SE2 Labs presents the ITC One Integrated Theater Console. About the size of a big subwoofer, the ITC One is a bus based solution that combines all your sources and amplification needs in one box. One really big box. Configuration options include HD DVRs for Dish and Directv (so if you want to switch providers, you can) and there's a built in dock for your iPod behind the closed front doors (visible in my picture). Source selection is easy-peazy from the front, but of course, the ITC One comes with a custom remote whose every button is backlit (6 AA's so you don't have to deal with docking stations). And if you lose the remote, you can "page" it from the ITC One. Not much chance of losing that.
Even if you have been living under a rock lately (and no, not The Rock Michael Bay), you're aware that Paramount and DreamWorks recently switched to exclusive HD DVD support. While much of the press focus on this move has centered on the alleged $150 million that changed hands, Paramount has gotten out front in explaining that there were cost and technology factors involved in this momentous decision.
Optoma is shipping the HD-81LV, a 10,000:1 contrast ratio single chip 1080P projector. The projector is a light saber, achieving 2,500 Lumens and it's ISF certifiable. But the real reason for this projector is the anamorphic lens assembly. For a total of $12,000, you get the projector, the lens assembly and a separate video processor box for easier connection (you route only an RS-232 and HDMI cable to the projector). The system uses Gennum VXP technology and looked outstanding showing a clip of Casino Royale on a large screen.
When Optoma first showed their Big Vision rear projection DLP system, they thought it would a hit in new build residential applications. As it turns out, two years later, it's the business market that's most interested in this 30" deep assemblage that can be built into board rooms, conference rooms and yeah, in a pinch, a home theater.
Yamaha's flagship may be the new RX-Z11, but it hasn't forgotten about those of us who like our AV receivers to be more or less affordable. Case in point, the new RX-V3800 at $1799. Offering 140Wpc x 7, it also has HDMI 1.3a with Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding, iPod compatibility network connectivity via an Ethernet port, and Yamaha's traditional two front "presence" channels. There's also on-board video scaling up to 1080p.
The Pinnacle OC HT 1 in-ceiling speaker ($349 for one, $999 for a three-pack) uses a slot locking mounting system that attaches to a ring you screw into the ceiling. Also shown was the QP 2, a speaker designed for use with projection screens, an unusual design with neodymium magnets mounted on the outside ($999/each, black or white). Why we didn't photograph that will always be a mystery to us.
Pioneer let loose a new Blu-ray player, the BDP-95FD. It’s part of their Elite line, and has the usual 1080p/24 output and HDMI 1.3. What’s different is that it will actually output the bitstream of Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio. Up until now, even the HDMI 1.3 BD and HD DVD players all converted these formats to PCM before outputting them digitally. Look for it in October for around $1000.
Pioneer also had its new S-3EX speakers on static display. A smaller, $6000/pair variation on the floorstanding S-1EX we reviewed recently, the S-3EX keeps the price down by employing a simpler cabinet, substituting carbon graphite for the tweeter diaphragm instead of the beryllium used in the S-1EX, and using a slightly smaller midrange cone (but still made of magnesium). While the S-3EX should ship soon, you'll have to wait until mid 2008 for the matching center channel and "bookshelf" models.
Pioneer's new top-line receiver is the SC-09TX with 200 times seven watts of energy-efficient Class D ICEpower amplification and cool front-panel color LCD in lieu of the usual boring fluorescent display. It'll cost seven grand. Of course it has on-board decoding for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc. Also new are three other models: VSX-94TXH ($1600), VSX-92TXH ($1300), and VSX-91TXH ($1000). And then there's the X-Z9 system ($1799), with SACD drive, PC streaming via Cat5, and specially designed speakers.
Planar, the biggest company you’ve never heard of, has really hit the ground running at CEDIA this year. Fresh off their purchase of the fabled Runco brand, Planar showed off several new 1080p projectors.
The Polk I-Sonic ES2 is the second-generation version of the famed do-it-all radio. It handles HD Radio, XM, Sirius, your neighbor's brainwaves, AM, FM, net radio, Rhapsody, our brainwaves, and iPod. Use full capabilities at your own risk. And it now has a tag button (center, bottom) that applies tagging data to up to 50 songs at a time for storage in its own flash memory and the iPod. You could tag songs heard on HD Radio for later purchase on iTunes. Coming in October for $499.