Later at the show we obtained more details about Panasonic’s 2012 sets. New models in the VT50, GT50, and ST50 series of plasma sets will make up the meat and potatoes of Panasonic’s updated designs, expect to be available in 2-3 months if past delivery schedules are maintained. There will be an expanded range of new Panasonic LCD IPS designs as well. In fact, there are 15 new LCD models, 13 with LED backlighting. Seven of the LCD sets are 3D, including three in the ET5 series using passive glassesPanasonic’s first departure from full HD 3D (passive glasses sets cut the vertical resolution seen by each eye in half in a 1080p set). In addition, the LCD line now includes 47- and 55-inch sizes. Previous Panasonic sets at 42-inches and larger have all been plasma designs. With LCD now dominant in the market, could Panasonic be hedging its bets?
While not as svelte as the company’s 55-inch OLED prototype discussed below, LG’s new lineup of Smart LED/LCD sets is still just a bit over an inch thick with a 1mm thick bezel framing the screen. The top of the line Nano sets, available several sizes up to 84” in size. The Nano designs are full backlit local dimmers, utilizing LEDs impeded into t thin membrane that allows for superior backlit local dimming in a thinner design. LG’s magic remote has been improved, allowing not only pointing but also both gesture and voice recognition. And like all the HDTV manufacturers at the show, LG’s Smart technology offers further enhancements in convergence and connectivity with Web-based sites and features.
That 84” model is unique in that it is a 4K design. Despite the lack of 4K sources, 4K offers significant advantages for LG’s passive glasses approach to 3D. Specifically, it can present a full 1920 x 1080 resolution to each eye, unlike the half vertical 3D resolution on conventions 1920 x 1080 sets.
While no price or availability date was announced for LG’s 55” OLED HDTV, its prototype drew big crowds at the opening press conference of the day. So big, in fact, that you can’t see the set with the madding crowds pushing in for a closer look.
What we do know is that the set uses what LG refers to as 4-Color Pixels (red, green, blue, and white) together with a Color Refiner for color consistency over a wide viewing angle.
An eye-opening infinite contrast ratio is also claimed. This is possible because OLED is a self-illuminating technology in which the individual pixels, in theory, can be completely turned off. Response time is also said to be 1000x faster than in LED/LED sets.
LG’s OLED TV is as pleasing aesthetically pleasing as it is technologically trend-setting. It’s passive 3D-capable and an incredible 4mm thin (about one-sixth of an inch) and a feather-light 17 lbs.
Panasonic was demonstrating its new PT-AE7000 3D projector ($3500) on a 100-inch (diagonal) Joe Kane Affinity screen (gain 1.1) from Da-Lite. Granted that the 3D program material was all animated, which is almost always impressive on a video display, it nevertheless looked superb. The trailers from Toy Story 3, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast all had me salivating for the full releases (scheduled for October--at least for the latter two). It was interesting to see that the 3D re-processing of the older hand drawn animation on Lion KIng and Beastlooked very good, with a minimum of the layered cardboard cutout effect. Kudos here to both Disney and Panasonic.
The new Martin Logan Montis ($10,000/pair) was producing compelling music in one of the shows isolated (sort of) sound rooms, ably assisted by a pair of humongous McIntosh amps (for newbies, that's a "tosh" without the "a" and without the iPod).
Robert Deutsch very favorably reviewed the Focal Chorus 826W Anniversary Editiion late last year in Stereophile. Now there's an entire new Chorus W lineup (the W stands for the incorporation of Focal's sandwich cone material into the line--the standard Chorus models do not have this). The 826W ($3495/pr) is the second from the left in the photo. New are the bigger 836W ($4195/pr), the 807W bookshelves ($1495/pr), the CC800W center ($795) and the SW800W subwoofer ($1595).
The new Lexicon MP-20 Media Processor is not yet shipping, but promises to be killer, both for your home theater and your bank account (the exact price has not yet been announced, but should be somewhere south--but not too far south--of $20,000). It incorporates Harman's new QuantumLogic audio processing (more on this below), 12.4 channels, 192/24-bit audio resolution, 8 HDMI 1.4a inputs, 1080p video scaling, a large front panel screen interface with soft buttons for selection the desired options, auto calibration and room EQ, and more.
Harman announced and demonstrated a new audio processing format called QuantumLogic. Extremely complex, what it offers, on both the recording and playback end, is the ability to manipulate the signal in unprecedented ways. For example, it can isolate a solo singer, or just the orchestra, or even just the ambience, and process and move it around in the sound field in almost any way the user (or the recording engineer) desires. The extraction process is nearly total. The process provides extreme flexibility for enhancing (or, it must be said, compromising) the sound, again either on recording or playback. You'll be hearing a lot more about it both here and elsewhere in the future.
The first product to include QuantumLogic will be Lexicon's new MP-20 Media Processor. It has also been implemented in a Ferrari which was on display on the show floor, but that's hardly a mass market item (nor is the five-figure processor!).
The new Polk LSiM flagship lineup was mentioned in an earlier blog, but here's a shot of the whole family, from the top of the line LSiM 707 floorstanders ($4000/pr) on down to the two different center channels speakers (both of them 3-ways). This range was announced and first shown as last year's CEDIA, but production has been much delayed (see below for one reason why!). But they are now ready to ship. We're anticipating a review system real soon now.