LG appeared to have the biggest booth at this year's CES, and is clearly touting its position as a major player in every video category. And like Samsung, a good portion of its booth was dedicated to showing off not just its current product, but its dedication to research into upcoming terchnologies as well. It even showed small OLED displays.
Another big theme this year is enhanced contrast, for which we have SED, Pioneer Kuro, LED backlighting with local dimming, and Home Theater mag to thank (OK, we're blowing our own horn here a little bit for continuing to make a big deal out of better blacks). Clearly, LG believers it is Mega-ready.
Those who want to equip their home theater with the best performance and service money can buy might want to take another look at SIM2. The company’s latest version of its HT5000E three-chip DLP projector combines reference-quality performance with unexpectedly personal service. The projector promises high-end image quality with the latest DLP chipsets from Texas Instruments. It includes three 0.95-inch DarkChip4 DMDs that work to display clear, uncompressed 1080p material.
LG showed a whole range of audio systems (upscale home theaters in a box) voiced by Mark Levinson. That's Mark Levinson the man (in LG's terminology, Mr. Mark Levinson), not the company which uses his name (he has not been associated with that company for many years).
Here's as closer view of the satellite in the systse described above. That's a ring radiator tweeter you see here, a tweeter design that's been popular in new speaker systems over the past couple of years.
Tom Norton broke the news about Dolby Pro Logic IIz, the first surround standard from the surround standard setter to incorporate height channels. It's an enhancement process, like Dolby Pro Logic II; not an encode/decode process, like Dolby Digital or TrueHD. It extracts what Dolby calls decorrelated non-surround elements, so it'll operate on things that belong in height channels, as opposed to, say, footsteps. It can operate in 7.1 or 9.1 configurations, without/with back-surround channels. Dolby's now in discussion with various manufacturers about licensed products. What I have to say about it is that it's a great idea -- I'd rather see folks adding height channels to their systems than useless back-surrounds (Dolby wants to make real sure I label that as my own opinion). And the implementation in speakers may be quite interesting, I imagine, everything from vertical structures (same footprint) to in-walls to speakers with top-mount drivers that bounce off the ceiling. Details here. Oh, and the pic is the Acer Aspire PC, glimpsed at the Dolby booth, and I mention it only because as I walked up to it, it said Luke, I am your father.
In other Dolby news, Dolby Volume, tamer of blaring ads and dodgy surround levels, is coming to Toshiba Regza TVs in both the U.S. and Europe, as well as in a Harman Kardon receiver. It's also built into the cool Airfonix transmitter/receiver device pictured above, which accepts two-channel sources both RCA and XLR. Dolby's mobile strategy is (of course) Dolby Mobile, which manipulates the soundstage in cells and other portable devices. Dolby Axon provides surround-like effects in online voice gaming applications. And Dolby Digital Plus is now being used in Italian as well as French television broadcasts.
Room Caster is the name of a high-end wireless technology that connects devices within a room. THX is working on it with San Francisco-based Radiient Group. It works with high-bandwidth signals in the 5GHz band, with as many as eight channels and resolution of up to 24 bit, 192kHz. The only compression used is whatever's inherent in the source signal. The demo showed it working smoothly. Likely uses will be in surround receivers, source components, and docking devices. Prototype transmitter pictured.
What struck me about my DTS briefing is that the formidable licensor of surround standards has dual strategies in two areas. One is sound enhancement for portable devices. For high-end surround headphone use, there's Head Tracker, which causes the soundfield to follow your head movements -- just like in this pic of a dude turning his head. Head Tracker will be built into an Onkyo receiver. For lower-end portable uses, DTS offers Envelo, which deals with the problems of highly compressed audio formats. DTS's other dual strategy arrives with the acquisition of Neural Surround, a matrixed adaptation format, which overlaps a little on existing Neo:6 territory. But the DTS people say the two circuits will find different applications, with Neo:6 (again) as the high-end player and Neural focusing on low-bit-rate applications like broadcast and MP3 (it's already used in XM, or now Sirius XM, satellite radio). DTS will be among the surround licensors to offer height channels with Advanced Neo. It will adapt 7.1 sources to 10.2, 11.2, or 12.2 channels, and is now being discussed with a/v receiver makers.
No, this is not a typo. LHX isn't a take-off on THX, but rather the designation for LG's top of the line flat panel LCD sets. See the vital stats above. Note the wireless capability. Wireless HD video is one of the big stories at CES this year, with most of the major manufacturers showing their own wireless solutions (generally for their top of the line sets) and add-on wireless devices from vendors such as Gefen and Radiient. But before you take the plunge, be sure that the wireless capability you're about to buy does not apply additional compression to the HD source.
Now that 240 has been designated the lucky number of this year’s CES, multiple companies are showcasing their own versions of the technology. VIZIO’s version comes in the form of its XVT series. The 55-inch VF551XVT LCD HDTV ($2,000) features 240Hz technology coupled with 1,000,000:1 Mega Dynamic Contrast with local dimming.