Sure, it’s not as sexy as a 100-inch LCD HDTV that’s only .001-inch thick, but the new MPH in-band mobile digital television (DTV) system is pretty cool if you’re into mobile-pedestrian-handheld TV watching.
Here’s an interesting demo showing the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit color (that's 10 bits per primary or 30 bits total). One of the Sony LCD sets was modified to operate at 10-bit while the other was stock. The whole point of the demo was to show the improvements possible with HDMI 1.3, which is required for 10-bit color to be delivered to the display. I expected and saw a much smoother grayscale without visible transitions, especially at the dark end and a complete elimination of false contouring. I didn’t expect the not so subtle difference in color. Though I was told the color space of set number 2 wasn’t altered and saturation was identical, each color appeared deeper and richer. 10-bit allows a far greater color depth and it shows. While a number of display technologies run at 10 bits or higher, there has never been a way to deliver that from the source, plus the source material (even HD-DVD and Blu-Ray and current video games) aren't 10 bit yet. The HDMI group is hoping that manufacturers will take advantage of 1.3's greatly increased capability and improve their sources accordingly.
Optoma had an impressive demo using their new HD81 1080p DLP projector fitted with an anamorphic lens and beautifully filling a huge 171 inch (diagonal) 1.3 gain Stewart screen. The HD81 is based on the TI Dark Chip 3, boasts a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, and an impressive 1400 Lumen light output. The accompanying processor is the HD-3000, which features Gennum VXP technology and a host of high-end features. The projector and processor sell for $6000. The special lens (not required) adds $4000 more.
I've already described a Totem product as best sound of the show, and I haven't changed my mind, but the Induction Dynamics room was just as good. So it's a tie. Big, smooth, transparent, addicting. The big fella is the ID1.18 and the center is the C1.8. Other models, including in- and on-walls, complement the ones we heard. There's no digital room correction built in--the sound is just plain old great engineering with patented crossover, timbre-matched drivers, external sub amp, etc. You get the best qualities of a big speaker (massive soundstage, top-to-bottom accuracy, meaty bass) with the best qualities of a small speaker (timbral fidelity, phase coherence, subtlety, comfort)--in a, well, pretty huge package. But it sounded stupendous. A 5.1-channel system would be roughly 20 grand and the ID folks will match your existing speaker finish or create whatever you desire on a custom basis. Wow, wow, and wow. Also, wow.
Nestled among Ion's various USB turntable offerings was this different spin on analog-to-digital conversion: The TAPE 2 PC copies old audiocassettes to MP3s, and even grabs track names off the internet via Gracenote MusicID. So all of you erstwhile Walkman enthusiasts (and we are legion) can now transport your library into the 21st century without breaking the bank on hundreds of Duran Duran and Rick Springfield downloads.
Universal Electronics has added another model to their successful Nevo line of universal remotes. As the flagship controller in the line, the $1199 NevoS70 combines popular features from the company's previous two models (the NevoSL and NevoQ50) and then further sweetens the deal. Like the SL, the S70 can tap into your 802.11g network and provide navigation and control of movies, music, and photos stored on your PC. Like the Q50, it offers both IR and two-way Z-wave control options, with the addition of the $299 NevoConnect NC-50 base station. Best of all, it adds an IP browser, so you can pull up a TV program guide or get sports scores and weather info without ever having to turn on the TV. It can also talk to and control any device that has a compatible web server, such as a web-based camera or media server. And, like all Nevo models, it comes with a fully customizable color touchscreen and lots of convenient programming features for the custom installer.
Following LG Electronics’ release of the Super Multi Blue Blu-ray/HD DVD combi player come rumblings among members of the press that the player might not be a full HD DVD player. Scuttlebut has it that the player will not be compatible with HD DVD’s HDi interactivity layer, which is the logic layer that supports the cutting edge interactivity features that run in full motion with HD video.
JBL is showing their new cost-no-object Everest speaker system. This system has a virtually unmatched combination of high-end transparency and extreme dynamic range. The horn midrange covers from 700 Hz to 40KHz with less coloration and better transparency than I’ve ever heard from a horn transducer, thanks to newly developed Beryllium diaphragms. A horn super-tweeter increases dispersion in the extreme highs. With an efficiency of 118 db/1w/1m, the main horn operates at such a low power that distortion and dynamic compression never increase, even in high level listening. Touted as the finest speaker JBL has ever built, these $60,000 beauties, with their slightly retro look, are a fitting tribute to JBL’s 60th anniversary. Hopefully the technology will trickle down to more affordable home theater models.
JVC's new, $6299 DLA-HD1 projector is due to ship in February. This time around, their demo compared it to the new Sony Pearl, with both projectors firing HD source material onto 120" (diagonal) Stewart StudioTek 130 screens. Yes, the JVC did look better, with crisper contrast, darker blacks, and a richer-looking image. JVC claims that their D-ILA imaging chip offers a peak native contrast ratio of 20,000:1, which is why the in-projector contrast is so good. No iris of any sort is used. We don't know how well the Pearl was set up, of course (though the JVC rep did say that the auto iris was engaged). But it was an impressive demo nonetheless.
I’ve heard about Dolby Volume technology, but I hadn’t heard an actual demonstration until today. Dolby’s Craig Eggers gave a short but very effective demo of the technology using a prototype Onkyo receiver with the appropriate Dolby circuitry built-in. Onkyo’s not ready to bring a unit to market yet, but it’s obviously coming (from somebody, if not Onkyo). Dolby Volume helps keep all the sources and programming you listen to at the reference level you choose. It can also keep dynamic peaks (explosions and the like) within a more moderate range when it’s engaged.
The KHT1005.2 features an egg-shaped satellite with the aluminum tweeter mounted inside the three-inch woofer--that, of course, is KEF's famous coaxial Uni-Q array. In fact, it's the same Uni-Q used in the costlier KHT6000 system. The price for 5.1 channels will be $850; sats and sub will also be available separately. KEF is also now shipping the swooningly beautiful, gleaming, desirable XQ series and we hope to get review samples shortly.
Sure, he looks cute, but beneath that plushy exterior lies a soul-eating pusher of 24/7 communication. You think methamphetamine is bad? Take a Blackberry away from someone and you’ll see the kind of behavior that’ll make Britney’s antics seem as benign as a day on the set of High School Musical II.
Samsung now has several RPTVs that use LEDs for illumination instead of a projection lamp. This is the largest of the new models, the HL-6187S at 61". It's a full 1920x1080 (as are most all of the sets we are discussing here), with a slim depth of 14.4" and a claimed contrast ratio of 10,000:1. Contrast ratio is now officially the video equivalent of the old audio wattage race.