Another CEDIA come and gone. It was my fifteenth, and in many ways, the best yet. Like Fred, I'm very sad we won't be in Denver after thishe's right, that city is perfect for a convention. And from what I've heard, Atlanta ain't.
Denver is one of the best cities on the planet, if you ask me. I'll really miss not coming here next year when CEDIA moves to Hot Lanta. Except for the 45-minute ride from the airport, Denver is completely convention-friendly. Transportation is cheap or free (the 16th Street Shuttle) and abundant. The weather, at least in early September, is nearly ideal. The commercial convention district is pregnant with possibilities, from restaurants to record stores, to absorb any free time your editor may not know you have. Hell, even the bums here are nice!
Pioneer debuted another high-end Blu-ray player at the show, shown here in a cool 3D "exploded view" that highlights the player's isolated circuit boards. It's BD-Live with a whopping 4GB of onboard memory and two HDMI outputs. A Pioneer-developed video chip processes 8-bit video with 16-bit resolution, and a Marvell Qdeo handles the scaling. The BDP-09FD should be available in December for $2000. Also at the show were the Elite BDP-05FD ($800, shipping now) and the Pioneer-brand BDP-51FD ($600, shipping now), both Profile 1.1 with the same Pioneer processor (12-bit instead of 16). Power-up and load times are said to be much faster than previous generations.
Video guru Joe Kane was demonstrating the Samsung SP-A800B projector that he helped design (review forthcoming), but it wasn't on a Stewart screen as usual. Instead, he was using a new screen material he developed with Da-Lite. Dubbed JKP Affinity (JKP = Joe Kane Productions), the new material is exceedingly flat with no diffusing granules as on many types of projection screens. This is said to improve flat-field uniformity and depth of modulation by reducing light scatter, leading to greater detail and contrast because adjacent areas of the image don't interfere with each other. The current material has a gain of 0.9 and should be available in a few weeks. The demo was impressive indeed, with exceptional detail and uniformity; can't wait to shine my light on one.
High-end Blu-ray players made quite a showing at CEDIA, including the BDP-S5000ES from Sony, shown here from the front and back. It's BD-Live, and it even comes with a 1GB USB memory module to enable that functionality. The player decodes all the advanced audio codecs and offers a 7.1-channel analog output. It should start shipping in November for around $2000.
One of the big themes are CEDIA this year was 3D, and Da-Lite was in the thick of it with a new screen material called 3D Virtual Grey (though I would have used the American spelling "Gray"). Designed for 3D applications, the material is said to retain 99% of the incident light's polarization, which is the key to achieving a good 3D effect using polarized light and passive glasses. The demo looked quite good, smoother than most I've seen, which could be due in part to the fact that the real-life material was shot stereoscopically with two cameras and the CGI was created specifically for 3D.
If I had to pick a single obvious trend at this year's CEDIA Expo, it would be 2.35:1 anamorphic projection using an add-on anamorphic lens. At least five lens manufacturers were showing product, and all but a few projector manufacturers were featuring some sort of 2.35:1 anamorphic projection. (The fact that our October 1008 issue, distributed at the show, featured an article on this type of setup was a happy coincidence).
Sony's new XBR8 series uses LED backlighting with local dimming. Shown here was a demo setup in which you can see a single cluster (of the many--number not specified which will be positioned behind the panel) of red, green, and blue backlights. The interesting feature here is the presence of two green LEDs. That's not so puzzling when you realize that in our HD color TV system the luminance signal is encoded with more green information than red and blue put together.
Artison introduced the new Art line of line-array speakers. Shown here is the Art 40M, which utilizes 80 0.75" full-range drivers and is said to respond down to 80Hz. 40 of the drivers face the front, the other 40 are angled toward the center; the left-right speaker pair is designed to perform the duties of the center channel, as well. $6000/pair
The entire Focal Utopia line has been extensively re-engineered into its third generation. The flagship Grande Utopia EM ($180,000/pr) is shown. It's the first commercial loudspeaker system in decades (to our knowledge) and possibly ever (at least in the hi-fi era), to use an electromagnet in its woofer design. Electromagnets were common in the Paleolithic era, but were all but abandoned in the middle of the last century for the simplicity of the permanent magnet.
But the electromagnet has undeniable advantages, including adjustability, and in this case can be used to tailor the characteristics of the speaker's bass to suite the music, the listener, and the room.
This crank, located in the rear of the third generation Focal Grande Utopia (above) is provided to rotate the separate driver cabinets to the correct angular displacement, dependent on the listening distance.