I've always thought that Gallo Acoustics speakers look great, but they also sound great as I found out when I listened to the new $6000 Reference 3.5 being powered by a Spectron Musician 3 Signature amp and Resolution Audio CD player. It went surprisingly low for a relatively small speaker, and the mids and highs were clean as a whistle.
Of course, you're going to need a 3D Blu-ray player to go with that new 3D TV, and Panasonic is ready to oblige with the PP-BDT350, seen here with a pair of shutter glasses on top of the DMP-BD85, a 2D model with WiFi and a claimed boot time of 0.5 second. The PP-BDT350 implements HDMI 1.4, and both let you access online content. Not shown is the DMP-BD15, Panasonic's second-generation portable Blu-ray player, which also provides access to online content.
Sharp unveiled its new LCD lineup, which uses a new technology called UV<SUP>2</SUP>A (UltraViolet-induced multi-domain Vertical Alignment) in what are dubbed X-Gen panels, which reduce light leakage for deeper blacks and increase the aperture for brighter whites. But the biggest news at the press conference was Sharp's QuadPixel technology, which adds yellow subpixels to red, green, and blue to expand the color gamut beyond the HDTV spec—not a good idea in my book.
In addition to its plasmas, LG's new LED LCDs embody the Infinia design concept and offer WHDI wireless HDMI connectivity and Skype capability. Show here from left to right are the LE8500 (backlit with local dimming) and LE7500 (edge lit with some addressable "zones"), which are both only 1 inch thick. Not shown is the flagship LE9500, which is 3D-capable with a refresh rate of 480Hz (actually, 240Hz with backlight scanning). Again, pricing was not announced, and these sets should hit the market in the spring and summer.
LG's new LED LCD TVs are now ultra slim, including one model that is an incredible 6.9mm thin. The Infinia range includes full LED backlighting technology (Full LED Slim, in LG's phrase, but a bit thicker than that 6.9mm set). Some LG sets will now offer 480Hz operation thanks to a newly developed ASIC. The company also plans on marketing a 15" OLED display.
I was excited to visit Electrocompaniet and see its new Maestro, an all-singing, all-dancing source component with Blu-ray player, FM tuner, Internet radio, iPod dock, and media streaming with three channels of 120W, all for $8000. You can also get a wireless 2-channel amp for the rear speakers for an extra $2000. Unfortunately, it was experiencing some technical difficulties, so there was nothing to see or hear, but I was told that the Norwegian engineers are working around the clock to update the software before the end of the show.
After five years, Arcam has updated its Solo Music CD/tuner/integrated amp to the Solo Neo by adding a network card with WiFi so you can stream music from your PC. Also available is a USB port for music files on a mass-storage device, all for around $2000.
Like Panasonic, Sony is involved in every aspect of 3D, from cameras to displays. At its press conference, the company announced its partnership with the Discovery Channel and Imax to launch a 3D network in 2011. Sony is also sponsoring ESPN's new 3D channel, which is planning to broadcast 85 events in its first year.
Samsung introduced a bunch of new TVs at its press conference, but they were turned off before I could get some photos, so I'll have to wait until I can shoot them in the booth to tell you about them. Meanwhile, I can say that Samsung is bullish on 3D, partnering with DreamWorks and Technicolor to get content to consumers as quickly as possible. DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, shown here on the right with Tim Baxter, president of the Consumer Electronics Division of Samsung Electronics America, made a guest appearance to talk about the importance of 3D and deliver a copy of the world's first 3D Blu-ray, <I>Monsters vs. Aliens</I>, to Baxter.
LG's super-slim prototype caused a stir at the company's press conference. Even with LED backlighting and local dimming (with 240 dimming zones, over twice as many as most such sets), this panel measures only 6.9mm thick—that's about a quarter of an inch! This thing doesn't even have a model designation yet, so don't expect it in stores any time soon, but it sure is cool.
Now that the holidays are over—which, frankly, I was ready for days ago—it's time to turn an expectant eye toward Las Vegas and CES. Unlike many of my colleagues, I love going to the show, and this year is no exception. As usual, I'll be driving from Los Angeles, and I'm really looking forward to cruising through the beautiful desert landscape in a Lincoln MKZ with a kick-ass sound system courtesy of THX.