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.
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.
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.
With new HDTV technologies flying around fast, Sharp wasn’t about to be left out. This year, it’s hot on a new display technology called IGZO (Indium, Gallium, Zinc, Oxygen) said to offer twice the resolution of conventional LCD, together with significant energy savings and better touch screen performance than present display devices.
Don’t expect to see technology in Sharp’s big screen HDTVs this year (with LCD displays ranging up to 90-inches, Sharp claims to lead the industry in sales of sets 60-inches and above). But it is or soon will be available in a 32-inch, 4K monitor (particularly useful in medical imaging), a new 4.9-inch smart phone to be introduced in Japan in March, and a 7-inch tablet.
Significantly missing from the press event was any mention of Sharp’s Elite line. We’ll be checking on the show floor to see what that might mean.
Sharp may be working on new technologies like its IGZO low power consumption LCDs for portable devices or upping the pixel count beyond the current industry goals in its gee-whiz 8K demos (see below), but it doesn't plan to be left behind in the race to 4K. It showed prototypes of its own that looked as impressive as the best versions seen elsewhere. They're expected to ship in the spring (of this year!), in both 60- and 70-inch sizes. The "Moth Eye" feature is a Sharp proprietary glare reduction technology.
There weren't many surround receivers on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center, but Sherwood was a hardy exception, showing a half-dozen new ones shipping between April and May. The top-line model is the R-977 with a rated 145 watts times seven into six ohms. It features Anchor Bay video processing, internet radio with vTuner, DLNA, direct USB connection of iOS devices, and a phono input. Perhaps more interesting is what's missing: Sherwood is no longer the lone receiver brand supporting innovative Trinnov room correction, a prominent feature of the old (and more costly) R-972. Instead it is relying on the proprietary SNAP room correction that it has also used previously. Price is $1000. At the opposite end of the line is the 5.1-channel RD-5405, selling for a mere $170.
Noise-cancelling headphones are great for travelling and using in noisy public environments, but they’re not terribly useful when you want to watch a movie in your home theater. There, things like Sony PS3s, NAS drives, satellite receivers, and any other device with a built-in cooling fan that may happen to be sitting in your equipment rack – including, sometimes, cooling fans for the rack, itself – can be irritating sources of background noise that take away from the enjoyment of whatever it is you’re watching. Silentium’s AcoustiRACK ACTIVE (ARA) combines passive noise reduction with the company’s unique and highly effective active noise cancellation technology to achieve pretty incredible noise reduction levels of up to 30 dB. The ARA is specifically designed for data centers with racks of servers and other noisy, heat-producing components and has the ability to dissipate up to 8 KW of heat while also protecting the gear from dust. While I was at the Silentium booth, the folks there demonstrated how well their active noise cancellation technology is by displaying two wooden cabinets with identical exhaust fans built into the top. The first cabinet contained the fan and nothing else – and was appropriately noisy. The second cabinet included Silentium’s circuitry and hardware within the cabinet – and it was very noticeable how much more quiet the fan was compared to the untreated display cabinet. Silentium’s ARA racks (in 15U and 33U sizes) cost multiple thousands of dollars each, but the Silentium representative said the technology could potentially be adapted to home AV racks, as well.
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.
Lacking the high-end street cred of a boutique brand, Sony probably won't get much credit for producing the best sound of CES 2013 (at least so far) with its new ES speakers. The NA-2 tower ($10,000/pair), NA-5 monitor ($6000/pair), N-8 center ($3000), and matching sub ($4000) have the same Scandinavian-made multi-chambered birch cabinetry of the existing AR-1 and AR-2. Note the triple tweeter configuration, shown here on the center but present on all the new models. No, you're not seeing two super-tweeters flanking a tweeter, just three tweeters, though they're not the same size and are not all getting exactly the same frequencies (we'll have to get into the intricacies some other time). Fed by Pass amps and high-res sources including vinyl and DSD, the tower established an instant comfort zone with its super silky sweet top end, fatigue-free and convincing midrange, and controlled bass. In addition to today's press announcement at the Venetian, Sony is also showing the ES speakers in a 9.2-channel configuration at its gigantic booth in Central Hall.
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.