Want a convenient way to watch video program material downloaded from iTunes to your TV? JVC will have the answer when it releases the new P-Series LCD flat panel televisions, ranging in size from 32- to 52-inches. All of them have an integral iPod dock, and all but the 32-incher are 1920x1080. No delivery date or prices were announced.
Acoustics showed speakers from the new Klimt series, led by this large floorstander, "The Music" (yes, that's its name. The speaker uses a newly developed flat midrange with a coaxially mounted tweeter and a separate supertweeter. The picture does not do justice to the speakers stunning appearance and impeccable finish, including a piano black version, not shown here. Yours for just $25,000/pair.
Panasonic’s DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55 players have been ensconced in our Top Picks since last fall. That they’ve been replaced by the DMP-BD60 and DMP-BD80 is significant in and of itself, but that’s not the half of it. The core DVD/BD functionality remains the same on the new players, which means top notch BD and DVD playback. Both are BD-Live capable (and they still require the user to buy SD media for storage which remains my only gripe with the players). But what’s new is Viera Cast. Through this networked player users can now access Internet sourced content from YouTube, Picasa photo sharing, Bloomberg Weather Channel and now Amazon Video On Demand. I think players like this one, and those from LG and Samsung will expand Blu-ray’s growth exponentially this year. I think there’s a better opportunity for players with more value-add features at higher prices than players that only play movies at even cheaper prices. Not forcing users to choose between Blu-ray and streaming/downloading is a big plus in my book. Plus, nothing will make Blu-ray’s strengths more apparent than easy direct comparison to streaming video. The new players will be available this spring. Pricing was not determined yet but I'd expect them to be in line with current pricing on the BD35 and BD55.
The Phase Technology dARTS system isn't new, but it has never been reviewed in UAV and this is the first time I have been able to actually hear it. It was impressive—and one of the few surround-sound setups, with video, at the Venetian Hotel. The system includes speakers and all DSP and amplifiers. There are 250W of amplification for each individual driver, and the system controls the crossovers, time alignment, and equalization. Separate room eq is performed via the included Audyssey multEQ system. $20,000 for the audio package, not including pre-pro or source.
Vivitek was the only manufacturer I found showing DLP projection with an LED light source. And there’s good reason for that- the company claims an exclusive deal with Texas Instruments on its LED-based DLP light engines. This technology is significant in two areas- no bulb replacements, ever, and no more color separation “rainbow” artifacts. The H6080FD is full 1080p, and incorporates TI’s DynamicBlack dynamic iris system. The image was being shown on a very small screen by front projection standards, but had a lot of pop and detail with rainbows nowhere to be seen. The 6080 is due later this year at an MSRP of $19,999. This is a new wrinkle we’re very anxious to get a closer look at!
VIZIO introduced more new flat panel displays at CES than any poor scribe should have to deal with. So I'll mention only the largest sets in both the plasma and LCD premier lines. The 1920x1080p VP504F is a 50" plasma ($1699) with Silicon Optix REON video processing. As of now the VP504F is the only set in the new VIZIO line, either LCD or plasma, that uses the REON, though more are possible before the new lines start showing up in stores in May and June. A contrast ratio of 30,000:1 is claimed.
Now that 240 has been designated the lucky number of this year’s CES, multiple companies are showcasing their own versions of the technology. VIZIO’s version comes in the form of its XVT series. The 55-inch VF551XVT LCD HDTV ($2,000) features 240Hz technology coupled with 1,000,000:1 Mega Dynamic Contrast with local dimming.
Induction Dynamics ID1.18 tower speakers certainly dominate a room and will surely impress your friends. The 4-way design includes dual 18” subwoofers for impressive low-end plus a 1.125” high-power soft dome tweeter, a 3” soft-dome midrange and dual 8” woofers.
SIM2 and Entertainment Experience are joining forces to unveil a new combination product that promises to give home theater aficionados the experience they’ve been craving. The All-in-One Digital Entertainment Media System combines SIM2’s Grand Cinema C3X 1080 (pictured) or HT5000E 3-chip DLP projector with an Entertainment Experience Media Center.
My rounds at the high-end audio exhibits at the Venetian Hotel only let me sample a few rooms that looked interesting, or appeared to have some semblance of relevance to both music and home theater. But If I diverge a bit from the home theater tack in a one or two of the following entries, well, it's stuff I found interesting.
Yesterday, throughout the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center you saw wireless solutions or solutions designed to limit the amount of wiring you need to set up a multi-channel sound system. All in an effort to make it easier and more convenient for the average consumer to add audio to that new flat panel TV.
When I saw the Escalante Design Fremont speaker at HE 2007, I was mightily impressed with their neutrality and precise bass. Fast forward to CES 2008, and things were different. While the midrange and upper frequencies were still sublime, the switch to KR Audio tube monoblocks, from the VTL Reference S-400 stereo amplifier were a mistake as for all of KR's other virtues, bass control was not one of them. Still, one of the better sounds at the show.
OK, it’s early. I’ve only hit two press events so far. But I have to say that with all the talk of ludicrous refresh rates, Internet content, ultra contrast and local dimming, no one is talking about improving LCD’s biggest weakness- off-axis viewing. In every key respect- black levels, resolution, color, contrast, and you name it, local dimming LCDs compete with the very best plasma designs. But watch one even a little off center and it all goes to hell. Why is no one taking aim at improving that? Maybe someone will surprise me later today!