Price: $16,470 (as tested) At A Glance: One-of-a-kind, best-in-class movie interface • Very expensive • Music management not at same level • Blu-ray playback currently cumbersome • Standout pure performance
Escape Physical Media
Going back several years, I remember my first reaction to learning of the Kaleidescape paradigm. Then, media servers didn’t exist, and a Kaleidescape starter system cost a startling $30,000. On paper, it looked like its principal novelty was ripping and playing back DVD movies without having to load a disc into a player. My first thought was something like, “Wow, life is really expensive for people who don’t want to get up and walk a few feet to grab a disc and put it into a DVD player.” Of course, this was exceptionally ignorant and shortsighted. My cynicism lasted roughly two and a half to three seconds into actually using a Kaleidescape system. Much like the Apple products that are so near and dear to my heart, Kaleidescape’s power is in the interface. The library management and organization is a metadata-enriched, best-in-class experience. It’s about changing the way you browse and experience your content at least as much as it’s about storing your digital content on a server. What’s better still, it’s dead simple to use. You could hand the remote to your mom, and she’d be watching a movie in seconds. But power users can dig deeper and find movies by their favorite actors, directors, genres, and more.
Some of the best sound at CES was from speakers that don't officially exist. KEF gave the press a look at their skunkworks with a “concept” speaker called the Blade. In a cabinet carved from carbon fiber, the Blade uses the latest version of KEF’s Uni-Q coincident midrange and tweeter with four woofers mounted in close proximity around the sides of the cabinet to better emulate a point source. The woofers on either side of the cabinet cancel cabinet vibrations. The sound that came from these speakers was simply magic. Driven by Audio Research electronics, I heard spooky, lifelike imaging, high-resolution of detail, and tremendous dynamic swing and punch. Bass and drum kits in particular were simply right there in the room with us. Sticking to its story that this was a technology demonstration, KEF wouldn’t say that this speaker would ever come to market. But the sound here is just too good to keep it in the hangar at Area 51.
I'm a huge boxing fan since way back, and seldom miss a big fight any time for any reason. Last night I threw down $50 to watch the Migel-Cotto-Zab Judah showdown on HBO Pay-Per-View over Comcast digital cable. The fight card itself met or exceeded expectations with two of the four matches, including the headliner, being terrific scraps.
I'd say that LG got CEDIA 2007 off to a fast start, but the truth is that LG bent time and space by making an impact on CEDIA before CEDIA actually occurred. The press release for this player came to me a week ago under "embargo," which means I've been biting my virtual tongue for a week!
LG was in its customary and brutal 8am time slot (11am on the east coast LG’s John Taylor reminded us- thanks for that John!) and got the 2009 show off with a big bang. Rather than buy into forcing consumers to choose Blu-ray vs. streaming/downloads, its answer is to offer both. Its 2008 Internet connected BD300 Blu-ray player connects to Netflix and Netflix HD. Expanding on that, LG’s 2009 BD players and select HDTVs will offer Netcast, which is LG’s proprietary name for a feature set that delivers Internet derived content. Partners will include Netflix (and Netflix HD), YouTube, and CinemaNow with more content partners coming online later. Pictured here is one of LG's Blu-ray powered HTiBs.
Due to popular demand in some quarters, here is a picture of your intrepid author and one of your guides through this maze of consumer electronics we call the CEDIA Expo. That space age looking device is not being used to assimilate you. It’s the coincident midrange/tweeter array from Thiel’s CS3.7 loudspeaker. And it looks cool.