Billed as the "ultimate home-theater experience at CES," a ballroom in the Sands Convention Center was equipped with a Digital Projection Titan projector, Kaleidescape Blu-ray server, Stewart CineCurve screen with masking (Studiotek 130, 14 feet wide), Totem Acoustic speakers, ADA power amps, and D-Box motion actuators in luxurious recliners. Because I'm sensitive to motion sickness, I can't tolerate motion-actuator systems, but the rest of the audience seemed to really enjoy it with clips from Avatar, Monster House, Top Gun, and Fast Five. The picture quality was outstanding, as was the sound.
I couldn't believe it when I looked at my pedometer upon returning to my hotel room after CES closed last FridayI had walked just a smidge under 35 miles in five days! That's way more than I've ever done before, and my feet knew it.
Lying on the bed, exhausted, I couldn't help thinking about all I'd seen in those 35 miles. Some attendees I spoke with summed up their feelings about the show with a yawn, but not me. I found this year's CES to be very exciting, full of important introductions and announcements that will fill the coming year with plenty of things to write about and lust after.
In case you thought 3D was dying out, LG’s booth was proof that 3D is alive and well, and expanding. As you walked into the LG booth, you were urged to grab passive 3D glasses.
Once in the booth almost every TV was set to show 3D content. Most visitors of the booth who donned the new stylish LG glasses were treated to butterflies floating in mid-air, baseballs soaring toward home plate and other fantastic 3D images.
LG showed also showed off their 3D mobile phones that come equipped with 3D cameras to shoot photos and videos that can be transferred for viewing on LG’s 3D TVs.
I arrived in Vegas on Sunday just in time to attend the Toshiba party at Tao, an ultra-hip nightspot at the Venetian. Among several demos on hand was this 55-inch 4K flat panel showing real 4K images, which looked stunning. It's also an intriguing autostereoscopic (glasses-free) 3D display, which Barb Gonzalez will tell you about in a separate post.
One of the best parts of CES is the intellectually stimulating entertainment you’ll find at the various booths. Instead of the traditional scantily clad young women with heels so high they can barely walk, this booth chose to use a slightly different type of bird to draw attention.
Two years ago I prodded for a new Thiel center channel to match the company's flagship CS3.7 speaker. Now it's here—or will be later this year. The MCS1.2 uses the same coaxial midrange-tweeter driver as the CS3.7, along with a pair of smaller, newly developed woofers. In addition to use with the CS3.7s, the MCS1.2 can also be used as left and right front speakers and/or surrounds. Pricing TBD.
Technicolor showed off M-Go, the robust new media app for TVs, tablets, smart phones and computers that makes it possible to access anything you want to watch on the device or thrown to your TV. Through a simple menu on your mobile device or computer you can get to your desired movie or TV show without the need to navigate to each service, comb through the TV program guide or scroll through your DVR to find it.
I'm fascinated by the drive units manufacturers select or design for their speakers. Here and in the following entries I'll cover a few of them. Shown in the photo above are the midrange and tweeter in the new Aerial Acoustics 7. The midrange is made by SB Acoustics and the tweeter by Scan-speak, customized for Aerial.
Aerial Acoustics has long been known for great-sounding speakers but not, until now, for those with high sensitivity or efficiency ratings. The Model 7 changes that with an efficiency rating of 89dB, something that can run off a decent receiver with, say, 50 watts per channel. Price $9850/pair.
Not much has emerged from the Denmark-born Jamo speaker brand since its acquisition by the Klipsch Group, now itself acquired by Audiovox. But that's changing with a bevy of new Jamo products including the MS25 satellite speaker shown here. What a civilian might identify as a tweeter firing into a spoon is actually Jamo's implementation of OmniPolar technology acquired along with Mirage. This new design was reshaped by authentic Danish designers. There will be no new products labeled Mirage, bringing an end to the historic Canadian speaker brand. The product development guy who briefed us punctuated his presentation by saying "Mirage is a brand, OmniPolar is a technology"—a technology living on under another banner.
This bouncy little guy got to curl up at the DISH press conference, and seemed reasonably bored despite the 4,000 camera flashes he had to endure. But those of us in the CES press corp looked and acted more like cattle as we were herded through a marathon of dog-and-pony shows at the Venetian hotel and the Las Vegas Convention Center yesterday. Celebrity sightings included Justin Timberlake at the Panasonic press conference promoting the new MySpace app in this year's HDTVs, and Will Smith with director Barry Sonnenfeld were at Sony's event to promote Men In Black 3. Sony closed it out with an acoustic guitar-accompanied performance by Kelly Clarkson. But the best news out of the day for Home Theater was the announcement of pending OLED and/or 4K sets from LG, Samsung, and Sharp. The real show begins today; check back for our reports from the floor.
The Atlantic Technology exhibit at the Venetian featured the first 5.0-channel demo of the smaller H-PAS speaker. We hope to atone for this awful picture of of it with a quasi-review in our print mag. What depraved impulse moved us to go gallivanting off to Vegas when this product was sitting in our bedroom? H-PAS uses a variety of construction techniques to produce deep, true bass without resorting to a sub. While this demo was less than ideal, we could still hear an ideally proportioned rhythm section with precisely pitched bass guitar tones and good impact from the drums. Closing our eyes actually made it sound better: Once we were freed from the tyranny of visually reinforced preconceptions, our ears told us this was the good stuff. Incidentally, the speaker will be sold in single units, so if you want five or seven of them, no sweat.
Sometimes you wonder how some companies get involved in seemingly unrelated product categories. Amidst more traditional iPod/iPhone/iPad add-ons, accessory manufacturer Griffin was showing off a pair of IR-controlled helicopters that you pilot using your iOS touchscreen device. The $49.95 current model (HELO TC) will be joined soon by a $59.95 version (HELO TC Assault) that was shooting small plastic “missiles” at unsuspecting CES booth gawkers. Although a little tricky to fly at first, the helicopters were a lot of fun to fly using the included iOS app. Movement is controlled either with a virtual joystick or by tilting the iOS device. When asked how Griffin got involved selling remote-controlled helicopters, I was told the “unofficial” story: the staff all like flying them at the office.