The PSB Imagine Mini builds on the success of the Imagine line with a four-inch clay ceramic and polypropylene woofer and one-inch aluminum tweeter in a satellite-size enclosure. Bracket (shown at right) or stands optional. Price $700/pair, shipping April.
This German manufacturer is strictly two-channel but still captured our attention with the Dixie! stand-mount speaker, a smallish member of the Birdland Series. First it was the cool stand, then it was the beautifully layered sound of a blues recording. Some drivers are custom made, while others are off the shelf but modified by Lindemann. Guys: Please, please, please do some surround products. At least sell your speakers in odd-numbered configs. We're not too proud to beg.
Five years in the making, Totem Acoustic's Element Series features a massive large-diameter magnet structure suitable for arm curls. Even the littlest member of the family -- as it happened, the one we got to hear -- combined the naturalism and balance typical of Totem with a new bass solidity, mated with Accuphase electronics. Pricing ranges from $5995 to $13,000 for the flagship. Note that the competition Totem is aiming at sells products for much more than that.
The Polk FX Wireless Surround ($399) assigns surround-channel duty to a single speaker that sits on the floor behind the sofa. We heard it and it worked, though it worked better when we weren't standing over it with a camera. If surround aversion is a disease, this may be the cure, and quite an audacious one. Please note that the foot isn't ours. We wear Hush Puppies.
Polk Audio's Blackstone series comes in the three versions shown including wireless sub not shown. The demo featured smooth and gentle mids. For more information see our review coming a few months after you read this.
We're pleased to announce that the Kondo/Audio Note exhibit has won the Home Theater 2011 CES Blog's Award for Distinguished Achievement in Slogan Writing. See above. Really, isn't this what audio is all about?
First, it's T+A, not T&A. Stop giggling. It makes you look sleazy. In addition to some cool-looking loudspeakers (which we didn't get to hear) the German company showed the K8 Blu-ray receiver with 150 watts time seven. It streams from iPods and other devices in lossless WAV, FLAC, and OGG as well as MP3 and WMA with resolution up to 96/24. Sure is purty, as it ought to be for $9500.
The Martin Logan C2 ($799/each) and FX2 ($649/each) are eyebrow raisingly affordable entries from this longtime champion of the electrostatic speaker. What raised our other eyebrow is that we liked the model playing better than the most costly ones we've heard in the past. Go figure.
Wisdom Audio's LS4 ($100,000 in a 2.2-channel configuration) is 84 inches tall, making it a suitable mate for the fridge-size sub the company introduced at CEDIA 2010. It uses subs for frequencies below 80Hz -- and handles frequencies above that with planar biamped polyamide-film drivers, imprisoned in heavy steel plates, coaxed into motion by 1030 magnets in front of and behind them. String the magnets end to end and you could measure their length in terms of football fields, or so we were told, and at that point, after a long day, our head began to swim, though this certainly wasn't Wisdom's fault. One point the Wisdom people made that we loved: As an on-wall, this model basically prevents the purchaser from putting the speakers in the wrong place, so he actually gets the performance for which he paid so dearly (assuming his installer is up to snuff).
Perhaps it was just a matter of time before Paradigm employed the term Paradigm Shift to describe a new product line. In this case it's also a new marketing approach that adds online, direct, and other retail channels to the traditional a/v retailers who have always been Paradigm's mainstay. Say hello to the A² Active Atom, a powered version of our old friend, the world-beating Atom satellite. As you can see, it streams Apple-style. The one shown was a working engineering sample. Paradigm also showed the Millennium LP on-wall and mentioned head transducers including four earbuds, two headphone models, and two gaming headphone models.
Samsung went all Opra on us with it's sit-down, let's talk press conference. They announced that one million 3DTVs were sold in the US in 2010, well under predictions but ahead of the rate that many other new technologies have achieved in their first year. About 35 million TVs are sold in the US each year, however, so that's actually a pretty small percentage. Nevertheless Samsung claimed a 70% market share of 3DTV sales, and this year 3DTVs make up 60% of the company's new HD lineup.
Samsung is going with the flow in using "Smart" as a catch phrase this year for many of its products. The company expects to sell 6 million 3DTVs this year, two thirds of them Smart TVs. The new gee-whiz feature in the D7000 and D8000 sets is an ultra thin frame, barely 0.2" wide (see photo). In addition, Samsung's new active 3D glasses sport an ultra svelt, and it's said far more comfortable design.
Samsung's new BDD 7500 3D Blu-ray player is as ultra thin as the new TVs, and incorporates its own built-in 2D-to-3D conversion.
Sharp's big announcement was the addition of a 70-inch Quattron set to its lineup. The LE935 will have full LED backlighting with local dimming and is expected by spring. A 70-inch set was said to offer 62% more viewing area than a 60-incher. There will also be new sets in the LE835 an d LE830 ranges, all connectable with Wi-Fi. The XV-2 17000 3D DLP projector under $5000), first shown at CEDIA EXPO 2010 last September, will also be on display here at CES.
Sharp also announced three new 3D Blu-ray players (February), the BD HP25U, 35U, and 75U. Sharp also launched an E-Media Tablet and reader, the Galapagos. (Tablets appear to be a big item this year, thanks to Apple's iPAD!).
Sony's new HDR-TD10 3D High Definition Flash Memory Handycam Camcorder (about $1500, April) is one of the first the full HD 3D consumer camcorders. It includes two separate 1920 a 1080 CMOS sensors and two lenses to capture distinct 1920 x 1080 data streams for each eye. It's also capable of 2D still image capture at 7-megapixels. At present, playback is from the camera only via an HDMI link to the video display. The future should bring dedicated playback devices (such as a 3D Blu-ray player with a flash card slot). Oh, and you can view the image you're shooting in autostereoscopic 3D on the 3.5" viewfinderno 3D glasses required.
Sony is also showing a number of prototypes of products that are not available now, but may be in the future. Three different flat panel demos using autostereoscopic technology (no 3D glasses needed) were shown: a 24.5" 2K OLED, a 46" 2K LCD, and a 56" 4K LCD. The results were better than I expected, though there were some distracting artifacts. As expected, you must watch in specific viewing spots. In a cosy twosome one partner will get good 3D, the other not so much. In places outside the designated viewing zones the 3D effect diminishes and those artifacts increase, though the image does not completely fall apart. Promising, but still a work in progress.
Sony also showed a set of goggles designed for private 3D viewing (as seen in the not-so-clear photo), and a autostereoscopic portable 3D Blu-ray player.
Available now for pre-sales ordering is a VAIO F Series 3D laptop (about $1700). Oddly, this does require active shutter glasses. It also does 2D-to-3D conversionfor fun with spreadsheets. Seriously, however, there are genuine business and engineering applications for real 3D, including CAD and medical imaging.