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While I don't have a great shot of Sharp's XV-Z17000 DLP 3D projector, it looked bright and beautiful on a 100" screen with a stated gain of 1.0. It was clearly one of the best 3D projectors I've seen so far, and also the least expensive at about $5000.
Sharp's big announcement was the addition of a 70-inch Quattron set to its lineup. The LE935 will have full LED backlighting with local dimming and is expected by spring. A 70-inch set was said to offer 62% more viewing area than a 60-incher. There will also be new sets in the LE835 an d LE830 ranges, all connectable with Wi-Fi. The XV-2 17000 3D DLP projector under $5000), first shown at CEDIA EXPO 2010 last September, will also be on display here at CES.
Sharp also announced three new 3D Blu-ray players (February), the BD HP25U, 35U, and 75U. Sharp also launched an E-Media Tablet and reader, the Galapagos. (Tablets appear to be a big item this year, thanks to Apple's iPAD!).
Sharp unveiled its new LCD lineup, which uses a new technology called UV2A (UltraViolet-induced multi-domain Vertical Alignment) in what are dubbed X-Gen panels, which reduce light leakage for deeper blacks and increase the aperture for brighter whites. But the biggest news at the press conference was Sharp's QuadPixel technology, which adds yellow subpixels to red, green, and blue to expand the color gamut beyond the HDTV specnot a good idea in my book.
As you'd expect, I'll start with a cheap joke: Each of these Silbatone Acoustics SGW-24 speakers can double as a studio apartment. Even if you have a roommate. But believe it or not, this massive horned loudspeaker has a plausible reason to exist in the home theater realm: It's an attempt to recreate Western Electric theater speakers from the early days of the talkies. Western Electric, in case you didn't know, was the manufacturing arm of the Bell System (later AT&T) for more than a century. Oh, and it was my father's employer for several decades, though he worked on the phone side of the business, not the cinema side. More on the SGW-24 here. Believe it or not, it had dynamic power, the focus associated with horns, and even a certain delicacy. But I would say that, being a Bell Baby.
Sonawall’s Spodak UW-200 system is an add-on to any surround system that’s designed to move the focal point of the sound up to where the TV image is. The system includes a pair of tiny on-wall pod speakers and a special crossover that lets you fine tune the blend of the pod speakers with the rest of your system. MSRP is $350 for the system. The company also makes a 5.1-channel system ($800) and a 2.1-channel desktop system ($500) using the same pod speakers and a subwoofer.
You'll probably read some blogs from our two-channel colleagues about The Sonus Faber, a fridge-size floorstander selling for $200,000/pair in a limited production run of 30 pieces. Playing a solo cello recording, TSF mustered some of the best sound at the show. But there were also brand new home theater worthy models at Sonus Faber's suite in the Venetian, namely the Toy Monitor Grand (center) and Toy Wall (upper righthand corner). They're sold in pairs, for $2,000 in both cases, but you can add the Toy Center for $995/each.
Sony's new HDR-TD10 3D High Definition Flash Memory Handycam Camcorder (about $1500, April) is one of the first the full HD 3D consumer camcorders. It includes two separate 1920 a 1080 CMOS sensors and two lenses to capture distinct 1920 x 1080 data streams for each eye. It's also capable of 2D still image capture at 7-megapixels. At present, playback is from the camera only via an HDMI link to the video display. The future should bring dedicated playback devices (such as a 3D Blu-ray player with a flash card slot). Oh, and you can view the image you're shooting in autostereoscopic 3D on the 3.5" viewfinderno 3D glasses required.
Sony must have spent all year prepping for their press event. It was as elaborate as any Disney theme park show, much of it in 3D on a huge and super-wide screen consisting of millions of LEDs. It included a major promotion for The Green Hornet, a Sony Pictures flick that opens next week, and concluded with a performance by one of the 256 Cirque du Soleil troups now appearing on the Vegas strip.
Twenty-seven new Sony BRAVIA HDTVs were introduced. The leading character, and the new Sony flagship, will be the XBR HX929-Series, with full 3D capability and full-array local dimming LED backlighting. It's loaded with Internet features, and comes in three sizes: 65-, 55-, and 46-inches. Prices TBD. Available in March. Some of the new models also use Corning's new Gorilla Glass. It's said to be more resistant to damage than conventional glass, though I suspect you'll still want to hold off on tossing that brick at the screen during the 2012 Presidential debates.
Sony's new top-of-the-line stand-alone 3D Blu-ray player is the BDP-S780 (March, about $250). It's Wi-Fi (of course) with SACD playback as well as CD and the usual video suspects.
An intriguing part of Sony's enormous booth in the Central Hall discussed the "Monolithic Design" philosophy, which gives Sony Bravia TVs a commanding "on/off presence" -- in other words, they look cool whether the screen is active or dark. One aspect of the philosophy in action is a six-degree tilt that suits "low, contemporary furniture."
Sony is also showing a number of prototypes of products that are not available now, but may be in the future. Three different flat panel demos using autostereoscopic technology (no 3D glasses needed) were shown: a 24.5" 2K OLED, a 46" 2K LCD, and a 56" 4K LCD. The results were better than I expected, though there were some distracting artifacts. As expected, you must watch in specific viewing spots. In a cosy twosome one partner will get good 3D, the other not so much. In places outside the designated viewing zones the 3D effect diminishes and those artifacts increase, though the image does not completely fall apart. Promising, but still a work in progress.
Sony also showed a set of goggles designed for private 3D viewing (as seen in the not-so-clear photo), and a autostereoscopic portable 3D Blu-ray player.
Available now for pre-sales ordering is a VAIO F Series 3D laptop (about $1700). Oddly, this does require active shutter glasses. It also does 2D-to-3D conversionfor fun with spreadsheets. Seriously, however, there are genuine business and engineering applications for real 3D, including CAD and medical imaging.
As with the Thiels, we mentioned these Sony speakers earlier in this report. But also like the Thiels, they deserve another mention. No other speakert impressed me as much as this one did at the show. I'm enough of a show veteran to realize just how much the room, associated components, and program material can effect the sound of a system, but under the conditions in the Sony room, in a 2-channel setup (four of the speakers were also being used in a surround system in a different room) they impressed me about as much as any speaker ever has at a trade show. The sound was punchy, dynamic, and full-bodied without being overblown. And they made both modern and classical music sound realfew speakers can do as well on both.
The SS-AR1's (I sense an homage in that name) have been on the market in Japan since 2006, but have recently been upgraded in the voicing and crossover department.
But will we ever see them for sale here in the states? Possibly, but this show appeared to be a trial run to judge dealer interest. That's been a problem with Sony speakers in the past, and there have been some very good ones. High-end dealers are reluctant to take on Sony speakers, and Sony dealers are reluctant to take on speakers this expensivecurrently about $27,000/pair in Japan.
Associated equipment included Pass Laboratories monoblock solid state amps and an EMM Labs (Meitner) Reference SACD/CED player.
Like Panasonic, Sony is involved in every aspect of 3D, from cameras to displays. At its press conference, the company announced its partnership with the Discovery Channel and Imax to launch a 3D network in 2011. Sony is also sponsoring ESPN's new 3D channel, which is planning to broadcast 85 events in its first year.