Gear of the year

Forget boring tech: Here are some of the most innovative, interesting products we’ve seen (or are waiting to see) this year.

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Acoustic Research ARW51

Despite the hype about surround-sound home theater, most people never connect all five (or more) speakers because they don't want to run wires all over the room. Acoustic Research's modular wireless speaker conversion system fixes that (and unlike most competitors, does so for all speakers and subwoofer, not just the rear ones). Connect the ARW51's transmitter to your A/V receiver and wireless receivers to each speaker and subwoofer, and then place them wherever you want; a 60-watt digital amp in each receiver gives plenty of audio oomph. The transmitter's circuitry avoids interference from other devices.

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