. Creatively titled Dolby Volume, it aims to eliminate all such issues created by loud adverts, as well as the variable volumes sometimes encountered when switching between channels and different sources such as DVD players or Media Center PCs. Could this be what we've all been waiting for?

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