The Sherwood Newcastle R-972 won't be out until April '08, but I sat down for a demo of their new receiver. What sets it apart from other 4 HMDI in (1 out) AVRs is their Trinnov Optimizer. The fuzzy shot above shows green speakers along the peripheral of the coincentric circles that describe the speaker placement positions used during soundtrack mastering. The smaller red speaker positions show where people normally put them. By generating tones, I was told, the Sherwood receiver will figure out where you've placed speakers in your room, and compensate for it. I asked if you'd get that great on-screen display with the R-972's implementation, but alas, no. However, you can interface your laptop to the receiver and work with the setup that way.
In the TAD room at the Venetian, speaker engineer Andrew Jones was demonstrating the $30,000/pair TAD Compact reference stand-mount speaker, which features a sophisticated coaxial midrange tweeter driver with beryllium cone/dome material (Similar drivers are used in the far less expensive Pioneer speakers also designed by Jones, though they use beryllium only for the tweeter dome.
Samsung’s new model 450 plasma is said to be the first flat panel display that’s 3D-ready. The 3D image was very good, though I’m still not sure I’d want to watch many movies this way. But I suspect 3D has a big future in video games.
JVC also showed a prototype of its first Blu-ray player, the XV-BD. A tentative release date of September 2008 was announced, but we would not be surprised if certain recent events made it so much sooner. It will be a Profile 1.1 machine (as all models launched from now on must be).
On the TV side, LG is pushing its LCD flat panel HDTV offerings with LED backlighting and local dimming with 240 zones. While we weren’t aware that LG had local dimming LCDs in 2008, the 2009 “Mega Conrast” models are at least twice as good- 240 dimming zones compared to last year’s paltry 128. In the numbers game, 2,000,000:1 contrast ratios are claimed. In reality local dimming is very real, and has driven the LCDs we’ve seen that employ it to blacks and contrastlevels that are astounding. They’re on our list for 2009 for sure.
What's more impressive than a stack of McIntosh gear? More than just looking good, McIntosh is releasing their most powerful amps ever. The MC1.2KW Mono Power Amplifier delivers a whooping 1200 watts. Imagine what that will do when you crank up your Metallica CDs. The MA700 Integrated Amp offers up 250 watts x seven channels for a truly off-the-hook home theater.
Consumers can now pump up their DVR experience with Digeo’s Moxi high-def DVR. This HD DVR is aimed solely at digital cable subscribers. It requires a multistream CableCARD, and allows users to record two shows while watching already recorded programs. In addition to a slick proprietary interface, the Moxi ships with 500GB of internal storage. That’s 75 hours of HD recording, which more than doubles what I’ve got in my Comcast DVR. But cooler still is that the eSATA port is active and you can increase that storage to 2 terabytes! Remote web scheduling is allowed and happens in real-time. Although On-demand dover cable doesn’t work with Multistream CableCARD there is a host of content that can be streamed from the Internet, including Flickr photo sharing, Finetune, and weather and sports info. Digeo says more will follow. HT has already acquired one of these units for review, so there’s more to follow. Digeo also threw out another tidbit- the Moxi Mate pictured here on top of the DVR will allow users to network the Moxi experience throughout the house cost effectively. As a sign of the times, Digeo is launching this component with Amazon as its exclusive retailer. Or, e-tailer if you will. Available now at $799.
Panasonic added the DMP-BD50 to their line of Blu-ray players. The DMP-BD30 is profile 1.1 and can decode and output lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ (the last is new if it truly is Master Audio and not just the DTS core), but you'll have to wait until I get to their booth to find out if it can pass either of those as bitstreams for decoding in a newer receiver.
Flexibility has never been the name of the game when it comes to flat panel installation. But Salamander Designs is out to change all that with its latest mounting solution, the floorstanding Synchro Furniture Mate ($599). Instead of having to permanently mount your flat panel to a wall or set it on top of a cabinet, the Synchro Furniture Mate lets you have the stability of mounting on a freestanding and customizable component.
Jon Banner took this wonderful picture with my Panasonic Lumix TZ3 camera. Those are Ultimateavmag's Product of the Year Awards lined up on the table in the SourceInterlink suite at the Venetian. Outside the window is a long view of Las Vegas.
You know, with several hundred of Sony's closest friends. This is a good snap shot of what CES press day is like. Lots of lines, lots of people, and lots of madness. It was hard to tell what was being said from back there. I think he said something like, "blessed are the cheese makers." (Hint- Monty Python reference.)
TAD has a new Compact Monitor under development, and while it's still a year or so away from commercial availability, it was on demo at this year's CES. Driven by prototypes of new TAD class A monoblock amplifiers (150Wpc into 8 ohms, 600WPC into 2 ohms), it sounded sensational, with the apparent ability to convincingly replicate the weight and power of a full symphony orchestra, an ability that escapes most loudspeakers.
For the indecisive consumer, Pioneer just made your life a whole lot harder. The company unveiled a new lineup of A/V receivers at CES for every budget, need, and desire. As one of the first companies to deliver iPhone and iPod certification in its AVRs, Pioneer focused on the growing populace of iPhone and iPod users in its new group. The top new models (including the VSX-919AH and VSX-1019AH) employ this certification, and each one includes features that bring out the best in your iPhone or iPod. One of these new features includes a full color graphic user interface with album art and information. This way you’ll be able to see exactly what you are listening to.
Built (that's the company's name) apparently makes interesting accessories, such as a unique backpack for a laptop. But that wasn't my main interest here. Take a look at the odd-looking "wall" that was used to set off Built's exhibit. It consists of an accordian-like construct of stiff brown paper, and when stretched out becomes free-standing with an outside edge that resembles thin vertical ribs with gaps in between. I immediately thought "acoustic room treatment." Just a thought, of course, and it might not work at all, but it's perhaps an interesting idea for a cheap (perhaps--I don't know the price of the product) diffusor. The product itself is made by a Canadian company called Molo, the paper is fire-retardant, and it apparently comes in a variety of colors.