Yet another entry in the LED-illuminated, single-chip DLP projector sweepstakes is the Mico 50 from SIM2. Said to deliver 800 lumens, the PhlatLight LEDs have an expected lifespan of over 30,000 hours. It's name means "sparkle" in Italian, but I saw no sparkles in the demo on a Da-Lite Affinity screen, which is a good thing. Not so good was the demo materiala clip from a concert video featuring singer Seal. The colored stage lighting was not conducive to evaluating color accuracy, though Seal's dark skin looked about right when he was in white light. The Mico 50 should be available in November for $25,000.
I've seen demos of Dolby's HDR (High Dynamic Range) LED local-dimming technology for LCD TVs for over a year, but it's finally about to be released in a real product from SIM2. The Solar 47 is a 47-inch, 1080p LCD TV with 2206 white LEDs arrayed behind the imaging panel, and unlike other local-dimming sets, each LED is individually addressable. It should be available by the end of the year forget this$25,000. Sure, it looks great, but 25 grand for a 47-inch LCD? Yikes!
Without any perforations in its surface, how does the RockSolid rock speaker emit sound? Using its polyurethane composite surface, which serves as a driver, excited by underlying magnets. Finishes include sandstone, charcoal, red rock, and custom versions. Pricing will range from $500 for a single speaker to $900-1000 for a dual version.
Sony's press conference was awash in new products, such as the BDP-CX7000ES 400-disc changer, which can accommodate Blu-rays, DVDs, and CDs. This Profile 2.0 player connects to the Internet in order to access BD-Live content, update the firmware, and download Gracenote MusicID and VideoID data related to the discs it holds, making it easy to find what you want. The retail price is $1900, and it's available now.
Networking is big at Sony, as demonstrated by the new BDP-N460 Blu-ray player. Like many Sony TVs, this BD-Live player can access streaming content from over 20 online providers in the Sony Bravia Internet Video Link stable, which will soon include Netflix. Special embedded software is designed to be used with Linksys dual-band routers for optimized wireless streaming. Look for it in October for less than $250.
The Sony BDP-N460 is a reasonably priced Blu-ray player, at $250, with built-in software designed to accommodate the Linksys/Cisco Wireless-N Ethernet Bridge with Dual Band (optional). Since a broadband connection is a must for a Blu-ray player with BD-Live capability, this wireless option may make streaming easier, operating in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. Blu-ray players are increasingly becoming networking machines and Sony doesn't want you to miss any of the internet content provided by its dozens of licensed partners.
I didn't include a post about the XBR10 series of LCD TVs with the rest of the products from the Sony press conference on Wednesday because it was not active, and photo of a blank screen is boring. This 240Hz LCD uses LED edge lighting, which allows it to be very thin but precludes local dimming. It also provides widgets and access to online streaming content, and an outboard box transmits 1080p wirelessly to the set. It will be available next month in 46- and 52-inch screen sizes; pricing was not disclosed.
Also introduced were two new receivers, the STR-DA5500ES ($2000) with 120 watts time seven and STR-DA3500ES ($1000) with 100 watts time seven. The first model got the most attention, with Control4 IP network control -- so your Sony receiver can now handle lighting, security, and other home automation features -- and DLNA compatibility which provides access to PC-stored music, video, and photos via ethernet connection.
Continuing the networking theme at Sony's press conference was the STR-DA5500ES 7.1-channel A/V receiver. It offers Internet and home-network connectivity, providing Internet radio and Rhapsody online content as well as media file sharing via DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance). Also featured is Control4-certified control over IP, making it possible to control the AVR from anywhere on the network. The STR-DA5500ES should be available in October for $2000.
In the realm of front projectors, Sony unveiled the VPL-VW85 (though Tom Norton has already conducted a review of a pre-production unit for Home Theater, and he liked it very much). With a new auto iris, it claims a dynamic contrast ratio of 120,000:1, and it refreshes the image at 120Hz with dark-frame insertion, a Sony hallmark. It should hit retailers in October for around $8000.
Speakercraft keeps rocking & rolling with an entirely overhauled rock-speaker line. What better name than the Ruckus? The five models, in granite- or sandstone-like finishes, will have a durable UV and weather-resistant lacquer coating over a reinforced color-matched polyresin enclosure. Chip it and it still looks like a rock. Along with five-, six-, and eight-inch versions there will be a dual-tweeter model that plays stereo out of a single enclosure. Ruckus 5, $225; Ruckus 6, $275; Ruckus 8, $450; Ruckus DT, $350; Ruckus Sub, $999 (prices per single speaker).
A company best known for architectural speakers moves into multizone technology with a vengeance. Nirv is the name the tattooed folks at Speakercraft have given to a system that operates with the 10-button remote pictured here. The remote's got a mic built into it, for home intercom use, and that barely scratches the surface. The concept is to use a single Cat5 cable to send HD video, HD audio, control, data, paging, and voice anywhere in the home. Any zone can be turned into a home theater and grab content from any source in any other zone. The system learns how you use it. Settings follow users from room to room, including parental controls, indicating unseen depths of moral fiber in people with multiple pieces of body art, or maybe it's just Metamucil. An installer can walk the user through setup, and when that's done, an easy repeatable interface takes over. Dealer cost 10 grand. In addition to the Ruckus speakers already reported on, Speakercraft also announced several new in-wall and in-ceiling models, including the AIM 10, a three-way, 10-inch pivoting unit selling for $8250-1125. Oh, and a debut surround receiver was also announced -- the Vital 910 ($1125). This company was always interesting. Now it's fascinating.
JBL's K2 loudspeakers, shown here in a conventional 2-channel setup on the show floor, is also a key part of JBL's latest Synthesis home theater system. But they can be had alone, if you prefer, for $30,000/pair.
Stewart Filmscreen is showing several new products. AcoustiShade is a motorized window treatment that is designed not only to provide blackout in residential and commercial applications, but is also claimed to reduce noise contamination. It consists of three layers: a sound attenuating blackout layer, a decorative and acoustically beneficial face fabric, and an air space. These elements are surrounded by a frame that uses Stewart's Magnetic Blackout and Attenuation assist (MBAA) system (patent pending), which holds the blackout layer tightly to the frame to eliminate light leakage. Prices will depend on size, as the product is completely customized to fit your windows.
The latest subwoofer to hit the Bowers & Wilkins CM Series is the ASW 12 CM. Similar in design to the ASW10, it has a 12-inch Kevlar-paper-cone driver with a large three-inch voice coil to pound that driver into submission, and probably you as well. The 500-watt Class D amplifier should provide plenty of power, pummeling the driver only when needed, and resting energy-efficiently the rest of the time. The finish is gloss black, the ship date is September, and the price is $2000.