I've long been impressed with Westinghouse flat panelssurprising, perhaps, but true nonetheless. Among the company's introductions at this CES is the 55-inch EW55, an LED-edgelit model with 120Hz operation and frame interpolation as well as a new brushed-metal black bezel. It should be available in the next couple of months for $1000.
Also being demonstrated in the SRS suite at the Trump was StudioSound, which combines PureSound (described in a recent post) and NviroSound (discussed in yet another recent post). The demo consisted of the custom-created short The Escape played on a JVC TV's internal sound system as well as a Samsung soundbar. The spatial depth was not very pronounced on the JVC's internal system, but it was much more apparent and convincing from the soundbar.
SRS Labs is well known for various sound-enhancement and surround-simulation algorithms found in many consumer-electronics products, such as TVs, AVRs, and soundbars. Among the new items being demonstrated at CES is PureSound, a suite of bass-enhancement and equalization algorithms intended to improve the quality of a TV's internal sound system.
The screen shot above shows the frequency response of a TV before (black) and after (green) applying PureSound, and the improvement in sound I heard was dramaticmuch more bass and a fuller, richer sound with less ringing than without the processing. The first application will give manufacturers the ability to improve their TVs' sound, but SRS envisions the day when consumers will be able to auto-tune the TV to their room, much like auto-setup systems in AVRs do now.
The new McIntosh MX121 pre-pro is, at $6000, half the price of its predecessor. And it's got AirPlay!—along with the updated HDMI connectivity and video versatility you'd expect. McIntosh also did a very impressive two-channel demo featuring its XR100 floorstanding speaker, a four-way design featuring a super-tweeter, two mid-tweeters, eight midranges, and four woofers for a mere $10,000/pair. Build quality is over the top: the tweeters have the kind of voice coils you'd expect to see mated with a 10-inch woofer. Surging strings were detailed in an almost three-dimensional sense. If you think McIntosh is just another pretty fascia, you should hear these speakers. Also shown was the Anniversary 275 stereo tube amp, so called because only 275 will be made.
The new Revel Performa 3 speaker line nestles snugly in the middle niche between the higher-end Ultima and more affordable Concerto. Ten models (shown here in prototype form) will include two monitors, three towers, two centers, surround, and two subs. Most will ship this summer except for one tower and one sub, due in fall. Enclosures now have curved sides. The floorstanders have rounded backs while the monitors have straight backs. New driver arrays and waveguides make things even more interesting. By the way, one of the most satisfying demos we've heard at CES so far was the Revel W780 in-wall speaker. For $600/each you get strong bass extension and a midrange that's kind to vocalists.
You'd think a Lexicon multichannel amplifier would get hooked up almost exclusively to a Lexicon pre-pro. But we're told the DD-8 amp is actually being used by a lot of consumers as an upgrade for an a/v receiver which is then relegated to the role of pre-pro. A winner of awards at both CES and CEDIA, the amp musters 125 watts into eight channels and sells for $2500.
It is hard to walk from the Sands Convention Center to the audio exhibits at the Venetian Towers without noticing this tempting array of candy apples. They sure looked better than the modest fruit distributed with the press room's box lunches.
An ambitious Chinese manufacturer of LCD sets, that's who. The small booth had demos 3D sets and an innovative 21:9 flat panel set optimized for 2.35: 1 movies—with black windowbox" bars at the sides for 16:9 material. Reportedly, TCL makes sets for VIZIO, which makes sense seeing that VIZIO is nearly set to release 21:9 sets. The only puzzle here remains why my camera rendered the TCL logo on top a red-fringed yellow, when the sign was clearly solid red.
The Smart Crystal Pro polarization modulator from a new (to us) company called Volfoni (which also makes both active and passive 3D glasses) can take your single chip active glasses DLP 3D projector and turn it into a passive glasses 3D projector. The brochure says it can do this for any 3D single lens projector, but the device has only been verified effective on DLPs.
What it does, in effect, is to substitute rapidly alternating polarization of the filter, which is positioned in front of the lens, for the switching of active glasses. You'll need a connection from the sync transmitter output in the projector to the Crystal Pro to make this work, or alternately DLP Link in the projector (DLP Link is a process that uses rapid interframe bursts of light from the DLP projector that normally triggers active glasses). (If your projector has neither, that is, no DLP Link and an on-board sync transmitter, it will not work, as I understand it. You'll also need a screen that preserves polarization. Estimated cost will be $1500 for the Crystal Pro itself, or $2000 for a package including both the Crystal Pro and a slide that can automatically move the polarizer out of the way for 2D material.
Toshiba demonstrated how a 4K panel can improve the resolution. The photo above can't do it justice, of course (the 4K panel is on the left), but you could clearly see the difference on some material. Of course, the images were stationary of moving very slowly; motion would likely degrade any resolution improvement.
Toshiba was showing its latest prototypes of glasses free 3D. In comparison to last year's demos, the results were much improved. The secret appears to be the use of a 4K LCD panel, which ups the convergence available to each eyemuch like the new, jumbo 4K set shown by LG appears to improve the (passive glasses) 3D performance of that set. If you’re watching 3D alone, the set tracks your head position and adjusts the picture to provide optimum performance. In a group showing, the 3D works properly only in 9 individual regions across the front viewing area. A small circular bug at the top center of the screen (visible in the photo) tells you if your head is in a hot spot for 3D. Toshiba expects to have sets in stores in late 2012. But the use of a 4K panel suggests that the first such sets will be expensive, so I wouldn't hold off purchasing a 3D set hoping to have a cheap, glasses-free alternative real soon now.