Shane already nailed the Epson Cinema Pro 1080 UB ("Ultra Black") demo. It was amazing to see this kind of performance from an LCD. I'll add that Epson might be claiming a 50,000:1 contrast ratio, but that's with what has to be an awfully aggressive auto-iris in play. Kevin Miller, whose work continues to amaze, flew without a net using the chipset's native contrast ratio of 4,500:1, which is pretty outstanding on its own.
Four new Escient media servers, including the VS-100 ($3999), now handle DVDs. You can also get paid downloads from Rhapsody and other outfits, run a photo show, and bask in the new user interface. A media server has to be copy-protection-savvy to transfer disc content to its hard drive, so Escient follows with interest the legal woes of Kaleidescape, whose own DVD server has sparked litigation by the studio-dominated DVD Copy Control Association.
Sitting next to an assembled version of the JL Fathom f113 is the new JL Fathom f110 subwoofer ($2100). It definitely fits in the smaller than thou category,though at somewhat over a cubic foot externally it is a bit larger than the Velodyne shown a couple of screens back. It sports a 10" driver, weighs in at 67 lbs, and is said to respond down to 25Hz (-3dB).
Integra has a range of new AV receivers, but its most interesting introduction is probably the $1600 DTC-9.8 pre-pro. A quick look suggests that it features the same bells and whistles as the company's flagship THX Ultra2 flagship receiver, minus only amplifiers. There's also a matching amplifier, the DTA-9.4, at $3000.
What can I say - it plays CDs, has an AM/FM radio, 80 watts of power in a 2.1 system, uses Meridian DSP processing and, best of all, it has a clock. The sample cuts we heard were more lush than any "radio" you've ever heard. The Meridian F80 is available in Ferrari red, black, white, silver and yellow.
Boston Acoustics' TVee Model Two isn't a one-box surround system. Instead, it's a two-channel add-on to improve the sound of any flat-panel TV. The powered speaker bar goes above or below a flat-panel TV. It can also be mounted on the wall. It learns IR commands from your current TV remote, so it changes volume without needing to have a second remote on the coffee table. The included subwoofer is wireless (except for the power cord, of course) and can be placed up to approximately 75 feet away from the sound bar. MSRP is $399.95 and it's supposed to be available later this month.
Sherwood Newcastle's new R-972 AV receiver looks hot. At $1799 it has HDMI 1.3a and on-board decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, Trinnov room equalization, 100Wpc x7, and Faroudja video processing. The smaller R-872 also has HDMI 1.3a, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding, and something called SNAP room EQ. There was no one available to verify shipping dates, but I'll definitely be checking back-watch this space. $1700-$1800 seems to be the new sweet spot for high-end but pocketbook friendly AV receivers.
Snell's new Illusion A7 speaker is definitely not for the iPod crowd. But at $35,000/pair, it's currently ready for its closeup in the highest-end 2-channel systems. A center channel and smaller bookshelf models are said to be in development.
The DMC 1000 media server is out in a new version (or will be in October or November) with four independent zones, a 250GB hard drive to complement the DVD/CD drive, 1080p processing, cooler cosmetics, and the ability to be commanded by a Palm Pilot. Got $3499?
Monster has embarked on a full frontal assault against the idea that "all HDMI cables are alike" with combination of education and marketing that will include the introduction of five rating levels for its HDMI cables. The top-end "Ultimate High Speed" HDMI cables will fall under Monster's "Cable for Life" program. HDMI cables with this rating will be "performance guaranteed", and Monster says they will replace the cables if the performance of future sources begin to outstrip what the cable is capable of.
HP showed off their latest version of their MediaSmart TV. Unlike the last generation, this one has the entire MediaSmart bits all integrated into the TV (as in no more butt mounted box or rabbit ears). It’s 1080p, and has a revamped user interface (as you can see in the pic). They’re shipping now and are $2,099 for the 42-inch and $2,499 for the 47-inch.