CES 2011

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
Inverted HDTV waterfalls are always in style, and Samsung's was no exception. I'd like to have seen it under construction!
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
As you'd expect, I'll start with a cheap joke: Each of these Silbatone Acoustics SGW-24 speakers can double as a studio apartment. Even if you have a roommate. But believe it or not, this massive horned loudspeaker has a plausible reason to exist in the home theater realm: It's an attempt to recreate Western Electric theater speakers from the early days of the talkies. Western Electric, in case you didn't know, was the manufacturing arm of the Bell System (later AT&T) for more than a century. Oh, and it was my father's employer for several decades, though he worked on the phone side of the business, not the cinema side. More on the SGW-24 here. Believe it or not, it had dynamic power, the focus associated with horns, and even a certain delicacy. But I would say that, being a Bell Baby.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 06, 2011 Published: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
While DTS was industriously showing the 11.1-channel version of its Neo:X technology at South Hall, Onkyo was demoing the same technology at the Venetian, but in more low-key way, and with a mere 9.1 channels (5.1 plus back-surround and height, no width). We can't explain why, but it sounded better, even with the same demo material. The guy in the pic must have agreed as he slowly levitated into the air, somehow drawn to the height channels like a moth to flame, and spontaneously combusted.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
You'll probably read some blogs from our two-channel colleagues about The Sonus Faber, a fridge-size floorstander selling for $200,000/pair in a limited production run of 30 pieces. Playing a solo cello recording, TSF mustered some of the best sound at the show. But there were also brand new home theater worthy models at Sonus Faber's suite in the Venetian, namely the Toy Monitor Grand (center) and Toy Wall (upper righthand corner). They're sold in pairs, for $2,000 in both cases, but you can add the Toy Center for $995/each.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
Perhaps it was just a matter of time before Paradigm employed the term Paradigm Shift to describe a new product line. In this case it's also a new marketing approach that adds online, direct, and other retail channels to the traditional a/v retailers who have always been Paradigm's mainstay. Say hello to the A² Active Atom, a powered version of our old friend, the world-beating Atom satellite. As you can see, it streams Apple-style. The one shown was a working engineering sample. Paradigm also showed the Millennium LP on-wall and mentioned head transducers including four earbuds, two headphone models, and two gaming headphone models.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 06, 2011 Published: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
While it wasn't new, and didn't have the ultimate refinement of the Revel/Levinson system playing in the adjacent room, the imaging of JBL's massive horn-loaded Synthesis 1400 was striking and endlessly engaging. With two of these, you don't need a center speaker. With Mark Levinson electronics, the system weighed in at $44,500.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
Here's a way to encourage your kids to write on the wall—that is if the wall is an LG Touch TV which functions like a huge, modern-day, multi-colored Etch-A-Sketch. It's also a 2D plasma HDTV. But it's clear that not all of us are Rembrandt.
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Mark Elson Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
The Martin Logan C2 ($799/each) and FX2 ($649/each) are eyebrow raisingly affordable entries from this longtime champion of the electrostatic speaker. What raised our other eyebrow is that we liked the model playing better than the most costly ones we've heard in the past. Go figure.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 06, 2011 Published: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
The products Meridian promised at CEDIA 2010 are realities. They include the Media Core 200 (shown) whose "more accessible" $4000 price point will probably make you want to fling a whole bunch of these 500GB babies around your well appointed home. It combines Sooloos media server software with iWhatever or computer input, and we're not being sarcastic when we say that's a winning combination. Also shown were the Media Core 200 stereo preamp ($3000) with the DSP3200 powered speakers. The former includes a stereo width control: key in how far apart your speakers are, and it'll make the distance seen even wider (in a good way). After all, real people don't always put their speakers where they should go.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
Entering most of the jumbo booths from major manufacturers is a gawkers delight. But Samsung's I Love Me Wall of HDTVs was particularly eye-catching.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
Polk Audio's Blackstone series comes in the three versions shown including wireless sub not shown. The demo featured smooth and gentle mids. For more information see our review coming a few months after you read this.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 06, 2011 0 comments
Optoma introduced the Neo-I, an all-in-one AV iPod dock with a built-in pico projector, speakers, 16-watt amplifier, and an HDMI input. The promotional materials say it’s capable of projecting up to a 120-inch image, but I think that’s pushing it a bit. Skins will be available for the bezel surrounding the speaker grilles that will allow you to personalize the dock. MSRP is $449.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 06, 2011 0 comments
What to our wondering eyes should appear on the floor of South Hall but the Grey Lady herself, The New York Times, touting her apps for computers, smartphones, e-readers, and of course this year's particular CES obsession, tablets. The paper's show coverage also refers to (other) media companies chasing partners at this year's CE extravaganza.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 06, 2011 0 comments
In a session separate press event run by LG Display (the division of LG that makes the LCD imaging panels for LG and others), we had an opportunity to view LG's shutter glasses and FPR passive glasses sets side-by-side, in three separate setups, only one of which is shown in the photo. The FPR technology, by necessity, discards half of a source's native vertical resolution—inevitable in 3D displays with passive glasses. That is, each eye-image is 1920 x 540. The loss was not obvious in the demo, though for me, apart from some unfortunate ghosting (not uncommon in LCD 3D active shutter sets, but not on plasmas), I found the shutter-glass displays to be a little punchier and brighter (the passive FPR showed no ghosting). The FPR technique is claimed to retain greater measured brightness, as shown in the photo. Other viewers present thought that the FPR was brighter, but I did not (a gamma difference, perhaps).

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 06, 2011 0 comments
Sony is also showing a number of prototypes of products that are not available now, but may be in the future. Three different flat panel demos using autostereoscopic technology (no 3D glasses needed) were shown: a 24.5" 2K OLED, a 46" 2K LCD, and a 56" 4K LCD. The results were better than I expected, though there were some distracting artifacts. As expected, you must watch in specific viewing spots. In a cosy twosome one partner will get good 3D, the other not so much. In places outside the designated viewing zones the 3D effect diminishes and those artifacts increase, though the image does not completely fall apart. Promising, but still a work in progress.

Sony also showed a set of goggles designed for private 3D viewing (as seen in the not-so-clear photo), and a autostereoscopic portable 3D Blu-ray player.

Available now for pre-sales ordering is a VAIO F Series 3D laptop (about $1700). Oddly, this does require active shutter glasses. It also does 2D-to-3D conversion—for fun with spreadsheets. Seriously, however, there are genuine business and engineering applications for real 3D, including CAD and medical imaging.

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