Thanks to a bit of serendipitous timing, GoldenEar Technology's Sandy Gross gave a lucky trio of us a sneak peak at (and a quick listen to) the company’s newest tower speaker, the Triton Seven. Although the speaker is short on inches compared to the other Triton Towers (it’s only 40 1/4 inches tall) and is the first GoldenEar tower to come without a built-in powered subwoofer, the new Triton Seven is extremely long on performance. The Seven features a D’Appolito array of two 5.25-inch bass-midrange drivers above/below the same High Velocity Folded Ribbon Driver (HVFR) tweeter that’s in the taller Triton Two and Three siblings. Bass output is enhanced by a pair of side-mounted sub-bass radiators placed near the floor on the sides of the angled cabinet.
The clarity of sound and super-silky imaging definitely make the new Seven speaker a worthy addition to the stunning Triton family, but the depth and authenticity of the bass response makes it hard to believe there’s not a built-in powered subwoofer hidden behind the grille cloth. Even though we were limited on time for the demo and it’s always hard to truly evaluate speakers in a show environment, the combination of modest dimensions, phenomenal sound, and high affordability ($699.99 each), make it a good bet that the Triton Seven Tower is going to be on nearly everyone’s short list for Speaker of the Year in 2013.
Harman Kardon, the company that brought us the world’s first audio receiver nearly 60 years ago, unveiled two affordable, forward-looking A/V receivers at CES. Both models have wireless connectivity via AirPlay, Wi-Fi and DLNA and include a vTuner for access to thousands of Internet Radio stations. Other common highlights include 4K upscaling for all inputs, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, multizone capability for simultaneously playing two audio sources in two rooms, an eco-friendly digital-power supply, Harman’s EzSet/EQ system and multiple HDMI inputs, including those for 3D playback, CEC and Deep Color.
The 7.1-channel AVR 2700 ($799) is rated to deliver 100 watts per channel, while the 7.2-channel AVR 3700 ($999) is rated at 125 watts per channel and provides two subwoofer outputs and a remote control for the second zone.
Both models are slated to hit stores over the next couple months and are compatible with Harman's free remote control app for Apple and Android mobile devices.
HiFiMan is introducing two in-ear headphones aimed at “audiophiles on the go” and a high-performance portable music player at CES. The RE-600 “Songbird” ($399) and RE-400 “Waterline” ($99) earphones use custom-designed Titanium-coated drivers, neodymium magnets and premium cabling. Both are due out in the coming weeks.
The flagship HM-901 music player ($999) is slimmer than previous models, has a simplified user interface, and accepts most lossless audio formats, including Apple lossless. It uses 32-bit DAC chips and accommodates 24-bit/192 kHz upsampling. The player will be available in March with an optional $399 docking station to follow in April.
Samsung helped usher in a new era of television on the eve of CES 2013 with the announcement of two next-generation TVs: the super-sleek 85-inch S9 Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV, boasting four times the resolution of today’s 1080p sets, and the 55-inch F9500 OLED TV with a Multi-View feature that enables two people to watch different programs simultaneously from the same screen. Pricing and availability was not announced for either model.
The S9 (shown) boasts a striking design with a screen that appears to float within a frame. Highlights include “extremely high contrast ratio,” a proprietary upscaling engine that converts high-def images to UHD quality, and a 1.35 GHz quad-core processor that’s more than three times faster than last year’s processor for improved content/app multitasking. The set has enhanced voice and gesture control and uses a new version of Samsung’s Smart Hub interface with five content discovery panels that appear onscreen as thumbnail images.
At the heart of the F9500 OLED TV are self-emitting red, green and blue sub-pixels that eliminate the need for backlighting, which is said to ensure absolute blacks and pure whites with no motion blur. The Multi-View feature is enabled by special 3D glasses with built-in speakers that deliver a personalized audio experience. The set also uses a quad-core processor and the updated Smart Hub interface.
In what can only be described as the single most tedious press conference in the history of CES (just beating out the i’m Watch press conference that, interestingly enough, also took place this year), 40-year-old Chinese company (and self-proclaimed “world’s fifth-largest TV manufacturer), Hisense, announced plans to grow from a regionally known to a globally dominant CE manufacturer making everything from smartphones to smart-home appliances.
Despite the lackluster presentation, Hisense had some exciting things to announce, including two models (84- and 110 inches) in the company’s flagship XT900 series of 2160p Ultra HD U-LED flat-panel Smart TVs (with Google TV). Also unveiled was the XT880 series of 4K Ultra High Definition 3D and Wi-Fi-enabled Smart TVs in 50-, 58-, and 65-inch screen sizes. As with the XT900 TVs, the XT880-series sets incorporate a detachable USB-camera mounted on the top bezel of the TV while the TV’s remote control features a built-in microphone. Hisense also presented a concept prototype of the GF60XT980 glasses-free 3D TV that uses a facial tracking system that “discretely tweaks each sweet spot to give viewers the best experience possible.” No pricing, expected availability, or distribution details were announced.
As a general rule, home automation is pricey. When you add motorization into the mix, it can get even pricier. SABAJ, a vertically integrated, extremely automated manufacturer located in Poland, showed off a motorized TV lift mechanism designed to raise flat-panel TVs up out of hidden cabinets that is surprisingly affordable. The company’s various lift mechanisms include an RJ45 socket for use with home automation systems, power guard circuitry to prevent the mechanism to lower the TV if it is still on, an active safety system that stops the downward movement and raises the screen slightly if something gets in the way, a three-button programming sequence for programming a preset viewing-position, and comes flat-packed so shipping costs are low. The TV-LIFT K-LINE ECO and K-LINE PREMIUM models are designed for flat-panel TVs up to 60 inches and up to 155 pounds (depending upon the K-LINE model). Product will be available in the US market very soon, and pricing will likely start at well under $1,000 for the lift mechanism.
