Completing Pioneer's THX story at CEDIA is the newly announced certification of its Elite EX series of architectural speakers. As a result, the company now offers THX-certified products that encompass the entire signal path from Blu-ray player through A/V receiver to speakers.
Pioneer has no new A/V receivers at the show, but it did announce that several Elite AVRs are now THX-certified. What's the big deal about that, you ask? These are the first products with Class D digital amplifiers to receive such certification. Also newly THX-certified is the BDP-09 Blu-ray player.
Atlantic Technology isn't the only company with a concept product at CEDIA. Pioneer is showing its Project ET (Entertainment Tap), a networking paradigm that could be incorporated into a real product by next year. The Linux-based box being demonstrated at the show holds a 1TB (terabyte) hard disk, optical drive that can read Blu-ray, DVD, and CD as well as burn DVD and CD, HDMI I/O, and USB and RS-232 ports; in fact, up to 128 USB devices can be connected, including more hard disks.
The continued flattening of video displays makes bulky premium HDMI cable look ever more like an anachronism. That's why Monster Cable has introduced the SuperThin HDMI cable. It's 75 percent thinner than Monster's usual HDMIs. A sexy swivel adapter further enhances its flexibility -- and, by the way, Monster's flat-panel screen mounts are now less than a half-inch thick. Another Monster product is billed as the world's fastest HDMI cable, carrying 21Gbps up to 50 feet, with the help of active circuitry from Gennum. Monster's Noel Lee: "Consumers need to be freed from the fear of obsolescence." After all, with analog cables, "you never had to worry about your cables expiring." More Monster news covered uninterruptible power supplies, powerline conditioners, high-end Turbine earbuds, and other headphone lines. They don't call this company Monster for nothing. Ever the party animal, Monster always throws a party at major shows, and this year's CEDIA party will be called "The Recession's Almost Over Party." That's the kind of attitude we like.
Trufig is a new brand from the founders of Sonance. Its job is to make touchscreens, lightswitches, and other custom installable goodies practically disappear into the wall, as you can see in the pic -- old-style fixtures at right, disappearing ones at left. It was inspired by the after-the-fact design process that's been taking place when Sonance's architectural speakers come up against the wishes of architects and interior designers. The things being made to disappear are not actually Sonance or Trufig products but things like Crestron touchscreens and Lutron light fixtures. Starting at $300 for a single-gang fixture, Trufig is not cheap, but it will presumably find its way into the high-end custom install market.
Look closely at the upper righthand corner of the Integra DTR-80.1 receiver back panel and you'll see a VGA input for your PC, a relative rarity. With nine amp channels (and 11 sets of binding posts) it's armed for bear. You might use those extra channels for width or height speakers, thanks to Audyssey DSX, or for height via Dolby Pro Logic IIz. Also shown were two other receivers and two preamp-processors. Integra products are sold through custom integrators only. See press release for pricing and further details.
More on Procella: "You can't buy them" -- that's what visiting engineers used to be told by the denizens of the DTS testing room in Europe. That is what inspired the Procella folks to go into the speaker business. Following a third-generation redesign, now you can buy them. Shown is the P8, bolted on the P15, and don't call the latter a subwoofer. It's a "powered bass unit" that goes down to 40Hz at a thundering 126dB.
JVC surprised me with the intro of a 3D-capable LCD TV. The 46-inch GD-463D10 uses circular polarization and passive polarized glasses to achieve the 3D effect, which uses alternate lines on the screen for each eye, effectively cutting the vertical resolution in half. It can also display 1080p at full resolution in 2D. The GD-463D10 is available now for $8995. I thought the demo looked pretty good, but not good enough to change my mind about preferring a good 2D image.
I get tons of e-mail asking if there are any Blu-ray recorders available in the US, and up to now, I've had to say no. But JVC changed my answer with the introduction of the SR-HD1500 and HD1250. They can't record over-the-air, cable, or satellite content, nor can they be used to duplicate copyrighted material. Instead, they are intended to record camcorder footage on recordable Blu-ray media. The camcorder can be connected via FireWire or USB, or a memory card can be inserted in the unit's card reader, and the footage is copied to an internal hard disk. It can then be edited and burned to BD-R or BD-RE with or without menus. The HD1250 has a 250GB hard disk and will list for $1995, while the HD1500 has a 500GB hard disk, can accept Final Cut Pro files, and will list for $2550; both will be available in October.
Aside from the DLS-RS4000 4K behemoth, no less than six new projectors were announced at JVC's press conference todaythree in the Reference series from the company's professional division and three in the Procision line from the consumer group, all with HQV video processing. At the top of the heap are the DLA-HD990 and RS35, which feature hand-selected and -tuned optics, 70,000:1 native contrast ratio with no dynamic iris, inverse telecine back to 24fps with 96Hz refresh rate, and ISF and THX certification. Both will list for $10,000 and should be available this month. Stepping down the model ladder, we come to the HD950 and RS25, with 50,000:1 contrast and THX movie mode for $8000. The entry level is occupied by the HD550 ($5000) and RS15 ($5500) with 35,000:1 and 30,000:1 contrast, respectively. The demos looked quite good, especially because JVC always goes to great lengths to show its projectors in a darkened environment.
At last year's CEDIA, JVC showed its 4K projector intended for flight simulation and similar applications. Today, the company introduced a version for the ultra-high-end consumer market. With 4096x2400 resolution, the DLA-RS4000 uses a xenon lamp to output 3500 lumens and boasts a native contrast ratio of 10,000:1 with no dynamic iris. This THX- and ISF-certified monster will be available next month for $175,000 (including an outboard I/O box and your choice of lens). The main demo consisted of upconverted 1080p, and the black level wasn't as deep as I expected, even in the mostly darkened room, but some still photos at 4K, such as the screen shot shown here, looked spectacular.
JVC is introducing a whole new range of its DILA projectors at the show. There are six new models, three from the consumer division and three essentially identical models from the pro division. The star of the six is the DLA0RS35 (pro, $10,000), available this month. It has a claimed peak contrast ratio of 70,000:1, adds JVC's 120Hz Clear Motion Drive, and is both THX- and ISF-certified. The consumer version is the DLA-HD990, at the same price.
JVC now has a two new Blu-ray players, but with a twist. The RS-HD 1250 ($1995) and RS-HD 1500 ($2550) not only play Blu-ray discs, but record them as well. Before you get all excited about this, you should know that the two cannot record HD either off the air or from copy-protected Blu-ray discs. Marketed by JVC's pro division, primarily with pro applications in mind, they can, however, copy HD video onto disc from HD camcorders, both pro and consumer. The material is first copied to an internal hard drive, then from there to to Blu-ray. The more expensive model differs in that it can record material from Final Cut Pro, has a larger hard drive 500GB vs 1250GB), and offers an RS-232 connection. Both machines have USB and IEEE-1394 ports.
Despite the economic hard times, lighting-control leader Lutron continued the tradition of honoring its best dealers at a big soiree, presenting its Excellence Awards in various categories. The event was held Wednesday evening at the Georgia Aquarium, said to be the largest in the world. After the ceremony, attendees were allowed to roam the exhibits, which are home to a huge variety of aquatic life, including whale sharks and beluga whales. The eel pictured here looked pretty happy to see all the visitors.
In the realm of front projectors, Sony unveiled the VPL-VW85 (though Tom Norton has already conducted a review of a pre-production unit for Home Theater, and he liked it very much). With a new auto iris, it claims a dynamic contrast ratio of 120,000:1, and it refreshes the image at 120Hz with dark-frame insertion, a Sony hallmark. It should hit retailers in October for around $8000.