It's the BGX-4850 BG Radia/THX Ultra2 Certified In-wall Subwoofer. After many months of tweaking and a few delays the BGX-4850 Architectural Subwoofer is here. The BGX-4850 is a joint development between BG Radia and THX and has resulted in a very unique in-wall subwoofer design. The BGX-4850 is the first in-wall sub to receive THX Ultra2 certification and the first to incorporate THX Balanced Bass-line technology to deliver vibration-free bass from an in-wall subwoofer.
HP was demonstrating the MediaSmart Server that will come out at the end of the month. Designed to store and stream your media, the unit comes with a 750GB drive for $599 and for $749 you get a 1.4TB drive. It provides automatic backups and allows for automatic collection of data and files from other computers on the network. It won Best in Show at the recent MacWorld (that overlaps CES). I figure if the Mac and PC world are finally learning to co-exist, there is still hope for peace in the Middle East.
While wireless networking seems to be getting all the headlines and buzz, another networking method is to use your existing powerline. There are a couple of associations promoting this, with two to three dozen manufacturers and a few chip designers supporting the technology. The concept being– why create something new when you can use what already exists in your home. I'll admit I don't know all the intricate details behind this technology but the first thing I can see as a negative is all the extra external devices (i.e. wall warts) you are adding to your electrical outlets. It just doesn't seem very green to tax the power grid even more. What I would like to know is how does this effect your electrical bill?
This personal digital video recorder is also a media center with a 500GB hard drive that is upgradable to 1TB. The device allows you to record a video or TV program in real-time and supports time-shift functionality. There are editing tools that allow you to cut, splice and merge the home videos you store on the drive. There is a built in iPod dock for playback of your video media through a TV. It's compatible with about every file you can imagine and retails for $349.
After years in development, Gefen has finally released their wireless HDMI solution and it's not cheap at $999. The range is 30 feet, effectively doubling the maximum distance you can run an HDMI cable without a booster. The cost doesn't seem to be a problem, since the product is already backordered.
Right in front, next to Dolby, in the South Hall was a new kid on the block, called XStreamHD. While they were making a big splash at the show, the service won't go live until later this year, sometime in the summer.
The top of the Toshiba heap is the SV670 series in 46- and 55-inch flavors. This one has LED backlighting with local dimming and a cool "Infinity Flush" design that features a continuous sheet of glass across the entire front face. It's beautiful <I>and</I> unobtrusive dark gray, a combo I definitely like.
Next up the ladder is Toshiba's ZV650 series, which will be available in April in 42-, 47-, and 55-inch sizes. At this level, you get ClearScan 240 (120Hz frame interpolation with backlight flashing), USB and SD card slots for media stored thereon, and Dolby Volume, which keeps the volume consistent between shows, commercials, and channels. Oddly, they also have Audyssey Dynamic EQ, but they decided not to use Audyssey Dynamic Volume, which does much the same thing.
In the large-screen category, Toshiba has plenty to show. The XV645 series includes 40-, 46-, and 52-inch models that will be available in May. All are 120Hz and include Toshiba's Resolution Plus, which used to be called SRT and does a very creditable job upscaling standard-def to 1080p.
Sharp has two new Blu-ray players, the BD-HP16U ($279, lower left) and 22U ($299, lower right). Both are BD-Live capable, and the 22U comes with 2GB of memory—I got conflicting stories as to whether that memory is internal or an included memory stick. Both also implement Aquos Pure Mode, which automatically sets things like aspect ratio depending on the content in current and future Sharp TVs.
Tucked away in one corner of the Sharp booth is a new single-chip, 1080p DLP projector, the XV-Z15000, which will sell for a mere $3000 starting in March. It has Sharp's VyperDrive, which bypasses the video processor for gaming, but it doesn't have anamorphic capabilities or, more importantly, lens shift, which makes placement more difficult.
The new E77 series of 120Hz LCDs from Sharp include 40-, 46-, 52, and 65-inch models, all with the new Super Lucent Advanced Super View panels (say that three times fast!) that are said to improve contrast while reducing glare.
Yet another concept demo in the Hitachi booth was called Super Resolution, which interpolates new pixels on a frame-by-frame basis to increase an image's resolution. The split-screen demo was very impressive, as shown here.
Among the many interesting concept areas in Hitachi's booth was the gestural remote control. By waving your hands in various simple gestures, you can control the volume, change the channel, dim the lights, and other tasks, and the onscreen user interface is simple and attractive. The system uses a 3D camera and infrared beams to sense your gestures. It felt a bit awkward at first, but I believe I could get the hang of it eventually.
Perhaps the most highlighted section of Hitachi's booth is called Style Unlimited, in which the current Ultra Thin TVs are wrapped in various designer frames, including the gold-leaf pictured here. The gold leaf was applied by a company called Hakuichi, one of the most famous in Japan for this skill. Hitachi had several people in the booth asking attendees which designs they preferred to gather data on the US market. Some of the designs were way cool and very beautiful, but I always prefer a black bezel that calls as little attention to itself as possible, and I said so to the pollster. However, I realize that I'm quite geeky and many Joe the (insert occupation here) types might really like this idea.