Some interesting info at Sony's press event included an update on PS3's shipping and availability. They're still selling fast, but the good news is enough quantity is getting out that you might be able to get one without being injured or paying thousands on Ebay.
PMC also showed these new in- and on-wall speakers. The Wafer 1 sells for $1199 each (on-wall version) and the Wafer 2 for $1799 (on-wall). The demo was a bit atypical of how the environment of the speakers in an actual installation, but they still sounded quite good. The speakers are actually loaded into transmission lines, despite their small size.
The Polk SurroundBAR360 is an all-in-one flat-panel-friendly audio solution with DVD receiver and horizontal speaker. Inside the speaker are 5.1 channels, and yes, that does include an onboard sub. Look for it in April for $1199. Polk also showed a new budget speaker series, the TSi, with prices ranging from $250/pair for the stand-mount TSi 200 to $900/pair for the TSi 500.
Polk announced a gaggle of new products, including a redesigned RTi series and 10 new powered subwoofers. Shown here is the line-topping DSW microPro series subs, in 8", 10" and 12" sizes, with the largest priced at $1850. The DSW microPro is said to compensate for room modes without using equalization. How it does this would take more time to explain than a blog provides, but suffice it to say that it involves clever use of inverse phase. Polk also showed the CSW 155 in-wall sub ($1400 with external amp).
In addition to a great demo of their video projector, an interesting line of custom install electronics, an intriguing iPod dock that is actually said to make iPod video look good (and it did, indeed—a little soft but very clean), and a new Faroudja processor that dramatically improves motion smoothness by converting a 1080p/60 film-sourced video into multiples of 24fps for displays that will accept it (reported on earlier by Randy Tomlinson), Meridian also launched an AV receiver, the G95.
PS Audio is showing a new version of their Power Plant. The Premier is smaller and runs cooler than its predecessor yet puts out 50% more power (1500 watts continuous). At $2195, it’s not a budget power conditioner, but it’s really in a league of its own. The Premier is actually a power amplifier capable of outputting pure, distortionless (and thus noiseless) 120 volt sine wave AC sufficient to power most entire home theater systems. A case could be made that no combination of conditioners, power line filters and expensive power cords could ever match this at any cost. Included is filtration and surge protection for cable and telephone plus 10 AC outlets.
Screen Excellence showed a new LED light kit for use with their screens that provides a 6500 K ambient light glow around the screen frame. I had them turn the lights way up for purposes of taking the picture, but when set at the recommended level it helped make the picture of the $13,500 CineVersum projector used in the demo even more stunning.
The 9L Active speaker from Quad couples 50 watts of digital amplification with a wireless link, the exact nature of which is to be determined. There's a volume knob on the front, as opposed to the inconvenient rear-mounted control on similar products, and really, don't those little things matter when you use something on a daily basis? Shipping in May for $750/pair.
By a bizarre coincidence, three attractive women each holding a Samsung portable device (an MP3 player, a PMP, and an an ultra-mobile PC) wandered into The Venetian Hotel, so the Korean manufacturer roped them into the demo of their new live-TV-anywhere-on-just-about-any-gizmo technology, which will launch here in the U.S. in 2008.
Samsung demonstrated its new LED-based LCD flat panels with "Local Dimming." LEDs have the ability to turn diodes completely off in some areas of the screen when needed, current LCDs can't accomplish as their backlights never really turn off. The result is superior blacks and contrast, which is quite evident here, as the conventional LCD on the left is clearly lower in contrast with this low light level material than the LED model on the right.
Samsung announced major improvements to its line of LCD TVs. For 2007, it's adding several technologies designed to increase contrast ratio, improve blacks, and reduce motion blur. Super Clear Panel adds a filter to cut down on stray light. Local Dimming adds LED backlighting which treats specific areas of the screen, where needed, to increase contrast ratio up to a claimed 100,000:1. And Double Frame Rate 120 Hz is said to reduce motion blur.
Samsung had an impressive showing of newly developed LCD technology beside the old. Their LED backlit model boasted a 100,000:1 contrast ratio and a new, clearer panel for enhanced contrast and color clarity. One comparison showed how the LED backlit set, even working at 60 hz, was able to show motion as clear as a conventional set running at 120 hz. While Sharp seems to have the advantage in LCD right now, that may all change in the third quarter of this year when these new Samsung models arrive.
The future of Blu-ray Disc interactivity is now. At a BD interactivity showcase hosted by Sony and led by film critic Leonard Maltin, Lion's Gate demonstrated what I believe is an industry first BD Live enhanced Blu-ray title, Saw IV. The content was as grisly as one would expect, but we saw the film's director add blogger style comments on screen courtesy of Lion's Gate's MoLog Movie Log feature.