While at least one other major manufacturer besides Sony (Samsung), this entry from enTourage Systems, the Edge, takes a...ah...page from another book. One size of this device is a relatively large screen e-Reader, the other offers an LCD display with some of the functionality of a tablet netbook. You can write on the screen in longhand, or type on either an electronic keyboard or an external keyboard attachable via USB. You can surf the web in full color. The only downside is the 3 lb weight (which felt unusually heavy when I lifted it. About $500, next month (February).
You can't call it a sound bar, but the goal of Niro Nakamichi's latest system is to eliminate the need for rear speakers in a home theater. The new system uses two speaker cabinets - one below the TV that produces the LCR signals, and one above the TV that creates the pseudo surround information. The system also comes with a subwoofer and processor/amplifier. The system uses psychoacoustics to create its effects and doesn't rely on sound reflections off the side walls as many other no-rear-speakers systems do. Although it still can't compete against a full-blown discrete speaker system, I must say that in the brief amount of time I had to listen, it blew away any other soundbar I've ever heard. Of course, at $1,899 for the system, it's more expensive than any other sound bar that I can remember listening to. The cosmetics are a little industrial for my tastes, but it's definitely a high-performance system to consider if you can't have rear speakers.
Hannspree brought several of their unusual TVs to one of the giant press soirees that are filled with cheery PR people, good food, open bars, and every now and then an interesting product. I feel safe predicting that this set won't become the official TV of the Colbert Nation. I didn't see the remote control, but someone please tell me that it's not shaped like a baby seal...
The iPod's plot to dominate the audio industry is now complete with Peachtree Audio's musicBox, a stereo tube amp decked out with three-inch full-range speakers. The DAC is hardwired to the iPod dock, so this baby can take a true digital signal off an iPod and process it with virtually no jitter. Price, maybe, oh, a grand or so.
The MPS-2510P active reference monitors from the rejuvenated MK Sound were sounding good, with their dual 5.25-inch woofers, trio of one-inch silk domes, and onboard dual 180-watt amps, one for the woofers and one for the tweeters. Price $2999. The MX-350 dual 12-inch sub ($2299) has improved 400-watt amps for each driver.
Achromatic is the name of a new line from the venerable (and underrated) Anglo-Chinese brand Wharfedale. In addition to the $399 sat/sub set, the line also includes towers, monitors, and subs. The existing Evo2 ($600-1900, shown) and Opus2 ($1700-5000) lines have been beefed up with aluminum-coated copper wire for better heat dispersion. They continue to have kevlar woofers and soft dome tweeters.
Let's say you're playing Rock Band and pretending to be George Harrison. Wouldn't the fantasy be heightened by a speaker resembling a stage monitor at your feet? Polk knows how that feels and responds with the HitMaster, with dual horned tweeters, $100/each. Also shown was a new surround bar (we got our wrist gently slapped for saying sound bar) for $350. "Pro Logic like effects" are promised.
I always like going to the NXT suite during CES to see what new things they've cooked up. The three-room suite is filled with a variety of current, brand new, and concept products utilizing NXT's slim and flat transducer technologies. One of the most interesting items was a 2.1 flat-panel TV add-on speaker system from Q Acoustics. The Q-TV2 attaches to the rear of the TV chassis and can be used whether the set is on a stand or wall-mounted. The subwoofer is around an inch thick, and the slender side speakers are mounted on arms that can be adjusted to match the width of the TV. The system accepts analog or digital audio from the TV and has boundary compensation circuitry for use when the system is up against a wall.
The BLX 200 is not only Anthem's first Blu-ray player but its first source component. Price $799. Also new were two LCOS projectors, the LTX 500V ($8499) and LTX 300V ($5799). The difference between them is that the step-up model has 120Hz refresh and ISF certification. Sister brand Paradigm is now shipping the products we saw four months ago at CEDIA.
Tiny projectors - like this one from Microvision - are big this year, although picture size and quality isn't necessarily so. I overheard one presenter say you could project an image up to 200 inches with one of these types of projectors. Technically, I suppose you could send a photon from one of these projectors to Mars, but that doesn't mean it's watchable at that size or distance.
It may not look like much, -- and our limited photographic skills don't help -- but we'll bet a lot of penurious audiophiles will go nuts for Dynaudio's new DM-6, a two-way monitor with 5.5-inch woofer and 1.5-inch fabric tweeter, in black or rosewood vinyl. Other models are now available in attractive black or white gloss finishes.
TAD, already one of our favorite speaker manufacturers, now offers both a mono-block amp and a SACD player cum DAC, both priced at $26,500. Stereo amp and preamp are on the drawing board. The final version of the Compact Reference speaker is now shipping for $37,000/pair. A demo with female vocal and piano was startling in its directness, marred only slightly by the sight of the chandelier gently swinging, apparently as a result of a subwoofer on the floor above.
Gefen's new ToolBox line includes wall-mounted "system integration devices" used for HDMI connectivity and distribution. The new models are designed to be installed on the wall near the gear rather than in a rack. Each unit comes with locking HDMI cables and are available in glossy cream or black. In addition to HDMI splitters and switchers (including matrix switchers), the line will include a wireless HDMI transmitter/receiver package that will extend HDMI signals at 1080p/60 full HD resolution up to 30 feet.
Tunebug's Vibe is a small triangular puck that sits on any flat surface and turns it into a speaker. No, it's not audiophile stuff, but it can sure beat the pants off that teeny speakier in your portable media player or laptop. The Shake does the same thing for bike and skate/snowboard helmets - or any other three-dimensional surface from which you might want to produce sound. Using the Shake on a helmet lets you hear music and the ambient noises around you (potentially keeping you from getting flattened by an oncoming truck).