Digital Projection was featuring Its D-Vision 35 LED ($39,000 with lens) and D-Vision Scope ($34,995). Both are single-chip home theater designs, identical in form factor to the photo here, but very different in their features. The D-Vision LED uses LED lighting for consistent color and long life, though with some sacrifice in brightness. The D-Vision Scope has a higher than HD resolution chip that enables projection of 2.35:1 films without an anamorphic lens and with an on-screen pixel density of 2560 x 1080. Both looked outstanding, though I favored the brightness and big screen capability of the D-Vision Scope.
I could have really used this when I installed and reviewed SunBriteTV’s 4660HD 46-inch weather-resistant outdoor flat-panel HDTV several months ago. In fact, I looked everywhere for (at least I thought I had) and asked anyone who would listen about a surge protector for the HDMI connection going from the system inside my house out to the HDTV on the back patio. Having gone through the pain of a relatively extensive surge from a frighteningly close lightning strike, I’m slightly more aware of the potential downside of too much electricity. As far as I can tell, Ethereal is the first company to offer an in-line surge protector specifically for HDMI connections. The Ethereal HDM-SP is available now for $159.99 – a price that could wind up saving you a lot more if you live in lightning-prone locales like I do.
dotz Cuts Cord Confusion
According to dotz, the average U.S. household has 40 cords, which adds up to 4.5 billion cords cluttering and choasifying homes across the country. dotz’s Cord Identifier Kit comes with 24 clear, round identifiers that snap along both ends of up to 12 HDMI, component, audio, video, power, and etc cords and cables. Different colors make the cords immediately identifiable when digging around behind AV racks, HDTVs, desks, or nightstands. In addition to different colors, each identifier can be further identified by using pre-printed or “write-your-own” punch-out inserts. Kits sell for $16.99.
It seems that every screen maker these days is offering a 2.35:1, curved screen. The advantage to such a screen is its cinematic look. The disadvantages are possible geometry issues, cost, the fact that it can't be retracted, and possible audio concerns (a concave surface near your speakers isn't a plus). Elite joins the parade with its Lunette curved screens, available with several different screen materials, including a new woven acoustically transparent design (with an effective gain of under 0.9) and the company's 1.1 gain non-perf white.
The surprise here is the price structure. In a world where some curved screens command five-figure price tags, a 103-inch diagonal Lunette will set you back about $1500. Other sizes are available. Unfortunately, the woven, acoustically transparent screen will almost double that price. That's because while Elite screens are made in China, the woven material is available only in the U.S.
Epson's long delayed LCOS (reflective LCD) projector caused quite a ruckus when it was demonstrated at the 2010 CEDIA. But it was never released and has now gone back to the drawing board. So don't look for it any time soon.
But there is a new Epson LCD in town, the PowerLite Pro Cinema 6020. The claim of 2400 lumens and a peak contrast ratio of 320,000:1 would, if realized, be industry highs. The refresh rate of 480Hz is said to increase the 3D brightness. At under $4000 when available in November, the projector will come with 2 pair of active 3D glasses, a spare lamp, and a guarantee of an exchange if, on delivery, there is even one dead pixel.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the end of the man-cave era. I’m not sure I could find a better example of anything that would be more proof of the existence of a trend away from the dedicated, tech-dominated home theater room in favor of a new emphasis on stylish integration of the home theater into people’s homes and lifestyles than this very interesting credenza from Adrian Lifestyles Furnishings. In most ways the Lila Pearl Credenza is a very traditional home entertainment cabinet with media drawers, adjustable shelves, and back panels that provide easy access to components and cables. But it’s also one of those pieces of furniture that you will either immediately hate or absolutely love. The company says the finish is “lacquer finish on Lila veneer”. I’m not quite sure what a “Lila veneer” is, but the color was an extremely interesting combination of purple and rose and mother of pearl. It’s not the sort of thing I’d have in my house, but I know several people who would gladly use it for their TV and associated gear. Adrian Lifestyles Furnishings offers a lot of other cabinet designs, including traditional wall unit style furniture, in a variety of domestic and exotic woods, finishes, sizes, and door types. Pricing was not available.
Focal's Sub Utopia EM earns its $13,999 pricetag with the use of an electromagnetic active voice coil, pictured to the right of the sub. This affords its 13-inch driver a degree of control and damping not possible with a conventional passive voice coil. Outboard amp required, 500 to 1000 watts recommended. Focal also showed three multimedia speakers: the Little Bird, the Bird, and the Super Bird, hence the headline. The cool thing is the flat box that goes with them. It combines the functions of a stereo integrated amp, headphone amp, DAC, and active sub, with wireless connectivity for iOS devices. Pricing is $995, $1199, or $1499 for the package depending on size of fowl. Add another $99 for an iOS or USB dongle.
