There are days - many of them just like today - when I muse over how nice it would be to replace nearly all of my body parts with shiny mechanical, motorized versions. (No more worn out feet or stiff backs at the end of a long day covering a convention!) If it ever does become feasible to cyborgify myself, I know just the folks I’ll have do it: Future Automation. One stop at their booth immediately gives you the impression that if there’s a way to make something move, slide, lower, raise, turn, or otherwise shift and hide, these guys have figured out how to get it done. You won’t find their mechanisms boxed and stacked on an end cap at Best Buy or Walmart, though. Future Automation likes to do the weird, wacky, and close-to-impossible stuff. Until now, they’ve concentrated on motorizing the UK. Now they’re bringing their hidden-wire act to the US. Welcome to America, guys!
Vivitek was demoing two of its projectors in 2D. A stacked pair of its well-established H9080 LED-based DLP projectors ($15,000 each, shown here) were converged onto a 118" wide, Da-Lite Affinity screen (gain 1.1). A single D8300 ($118,000, shown below) was firing onto a c comparably sized Stewart Firehawk.
To dramatize the efficiency of its two Class D receiver models, Pioneer hooked up one of them to a meter that monitored power consumption in real time as compared to a Class AB model. At left is the Class D SC-57. At right is the Class AB VSX-1021-K. Though rated for more watts, the SC-57 sucks up less power. Pioneer also showed three new Blu-ray players ranging from $199-399 and made a point of saying they are built to last, unlike all too frequently disposable competitors.
Perhaps the biggest news from KEF was the unveiling of the R Series, which includes three towers, two monitors, two centers, a surround, and a sub at prices from $1000-2500. Pick hit may be the stand-mount R300, a three-way with 5.25-inch coaxial Uni-Q drivers (basically a tweeter mounted in the middle of a midrange) plus a 6.5-inch woofer for $1800/pair. Finishes are walnut or rosewood veneers or piano black. KEF also showed new in-walls with ultra-thin bezels. Incidentally, the company celebrates its 50th anniversary in October.
As usual, video guru Joe Kane was holding forth in his black-curtained lair in the land of Da-Lite , demonstrating his Samsung-derived projectors (sadly, no longer available) and his approved, Da-Lite Affinity screens (which definitely are). Joe is working 24/7 to get his next test disc ready to market, which will include 3D material and 3D test patterns sorely needed by video pros, calibrators, and users alike.
Hate your TV's speakers? Need a sweet little amp to drive something better? The Audio Design Associates CCA-3D is a third-generation device designed for that purpose. Also shown was a typically weighty seven-channel power amp, the MPA-7500, with 250 watts into eight ohms and 450 into four. ADA's longtime designer Alfred Langella is working on the company's first Class D amps but isn't quite satisfied yet. With his high standards, we suspect they'll be special.
LG doesn't have its own booth at CEDIA this year, but the company did launch a new flat panel in the THX booth with virtually no fanfare. The 55LW9800 3D LCD flat panel incorporates the company's new Nano LED backlighting, in which a extremely thin optical filmthe "nano" partdiffuses the light from the LEDs more evenly than previous designs. As with other recent LG LCDs, this one uses passive-polarized glasses for 3D, and it's THX-certified in both 2D and 3D modes. In fact, a THX rep told me that, in a faceoff with many 3D TVs, everyone tended to gravitate to this one as the most comfortable to watch. The 3D effect was superb on the underwater footage they were showing, though I could still see the line structure endemic to passive-polarized 3D LCDs.
The BG Radia RS-420 ($5000/pair) caught our eye with its gleaming red finish. Name your color -- the company is willing to custom mix anything you want. The speaker mates two Neo-10 planar midranges with two Neo-3 ribbon super-tweeters. Price $5000/pair including paint.
For those who are challenged more by space than budget, Runco's new LS-100d can be mounted flush to the wall directly above or below the screen, taking only 18 inches of depth and producing a 92-inch image. Its LED light source turns on instantly and will last 50,000 hours while consuming 70 percent less power than a conventional lamp. It ain't cheap at $20,000, but that includes an outboard DHD4 video processor.
The Bowers & Wilkins ISW-3 sub has a front-facing slot grille that can be disguised as a vent for very minimal footprint. It costs $1000. Budget another grand for the SA-250MkII sub amp. B&W also showed the PM-1 monitor ($2800/pair). It has a new carbon-braced aluminum tweeter that pushes breakup mode up to 40kHz, beyond the range of human hearing. It's mated with a five-inch Kevlar woofer.
HDBaseT is designed to clean up cable clutter in a big way. This interface format uses a single, slender cable with an RJ45 connector on each end to carry HDMI (with HDCP compliance), Ethernet, USB, RS-232, and up to 100 watts of AC power more than 100 meters, precluding the need for all those separate cables (and extenders in the case of HDMI). Crestron, AMX, Gefen, and Extron are selling HDBaseT products nowincluding adapters that convert between HDBaseT and HDMI for legacy gearand promoters include LG, Samsung, and Sony Pictures, which believes that people will consume more content if connections are this easy. Fortunately, the HDBaseT Alliance is a non-profit organization, and licensing costs very little, which bodes well for its adoption among consumer-electronics companies.
While not brand new, Omnimount’s RE27 enclosed rack still elicits feelings of want and desire. The RE27 is a 19-inch rack that works with standard 19-inch rack shelves and accessories. It ships fully assembled, has integrated cooling with top and bottom ventilation, and has front and rear access with removable side panels. (If you can’t get to the component or cable you need to reach with this rack, you’re simply not trying…) All total, the RE27 is supposed to be able to hold up to 750 lbs of your most valuable gear. The $699 price is a steel – which also happens to be what the rack is made of.
Paul Barton, the speaker-designing eminence of PSB, has tried his hand at headphones. The M4U 2 ($400) can function in active or passive modes. Active gets you more gain but passive is handy when the battery runs out. Cushions are asymmetrical to follow the form of the human ear. Cord can be plugged in either side. A control cord will add numerous features including the ability to skip songs. The product may surface in time for the holiday season.