Room Caster is the name of a high-end wireless technology that connects devices within a room. THX is working on it with San Francisco-based Radiient Group. It works with high-bandwidth signals in the 5GHz band, with as many as eight channels and resolution of up to 24 bit, 192kHz. The only compression used is whatever's inherent in the source signal. The demo showed it working smoothly. Likely uses will be in surround receivers, source components, and docking devices. Prototype transmitter pictured.
Sherwood has just released its first soundbars to the consumer electronics audience, and with prices set at $160 and $130, they won’t leave you without any change in your pocket. The SB-4221i ($160) features dual 2.75-inch drivers that are driven by a 15 watt per channel amplifier. Sherwood’s $160 model also has dual built-in subwoofers that are driven by a 30 watt RMS amplifier.
Now that 240 has been designated the lucky number of this year’s CES, multiple companies are showcasing their own versions of the technology. VIZIO’s version comes in the form of its XVT series. The 55-inch VF551XVT LCD HDTV ($2,000) features 240Hz technology coupled with 1,000,000:1 Mega Dynamic Contrast with local dimming.
Another big trend at the 2009 CES is ultra thin LCDs and plasmas. But that was a trend last year, too, and few of the sets have yet reached the market. Interestingly, the 9mmn plasma that Pioneer showed last year was a no-show this year. Are consumers willing to pay a premium for extra skinny displays? Are they unhappy with their current 4" thick flat panel. The jury is still out
For those days when your significant other tells you to turn the volume down, Audio-Technica has a new set of headphones that will make your home theater experience a much more private one. Its latest bunch of headphones are easy on the ears and eyes, and they come in both in-ear and on-ear varieties.
Another big theme this year is enhanced contrast, for which we have SED, Pioneer Kuro, LED backlighting with local dimming, and Home Theater mag to thank (OK, we're blowing our own horn here a little bit for continuing to make a big deal out of better blacks). Clearly, LG believers it is Mega-ready.
The media server category is growing. Sooloos distinguishes itself by concentrating on its touchscreen interface. You can import iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries, though ripping through Sooloos will allow true gapless playback by encoding each CD as a single long file. The basic configuration holds 2500 CDs though a test version has done up to 100,000. Touchscreen is fanless, therefore totally silent, and suitable for your listening room. Rendering and storage components are separate and can be kept in a closet. You can search with multiple criteria -- jazz, or jazz with Thelonious Monk, or jazz with Thelonious Monk recorded in the 1950s. There's Rhapsody support. Meridian made a wise move by getting involved with these people (and vice versa).
There are two new members of Pioneer's premier speaker family. The S-4EX-W, the smaller bookshelf model in the photo, and the smaller center channel,the S-8EX-W. (The two floor standers and the subwoofer are not shown here.) The Pioneer rep on hand seemed a bit fuzzy on the prices, but $4,000/pair for the bookshelves and $2100 for the center was his story. All of the speakers, and corresponding in-walls, employ a unique magnesium cone woofer with an integral, coaxially mounted beryllium-dome tweeter. Shipping now.
After Tom Hank’s fun snarky intro to Sony’s omnipotence in the electronics and content market, we were treated to Sony’s vision for upcoming products. It started with glasses with a portion of the lens devoted to little video screens. Imagine walking through your real life while watching a picture-in-picture movie.
We thought the tiny sat CDT showed at last year's CES sounded great, and after a year of further tweaking, it's shipping as the Sonapod. In a 5.1 set with any of various subwoofers, it might sell for anywhere from $900-2000. CDT also showed a small triangular sat that was like nothing else we've ever seen. Possible review material.