Most companies place strict embargoes on any announcements they plan to make at CES, but LG is bucking this trend—and its news is huge. Not only is LG Display showing a 55-inch OLED flat panel (which I wrote about earlier this week), but LG Electronics is introducing an 84-inch "ultra-definition" LED-backlit LCD TV with a resolution of 3840x2160, providing four times as many pixels as a 1920x1080 display. And since LG uses passive-polarized glasses for 3D, each eye sees all 1080 lines of vertical resolution available on 3D Blu-rays. (I don't yet know what the TV does with all the extra horizontal resolution, but you can be sure I'll ask.)
Also interesting is something LG calls its Magic Remote navigation system, which lets you control the TV with a wheel, hand gestures, and voice recognition, no doubt inspired by Siri on Apple's iPhone 4S. Of course, it will also offer Smart TV functionality with over 1200 apps and access to a wide variety of content services, including 3D Zone for 3D movies.
For me, the stars of CES 2012 were the 55-inch OLED TVs from LG (seen here) and Samsung, which both companies promise will be available as actual retail products later this year. Like the Samsung, the LG EM9600 is a mere 4 millimeters thick with the electronics in the base, but if you want to wall-mount it, some of that base will have to come along, increasing the effective depth. The picture quality is absolutely stunning, with truly infinite blacks and vibrant colors. Given that OLED is infamous for degrading over a relatively short timeespecially bluewill those colors last? LG claims they will, and I certainly hope they're right.
While not as svelte as the company’s 55-inch OLED prototype discussed below, LG’s new lineup of Smart LED/LCD sets is still just a bit over an inch thick with a 1mm thick bezel framing the screen. The top of the line Nano sets, available several sizes up to 84” in size. The Nano designs are full backlit local dimmers, utilizing LEDs impeded into t thin membrane that allows for superior backlit local dimming in a thinner design. LG’s magic remote has been improved, allowing not only pointing but also both gesture and voice recognition. And like all the HDTV manufacturers at the show, LG’s Smart technology offers further enhancements in convergence and connectivity with Web-based sites and features.
That 84” model is unique in that it is a 4K design. Despite the lack of 4K sources, 4K offers significant advantages for LG’s passive glasses approach to 3D. Specifically, it can present a full 1920 x 1080 resolution to each eye, unlike the half vertical 3D resolution on conventions 1920 x 1080 sets.
Pictured here are LG's LM9600 (bottom row) and LM6700 (top row) LED-LCD TVs. The 47- and 55-inch LM9600 use the company's nano-LED backlighting, while the 60-inch version uses conventional LED backlighting with local dimming, and all incorporate LG's L9 dual-core processor and refresh the screen at 480Hz. The 120Hz LM6700 is LED edgelit with LED Plus pseudo local dimming.
While no price or availability date was announced for LG’s 55” OLED HDTV, its prototype drew big crowds at the opening press conference of the day. So big, in fact, that you can’t see the set with the madding crowds pushing in for a closer look.
What we do know is that the set uses what LG refers to as 4-Color Pixels (red, green, blue, and white) together with a Color Refiner for color consistency over a wide viewing angle.
An eye-opening infinite contrast ratio is also claimed. This is possible because OLED is a self-illuminating technology in which the individual pixels, in theory, can be completely turned off. Response time is also said to be 1000x faster than in LED/LED sets.
LG’s OLED TV is as pleasing aesthetically pleasing as it is technologically trend-setting. It’s passive 3D-capable and an incredible 4mm thin (about one-sixth of an inch) and a feather-light 17 lbs.
To combat the glare and reflections endemic to plasma TVs, LG has created a TruBlack filter for its flagship PM9700. As you can see in this photo, the screen has a distinctly matte finish, greatly obscuring reflections that are especially problematic in dark scenes.
As with most of the major TV manufacturers, LG announced big improvements in its Smart TV functionality, which is available in 60 percent of its 2012 lineup, including the LM8600 series shown here. In addition to content from providers such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and many others, LG offers 3D Zone, which streams 3D content and almost 1200 apps from the LG App Store. Also new this year is a full web browser with Flash and HTML 5, allowing you to access just about anything you can find online.
To offer an alternative to cable, Boxee offers hundreds of channels of online content, a web browser and now live TV. Better than connecting an antenna directly to your TV where you simply surf through channels, connect an HD antenna to the Boxee Live TV USB dongle and browse cover art for TV shows on broadcast TV channels you receive.
Boxee believes that by adding live TV, more people will be able to “cut the cord,” that is quit their cable service. Premium content from Netflix and a variety of other online streaming sources along with your local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox channels are combined in the Boxee experience.
If you have any TVs or monitors with a vertical HDMI connection where the HDMI cable comes loose and wriggles itself out, you’ll appreciate the locking HDMI cables being shown by Perfect Path.
The cable locks into place because its end cover slides back and forth to lock or release the cable.
Funny, it looks a lot younger with the introduction of a new integrated amp, a CD/SACD player, DAC, and preamp. All of them are 2-channel only, of course. The first three are expected to come in at $10,000 or under when they appear in mid-2012. The preamp, however, will set you back $25,000. All four offer a full complement of digital inputs (including asynchronous USB). The preamp and integrated amp also have analog inputs. The player has external digital inputs, and both it and the DAC have volume controls and may be used as digital preamps for direct connection to your power amps.
The new McIntosh MX121 pre-pro is, at $6000, half the price of its predecessor. And it's got AirPlay!—along with the updated HDMI connectivity and video versatility you'd expect. McIntosh also did a very impressive two-channel demo featuring its XR100 floorstanding speaker, a four-way design featuring a super-tweeter, two mid-tweeters, eight midranges, and four woofers for a mere $10,000/pair. Build quality is over the top: the tweeters have the kind of voice coils you'd expect to see mated with a 10-inch woofer. Surging strings were detailed in an almost three-dimensional sense. If you think McIntosh is just another pretty fascia, you should hear these speakers. Also shown was the Anniversary 275 stereo tube amp, so called because only 275 will be made.
Among various high-end audio products, Meridian also announced an upgrade to its HD621 HDMI switch/audio upsampler (sitting atop a G68 pre/pro in this photo) that adds 3D passthrough. This upgrade is free to existing owners from Meridian dealers.
One definition of high end is a product that caters to a high end clientele. That sent Meridian in search of "a speaker that doesn't look like a speaker." The result is the charmingly cone-shaped M6. In the tradition of a company that pioneered powered speakers before they became fashionable, it juices each woofer with 350 watts and each full-range driver (not tweeter) with another 125. Yet its wide off-axis response demonstrates good social skills. Shipping in late February for $9000/pair. Also at the Meridian booth was the second Sooloos iPad app, which takes a slicker and more graphic (that is, less text-based) approach than the original.