The iPod's plot to dominate the audio industry is now complete with Peachtree Audio's musicBox, a stereo tube amp decked out with three-inch full-range speakers. The DAC is hardwired to the iPod dock, so this baby can take a true digital signal off an iPod and process it with virtually no jitter. Price, maybe, oh, a grand or so.
Hannspree brought several of their unusual TVs to one of the giant press soirees that are filled with cheery PR people, good food, open bars, and every now and then an interesting product. I feel safe predicting that this set won't become the official TV of the Colbert Nation. I didn't see the remote control, but someone please tell me that it's not shaped like a baby seal...
You can't call it a sound bar, but the goal of Niro Nakamichi's latest system is to eliminate the need for rear speakers in a home theater. The new system uses two speaker cabinets - one below the TV that produces the LCR signals, and one above the TV that creates the pseudo surround information. The system also comes with a subwoofer and processor/amplifier. The system uses psychoacoustics to create its effects and doesn't rely on sound reflections off the side walls as many other no-rear-speakers systems do. Although it still can't compete against a full-blown discrete speaker system, I must say that in the brief amount of time I had to listen, it blew away any other soundbar I've ever heard. Of course, at $1,899 for the system, it's more expensive than any other sound bar that I can remember listening to. The cosmetics are a little industrial for my tastes, but it's definitely a high-performance system to consider if you can't have rear speakers.
Sharp's big announcement, apart from listing of their new models, was Quad Pixel Technology. Instead of the usual red, green, and blue sub-pixels that make up each pixel in the LCD image, Sharp adds a fourth, yellow-filtered sub-pixel. This is said to increase the number of colors up to 1 trillion. But who's counting?
LG's new LED LCD TVs are now ultra slim, including one model that is an incredible 6.9mm thin. The Infinia range includes full LED backlighting technology (Full LED Slim, in LG's phrase, but a bit thicker than that 6.9mm set). Some LG sets will now offer 480Hz operation thanks to a newly developed ASIC. The company also plans on marketing a 15" OLED display.
Toshiba's big announcement concerned the incoporation of the advanced Cell processor into selected models of its new, 2010 Cell series of HDTVs. The Cell was developed by Toshiba but is best known up to now as the brains in Sony's PlayStation3.
If I tried to list all the new Samsung HDTVs launched at the show I'd go blind, so with deference to those who say I already am, and in the interests of my being still able to review a few of them later this year, I'll hit the highlights. With a full, new lineup of HDTVs (LED sidelit LCDs, conventional CCFLfluorescentbacklit LCDs, and plasmas), new BD players with faster claimed booting and loading times, and three complete BD audio systems, Samsung is ready for the 2010 retail wars.
These massage chairs from Weightec use lighted, moving symbols to let you know what kind of massage you're going to get. We like the one with the little footprints at far right. It will free up children, pygmies, and monkeys for other kinds of work.
Pure Acoustics, hitherto a pure speaker manufacturer, is moving into compact systems both surround and stereo. In the former category are the RZ-3200 5.1-channel system and the UX-99 5.0-channel system, both with DVD drives plus USB and iPod connectivity. Pure also showed a bevy of colorful satellites, pictured.
Edifier wasn't actually playing the two table radios we found on the show floor, model-named Braque and Brera. But we bet the vacuum tubes, visible at top, will give their 72 watt output a golden sound. Price and availability unknown but isn't this a great looking product?
Sennheiser's RS170 headphones are full-sized, wireless, and surround-savvy -- the latter coming in the form of a proprietary, not licensed, technology. The company's previous surround products had used adaptation technology licensed from SRS. Price $150.
DTS, one of the home theater world's guardians of surround standards, was showing these dongles which are designed to adapt stereo signals to surround headphone use. The resemblance to vacuum tubes was neither here nor there. The company was also talking up its DTS Premium Suite of licensed DSP technologies. They include DTS Connect, for upconverting two channels to 5.1; DTS Surround Sensation, for headphones; DTS Symmetry, which balances levels among input sources; and DTS Boost, which makes laptop sound louder, clearer, and more immersive. Also new to us was the 7.1-channel version of Neural, the stereo-to-surround technology purchased from original developer THX a year ago.
Surround sound reaches a new and more affordable price point with the Sherwood RD-5405 a/v receiver, just $149 list. You get five channels of 70 watts each and HDMI connectivity. The step-up model, the RS-7405, may be available with or without HD Radio. Our poster boy is a prototype of the iNet 2.0 which offers iPod, USB, ethernet, and wi-fi connectivity plus internet and FM radio -- and it's a photo frame.
You think being a member of the press is a swanky existence? Banish all such thoughts from your mind. When I attended my first CES in 1985, a few people who knew each other had convivial hot lunches in the press room and everyone was guaranteed a seat. The proliferation of bloggers now has people sitting on the floor eating box lunches and most of them are strangers to one another.