CES 2011

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
An intriguing part of Sony's enormous booth in the Central Hall discussed the "Monolithic Design" philosophy, which gives Sony Bravia TVs a commanding "on/off presence" -- in other words, they look cool whether the screen is active or dark. One aspect of the philosophy in action is a six-degree tilt that suits "low, contemporary furniture."
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
Wisdom Audio's LS4 ($100,000 in a 2.2-channel configuration) is 84 inches tall, making it a suitable mate for the fridge-size sub the company introduced at CEDIA 2010. It uses subs for frequencies below 80Hz -- and handles frequencies above that with planar biamped polyamide-film drivers, imprisoned in heavy steel plates, coaxed into motion by 1030 magnets in front of and behind them. String the magnets end to end and you could measure their length in terms of football fields, or so we were told, and at that point, after a long day, our head began to swim, though this certainly wasn't Wisdom's fault. One point the Wisdom people made that we loved: As an on-wall, this model basically prevents the purchaser from putting the speakers in the wrong place, so he actually gets the performance for which he paid so dearly (assuming his installer is up to snuff).
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 06, 2011 Published: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
For folks who don't want to keep their two-channel and multi-channel rigs in separate rooms. You can see how that works. Parasound also showed two five-channel amps, the 250-watt Model 5250 ($2800) and the 150-watt Model 5125 ($1900). Both are THX Ultra2 certified and have dual toroidal power supplies.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
I normally would have enjoyed viewing this 84-inch LG LCD/LED 3D 4K set immensely (though it's not yet an available product). It enables full 2K 3D with passive glasses. But dropping my camera, resulting in serious damage, sent me scrambling to the Canon booth to see if they recommended my having it repaired (not at the show, of course). They did not. I needed a new camera anyway. Fortunately, with three days of the show left, I had brought along a spare.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 06, 2011 Published: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
The Revel Ultima2 Salon2 speakers were driven by Mark Levinson electronics. Nothing new here either, but with a simple piano-bass-drums recording featuring Ellis Marsalis (not even an SACD, just a CD) the system sounded so natural we could have sat there all day. Total pricing just south of $122,000.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
A trip back to the Toshiba booth will be needed to get a look at Toshiba's demo of glasses free (autostereoscopic) 3D. The crowds waiting to see this technology were huge. Still, I think all the hoopla about 3D without glasses is going to leave a lot of people disappointed. I suspect that it will either be years away (if it's ever perfected at all—not all technical challenges have a ready solution) or a serious step backwards in image quality—whether from Toshiba or anyone else. But I could be surprised. A similar demo from Sony, while hardly flawless, looked better than I expected.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
We're pleased to announce that the Kondo/Audio Note exhibit has won the Home Theater 2011 CES Blog's Award for Distinguished Achievement in Slogan Writing. See above. Really, isn't this what audio is all about?
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments

Home Theater Magazine's Darryl Wilkinson checks out the new Zeppelin sound system from B&W Group.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
Five years in the making, Totem Acoustic's Element Series features a massive large-diameter magnet structure suitable for arm curls. Even the littlest member of the family -- as it happened, the one we got to hear -- combined the naturalism and balance typical of Totem with a new bass solidity, mated with Accuphase electronics. Pricing ranges from $5995 to $13,000 for the flagship. Note that the competition Totem is aiming at sells products for much more than that.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
Sony's ultra wide fully LED media wall may have been bigger than this, but Samsung's, made up of individual LCD/LED 3DTVs was plenty impressive running 3D sports images.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 07, 2011 0 comments
They include the T 787 ($3499) and T 757 ($1499) a/v receivers, with seven times 120 and 60 watts respectively, both fully up to date with HDMI 1.a for 3D compatibility. Also shown was the T 187 pre-pro ($2499). The pricier receiver and pre-pro can be outfitted with an optional Control4 module.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 06, 2011 0 comments
LG opened the "press day" by announcing its line of "Smart" products. Smart appears to be the company's new go-to word for many of its new products, ranging from Smart washers, dryers, ranges, and refrigerators ("Honey, the fridge says we need milk and ice cream"), to HDTVs, with cell phones and other devices occupying the vast middle ground in between.

To touch briefly on that middle ground, there was prototype of an LG mobile 3DTV that can be viewed glasses-free (autostereoscopic—easier to do for a single viewer). And there's a new LG smart phone, the Optomus 2X, said to do full 1080p. Better sit close.

