Last month, Sharp unveiled its new Elite-branded LED-backlit LCD flat panels, which I hadn't seen until now. Licensing the Elite moniker from Pioneerwhich collaborated on the new panelsSharp has hit a grand slam, filling a distinct void in high-end flat panels left by Pioneer's departure from the TV business. The PRO-X5FD has all the bells and whistles3D (including 2D-to-3D conversion with user-controllable effect), access to online content (Netflix, Vudu, etc.), THX certification for both 2D and 3D, and ISF certification to name a few.
It’s been a long year since CEDIA 2010 when Emotiva Pro first showed a high-performance pre/pro with a fully integrated Control4 controller built in. In the meantime, Emotiva Pro morphed/merged/acquired/became Sherbourn; and the new/old company says the PT-7020C4 media processor/controller should be ready to roll in just a few weeks. The PT-7020C4 is a full-blown pre/pro with 5 HDMI 1.4 ports that’s “fully 3D compatible” and “offers a true hardware bypass for direct, unprocessed 3D streams to the video monitor” in addition to having a Genesis/Torino scaling engine. The PT-7020C4 also features dual 32-bit DSPs, balanced XLR connections, and full Ethernet control.
Most manufacturers are keeping a tight lid on their product introductions at CEDIA until the show starts, but SIM2 has announced a new line of four projectors in advance. Going by the series name Nero, all models are single-chip DLP designs with 3D capabilities using active-shutter glasses. (The company's much-more-expensive, 3-chip Lumis Duo 3D dual-projector system uses Infitec spectral-filter glasses, the same technology employed by Dolby 3D.) The four Nero projectors differ in their feature sets and brightness/contrast specs, and one even offers a native 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Three different lenses will be available, and the grayscale and colorimetry of all models can be separately calibrated in 2D and 3D mode using a PC-based interface. Pricing starts at $19,990. Stay tuned for our impressions of these projectors from the show floor next week.
2011 is SIM2 Multimedia's 15th anniversary. To celebrate, the company is introducing 15 new models in 2011. In honor of the event, members of SIM2's upper management, including President Maurizio Cini, also attended the show.
All of SIM2's projectors are DLP designs. The new models fall into five different ranges: CRYSTAL, MICO, NERO, LUMIS, and CINEMA. The CRYSTAL range (2D only) consists of two entries, the $6500 Crystal 35 and the $8500 Crystal 45. To our recollection, these are nearly blue light specials for a manufacturer which is not normally known for relatively affordable projectors.
Phil Clements of Solus/Clements has been teaming up with Atlantic Technology to develop and market H-PAS, which uses four subenclosures to produce huge bass from small to midsized speakers, including Atlantic's new soundbar. At the Solus/Clements booth we got to hear the on-wall SX-40W ($799/each), also available in an in-wall version (SW-40IW, $599/each). It could and did do justice to the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony. It was not as forceful as the spine-rattling live performance we heard at the Munich Gasteig but the low notes of the organ were deep and true, an especially great feat considering they were driven by a Sherwood stereo receiver retailing for $300. The stand-mount 5.25B ($749/each) was slightly more of a good thing. Solus/Clements also offers H-PAS in tower, center, and LCR configurations.
We've discussed Sony's new 4K home theater projector earlier in this running blog, but based on the crowds lining up to see it, it's clearly the hit of the show. But the demo, while striking and definitely worth the time to see, could have used less talk and longer, or more, actual demonstrating. I really wanted to see it a second time, but knowing that the two actual demo selections lasted, at best, 10 minutes, I decided against it.
First seen as a concept piece at CES last January, the HMZ-T1 is now ready for prime time. This headmount 3D display includes two small, 720p OLED panelsone for each eyein a futuristic-looking contraption that sits on your head with padded earphones on the sides. The interocular distance and earphones are both adjustable, as is the support structure that holds the device on your head. Because the two displays are completely isolated from each other, there is no crosstalk whatsoever. When fitted properly, most of the unit's weight is on the forehead, which is reasonably comfortable, but I don't know if that comfort will last through an entire movie.
The image is truly amazing, with exceptional 3D and super-deep blacks. However, moving your head around and seeing the "screen" move with you is very strange, especially when you can see the floor below the unit. Fortunately, light blockers can be installed to more completely isolate you from the real world.
The biggest news at Sony's press conference today was the introduction of the VPL-VW1000ES, the world's first "affordable" 4K home-theater projector. With a resolution of 4096x2160, this baby produces up to 2000 ANSI lumens to fill screens measuring up to 200 inches diagonally, and new SXRD panels and Iris3 technology boost the projector's specified dynamic contrast to 1,000,000:1. Of course, it also does 3D, with full anamorphic capabilities in both 2D and 3D mode.
But what about 4K content? Sony claims to be developing a complete line of 4K products and working with the Blu-ray Disc Association on a 4K spec, but meanwhile, the VW1000ES includes an onboard 4K upscaler.