After yesterday's Media Preview appearance, the GoldenEar SuperCinema 3D Array soundbar offered smooth performance with dynamically challenging movie material and the broad on- and off-axis imaging afforded by its folded ribbon tweeter. We'd say it's worth the $999 pricetag.
I always take time out at CEDIA to sample some of the home theater seating exhibits that sprinkle the show floor. OK, so it’s a tough show and the dogs do bark! This jumbo love seat from Cinema Tech is more than just comfy. It not only reclines, but a powered headrest can be raised or lowered, depending on your needs of the moment. It’s available in different configurations (such a single seat). The catch is the price (for the loveseat shown) of about $7500 depending on the leather selected. A number of other manufacturers were also showing theater seats with adjustable headrests.
Cary Audio has made a distinguished contribution to the headphone craze sweeping across the consumer electronics industry with the HH-1 headphone amp. Introduced at CEDIA Expo, the amp is designed and built in the U.S. and teams a tube preamp stage with a solid-state MOSFET output stage, chosen for its tube-like sonic characteristics. Featuring Class A operation at all output levels and a 30-second muting circuit to prevent annoying turn-on pops, the amp sports a pair of RCA inputs with loop-through outputs and is designed to drive headphones with impedances between 30 and 600 ohms. Price: $1,595.
Scheduled to be available later this year, NextGen’s latest remote control extending device is a hockey puck-like device that receives signals from a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and blasts out the corresponding IR code so you can control your AVR gear using NextGen’s smartphone app. Pricing is expected to be $79.95.
Home-automation stalwart Crestron is demonstrating at CEDIA Expo a Near Field Communication (NFC)-based technology called airConnect that enables homeowners to trigger personal control settings for a home theater system and other devices connected to a central control system by simply holding an NFC-enabled smartphone close to an NFC tag in the room. The tag can be programmed to initiate any number of activities or automated routines, such as turning on system components, closing motorized shades, lowering a projector screen and launching a control app on the phone. The NFC tags, which are 1-inch, paper-thin squares, can be embedded in convenient locations, such as behind a wall keypad. A number of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices are NFC-enabled and Crestron says it will support iPhone and iPad as soon as they incorporate NFC technology.
Crestron is also demonstrating enhanced AirPlay functionality for its Sonnex multiroom audio system, which allows you to stream audio from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac PC to any room in the house without having to switch audio sources. Hit play and the system detects audio signals and automatically switches to the AirPlay source. The Sonnex system incorporates high-performance digital audio processing, full matrix switching and high-powered amplification.
Security and convenience are two big benefits of having a home automation system. Unfortunately, the various door, window, and motion sensors that are the “eyes and ears” of the system are often big and ugly. At Control4’s mega-booth, NYCE Control was introducing “the smallest Zigbee home automation devices in the world”. And these gizmos certainly are small. The $89 door/window open/close sensors shown on the left of the NYCE display pictured above are not much larger than a quarter. Coming in the very near future will be a garage door sensor ($89) and a special device NYCE calls an “asset protector”. Basically a small white square just like the larger of the two parts of the window sensor, the $89 Asset Protector can be discretely attached to just about anything. The sensor is designed to immediately signal if it senses a large amount of motion. NYCE says you can attach this to the back of an HDTV, for example, as an additional security device that can notify your Control4 system that major movement – as in, someone is trying to take the TV off the way – has been detected.
With nine amp channels and 11.4-channel preamp outs, the Integra DTR-70.4 is armed for nine to eleven bears. Theoretically you could add a stereo amp and get 11.1 channels of joy out of the DTS Neo:X height and width enhancement mode, but that may be the least of this receiver's achievements. It is certification-studded with THX Ultra2 Plus, ISF video calibration for the dual-core video engine, and—a personal favorite of ours—Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto setup and room correction. We've tried the latter with another product (the similarly featured Onkyo TX-NR3010) and the extra filter resolution makes a notable improvement: the room-corrected sound is less hard and fatiguing and it images better. Plug an Android smartphone into the MHL-HDMI input. Get a look at several HDMI sources simultaneously with InstaPrevue. This being Integra, there are niceties a custom installer would appreciate such as extra 12-volt triggers and IR jacks, and—well, we'd like to go on, but we're tired now.