Samsung's new F8500 plasma sets have been redesigned to provide not only darker blacks but brighter whites as well. In a darkened room demo (not the room in the photo!), a comparison with last year's Samsung plasma was convincing, and we hope to get our hands on one to confirm it when the sets become available about mid year.
Also on display was the full range of Samsung's new LED-LCD sets. Shown is the F8000, available in a range of sizes up to 75-inches, it's said to offer much improved black levels with Samsung's Precision Black and Micro Dimming Ultimate (zone edge dimming). In a press demo in the same private, darkened room in which we saw the F8500 plasma, it did seem to have admirably rich blacks.
A party Monday night at the Palms Towers in Las Vegas launched a colorful new audio brand targeted at ... well, whatever marketing term applies to people in their teens and 20s. (Gen-Z? Milennials? The beard/trucker hat/thick glasses set?) BOOM is a division of DEI holdings, whose other brands include Polk and Definitive Technology.
Sony was the only Ultra HD 4K exhibitor that showed a still of a newspaper page in both standard HD and 4K Ultra HD. The photo shown here (standard HD) and below (4K) only show a very small area of the screen.
The color shift you may see here and above, plus moire, are the likely result of my camera's pixels strobing with the pixels on your screen. But other than cropping and identical downscaling, no other processing was performed on the photos here and above. The improved clarity of 4K version here is impossible to miss even after the photos were reduced so they could be used in our blog format. The differences were even more obvious in person.
Times change. The once illustrious speaker brands Klipsch, Jamo, and Energy now belong to conglomerate VOXX (along with RCA, AR, and others). This lonely kiosk on the main convention center floor didn't look too encouraging, given the vitality of those brands at past shows. At the Venetian, where most of the audio exhibits are held, things looked slightly better. I'd expect the Klipsch name to be kept relatively sacrosanct, and there were some nice looking Jamo floor-standers on static display. But the Energy Demo was relegated to a modest-looking sound bar.
Samsung's upcoming Ultra HD 4K sets will feature full array backlighting with zone local dimming, The 85-inch set shown here can be set up with its floor stand or the stands legs removed and the set mounted to the wall. It can then be moved down within the outer frame, as needed, to adjust to the desired height. The speakers are located in the outer frame. In addition, a switch box is included that can accept multiple sources and connect then to the set via a single thin (non HDMI) cable.
This 21:9, 29-inch may not be just the ticket for that big screen home theater, although it can display 2.35:1 films without black bars. But its primary application will be for a computer monitor, where it can display multiple images at once, including a 4-screen split for multitasking.
As mentioned in our early CES entries, Sharp is working on a new variation on LCD display technology, called IGZO for Indium, Gallium, Zinc, and Oxygen. It is said to offer ultra low power consumption, improved touch screen capabilities, and twice the potential resolution of conventional LCD. The limited range of products produced to date include a 4K, 32-inch monitor said to be useful for medical imaging, financial analysis, and other possible applications.
Screen shots are notoriously bad at showing the quality of a display, but even on your computer screen you can see the potential. This shot is only a portion of the entire screen image.
Polk Live: Showgoers listened over UltraFocus 8000 noise-cancelling headphones ($349) while Baltimore’s “cosmic soul cowboy” Bosley Brown and band performed live in a soundproof booth, the first stop in Polk’s Listen Up Tour. Next stop: Macworld.
LP to iPhone: Ion’s iLP digital conversion turntable ($129) records directly to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod using the free EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter app. The table has a USB port for connection to a PC and RCA outputs if you want to go old-school and skip the digital conversion.
Discreet Sound: Want a little music in the bathroom or maybe out in the garage while you finish your Mr. Fix-It project? No problem, just plug SoundFly Air ($200) into any AC outlet and stream tunes from your iPhone or iPad; up to four Flys can be controlled simultaneously. A Bluetooth version that works with only one speaker is available for $180. Sound is decent—much better than the awful sounding Outlet Speaker ($100) BēmWireless introduced at CES.
Sonus Faber seems incapable of producing a speaker that sounds anything less than fabulous and the new Venere line is no exception. The line includes the 2.0 monitor (shown, $1700/pair), the 1.5 monitor ($1200/pair), 3.0 tower ($3500/pair), the 2.5 tower ($2500/pair), an on-wall model called The Wall, ($700/each), and a center called The Center ($800). Features include a new silk dome tweeter, combination polypropylene and fiberglass woofers, an enclosure that mimics the shape of $120,000 Aida floorstander, and a new Italian walnut finish in addition to gloss white and black. Add a sub from REL, another Fine Sounds brand, and you're good to go.
There are loads of compact audio systems with AirPlay and Bluetooth wireless compatibility at CES, but how many of them include Monitor Audio's one-inch gold dome tweeter and four-inch aluminum woofer in a biamped configuration for a mere $500? The Airstream 5300 has wider dispersion than an earlier model, with tweeters pushed to the far sides of the baffle, and it has a threaded insert for wall mounting, a nicety you won't find in many competitors.
Gallo is overhauling its acclaimed lines of orb-shaped metal-clad satellite speakers with the new A'Diva and Micro lines, which are five and four inches in diameter, and sell for $329 and $239 each. Both use a new full-range driver that is said to offer wider dispersion, though at the cost of a slight reduction in efficiency. Don't worry, an average receiver should be able to run them fine.