The Thiel TM3 monitor is the brainchild of new designer Mark Mason, who is rising to the task of filling the enormous shoes of the late founder Jim Thiel. Among other things, he prizes a good mix of on- and off-axis response and wants his speakers to be easier to drive. The 6.5-inch fiberglass woofer and one-inch aluminum tweeter nestle in an enclosure made of twelve 1/16th-inch layers, mostly of plywood, with one metal layer. The product is made in Lexington, Kentucky and will sell for $2999/pair when it ships in summer 2014. There will also be two new centers priced at $3999 and $1999 as well as two new subs priced at $2499 for a 15-inch and $1999 for a 12-inch. Oh, and three new towers as well, which will be covered separately.
GoldenEar Technology's SuperCinema 3D Array XL, for TVs of 70 inches and up, is an upsized version of the existing SuperCinema 3D Array soundbar. The three-channel bar features a trio of the company's signature folded ribbon tweeters which provide wide dispersion and in general a beautifully listenable top end. The 2.5-way center-channel driver array is derived from the SuperSat 60. Price $1499. Also shown was the new flagship tower Triton One. (Another contributor will fill you in on that.)
Toshiba never really went anywhere, but they’ve kept a low profile for the past couple of years. No longer. The company’s Ultra HD 4K models, scheduled to roll out this summer, are a step back into the game.
No information was offered on this Ultra HD set, which appeared to be a show special and not a commercial product, but it’s clear that showing a BIG, big screen set was the in thing to do this year. Unlike the ginormous Samsung and LG sets, however, this Toshiba was flat and not curved.
It takes a lot to design a killer-looking speaker, but perhaps that money is better spent on sound quality. Ever practical, the designers at China’s Microlab put all their budget into making the FC10 ($77) good quality speakers that look nice in person, but they most certainly veer away from the sleek and swoopy design that Apple designers have deemed essential. They have a clean and simple look, lacking the curved aesthetic that most products embrace these days. The FC10 are wedge-shaped speakers designed to solidly surround any laptop - Apple or otherwise; the pair weighs 4.41 lbs.
Samsung showed a 4K UHD TV with the M-Go Premium App. This app will stream 4K movie titles to the TV. It also will stream titles that have been “optimized for 4K.” These are movies that were not shot in 4k, but because M-Go is owned by Technicolor, the titles have been optimized in the lab and made available for streaming. While M-Go limited their announcement to Samsung TVs, it was clear (yet unspoken) that the Premium service will extend to other manufacturers’ UHD TVs.
iLuv offers a plethora of portable wireless Bluetooth speakers. Not surprisingly, at CES, they expanded their lineup in this popular category. In particular, three portable speakers caught my eye: the SyrenPro, Wavecast, and Rollick.
The third (and final) installment of the Hi-Res panels brought together experts from the retailing side of the business. Each panelist has a footprint in the hi-res market, and is knowledgeable of the inner workings of the market. They discussed ways to promote and retail hi-res products. Also on the agenda were challenges such as the need to demo hi-res playback to customers, and ways to educate and engage young generations of listeners.
I tried to get a glimpse of Samsung’s curved 105-inch 2.35:1 widescreen TV on the show floor, but in the Samsung booth was packed and the area around the set inaccessible. But I got a later look at a closed-room Samsung demo. On the left here, to provide a size perspective, is Samsung’s Mike Wooda one-time regular at Home Theater who has now forsaken balmy Southern California for the cold, windswept snowdrifts of the Garden State, where Samsung has its U.S. headquarters. On the right is current Sound & Vision editor in chief Rob Sabin.
Samsung’s new Auto Depth Enhancer, on its 9000 and S9 Ultra HD sets, analyzes different areas of the screen and adjusts their contrast separately to provide a greater illusion of depth with 2D sources. In a side-by-side comparison with one of Samsung’s 2013 sets, it definitely worked. There was a bit of the cardboard cutout 3D look, but since the depth enhancement, while appealing, was subtle, this wasn’t bothersome.
Samsung has redesigned its smart remote for 2014. It offers voice, motion, and direct control as before, but with enhanced usability. The Smart Hub feature it controls now will let you surf the web as you watch TV and multitask in a split screen mode. Manufacturers have determined that most TV viewers are surfing the web on their computers and/or using their smart phones to talk, text, or surf as they watch TV. The show was alive with redesigned Internet TV features to satisfy this increasingly ADD social trend.
While curved HDTVs appeared to be the order of the week at CES, particularly among Korean giants LG and Samsung (see above), Sharp stuck with flat screens for its impressively wide 2014 lineup of both Ultra HD and standard 1080p HD (the operative industry word for the latter now appears to be “Full HD”).