Waterproof iPad and iPhone cases don’t automatically jump out as being prime home theater-related items; but as outdoor TVs from companies like SunBriteTV and Seura become more and more popular, along with weather-resistant speakers (such as the Soundcast Outcast wireless speakers), plenty of iOS and Android devices are making their way out into the elements. I originally thought the various storage bags from LOKSAK were little more than high-teched-up versions of the basic Ziploc storage bags found in kitchens everywhere. In reality, these amazing bags are not only resealable, they’re also completely waterproof, dust proof, and humidity proof. In fact, the many different sizes of LOKSAK bags are all rated to withstand being submerged in 20 feet of water for up to two weeks. Most amazing, however, is the fact that the touchscreen on your tablet or smartphone will operate exactly as if there were no bag material present at all. And, just as remarkable, you can make/take phone calls without opening the bag – including using the phone’s built-in speaker and microphone! With all that technology going for it, you’d expect to pay an iPremium price for an aLOKSAK; instead, aLOKSAKs start at under $8 – for a package of three aLOKSAKs.
"Blue" and "Air" has become our notebook slang for products including both Bluetooth and AirPlay wireless capability. There are quite a few of them at this CES. HRT, a new company, features them in the Stage speakers, with analog amplification, preamp, and USB DAC built into a separate module. One-inch tweeters are treated fabric, 3.5-inch woofers are aluminum, and the system sounded fabulous with CD-resolution files of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (and we think it could have sounded even better with a 24-bit file). The price is $999 with Blue and Air or a hundred bucks less without—but why would you do that? Shipping in June.
Sometimes journalists need a little jump start before an evening filled with new product pitches and demonstrations from eager company execs and PR folks. One of the more creative ways of providing chilled beverages involved a giant block of ice with a carefully carved, very clever martini slalom. Sometimes low-tech is cool, too. (And refreshing!)
Sharp showed its 8K HDTV at last year's CES, and it was here again for 2013. It remains a technological tour de force, but is unlikely to be a real product any time soon. One doubling of resolution at a time, please!
Just when you thought eating utensils couldn’t get any better than the plastic spork, HAPILABS develops the HAPIfork – “an electronic fork that monitors your eating habits…and alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast.” In addition to larding it over the knife and spoon, the HAPIfork also connects to your iOS/Android/Windows device and keeps track of your eating performance, or you can use an online dashboard at HAPILABS website. (Now that I think of it, it could also be used to aid in training aspiring eating contest champions…) The HAPIfork has a unique HAPIbutton that lets you track HAPImoments by pressing and holding in the HAPIbutton from 1 (“meh”) to 10 (“orgasmic”) seconds. No doubt the next HAPIgadget to appear will be a HAPIremote that will warn you when you’ve been sitting on your butt for too long in front of the TV. It should also track how often you change the channel. And how often your family fights over who gets to hold the remote control.
Though the Mirage brand name is on ice, its Omnipolar speaker technology lives on in two new 360 Series satellites from Jamo. The larger of the two, the S35, is the size of a grapefruit, has a 3.5-inch woofer, and will be sold in groups of four with a conventionally shaped center and sub. The smaller S25 has a 2.5-inch woofer and will be sold in a five-pack. Available colors will be determined based on dealer feedback at the show with shipping later in the year.
JBL has continued to refine the design and performance of the flagship Project Everest DD66000 speaker it introduced six years, culminating in the $75,000-a-pair DD67000 unveiled at CES. Upgrades include a refined crossover network and extended frequency response thanks to new cast-aluminum-frame woofers, featuring three-layer laminated cone construction and 4-inch voice coils, a mid/high-frequency compression driver with a 4-inch beryllium diaphragm, and an ultrahigh-frequency compression driver with a 1-inch beryllium diaphragm and 2-inch neodymium magnet. Both compression drivers are mounted in JBL’s computer-optimized Bi-Radial horns, made from acoustically inert SonoGlass to eliminate unwanted colorations and shaped to optimize dispersion.
Available in rosewood or maple, the furniture-grade cabinet retains the curved and angled surfaces of its predecessor, including the signature flared horn, and introduces a carbon-fiber baffle trim panel. The speakers will be available in February.
Klipsch likes to bring its trombone to jazz bars and jam after hours.... No, no, that's not it. Klipsch is introducing horned speaker design to soundbars. Yes, that's more like it. The two HD Theater Series bars shown include the SB 1, $599, with two three-inch IMG (injection-molded graphite) woofers and a silk tweeter on each side; and the SB 3, $799, similar but with 3.5-inch woofers and more power. Both speak wirelessly to 10-inch subs though the larger bar has a more powerful and deeper sub. The big guy can produce SPL of up to 110dB (in other words it's very loud). Both have optical and stereo analog ins plus a mini-jack on the SB 3. Klipsch also showed the fifth generation of the legendary Quintet sat/sub set. It now comes in a BMC enclosure, a type of forged stone polymer that's high-pressure injection-molded and is acoustically inert. The motors take up the entire innards of the enclosure. 90 by 90 degree horns surround the 0.75-inch aluminum tweeter and the woofer is another 3.5-inch IMG driver. The new Quintet will be sold in 5.1 sets for $899, same price as the original Quintet, or in five-packs with no sub for $549. When I have more time remind me to tell you about the amazing $2,000 Stadium powered speaker with its opposing subwoofer drivers and quadruple-threat connectivity: AirPlay, Bluetooth, wi-fi, and DLNA.