Samsung announced a Blu-ray Disc player that let’s you get digital copies of your movies. This does not mean that the Blu-ray Disc is making digital copies of your movies. Instead, you put a DVD or Blu-ray Disc into the Blu-ray Disc player, and it will access Ultraviolet where you can purchase a digital copy of the movie and save it to your Ultraviolet cloud locker.
One of the more interesting developments out of yesterday's CES press conferences was the imminent arrival of gesture control for upcoming models from Samsung (pictured) and LG Electronics. Gesture control uses an Xbox Kinect-like camera mounted near the screen to allow hand movements to be used to change channels or volume, for example, with no need to pick up a remote. Samsung's version should also allow voice control according to the company. We'll report more on this feature from the floor; stay tuned.
Driver manufacturer SB Acoustics showed an array of their drivers, available both to manufacturers (either stock or custom) and DIY enthusiasts. Shown here is a new SB 8-inch woofer with an aluminum cone. It resembles (and may be) the woofer seen in some of the new Revel Performa line on display at the show and available in mid 2012.
Photo by Barb Gonzalez
Freelance home-theater journalist Geoff Morrison and I spent a pleasant hour discussing 3D on a CES panel called "3DTV: From Theater to Living Room." Topics ranged from 3D technology in commercial cinemas and at home, the objections to 3D voiced by many, what we might see in the future, our own opinions about the subject, and answers to audience questions. A fun time was had by all!
Updating its 80-inch LED-LCD TVs, Sharp announced the LC-80LE844U (seen in the center above sitting atop a car) and LC-80LC645U, both with full-array LED backlighting (but no local dimming), Quattron technology (which adds a yellow subpixel to red, green, and blue), 3D capabilities, built-in WiFi, and Sharp's new Aquos SmartCentral interface described earlier. The 844 boasts a refresh rate of 240Hz, while the 645 is 120Hz. Also unveiled was the 9 Series, including the 70-inch LC-70LE945U (left) and 60-inch LC-60LE945U (right) LED-backlit LCD TVs with local dimming, the first Sharp sets to provide this important feature.
At its press conference today, Sharp introduced an entirely new line of TVs under the Freestyle moniker. Available in four screen sizes20, 32, 40, and 60 inchesthese are fully networked LED-edgelit LCD TVs with a slimmer and lighter design than most, which lets you place them just about anywhere near a power outlet. With only one HDMI input, they are clearly intended to access most content via their built-in WiFi, though they also have two USB ports and an Ethernet port. The 20-incher includes a built-in battery, while the others seen here being carried by Vanna White wannabes were custom-powered by separate battery packs.
Improving so-called Smart TV functionality seems to be one of the big stories at CES this year. Sharp's news in this regard is its Aquos SmartCentral interface, which will be provided in most of its 2012 LED-LCD TVs. A newly designed graphical user interface lets you search for content, browse the web, and access over 100 of the most popular online services, including Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, YouTube, and CinemaNow. You can also customize the system for different users with different apps, wallpapers, and viewing formats, and you can access Aquos Advantage Live, which lets Sharp techs to remotely connect to the TV to assist with setup, troubleshooting, and optimization of picture quality.
Giant flat panels, 4K, and 8K weren't the only stories at the Sharp booth, though they did grab all the attentionand real estate. Sitting on static display was the new XV-Z30000 single-chip DLP projector, which provides 3D capabilities with IR-sync'd active glasses (two pairs and the emitter are included, extras are $100 each) that are compatible with Sharp's 3D flat panels and offer the ability to watch 3D content in 2D for those who don't enjoy the stereoscopic experience. Unlike the XV-Z17000 (reviewed here), the Z30000 has a center-mounted, long-throw lens with horizontal and vertical lens shift and motorized focus and zoom. It should be shipping in February for $4500.
I remember CESs of long agothat's about five to ten years, an eternity in CES time when all of the literature handed out was in print form. Now it's typically on a flash drive, a disc (and even they are getting thinner on the ground—particularly the tiny ones that can't be used on Mac computers) or a simple card with directions to a news-release website. But not always; there's still a pile of paper to deal with, like the 6-inch stack I brought home with me. Luckily I drive to the show.
One of the realities of blogging at CES is that we here at Home Theater cover the video news first, which means that most of the video-related entries end up at the bottom of the blog pile, with the later, heavily audio-related entries at the top. That's why the blogs here are front-loaded with audio. Much of the serious high-end audio is at the Venetian Hotel, well removed from the of the circus atmosphere at the Las Vegas Convention Center where just about everything else, including the video, resides.
You may see a lot of audio entries below and wonder why? Well, for my part, I can't escape my roots of a dozen years or more writing the Stereophile. But more importantly for our present purposes, speakers are speakers, and I spent most of my time at the Venetian scoping them out. While many speakers that you'll see here will be inappropriate for home theater, largely because their manufacturers don't see fit to make matching center channel speakers for them, the technology involved is still fascinating. To me, anyway.
According to the CEA (the Consumer Electronics Association, the CES show-runners) the CES exhibit space covers the equivalent of 34 football fields likely enough to hold all of the NFL playoff games with room left over for the Super Bowl, both this year and next. Sony's booth must be occupying at least two of those fields, with the same dizzying array of new products as in all the big booths, from the sublime to the gadgety. More than a few of those products are mentioned in these pages; for more on several of them, including Sony's Crystal LED technology demonstration, see our video blogs.
It may have been one of the less dramatic introductions at CES, but Sony's new, lightweight active 3D glasses will be welcomed by those of us with red bumps decorating the bridge of our nose after every 3D movie.
SRS Labs is well known for various sound-enhancement and surround-simulation algorithms found in many consumer-electronics products, such as TVs, AVRs, and soundbars. Among the new items being demonstrated at CES is PureSound, a suite of bass-enhancement and equalization algorithms intended to improve the quality of a TV's internal sound system.
The screen shot above shows the frequency response of a TV before (black) and after (green) applying PureSound, and the improvement in sound I heard was dramaticmuch more bass and a fuller, richer sound with less ringing than without the processing. The first application will give manufacturers the ability to improve their TVs' sound, but SRS envisions the day when consumers will be able to auto-tune the TV to their room, much like auto-setup systems in AVRs do now.