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"Sleeper hit" of '08? Fortune predicts high-tech radios

Posted on: 01/11/2008

From Fortune Small Business in CNN Money: “Get ready for what has got to be the all-time greatest sleeper of a tech trend: Radios, I kid you not, are making a comeback in 2008.

“And we’re not talking iPod-like portable thingies, but big, expensive desktop radios. Mark my words, they’ll be downright cool in the coming year. Best of all, charting this new radio frontier is a fleet of innovative small businesses

“But this new generation of desktop radios, taking its introductory bow here at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), is making great hay out of an odd confluence of factors…

“Radios are feeling a strange brand of love radiated by the public’s growing hatred for complex electronics. Innovative new models take full note of consumer distaste for too many features and difficult-to-operate equipment. Most new desktop systems, like the new line from Sonoro Audio ($289), sport ultra-simple designs with a half-dozen controls and few functions. It doesn’t hurt that the device, which the Koln, Germany-based 25-employee firm is launching in the United States this week, looks like something you would buy at a better furniture store.

“But my pick of the new radio litter comes from tiny Somerville, Mass.-based Cue Acoustics. This three-person, self-financed startup is betting its entire future on a radio: the Cue R1 Radio ($399). The R1 is the brainchild of Cue’s president, industrial designer Samuel L. Millen. It takes great advantage of the latest in miniaturization of audio components to deliver a radio of utmost quality and good looks. Millen has built the Cue with four – count ‘em, four – independently amped channels at 25 watts each. That’s a borderline ludicrous 100 watts of power for a radio the size of a small shoe box.

“There is no denying the results. The unit uses advanced tuner technology that makes it easy to control the high-quality Philips radio within. The whole package is wrapped in an attractive black enclosure that supports an iPod dock on top…

“At this rate, what’s next? The return of horse-drawn carriages?”

Read the entire article at CNN Money.

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