OK, as far as trade show wrap-ups go, this one is pretty early, being written on the last day of CEDIA 2006, before I've had full opportunity to absorb and digest the goings on this week. While I'm reserving my right to add more to this blog, here are the salient things standing out right now.
Interviews are what go on behind closed doors at JVC, and demos for Shane are not. After getting the download on JVC’s demo of a new $7K D-ILA front projector, compared side by side with Sony’s highly regarded Ruby $10K SXRD projector, I motored right over to see the shootout only to be turned away at the door. Someone from JVC was being interviewed I was told, and could I wait outside just a few minutes.
OK, it’s early. I’ve only hit two press events so far. But I have to say that with all the talk of ludicrous refresh rates, Internet content, ultra contrast and local dimming, no one is talking about improving LCD’s biggest weakness- off-axis viewing. In every key respect- black levels, resolution, color, contrast, and you name it, local dimming LCDs compete with the very best plasma designs. But watch one even a little off center and it all goes to hell. Why is no one taking aim at improving that? Maybe someone will surprise me later today!
It's unfortunate but sometimes review products arrive DOA, or don't work properly right from the get go. And when this happens, it puts everyone in a bad spot. Our policy here at <I>UAV</I>, which is a good one, is that any product sent for review gets one, even if the product malfunctions. No one gets a break on a defective product. However, when a component is dead or defective from the get-go we can't even spend enough time with it to write a meaningful paragraph. And if four or five interesting and functional products are lined up behind it, it's easy to just move on to the other products and wait for a replacement.
Not all HD is created equal. We all know this, and it's the same whether we watch on cable, satellite, or even Blu-ray or HD DVD. It just sucks when it's a worthy movie that didn't even receive a decent DVD release, as is the case with David Fincher's <I>The Game</I>, which was just released on HD DVD by Universal.
Toshiba has been keeping itself busy since HD DVD went under. Lots of DVD players and components but I did not hear the “B” word at any time during Toshiba’s 2009 CES press event. But Toshiba is bringing other content to its CE components in a new, and big way in 2009. Toshiba is integrating connectivity into its 2009 lineup by collaborating with Microsoft, Yahoo and other partners. Toshiba’s 2009 lineup will be rife with network-based connectivity, featuring Widget channels for Myspace, Cinemanow, Yahoo and CBS. Many products will be Windows Media Center PC “Extender” devices, and the line will include a standalone “Network Player” box.
OK, I know the Blu(e) jokes are stale. Still, I had to call this Blog something to enter it into the system, so why not? Unless you've been under a rock you know that Warner and Paramount support both Blu-ray and HD DVD. Warner is unique in that it now encodes the video for its movies using Microsoft's VC-1 compression on both formats, encodes that are said to be virtually identical. But on the soundtrack front, the Blu-ray customer doesn't always get the advanced, next-gen sound that the HD DVD customer gets.
Both of Samsung’s new BD players, the uber cool hang-on-the-wall BD-P4600 (shown here) and BD-P3600 look good and are fully loaded BD players with BD-Live and full audio decoding. But finally, a manufacturer has acknowledged that not everyone has hardwired Ethernet near their AV gear. Samsung includes a W-Fi dongle for both of these players. The PlayStation 3 has been alone in offering this feature far too long. Bravo Samsung!
I spent a good part of my day Tuesday at the Venetian which is home to the high-end audio portion of CES, and often has home theater products from cutting edge crossover companies. Companies like Canada's Simaudio. I've experienced Simaudio's home theater components in the past, and they've been superlative. So, it's with high hope that I anticipate the release of the top of the line Evolution series CP-8 surround pre/pro, to be introduced later this year (the front panel says Moon, but I've been assured it will be an Evolution series component on release).