In addition to its usual tsunami of new sets, Sony is offering an optional angled stand for many of its models up to 55". The stand tilts the set upwards slightly, so when the set is positioned on low, European-style furniture (think IKEA) it aims upward at the viewer. If you like the stand but not the angle it will also accommodate the usual vertical stance.
We maintain that a well-voiced sat/sub system can be a thing of joy and Epos is one good place to look for one. The 8VS 5.1 system includes a satellite that looks smaller than its 9.25-inch height with matching center and sub. Tweeter is aluminum, woofer is kevlar, and price is $1750. Nice black gloss finishes too.
Van Den Hul's HDMI Flat 180 is pleasingly plump, tomato red, and has a hinged connector that can take sharp turns. Every phat HDMI cable should be so agile. It's HDMI 1.4 compatible, and at $175 per meter, it ought to be.
Resolution Audio's Cantata audio server is pleasingly slim but not enough to crowd out the slot-load CD drive. Network connectivity is ethernet and you can also connect source components via SPDIF, XLR, or RCA. iPhone and iPod touch control is available. Price is $6000 and the company offers a similar-looking stereo integrated amp that would complete the set nicely.
A demo of Toshiba's new top-of-the-line Cell LCD HDTV, with its 500+ zones of full backlit LED local dimming side-by-side with last year's LED local dimming set with far fewer LED zones, was exceptionally effective, even if too much was made of the new set's increased brightness (and too much of it used for the darkened demo room) . Toshiba claims a peak of 1000 cd/sq meter -- that's close to 300 foot-lamberts, nearly 10 times what I'd recommend for a good picture in a darkened room. Hopefully
a movie or cinema mode will produce a more sensible brightness level.
Mark Fleischmann posted an earlier blog with these LG speakers. They are strictly prototypes, with no definite plans for production as yet, and if they do produce them they may not reach the US market.
PS Audio, best known for its high-end DACs and powerline accessories, has augmented its Perfect Wave DAC ($2000) with The Bridge ($500). The latter allows anything on your home network to send signals to the DAC via wi-fi or ethernet. Yup, there's iPhone/iPod touch control and the company may add Google's Android phone to that list "if it gets popular enough."
Like other manufacturers at the show, LG was showing off the claimed better blacks of its new sets. TruBlack is the company's designation for the upgraded black levels in its new plasma sets, like the 2010 PK950 shown here. While it wasn't easy to see the improvement on the brightly lit show floor, the new set did look subtly better.
Every live action 3D sports broadcast will require special cameras for image capture. This one was on display in the Sony booth (though it's not made by Sony). Even the individual who has everything won't want to use it to cover that cruise of the Greek islands.
Though Quad is best known for its venerable flat-panel electrostatic speakers, which are true audiophile classics, it has been marketing more conventional box speakers for several years. Thus it is no surprise to find the company releasing its first sound bar. The three-channel L-ite has drivers of silk and kevlar that are designed and manufactured in house. The bar is $699. Add $500/pair for matching surround satellites and $1100 for the 10-inch, 300-watt sub. Shipping in March.
As we stepped through the door at Lenbrook's joint PSB and NAD exhibit, PSB's Paul Barton said: "Have you heard the NAD digital amp?" The M2, winner of a CES Innovations 2010 award, was playing with PSB's floorstanding flagship Synchrony. It had a tight and crisp though not terribly warm sound compared to what we have heard the same speaker do with analog amps. (Incidentally, the Synchrony is one of our all-time favorite towers.) Power output 250 watts times two into either four or eight ohms. Price $5999. NAD also showed its new M56 Blu-ray player, which is fully up to date with BD-Live capability, and at $1999, it ought to be.
Perhaps the biggest surprise at the show was the first self-contained consumer 3D projector, the LG CF3D ($10,000, late spring). Its an SXRD (LCOS) design with two separate light paths. There are six SXRD chips in the design-an oddity as SXRD chips are made by Sony and their use outside of Sony projectors are rare. The projector was on demonstration. The demo used polarized glasses (not shutter). An anime excerpt was very effective on a large screen, crisp, bright, and dimensional, but a live-action 3D clip of carnival in Brazil did not look anything close to high definition, 3D or not. Like the JVC 3D clip, above, we'll have to blame the source material on that score-for now.
While at least one other major manufacturer besides Sony (Samsung), this entry from enTourage Systems, the Edge, takes a...ah...page from another book. One size of this device is a relatively large screen e-Reader, the other offers an LCD display with some of the functionality of a tablet netbook. You can write on the screen in longhand, or type on either an electronic keyboard or an external keyboard attachable via USB. You can surf the web in full color. The only downside is the 3 lb weight (which felt unusually heavy when I lifted it. About $500, next month (February).
We are maxi. We would prefer to be mini but that would imply a life without pastries and beer. AktiMate, however, inhabits both modes of being with the Maxi and the Mini. Both of these 60-watt active speakers have a cool iPod dock that can fold down into the enclosure when not in use. Both have three line ins, USB in, and ethernet connectivity; the Maxi, a small fraction of an inch taller, adds internet and FM radio plus wi-fi. Maxi: $1000. Mini: $650.