The Sony SS-AR1 has been around since 2006 but we didn't notice it till this show. The three-way, four-driver floorstander features a chambered enclosure with a baffle of Hokkaido-grown maple and side panels of Finnish birch, both of which the designers prize for their "generous reverberation." Drivers include aluminum woofers, sliced-paper midrange, and a tweeter backed with six concentric neodymium magnets. Pricing in mid to high four figures. This is the kind of thing a big manufacturer will do just to prove it can. But don't scoff. We've reviewed other Sony SS-series speakers in the distant past and they were, in fact, superbly musical.
The Arcam AVR600 is one of the best receivers we've ever reviewed. Making its debut at CES was the slightly slimmed down AVR500, with 100 watts times seven, versus the older model's 120. Arcam's Class G amp topology has to be heard to be believed. A preamp-processor and multi-channel power amp were also on display.
JVC had three demos in its theater presentation. The first was a trailer in 2D, played back on the new DLA-HD990 consumer projector ($10,000, available now). It looked superb. The next was a 2D clip using the company's 4K, DLA-RS4000, a projector that will put a $150,000+ hole in your bank balance. It was the same 4K demo that JVC presented at the 2008 CEDIA, and here, like there, was head-and-shoulders the best-looking video at the show, either 2D or 3D. The third demo, a 3D presentation using two of the latter projectors, was dimensional enough, but for me was soft and lacking in the crisp detail I expect of HD, whether 3D or 2D. The source may have been to blame here-a dim underwater coral reef, and its residents, isn't the easiest subject to photograph well. In any case the three minute 3D clip was said to use between 1TB and 2DB data space!
The popular new e-readers aren't exactly our beat at the show, but they could be significant to the publishing business if their promoters have their way. They might even be the way you'll read your favorite magazines (like Home Theater. Sony has three models, including the new Sony Reader Daily Edition. At $400, it's not only the largest of the three (7"), but the only one of Sony's offerings that let you download on-the-go via 3G.
While Atacama makes conventional speaker stands like the ones at far left and right, the star attraction is obviously the Aurora 6 at $449/pair. That price includes the glass columns but not what fills them. So how would you fill your Auroras? This could be a creative opportunity for folks who collect stones, marbles, or beach glass. How it would affect the resonant character of the stand we cannot say.
Panasonic not only made the biggest push for 3D at the show, it also had the most consistently effective demos. All used shutter glasses, and all of Panasonic's new plasma sets are claimed to use faster phosphor elements to minimize left-right crosstalk (lingering images can be an issue when separate images must be presented for each eye. (Hopefully the new phosphors won't compromise color accuracy. The color in the demos looked fine, but such demos invariably deviate from the D6500 color standard.)
In addition to the 3D projector above, LG showed (but did not demonstrate) this currently available SXRD model, the LG CF181D. The nice young Korean lady who quoted us the $2500 price sounded sincere, but that sounds like a bit of a bargain for what is a very large projector.
Sonneteer's Morpheus audio server will play anything your home network dishes up through a PC or other device. You can supplement it with Sonneteer's 3TB external hard drive, which adds the convenience of a slot-load CD drive for burning. The basic unit has 50 watts times two and sells for $3995. Double that if you add the extra drive. One angle that came up in our discussion was the fact that the system rips with metadata from free providers; a more deluxe service costs extra. If you're buying a pricey audio server, find out where it's getting its metadata and consider how that will affect the experience of using it.
Toshiba showed a split-screen demo of 4K resolution on a relatively small LCD set. The purpose was apparently to show how their new Cell processing can upconvert 2K sources to 4K. You can't see anything in the photo, but on-scene the 4K was a bit sharper-though the 2K side looked softer than I would expect from good 2K material.
As with all of the major set manufacturers, Sony introduced more new sets than any blog can cover. Models in the new LX and HX ranges will be fully 3D capable, using active shutter glasses (most manufacturers plan to use shutter glasses rather than the cheaper but less effective (according to some) polarized glasses). There are models with LED backlighting (edge-lit and backlit local dimming) and others with conventional CCFL lighting.
The Reference 3.5 from Anthony Gallo Acoustics replaces the Reference 3.1. It was shown at the last CES but is now moving into production. New features include a patented cylindrical piezo film tweeter. The woofer enclosure, just one-quarter of a cubic foot in volume, includes a dampening material that is encased in plastic mesh and therefore does its job exceptionally well. Results: sassy crystalline highs, well-developed and well-controlled bass, and since Anthony has a good ear, a musically adept midrange as well. A second set of speaker terminals is provided for speaker-level output to a sub.
Hipper audio servers like Cary Audio Design's Music Server are coming with iPhone/iPod touch control. Cary wrote its own app for this purpose. The product has 1TB of onboard storage and can accept an external drive via USB. It backs itself up automatically and comes with Shoutcast internet radio. Pricing was roughly estimated to be $2000-2500.
No, I'm not going into Canon's consumer HD cameras here, But rather give a shout-out to the Canon tech folks whe helped me with a minor problem that locked out the Canon camera I was using at the show. I was in a near panic, pondering the potential waste of two hours of show time to go back to the hotel for my spare camera, when it occurred to me that Canon might just have a booth at a consumer electronics show. Duh! They did, and they got me going again.