Samsung's new F8500 plasma sets have been redesigned to provide not only darker blacks but brighter whites as well. In a darkened room demo (not the room in the photo!), a comparison with last year's Samsung plasma was convincing, and we hope to get our hands on one to confirm it when the sets become available about mid year.
Samsung helped usher in a new era of television on the eve of CES 2013 with the announcement of two next-generation TVs: the super-sleek 85-inch S9 Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV, boasting four times the resolution of today’s 1080p sets, and the 55-inch F9500 OLED TV with a Multi-View feature that enables two people to watch different programs simultaneously from the same screen. Pricing and availability was not announced for either model.
The S9 (shown) boasts a striking design with a screen that appears to float within a frame. Highlights include “extremely high contrast ratio,” a proprietary upscaling engine that converts high-def images to UHD quality, and a 1.35 GHz quad-core processor that’s more than three times faster than last year’s processor for improved content/app multitasking. The set has enhanced voice and gesture control and uses a new version of Samsung’s Smart Hub interface with five content discovery panels that appear onscreen as thumbnail images.
At the heart of the F9500 OLED TV are self-emitting red, green and blue sub-pixels that eliminate the need for backlighting, which is said to ensure absolute blacks and pure whites with no motion blur. The Multi-View feature is enabled by special 3D glasses with built-in speakers that deliver a personalized audio experience. The set also uses a quad-core processor and the updated Smart Hub interface.
This is just one of the images that the LG video wall morphed into. The moving 3D images ranged from the surreal to the fantastic. It was the standout booth entrance at the show. LG provided the passive polarized lens of the 3D glasses over the camera lens.
There's no question that OLEDs can produce eye-grabbing color as well as great blacks and off-axis performance. Like most displays at shows such as this, color is stretched and enhanced all out proportion. But it shur r purdy.
Texas Instruments, developer of the DLP imaging chips used in many of today’s video projectors, is demonstrating at CES 2013 a new architecture that makes the already minuscule pixels in Pico projectors even smaller. Dubbed Tilt & Roll Pixel, or TRP, the technology is said to double resolution to 1280 x 800 and increase brightness by as much as 30 percent, making it possible to project larger images from ever-smaller projectors (like the one built into Samsung’s Galaxy Beam phone). At the same time, power consumption is reduced by up to 50 percent.
When is a soundbar not a bar? When it's shaped like a console, a new form factor that provides more cabinet volume and potentially better sound. The Energy Power Base, pictured, is a 2.1-channel product with pairs of 0.75-inch tweeters, three-inch midranges, and three- by five-inch oval woofers. It comes with Dolby Digital surround decoding, Bluetooth wireless, and optical and stereo analog inputs. Ships in August for $399. Energy also showed two Power Bar Elite soundbars: a 40-incher for $599 and a 31-incher for $399. Oh, and there were a couple of new indoor/outdoor speakers as well.
Panasonic is introducing 32 new HDTVs at the 2013 CES16 plasmas and 16 LCDs. The Plasmas range in size from 42- to 64-inches, and the LCD sets cover the ground between 32- and 65-inches.
When Panasonic first started shipping LCD displays a couple of years back, it restricted the LCD lineup to sizes impractical for its HD plasmas, that is, under 42-inches. No longer; bigger sets are now “in,” so the company clearly sees a future in both technologies. But rumors to the contrary, plasmas remain an integral part of Panasonic’s HDTV lineup.
Only brief comments at the press event related to any improvements in basic video performance. As we’ve witnessed from some manufacturers so far on this CES press day, the presentation centered on enhancements to the set’s “Smart” features. This year, Panasonic’s interactive menus allow each member of the family to customize the menu to favor their favorite sites. It can save separate favorites for each member of the family, and even recognize each viewer with its built-in camera (scary!) and switch to the appropriate menu for that individual.
So when I turn on one of these new Panasonics, will it default to the calibration controls?