But it's LG's TVs that interest us most. There are 31 new LG LCD sets, 10 of which are 3D. The Cinema 3D sets employ LED edge lighting. Three "Nano" 3D sets have full LED backlighting with local dimming. Nano technology, which is new this year, employs smaller LEDs imbedded in a membrane that also incorporates the required diffusion, making the entire structure thinner and, presumably, more easily and efficiently produced.

There are also 12 new LG plasmas, 8 of them 3D.

LG's Smart TV technology, used in many of the higher end models, is a new menu layout that simplifies use of the sets' extensive Internet features. In addition, the new LG ST600 module/set top box, available separately, can bring SmartTV to any HDTV with an HDMI input. Another approach to adding this feature to your existing HDMI HDTV is the new BD690 3D Blu-ray player, which includes an on-board 250GB hard drive plus the SmartTV platform.

But the big LG story is the use of passive glasses in many of the company's new LCD 3DTVs, rather than the active shutter glasses now employed in most current 3D sets. LG calls its passive glasses technology FPR, for Film Pattern Retarder. The sets in the LG lineup that will continue to use shutter glasses include all of the Nano models (and all of the plasma sets as well). There are many upsides to passive glasses, but downsides as well (see the following blog entry).

No prices were quoted, but all of the new sets should begin shipping by early spring.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 06, 2011 0 comments
Sony must have spent all year prepping for their press event. It was as elaborate as any Disney theme park show, much of it in 3D on a huge and super-wide screen consisting of millions of LEDs. It included a major promotion for The Green Hornet, a Sony Pictures flick that opens next week, and concluded with a performance by one of the 256 Cirque du Soleil troups now appearing on the Vegas strip.

Twenty-seven new Sony BRAVIA HDTVs were introduced. The leading character, and the new Sony flagship, will be the XBR HX929-Series, with full 3D capability and full-array local dimming LED backlighting. It's loaded with Internet features, and comes in three sizes: 65-, 55-, and 46-inches. Prices TBD. Available in March. Some of the new models also use Corning's new Gorilla Glass. It's said to be more resistant to damage than conventional glass, though I suspect you'll still want to hold off on tossing that brick at the screen during the 2012 Presidential debates.

Sony's new top-of-the-line stand-alone 3D Blu-ray player is the BDP-S780 (March, about $250). It's Wi-Fi (of course) with SACD playback as well as CD and the usual video suspects.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 06, 2011 0 comments
Sharp's big announcement was the addition of a 70-inch Quattron set to its lineup. The LE935 will have full LED backlighting with local dimming and is expected by spring. A 70-inch set was said to offer 62% more viewing area than a 60-incher. There will also be new sets in the LE835 an d LE830 ranges, all connectable with Wi-Fi. The XV-2 17000 3D DLP projector under $5000), first shown at CEDIA EXPO 2010 last September, will also be on display here at CES.

Sharp also announced three new 3D Blu-ray players (February), the BD HP25U, 35U, and 75U. Sharp also launched an E-Media Tablet and reader, the Galapagos. (Tablets appear to be a big item this year, thanks to Apple's iPAD!).

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 06, 2011 0 comments
One of the few loudspeaker-related audio demos on the floor at South Hall was the DTS demo of 11.1 surround with extra channels for height and width enhancement. It actually started with a mere 7.1 movie demo and worked its way up to footage of two savvy musician slash sound designers using a combination of acoustic instruments and electronic processing to create a height- and width-enhanced soundscape. The instruments included one that combined the functions of bass violin, cello, viola, and fiddle. A tree was also used as a musical instrument. It was noteworthy that the demo relied on 11.1 more for aesthetic effect (hmmm, that sounds nice) than for realism -- that is, an evocation of something that happens in the real world and is reproduced convincingly. From our seat in the back and off center, the effect was pleasing but not something we'd cite as grounds for adding numerous speakers to a basic 5.1 surround system. However, our colleague Josh Zyber saw another DTS 11.1 demo at Nobu two nights prior and said it was very impressive, with strong imaging in places you wouldn't expect. The pic, incidentally, is what folks saw while waiting in line for the 11.1 demo: other showgoers in raptures over DTS headphone technology.

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