Meet the world's first portable Blu-ray player. The 8.9-inch screen has a resolution of 1024x600, but the HDMI 1.3 output can feed a 1080p display. Like Panasonic's other new BD players, this one conforms to BD-Live, and it can access online content. The battery has a claimed life of 3 hours, with a 6-hour optional battery available. It should ship in June for $800. It even comes with a car-seat holder, so the kids can be entertained in high def on those long trips.
Panasonic introduced two new conventional Blu-ray players, the DMP-BD60 ($300, pictured) and BD80 ($400), which are identical except for 7.1 analog outs on the BD80. Also on hand was the DMP-BD70V ($450), which combines a Blu-ray player and VHS VCR for those who still cling to those relic tapes. All are BD-Live out of the box with 1GB of internal memory, and all can access online and networked content. Twentieth century, meet the 21st!
Panasonic's new "Infinite Black Pro" technology will appear in many of the company's new 2010 sets this year (from the G-series up), including all the 3D models. A new filter has been devised which is said to minimize reflective light and increase through-the-glass transmittence from the pixels. A native contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1 is claimed.
Panasonic showed two new portable Blu-ray players, the 10.1-inch DMP-B500 and the DMP-B100 (shown here). They don't have full HD resolution, but that shouldn't be a negative with such small screen sizes. I want one; they looked better, with a BD disc, than any portable DVD player I've ever seen. The one missing feature is an external video input. Why is that important? The player could then perform double duty as an off-screen monitor for use with a big screen projection system when it isn't needed as a portable device. An OLED display instead of the LCD imaging used here would also be nice, but a $3000 portable OLED Blu-ray player might be a hard sell
LCDs aren't the only TVs slimming down this year. Panasonic unveiled the TC-P54Z1 54-inch plasma that's only 1 inch thick. Using the company's new Neo PDP plasma panel, the Z1 achieves a claimed native (not dynamic) contrast ratio of 40,000:1. It's also twice as bright as last year's panels while consuming the same amount of power, or looked at the other way, it produces the same brightness with half the power consumption. Not only that, the Z1 has wireless HD capability. It should be available in April or May.
Will the phrase "phoning it in" lose its negative connotation with the mainstreaming of videophones? It sure seemed like it as Panasonic president Fumio Otsubo chatted with other Panasonic folks at today's press event at the Venetian. The chat set the stage for a major announcement: All Viera Cast TVs will henceforth coming with Skype capability (LG made a similar announcement earlier in the day). One-third of Skype calls are video calls and moving them from the PC to the TV must qualify as a historic moment.
Panasonic's TCP54Z1 is a only 1-inch thick and weights 67 pounds, However, that is only the beginning of it's impressive attributes. It is also wireless, receiving its signal from a separate receiver, where you plug in your video components. It also integrates Viera Cast, providing access via the TVs menu to Internet sites with icons for YouTube, Picassa photo sharing, plus other widgets.
On the Edge of a cool idea, that is. Paradigm Electronics of Canada provided a sneak preview of its new Edge, a fully integrated 2.1-channel compact entertainment system. Product details are not finalized, but the model shown has an iPod dock, a DVD player, a built-in down-firing subwoofer, composite video inputs, S-video and component video inputs and a video scaler that improves resolution to 1080i. The demonstration room was very noisy but the bass sounded very compelling. The Edge is expected to sell for $499 and will be available in the spring of this year.
As in-wall speakers have grown in popularity, manufacturers have introduced in-wall subwoofers to complete the package. They have also struggled to deal with the inevitable rattles and vibrations of a subwoofer mounted inside a wall. Paradigm has introduced the RVC-12SQ Architectural Subwoofer, which solves the vibration problem by using two drivers in-phase but firing in opposite directions, thus canceling vibrations. The drivers face each other and fire horizontally rather than from front to back, further reducing vibrations. The RVC-12SQ can be used as a standalone sub or with the optional enclosure shown in the photo. The new Paradigm sub will be available in the first quarter with price to be announced.
The iPod's plot to dominate the audio industry is now complete with Peachtree Audio's musicBox, a stereo tube amp decked out with three-inch full-range speakers. The DAC is hardwired to the iPod dock, so this baby can take a true digital signal off an iPod and process it with virtually no jitter. Price, maybe, oh, a grand or so.
Phase Technology has introduced two sound bars, the Teatro V-3.0 and Teatro PC-3.0 from their Velocity and Premier Collection. The sound bar shown in the photo is the Teatre PC-3.0. A unique feature of the Phase Tech sound bars is the midrange driver mounted on the sides of the enclosure (see photo) in order to produce a wider soundstage, which it does very effectively. During the first concert video demo I thought I was listening to the floorstanding speakers and not the sound bar. Another unique feature is the EVT (Enhanced Voice Technology) designed to increase dialog intelligibility.
Pioneer Electronics introduced its first in-wall speakers at CEDIA, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. Since that time they have expanded the line to include Elite branded models. I met with Andrew Jones, Pioneer's chief speaker designer and he explained that the new Elite in-walls are designed to optimize the sound quality of new lossless audio formats and to minimize the inevitable problems associated with installing a speaker in a typical residential wall. In general the performance of an in-wall speaker can be compromised due to the wall cavity in which it is installed, but with the right construction materials an in-wall speaker can provide excellent performance. Pioneer uses titanium tweeters, woven fabric speaker cones and cast aluminum frames to maximize the audio performance of its new models. Pioneer also developed Coherent Source Technology to improve off-axis performance with smoother overall frequency response. To fine tune the sound, the new in-walls include bass and treble controls. I look forward to reviewing the new models when they become available in spring, 2009. Prices were not available.
Pioneer has no new plasma panels at the show, but it was not to be outdone in the Blu-ray player department, with three new models. Under the Pioneer brand, we have the BDP-120 (<$300, pictured) and BDP-320 (<$400), while the BDP-23FD ($600) joins the Elite brand. All are BD-Live with internal memory (except the 120, which comes with a memory stick). The unique feature here is that all can be connected to USB hard disks—up to 2TB!—for additional BD-Live storage. Not only that, the 320 and 23FD can power portable hard disks. As I always say, you can't have too much storage!
Pioneer Electronics showed four new AV receivers priced below $500, all with HDMI 1.3a connectivity, Lip Sync for synchronized audio and video playback, a new full-color GUI, a new cosmetic design, two-zone audio operation with multi-zone playback of digital iPod and iPhone content and features that enhance the sound quality from compressed audio sources. The top three models feature Pioneer's MCACC (Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration) system to optimize sound quality and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio decoding.
The Eos Converge Wireless Multi-room Audio System is a CES Innovations 2010 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree and a "Best of Innovations" winner in the Computer Accessories category. The three new models include a standalone transmitter ($99) that accepts standard analog audio or an audio signal from your computer via a USB connection, a standalone pre-amp out only receiver ($99), and a receiver with a built-in 15 watts x 2 amplifier ($149). The system uses 2.4GHz frequency transmission, has a range of approximately 150 ft, and requires virtually no setup other than plugging in the power cords (and the speaker wire, and USB cable, and audio cable).