Sony, not to be outdone by other 1080p projector announcements (see below), unveiled the VPL-VW60, a replacement for the VW50. They claim a doubling of the native contrast ratio, and an available anamorphic lens system to watch 2.35:1 movies without black bars (on a 2.35:1 screen). Even cooler, you can align each LCOS (sorry, SXRD) panel to within 0.1 pixels. So any jarring in shipping or installation can be tweaked out to remove any colored halos. It’s shipping this month for “under $5,000.”
Sharp is finally releasing a Blu-ray player, and they’re claiming it’s all their parts. Certainly a subtle, but perhaps unintended, dig at Sony. The BD-HP20 will ship this month for $549. It will do 1080p/24 and they claim it will go from off to picture in less than 10 seconds. I’ll believe that when I see it. Sorry for the crappy pic. When I do a booth tour later in the show, I’ll get a better one.
Toshiba had a press conference, which was an hour of graphs, charts, heat, and blown-out sound effects. I’ll give them credit for the Star Trek theme (of course I would), but after the dozenth time of “HD DVD has won!” or “LCD is the best!” I tuned out.
In addition to bribing those members of the press who were smart enough to preregister for the press conference with 30GB iPods loaded with a special message from founder Jeremy Burkhart, SpeakerCraft showed off enough products to fill a mansion or two during one of the first press conferences here at CEDIA. First there was the new wireless MODE Free controller that can be in-wall mounted using a special bracket that allows for the controller to be removed whenever you want to take it for a walk. In addition to multi-room audio distribution, the MODE controllers allow a homeowner to link up to six iPods in the house and share music and metadata. Then came the new Accufit Ultra Slim in-ceiling speaker which is only 1 7/8" deep. It uses what SpeakerCraft calls a "sealed and ported" enclosure which is sealed on the back (the part that hides in the wall) but has a front-mounted prort that fires into the room. Also discussed were the new smaller TIME Mini speakers that descend from the ceiling and can be aimed toward the listening area.
Monster has embarked on a full frontal assault against the idea that "all HDMI cables are alike" with combination of education and marketing that will include the introduction of five rating levels for its HDMI cables. The top-end "Ultimate High Speed" HDMI cables will fall under Monster's "Cable for Life" program. HDMI cables with this rating will be "performance guaranteed", and Monster says they will replace the cables if the performance of future sources begin to outstrip what the cable is capable of.
Proficient is laying claim to "the world's most powerful LCR ceiling speaker", and the C1030 just might be it. The new behemoth ceiling speaker uses a ten-inch Kevlar woofer, a three-inch pivoting midrange, and a one-inch pivoting tweeter. The woofer and midrange/tweeter bridge are set at a 15-degree angle to the speaker's mounting flange. Speaking of mounting, Proficient says you have to use its special mounting bracket to keep the C1030 from falling out of the ceiling. (That would be a bad thing as it would ruin an evening of home video entertainment.) A system of seven C1030 speakers has a MSRP of $4,000. (It would be especially bad if all seven fell at once, but it would make a cool YouTube video.)
Sharp announced a new AQUOS D64U series at Cedia. The 1080p LCD panels are available in four sizes from 42" to 65" in diameter. The 65" LC-65D64U will be available before the month is out and goes for $8,999.99. The 52" LC-52D64U ($3,799.99), 46" LC-46D64U ($2,699.99) and 42" LC-42D64U ($1,999.99) are available now. Sharp has reduced the size of the bezel and thinned out the panel depth by 25% from existing lines.
At the Sony press event, surprise guest Barry Sonnenfeld, too famous for words (but suffice to say, he was the cinematographer for one of my favorite movies, the Coen Brothers' first, Blood Simple), regaled us with stories of his home theaters, past and present, like the one in Telluride, Colorado which features a Sony VPL VW100 projector. His close ties with Sony's Marc Finer have made him somewhat of a test bed for Sony projectors, going all the way back to the 9" CRT based Sony G90 which some consider the finest CRT projector ever made (along with the Vidikron Visions). I bet he can't wait to get the new VW200 in his home!
Audyssey, the company behind the room compensation system that is appearing in more and more AV receivers and pre-pros, introduced its latest technology: Audyssey Dynamic EQ. it's designed to compensate for the loss of sound quality that results as the volume level, is reduced.
As reported on below by Shane Buettner, JVC launched another new pair of video projectors, DLA-RS2 and the DLA-HD100. Both are essentially identical, apart from separate distribution channels: consumer for the RS2 and pro for the HD100. The RS1 and HD1 remain available.
Shane didn't mention it so I will: JVC's new DLA-RS2 / DLA-HD100 projectors have a claimed 30,000:1 native contrast ratio without the use of an auto iris-stopping technology. Contrast that, pun intended, to the new Sony VW200 which they said had a 35,000:1 contrast ratio, but Sony uses auto-iris correction to achieve these ratios. Both are outstanding figures and, in this stratosphere, pretty close numerically speaking, but it will be interesting to see if our golden eyes can detect a difference or develop a preference.
JVC was first out of the gate last year with Clear Motion which interpolates an extra frame for each frame its given, clearing up motion blur significantly. I saw it in Japan last year and it was clearly working. I guess Toshiba saw it too, because their ClearFrame technology potentially does the same thing. Of course, JVC is on their second generation and they gave away some information at their press conference that was interesting. Each interpolated frame is created by examing 4,000 pixels in the frames before and after the frame being created. That's a lot of hard math. Toshiba didn't specify exactly how there's works (or if it did as well in the Math section on the SATs), but no doubt, the combination of quicker refresh times and 120 Hz technology has brought LCD panel technology a long, long way in very short amount of time.