CES - Day 2
BG's Radia On-wall Speaker Intros
BG - the planar loudspeaker company formerly known as Bohlender-Graebener - introduced two new and very unique on-wall speakers. The R-17i uses BG's patented planar ribbon high-frequency driver with twin 4" woofers and two 4" passive radiators. The planar high-frequency driver can be rotated for horizontal or vertical mounting, so it's ready for use as an LCR speaker. Designed primarily for use as a surround speaker, the R18i is a little more unusual because it uses a rotating wide-band planar driver. In your listening room, you can change the sound directivity pattern from direct to diffuse (or any variation in between) via a small, virtually unseen control knob on the top of the speaker. Each model is packaged singly so you can create anything from a two-channel system to a full-blown 7.1 system (or higher). The speakers are scheduled to begin shipping by April with a price of $499 each. Currently the plan is to have them available in black or silver finishes.
HD DVD Takes First Round in Title Fight
Three studios released information on the films they expect to release on HD DVD. Universal Pictures' blockbuster feature films slated for HD DVD release include Van Helsing, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Chronicles of Riddick as well as catalog titles such as Apollo 13, U-571, 12 Monkeys, Dune, The Thing, End of Days, Backdraft, Waterworld, The Bone Collector, Spy Game, Pitch Black, Conan the Barbarian, and Dante's Peak. Our guess is that Conan the Barbarian and Waterworld were suggested by backers of the Blu-ray format, but that hasn't been confirmed. Warner Home Video announced they intend to release HD DVD versions of over 50 new and catalog titles - including some from New Line Home Entertainment and HBO Video - beginning in the fourth quarter of this year. Planned releases from the Warner Home Video library include Ocean's Twelve, The Polar Express, and The Phantom of the Opera, along with Matrix and Harry Potter titles. Paramount Home Entertainment's HD DVD offerings will bring new and recent releases such as The Manchurian Candidate, SpongeBob Squarepants, Italian Job, School of Rock, and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to the new format plus catalog titles including Forrest Gump ("Run, Blu-ray, run!"), Braveheart, Ghost, Mission Impossible 2, Star Trek: First Contact, We Were Soldiers, and Grease.
Definitive Technology Thinks Small
Aiming to prove that small size, exceptional style, and big performance are not mutually exclusive, Definitive Technology took the wraps off their tiny Mythos Gem speakers ($249 each) which not only look cute but sound equally as great when used as front or surround speakers. With the new SuperCube III ($699) powered subwoofer, the two-channel sub/sat combination is quite amazing. Definitive also showed a home theater setup with Mythos Gems as the front and rear speakers, a Mythos center channel, and the SuperCube III. There isn't much else out there that can beat it in terms of sound performance for the price.
A Name You're Going to Hear More Of
If you've looked closely at the front panel on the new 10-channel Denon AVR-5805 receiver, you may have noticed the Audyssey MultEQ logo. On the AVR-5805, the MultEQ technology lets you calibrate the output of the speaker system to give you the best performance in up to eight listening positions. All the sonic processing power that goes into making fine electronics and speakers sound even better is impressive, but I was really knocked over by a soon-to-be-released version of Audyssey's sonic secret sauce designed for smaller, less sophisticated Home Theater in a Box (HTiB) systems. Audyssey's PrevEQ processing technology can be built into these small systems - the majority of which use speakers you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy - and make them sound like systems costing twice as much. It's hard to believe that it can be done until you hear a comparison of the system with the processing turned on and then off. It can't make a $250 HTiB (which is what was used in the private demonstration) sound like a $2,500 system, but it does make it sound a heck of a lot better. Audyssey also demonstrated that the technology can even be used to make headphones sound better. Look for announcements of more products incorporating the Audyssey technology in the near future; and by all means, learn what the Audyssey logo looks like - it's going to change the sound of home theater.
He SED, She SED...
In a closely guarded demonstration room, Toshiba and Canon did the first showing in North America of their jointly developed flat-panel display technology, SED (Surface-Conduction Electron-Emitter Display). The setup pitted an SED panel against a similarly sized plasma and LCD TV. Although the comparison wasn't 100% fair (they could have used a better plasma set in the demonstration), nevertheless the picture quality of the SED panel was quite stunning - and the power consumption was much lower than the other two TV technologies. SED is certainly a technology to watch for. Limited quantities of flat-panel SED TVs will start to become available late this year.