The A-shaped Avalon Aspect boasts 92dB efficiency, which should make it compatible with home theater use as long as you're willing to buy five of them -- no complementary center or other models yet. For $8500/pair you get two 7-inch kevlar woofers and a one-inch proprietary neodymium composite tweeter. The latter gets a waveguide-like treatment thanks to a foam structure built into grille. You won't see it unless you pop the grille and look at the underside, as Avalon showed us.
Fred Manteghian recently reviewed the Definitive Technology Mythos ST and had a lot of good things to say about it. Now Definitive has introduced the Mythos STS, a similar but smaller design at $2998 per pair.
The Panorama is a $2200 bar speaker from Bowers & Wilkins, one of the world's coolest speaker manufacturers. Available in March, it has distinctive curves at the sides which distinguish it from other bar speakers. Behind the metal grille are two 3.5-inch drivers in the middle, handling the center channel; two 4-inch subs that go down to 40Hz, and at the sides, two pair of 3.5-inch full-range drivers. You'd think the latter would split the front and surrounds channels, but no, each driver mixes the two with some DSP magic. Unlike a lot of bar speakers, this one has three digital inputs (both coax and optical) and two analog ins, and onboard decoding for Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II (but not the new lossless stuff).
With a name like Pioneer Elite, home-theater junkies may be lining up already to get their hands on the company’s new in-wall/in-ceiling speakers. Pioneer has expanded its architectural series of in-wall/in-ceiling speakers to include some new additions with the name Elite on them. Given the company’s history of solid performance with its Elite brand of plasma HDTVs and Blu-ray players, the new speakers could very well be a big hit.
I went to six press conferences today, and every one of them made a big deal about "How green is my company." Whether it was the energy efficiency of the product itself, the manufacturing of same, or how you can dispose of it in ways that are friendly to birds, fish, and other living things (though perhaps not to Chinese villagers*), they were stumbling all over each other to impress the conservation- and ecologically-minded members of the press. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but I couldn't help thinking that the industry has discovered that there may be green in being green.
Sound bars are becoming popular for flat panel displays. While we prefer a typical setup with separate left, right, and center speakers arrayed properly across the front (which will always produce a better soundstage than any single enclosure serving all channels), that type of setup doesn't work for everyone. To that end, Definitive Technology demonstrated two new sound bars, or in their words, Mythos Solo Surround Arrays: the SSA42 ($899 for panels from 30" to 46") and SSA50 ($1099, for panels 50" and up).
LG’s signage more clearly explained their demos than that of most other manufacturers. The 75 series, with local dimming for improved blacks, was very impressive. It won’t be available until sometime in the second half of 2008. LG also had some of the best-looking demo material.
Opoma continued its reputation of having the biggest screen at the show. It was well over 10-feet wide, and the new HD8200 projector (discussed far below) was putting up a bright image even at that size. The image was also crisp and detailed. The color was clearly off (with fleeting hints of too much green, especially in flesh tones), but that's a calibration issue and should be easily fixable. l
No pricing or availability was set yet, but Panasonic showed this portable Blu-ray player, which includes the same capabilities as its standard players. It uses the same outstanding UniPhier decoding/processing chip the standalone players do, and here’s a trick- it also has an HDMI out so you can plug it into your TV when you get back home from your road trip. Because you can doesn’t mean you will, but that’s still kinda cool.
JVC’s TH-SB100 raises the soundbar to a new level. Not only does it ship with a BD-Live capable Blu-ray player, this “3.1-channel” system includes left, right and center channels plus a wireless subwoofer for the boom king. Ok, like all “wireless” speakers we’ve seen AC is required, but you get the drift. Available in April for $699.