An ambitious Chinese manufacturer of LCD sets, that's who. The small booth had demos 3D sets and an innovative 21:9 flat panel set optimized for 2.35: 1 movies—with black windowbox" bars at the sides for 16:9 material. Reportedly, TCL makes sets for VIZIO, which makes sense seeing that VIZIO is nearly set to release 21:9 sets. The only puzzle here remains why my camera rendered the TCL logo on top a red-fringed yellow, when the sign was clearly solid red.
The Smart Crystal Pro polarization modulator from a new (to us) company called Volfoni (which also makes both active and passive 3D glasses) can take your single chip active glasses DLP 3D projector and turn it into a passive glasses 3D projector. The brochure says it can do this for any 3D single lens projector, but the device has only been verified effective on DLPs.
What it does, in effect, is to substitute rapidly alternating polarization of the filter, which is positioned in front of the lens, for the switching of active glasses. You'll need a connection from the sync transmitter output in the projector to the Crystal Pro to make this work, or alternately DLP Link in the projector (DLP Link is a process that uses rapid interframe bursts of light from the DLP projector that normally triggers active glasses). (If your projector has neither, that is, no DLP Link and an on-board sync transmitter, it will not work, as I understand it. You'll also need a screen that preserves polarization. Estimated cost will be $1500 for the Crystal Pro itself, or $2000 for a package including both the Crystal Pro and a slide that can automatically move the polarizer out of the way for 2D material.
Toshiba demonstrated how a 4K panel can improve the resolution. The photo above can't do it justice, of course (the 4K panel is on the left), but you could clearly see the difference on some material. Of course, the images were stationary of moving very slowly; motion would likely degrade any resolution improvement.
Toshiba was showing its latest prototypes of glasses free 3D. In comparison to last year's demos, the results were much improved. The secret appears to be the use of a 4K LCD panel, which ups the convergence available to each eyemuch like the new, jumbo 4K set shown by LG appears to improve the (passive glasses) 3D performance of that set. If you’re watching 3D alone, the set tracks your head position and adjusts the picture to provide optimum performance. In a group showing, the 3D works properly only in 9 individual regions across the front viewing area. A small circular bug at the top center of the screen (visible in the photo) tells you if your head is in a hot spot for 3D. Toshiba expects to have sets in stores in late 2012. But the use of a 4K panel suggests that the first such sets will be expensive, so I wouldn't hold off purchasing a 3D set hoping to have a cheap, glasses-free alternative real soon now.
At its press event Monday before the main show floor opened, Panasonic was almost silent on the performance details of its new sets (none of the big manufacturers were making a big deal about improved picture quality, though if pressed they will admit to evolutionary improvements in their new 1920 x 1080 models). But Panasonic was big on improved convergence. We certainly aim to find out in our reviews when the new sets become available.
90% of the Panasonic’s 2012 models offer Web connectivity, which is clearly the main theme song of this year’s CES. At the press event Panasonic also announced a working agreement between Panasonic and MySpace (!?) for enhanced social network connectivity, such as texting with your friends while you all watch the same movie. I can see this for sports, but for films? And can this joint effort resurrect a moribund social networking service that has clearly lost its trench war with Facebook? Panasonic and MySpace certainly hope so; they even trotted out celebrity Justin Timberlake at the press event to help promote this new launch. Timberlake co-starred in a recent movie about the origin of Facebook; now he’s helping to (possibly) reinvigorate MySpace.
With Internet connectivity, you can now play competitive video games over the Web. How long before such games become championship spectator sports we can watch passively on HDTV, bringing us full circle? With 300 channels, maybe they have already and I’ve just missed it.