LG showed a whole range of audio systems (upscale home theaters in a box) voiced by Mark Levinson. That's Mark Levinson the man (in LG's terminology, Mr. Mark Levinson), not the company which uses his name (he has not been associated with that company for many years).
LG announced a slew of new LCD displays. These include wireless models, some with ISFccc calibration memories, and a 1.7" deep, LGX Super Slim design. But the potential all-stars are in LGs 75 range, with ISFccc, 120 Hz operation, and a claimed 100,000:1 contrast ratio courtesy of local dimming from 128 LED backlights.
I was up at the crack of dawn to make sure I made it to LG Electronics annual 8am press conference. One of the major announcements was their commitment to quality audio performance to accompany their high definition flat panel TVs. Audio has never been a major product category for LG Electronics so this new venture is extremely ambitious. They have partnered with legendary audio designer, Mr. Mark Levinson. Together they have collaborated on the development of two new home theater products that deliver enhanced sound quality accented by a stylish design.
The AP3133 is a high-definition AV home theater system featuring multi-driver floor standing loudspeakers, a center channel speaker, surrounds, and powered subwoofer. The system includes a 7.1-channel AV receiver with 150Watts X 7 , Burr-Brown PCM 1796 24bit/192kHz DAC, multi-input HDMI switching with near 1080p upscaling [whatever that means] and Audyssey Auto Room Multi EQ Adjustment. Moreover it is built around LG’s “Super Blu” dual-format player. However, since WB's recent announcement to go Blu and drop HD-DVD, it may not matter much.
The LHT888 was inspired by the slim elegant form of the champagne glass, which can be seen in the loudspeakers unique parabolic housing and tapered integrated pedestal. The system includes a 700W 5.1-channel DVD receiver with near 1080p upscaling, a built-in wireless kit, HDMI output and LG's SimpLink™ multi-device control (HDMI-CEC) and multi-format playback compatibility.
There were no images in the press kit and it wasn't until I left the standing room only crowd did I learn there was some demo models off the side of the stage. So the image here is just from a banner behind the podium. I hope to hear a sample of both systems at some point in the show, so I can provide more details and images.
LG appeared to have the biggest booth at this year's CES, and is clearly touting its position as a major player in every video category. And like Samsung, a good portion of its booth was dedicated to showing off not just its current product, but its dedication to research into upcoming terchnologies as well. It even showed small OLED displays.
No, this is not a typo. LHX isn't a take-off on THX, but rather the designation for LG's top of the line flat panel LCD sets. See the vital stats above. Note the wireless capability. Wireless HD video is one of the big stories at CES this year, with most of the major manufacturers showing their own wireless solutions (generally for their top of the line sets) and add-on wireless devices from vendors such as Gefen and Radiient. But before you take the plunge, be sure that the wireless capability you're about to buy does not apply additional compression to the HD source.
LG was in its customary and brutal 8am time slot (11am on the east coast LG’s John Taylor reminded us- thanks for that John!) and got the 2009 show off with a big bang. Rather than buy into forcing consumers to choose Blu-ray vs. streaming/downloads, its answer is to offer both. Its 2008 Internet connected BD300 Blu-ray player connects to Netflix and Netflix HD. Expanding on that, LG’s 2009 BD players and select HDTVs will offer Netcast, which is LG’s proprietary name for a feature set that delivers Internet derived content. Partners will include Netflix (and Netflix HD), YouTube, and CinemaNow with more content partners coming online later. Pictured here is one of LG's Blu-ray powered HTiBs.
Sony's exhibit at the CEDIA EXPO in September leans heavily on flat panel displays and projectors. But at CES they back off on that emphasis and go for a wider range of audio, video, and other electronic thingys. We're not covering computers here, but I was drawn to the new VAIO P Series Lifestyle PC ($900, February). Especially attractive to long-suffering A/V bloggers suffering under the weight of oversized laptops at trade shows, this tiny compact computer tips the scales at 1.4 lbs. Its 8-inch screen is not for the weak or eye, or the smallish keyboard for the thick of thumb. I found typing on it reasonably easy, though wouldn't want to use it to write the Great American Epic. Wireless everything, of course. Why didn't Steve Jobs and Apple think of this first?
By the way, iThing is my lonely protest against having to type both iPod and iPhone in blog after blog. The Marantz IS301 is a wireless Bluetooth dock package consisting of four pieces: dock, cradle, receiving station, and card remote. You can detach the wireless dock from the cradle, with your iThing in it, and wield them as though they were a remote control. The cradle is hardwired via dual CAT5 (one for audio, one for video) to the receiving station which has the usual jacks to connect to a receiver.
Marantz showed off two new separates, the AV8003 Preamp/Processor and MM8003 Power Amp. However, price and availability were not available. The AV8003 is network capable providing a built-in digital media player using Ethernet connectivity for streaming audio and video content throughout a networked home. The MM8003 is 150 watts x 8 channels.
The brand new Vision Media Management from Escient plays and imports movies, videos, music, and photos for a complete home entertainment networking system. There are two versions of an all-in-one server/player. The Model VS-100 provides dual 500GB drives, while the VS-200 is outfitted with dual 1TB drives. The VC-1 is a high-performance networked audio/video zone player that streams both audio and video from either Vision servers, allowing playback of music, movies, and photos to any room of the home. All feature HDMI 1.3 support and upscaling to 1080p to ensure the best possible image quality from any source.
French audio specialist YBA announced its first one-box media server. Seen at the top in the photo, the Encore falls in the company's Design series (the two pieces below it are the Design series' CDE and DVD player). The Encore will be available with either a 500GB or 1 TB hard drive ($4500 and $5500 respectively).
Another big theme this year is enhanced contrast, for which we have SED, Pioneer Kuro, LED backlighting with local dimming, and Home Theater mag to thank (OK, we're blowing our own horn here a little bit for continuing to make a big deal out of better blacks). Clearly, LG believers it is Mega-ready.
We've seen the Meridian 810 Reference Video System before; it's the first 4K x 2K video projector available to the consumer. It won't come cheap a just a few thou south of $190,000 for the projector, video processor (needed to scale available 1920x1080 material up to 4800 x 2400. It looked fabulous, even though even better images are possible from it with native 4K program material (essentially non-existent to you and me). They had to settle for a 10' wide projection screen (a curved, 2.35:1, Stewart Studiotek 130), and were claiming 48 foot-Lamberts! Clearly the projector is intended for a much larger screen.