"KEF Wireless" is the laconic name of the British loudspeaker's icon entry into cable-free audio. Proprietary algorithms (I've heard this so often, it's almost like a pickup line in a bar) resist noise from nearby appliances and ensure audiophile-ish bandwidth. The "after market" version (lower right) has a 50-watt Class D amp backed up with, I'm told, a great power supply. But you can also buy KEF Wireless built as a "doughnut" into one of KEF's slender, world-beating Reference towers (top left). Also in the works: The new Austin series, with redesigned Uni-Q coaxial driver array (KEF likes putting tweeters amid other drivers) with strengthened tweeter and bigger magnets--"not overly analytical" and "easier to place."
The G95 is this high-end digital icon's first product to combine preamp, surround processing, and amplifier functions. Power is rated at 100 watts times five. Also included is a DVD/CD drawer (with DVD-Audio compatibility). The price is a mere $8400 and surround-savvy, spaced-starved audiophiles are salivating. Meridian also showed off a new variant of its Faroudja video processing with motion compensation, not to mention a trendy iPod dock.
Get ready for wireless everything, a major theme at the show. Apple TV is grabbing the headlines, with MacWorld happening in SF at the same time as CES, but those wanting a cable-free life got a bunch of new options in Vegas this week. Going wireless is Neosonik's whole raison d'etre. Plug in your video source via HDMI 1.3 and watch (if such were possible) your video signals fly as an H.264 video transmission with audio in a separate stream. Depending on the size of supplied speakers, cost ranges from $6000 for Series 4 to $10,000 for Series 6.
Thermaltake showed a new HTPC case – the Mozart iP – to go with their already released Mozart Sx. The new addition incorporates a front door that opens to reveal an iPod dock (hence the iP name). The iPod nav wheel is still accessible through a hole in the chassis and there are adapters depending on which iPod model you own. It should be available Q2 with pricing TBA.
If this rosewood piano-gloss finish looks good to you, Onix will sell it to you in a two-way stand-mount speaker for $269/pair. The company also makes electronics. In fact, a previous incarnation of Onix made the stereo integrated amp that powers my desktop system.
The former design guru of Platinum Audio now heads up American Acoustic Development, or AAC, and while the 7001i Reference monitor's ribbon tweeter caught my ear, I was soon sucked into the vortex of Phil's M Series, his first value-priced home theater package ($1350/5.1-channel system). He is a bass player and let me assure you the system had jaw-droppingly tight and focused bass response as well as the designer's signature clarity.
Sometime in the next six months, InFocus will release its Play Big In1 – a $500 entry priced projector. The projector can connect to one of two base units. The first has a built in DVD player and two speakers. The second is their gaming dock that has two speakers as well, plus all the connections you’d need to connect a game system like Nintendo’s Wii. There’s also a mirrored attachment that lets you project the image on the ceiling (they got the idea from kids saying they wanted to play their games while lying down in bed). Manufacturer specs list 500 lumens and 1,500:1 contrast ratio. How is this only $500? It only handles 480p.
"Among the introductions at the first CES," says the little red placard, "was a line of 23-inch RCA console televisions like this 'Chatworth' model. It was delivered to the Bucklin family of suburban Minneapolis in February 1968 and used continuously since then. Almost 40 years old and in perfect working condition, this set features 'styling that calls to mind the stateliness of English manor house furniture tradition.' Connected to the RCA DTA800 Digital Wireless Adapter, even a 40 year old TV can enter the digital age!" And some idiot can enter the picture as I'm trying to take it.
I'm beginning to lose track of the number of "goes wireless" headlines I'm writing. In a move reminiscent of Microsoft's Zune, Sandisk--which last year humiliated Steve Jobs by introducing an 8GB flash memory player before Apple did--has introduced the Sansa Connect, which uses wi-fi hotspots to tap into Internet radio and yet-to-be-announced download services (in the recent past SanDisk has done business with Rhapsody, hint hint). Zune killer? The price is $249 and it ships in a few months.
What's the best way to arrest rapidly moving showgoers and convince them that your noise-cancelling headphone technology is the best? Sennheiser plopped a couple of plane seats (first class, of course) on the show floor with a speaker between them spewing recorded jet turbine noise. I then sat down next to the speaker, put on the cans, and got the point. The PXC 450 is comfortable, despite its ear-enveloping size, and sounds full, rich, and spacious, with profound bass.