"This," said Lew Johnson, "is home theater done the way we think it ought to be." The "we" in question was Conrad-Johnson and its sister company McCormack Audio, and the system under discussion included McCormack's spanking new UDP-1 Universal Disc Player ($2995).
One of the main reasons why dealers and press types come to the Consumer Electronics Show every year is to see first hand the just-released and soon-to-be-released electronic gadgets and home entertainment gear. But, if you've got "connections", the best thing about CES - other than free dinners and drinks - is the chance to get an up close and personal look at technology that's still in the development stage. These "revealing" meetings generally take place in an unassuming hotel room off the beaten path, are bereft of any glowing press releases, and require a secret handshake (or sometimes a signed non-disclosure agreement) to gain access. HP, for example, showed us some things that we could tell you about, but we'd lose the ability to use our knee caps if we did. (I'm just kidding about the knee caps, but we did swear ourselves to secrecy until they're ready to let the electronic cat out of the bag.)
Finally, news from the audio side of CES. My coverage of the limited surround-sound demos at the official specialty audio venue of the Alexis Park Hotel will have to wait for our upcoming in-depth show report. Today's report will catch up on a few important demos held at hotels near the Las Vegas convention center, plus one surprise discovery at the Alexis. And the news it hot.
CES doesn't officially open until Thursday, January 6, but for the horde of assembled press, it begins on January 5. While workers swarm over the Las Vegas Nevada convention center in what appears to be a hopeless attempt to have everything ready by Thursday's official opening, wall-to-wall press conferences are being held. Tolerated as a necessary chore by the scribes, the press conferences nevertheless serve a useful purpose for manufacturers, giving them a captive audience to do with as they will. This year the festivities were more efficiently organized than usual, the only shortcoming being the lack of sufficient pauses between events.
Time was when CES meant small, unexciting televisions lining the back isles of the convention center. Those times are well past, as manufacturers both large and small vie for the sexiest video presentation. The winner this year was clearly Samsung, with their 102-inch plasma (as before, all screen sizes here are diagonal unless stated otherwise). How they got this monster to Las Vegas and into the convention center free of damage and fully functional remains one of the seven mysteries of the show (another was who distributed all of those pornographic calling cards around the men's restrooms—but let's not go there).
Maybe the economy is really taking off. Or maybe it's simply that the cancellation of the big fall compute show, COMDEX, has sent all the computer types scurrying off to CES, but this year the show seems incredibly crowded. The isles were blocked, the press room didn't have a seat to spare (in contrast to the press room at CEDIA, where you could play catch most afternoons without bothering anyone), and the traffic and parking made LA—at least on a slow day—look like Barstow.
Over in the pages of the August 2005 Home Theater magazine, we just revealed our thoroughly refreshed picks for the top 100 DVDs of all time, a roadmap to assembling the ultimate DVD library, in a variety of categories. To keep the list from being too redundant from years past, and to give newcomers a sporting chance, we have instituted a new policy of purging the number-one-ranked winners from 2004, not as any sort of penalty, rather to retire them to this "best of the best" status:
Today marks the start of a new era in TV broadcasting. ESPN launched its full-time 3D channelthe first in the worldwith coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer championship being held in Johannesburg, South Africa, now through July 11.
It’s always a blast around here to take a look back and see which of the hundred or so components we’ve reviewed in the last year really rose to the top. Of course, the best of these end up on our Top Picks list, but like watching a good movie whose message or performances resonate in the days and months that follow, there are always a few pieces of gear that prove themselves to be just a little more special over time.
Last week, 2netFX announced its recently developed 10 to 36 Mbp HDTV-over-IP streaming technology. The company says that with the recent addition of a live high-definition encoder from Motorola, the new system is compliant with industry standard protocols enabling High Definition Television (HDTV) content to be stored for later delivery or multicast in real-time over standard corporate data networks, satellite and the Internet.
Sony put a little more "pro" and a little less "sumer" in its latest high-definition camcorder, the HDR-FX7. The new $3,500 model is the first 1080i HDV camcorder to include Sony's three-chip ClearVID CMOS sensor technology, of which Sony claims the primary benefits are high-speed data transfer rates and lower power consumption. The three-chip configuration along with Sony's "Enhanced Imaging Processor" is said to provide higher video resolution, greater light sensitivity with minimal amounts of picture noise, and more accurate color reproduction than previous Sony models.
Moving Pictures is finally on Blu-ray—not the kind of pictures you watch, but Moving Pictures, the seminal Rush album that went quadruple platinum in the U.S. and will be released April 5th in a new, fully remastered audiophile edition.
The new 30th anniversary Deluxe Edition reissue from Universal Music comes in a dual-disc package, combining a digitally remastered version of the original CD mated with either a DVD or Blu-ray Disc. Both the DVD and Blu-ray include high-resolution 96kHz/24-bit stereo taken from the original analog master, as well as 96/24 5.1-channel PCM surround audio mixed down from the original multitrack assets under the careful supervision of Rush lead guitarist Alex Lifeson.
If you were thinking about buying a copy of 321Studios' DVD-backup software, you'd better hurry. On Friday, February 20, a San Francisco federal judge ruled that the company's popular "DVD X Copy" software is illegal, and ordered a halt to its distribution within seven days.
Every few months we receive news that someone else is trying to bring 3D TV to consumers (see previous stories 1 and 2). Last week, Dynamic Digital Depth announced that it will preview its version of 3D cable television, delivered through a General Instrument DCT-5000+ advanced interactive digital consumer terminal, at the Western Show this week in Los Angeles.