Lacking the high-end street cred of a boutique brand, Sony probably won't get much credit for producing the best sound of CES 2013 (at least so far) with its new ES speakers. The NA-2 tower ($10,000/pair), NA-5 monitor ($6000/pair), N-8 center ($3000), and matching sub ($4000) have the same Scandinavian-made multi-chambered birch cabinetry of the existing AR-1 and AR-2. Note the triple tweeter configuration, shown here on the center but present on all the new models. No, you're not seeing two super-tweeters flanking a tweeter, just three tweeters, though they're not the same size and are not all getting exactly the same frequencies (we'll have to get into the intricacies some other time). Fed by Pass amps and high-res sources including vinyl and DSD, the tower established an instant comfort zone with its super silky sweet top end, fatigue-free and convincing midrange, and controlled bass. In addition to today's press announcement at the Venetian, Sony is also showing the ES speakers in a 9.2-channel configuration at its gigantic booth in Central Hall.
Although the idea of a digital antenna to receive over-the-air broadcasts with a built in media streamer makes odd bedfellows, it could be the answer to cutting the cable cord. Voxx Accessories announced that it is developing a digital TV antenna with Roku streaming capabilities. The product will be released under the RCA and Terk brands.
Part of Voxx's Roku-Ready partnership, the photo showed a Roku stick attached to a flat omnidirectional powered antenna. It is slated to be released in the fourth quarter of 2013. Few other details are available and I have a lot of questions about how it will work.
For now, it looks like a great solution for TV viewers who like network broadcast TV and a variety of streaming movie options like those available from Roku. We'll keep you posted as we get more details.
Morel's high-performing SoundSpot satellites have a new iteration in the SP3. It has a larger orb with a new 4.5-inch woofer that enables it to perform better at the low end, lowering the formerly 120-150Hz sub crossover to 90dB, so the sub won't have to do so much work (and call so much attention to itself). The Lotus grille pattern makes it acoustically transparent.
I guess it's a toss-up as to who thought of a curved OLED first, but LG's 3D-capable EA9800 (no word on price or availability) looks appropriately cinematic as well. OLEDs are uniquely suited to curved designs, as they're so thin they can be twisted or rolled into forms impossible up to now with other display technologies.
LG's OLED employ 4-color pixels--sort of. The fourth color is white, along with the usual red, green,and blue.
Bang and Olufsen announced its new flagship TV, the Beovision 11 with SmartTV features. Users can customize their SmartTV hub from a number of available apps.The first Smart TV for the upscale company, the TV includes access to not only the typical U.S. streaming services but services from all around the globe
Though the Mirage brand name is on ice, its Omnipolar speaker technology lives on in two new 360 Series satellites from Jamo. The larger of the two, the S35, is the size of a grapefruit, has a 3.5-inch woofer, and will be sold in groups of four with a conventionally shaped center and sub. The smaller S25 has a 2.5-inch woofer and will be sold in a five-pack. Available colors will be determined based on dealer feedback at the show with shipping later in the year.
Vizio’s new top-of-the-line range of 2K (1920 x 1080) LCD HDTVs is the M-Series shown here. The 3D models are expected to be available later this year in 50-inch ($859) 55-inch ($1200), 60-inch ($1600), 70-inch ($2500) and 80-inch ($4500) sizes. All will have a 240Hz refresh rate, passive 3D, Vizio’s Internet Apps, an ultra slim, thin bezel design, and local dimming. It was not clear from Vizio’s press materials, but we assume from the ultra slim design and the prices that the local dimming is edge-lit rather than the more complex and expensive to implement full backlit zone dimming. The picture here shows all but the 55-incher; only one of the four employs an IPS panel (which typically offers better off-axis performance). Ignore the room reflections and guess which one.
The M-series also includes 32-, 40-, and 47-inch models, which are 2D only.
You might mistake it for a high-end Blu-ray player at first glance but, no, the Parasound Halo CD 1 introduced at CES 2013 is definitely a Compact Disc player (remember those?) and it costs $4,500. Designed in collaboration with Holm Acoustics of Copenhagen, Denmark, the player uses a Linux-based computer running proprietary software and a CD ROM drive running four times the speed of a conventional CD drive to read and process data in a new way. Vast amounts of data are analyzed and read multiple times to reduce errors and, in turn, the negative effects of error concealment. The result is said to be a nearly bit-perfect data stream.
In keeping with the high-end legacy of the company's Halo line, the C1 has a heavily shielded aluminum chassis, separate power supplies for its analog and digital sections and several output options, including balanced XLR, gold-plated RCAs for analog, and digital audio via BNC, coaxial and optical connectors. A novel “Discrete OpAmp” selector offers a choice between listening to the analog outputs directly from the player’s low-noise op-amps or via discrete transistor output stages.