So how affordable is it? Sony would only say "less than $25,000." That's way less than the Sony and JVC 4K digital-cinema projectors (and Meridian's version of the JVC for ultra-high-end home theaters), which bodes well for a 4K future. The VW1000ES should be available in December, and you can bet we'll be putting it through its paces just as soon as possible.
At yesterday's Sony press conference, the company didn't demonstrate the new VPL-VW1000ES 4K projectorthat had to wait until this morning at Sony's booth on a Stewart Ultramatte 150 screen measuring 180 inches diagonally. As with most Sony presentations, this one was mostly talking and not much demo material, but that material was worth the waitexcept for the first clip, which was from Resident Evil at 1080p upconverted to 4K. The clip exhibited severe banding and solarization, which I learned was due to sourcing and processing issues, not the projector. (The original file was 16-bit, which was truncated to 10-bit in the server and then 8-bit for HDMI to the projector.) Also, this clip was projected using Motionflow frame interpolation, which I don't mind, but Tom Norton objected to that more than the banding.
By contrast, the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man due next year was in native 4K from the server, and it looked, well, amazing. Detail was stunning, and the blacks were better than yesterday's showing of the same clip from the Sony 4K digital-cinema projector. After the formal presentation, I confirmed that the VW1000ES can indeed accept a 4K signal over a single HDMI 1.4 connection. Of course, that won't help most consumers see native 4K content, which will be nonexistent for at least a couple of years to come.
Joining the recently announced VPL-VW30ESwhich we received for review just before we left for CEDIAis the new VPL-VW95ES. Among its features is a 2D anamorphic mode and Picture Position, which lets you store various focus and zoom settings for different aspect ratios. The SXRD panels provide multi-zone alignment, and an advanced iris offers up to 150,000:1 of dynamic contrast. In the realm of 3D, the VW95ES provides an integrated IR transmitter, 2D-to-3D conversion, dynamic lamp control for greater brightness in 3D mode, and the ability to adjust 2D and 3D separately.
Video-calibration stalwart SpectraCal now offers the eeColor TruVue color processor under its own name. This processor is based on 35 years of research into color perception in various environments, analyzing the color coordinates of each pixel 20 times per second and using three-dimensional lookup tables to compensate for different amounts of ambient lighting and other perceptual factors. It also supports all forms of 3D except frame-packed Blu-ray, and it can expand the color gamut while retaining the D65 white point and flesh tones, which is a pretty cool trick. I look forward to checking it out more closely.
URC knows how to make a splash with remote control technology, and the new MXW-920 is the splashiest remote control on the market. It’s an IR/RF one-way “wand-style” remote control with a monochrome LCD that’s water-resistant (with a rating of JIS Class 4, IP-class 54 – whatever those mean). It’s PC programmable, uses the same programming as URC’s MX-900 and KP-900, and is probably the slickest, most advanced water-resistant remote control on the market. It has an MSRP of $449.95 (plus programming) and is great for use outdoors, by the pool/tub, or by your side on the couch during really good horror movies that might cause you to pee in your pants.
Voco is just one of the many manufacturers hawking wireless multiroom media streaming systems. In addition to being relatively inexpensive, Voco differentiates itself from the competition by giving you the ability to use your voice to find songs, podcasts, internet radio stations, and even YouTube videos. (You can also use your fingers if you’re the quiet type – or a quiet typer.) The system has the capability of streaming up to three audio sources (from your iOS device, CD player, computer, etc.) to up to 10 Voco device equipped zones. Voco V-Zone receivers start at $199.99.
BDI says they have “high performance furniture”. I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but I do know the stuff they make is incredibly awesome with unique features, such as hidden wheels and integrated levelers, flow-through ventilation slots (in bottom panels, shelves, and back panels), IR-friendly glass, precision hardware (including things like soft-close hinges), as well as sliding - or removable - back panels. During past conventions I’ve breezed by the BDI booth, slowing down just enough to take in the different designs. This CEDIA, however, I spent some time with the folks at BDI who demonstrated for me just how well thought out and intelligently designed the company’s furniture is. The OLA cabinet pictured above has a gently curved front along with curved, tinted glass doors on either side of the center shelf. The stand will hold up to a 73-inch TV weighing 150 lbs or less. It’s also available in chocolate stained walnut finish. The price is under $1,500.
Surge protection is great and – take it from someone whose equipment recently suffered from the effects of a wayward bolt of lightning – really, really, really important. Unfortunately, most of the serious surge suppression components on the market have the bad habit of taking up valuable rack space. SurgeX’s new XC series separates the protection from the plug, giving you the ability to mount a strip of 18 or 24 outlets vertically along the back of your AV rack (or elsewhere) whilst the serious surge-suppressing circuitry (with SurgeX patented Advanced Series Mode protection technology, a remote interface, an Over/Under Voltage Protection LED, a Power On/Off LED, and a highly interactive Self-Test LED) sits separately. SurgeX says the company’s XC series are built to withstand a 6,000V, 3,000AMP AC power surge at least 1,000 times without failing. (They’re probably telling the truth, although since I had to leave after the 965th surge, I can’t say I saw it with my own eyes…) They’re also backed by an 11-year warranty and are built in the USA.