All survivors of the classic audiophile disease of upgrade-itis can rattle off one or more components they wish they'd held on to. Easy enough to do in hindsight; at the time, we needed the dough to climb the next rung on the ladder to audio nirvana. I can name half a dozen products I'd like to still have around, if only for their nostalgia value. But I suspect that the Snell Type A loudspeakers, which I owned (in their improved versions) from 1978 to1985, would do more than awaken memories of the "good old days." They were genuinely fine speakers that would still be competitive today.
It has long been rumored that Sony is readying a new, lower-priced SXRD front projector to slot in under the current VPL-VW100. Now those rumors, while not yet confirmed, have more substance. The new projector is codenamed Pearl, and may have the official designation VPL-VW50. (The internal codename for the VPL-VW100, Ruby, has stuck as a name for that projector, though it appears in none of Sony's promotional materials). If the rumors pan out, the new projector will be introduced at the 2006 International Funkausstellung in Berlin in early September, and most certainly will have its official U.S. launch at the 2006 CEDIA EXPO in Denver two weeks later.
Visit the Sonus Faber website and you're given the softest of soft sells. The home page has birds flying lazily overhead while wheat sways gently in the breeze. Quiet classical music hums in the background. Click in the right place and you might find a few words about products, but you won't learn that Sonus Faber is the best-known Italian speaker manufacturer west of . . . Cremona.
Every year, Sony holds a late-winter Open House (aka line show). As in years past, it was located at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. The current financial situation, not to mention bad weather back east, kept most of the consumer-electronics press at home, but I was there from sunny southern California, camera in hand, to bring you the latest scoop.
Sony's new HDR-TD10 3D High Definition Flash Memory Handycam Camcorder (about $1500, April) is one of the first the full HD 3D consumer camcorders. It includes two separate 1920 a 1080 CMOS sensors and two lenses to capture distinct 1920 x 1080 data streams for each eye. It's also capable of 2D still image capture at 7-megapixels. At present, playback is from the camera only via an HDMI link to the video display. The future should bring dedicated playback devices (such as a 3D Blu-ray player with a flash card slot). Oh, and you can view the image you're shooting in autostereoscopic 3D on the 3.5" viewfinderno 3D glasses required.
In our experience, most active 3D glasses are sensitive to head position or, more precisely, head tilt. With most of them, however, the effect is minor and limited to a slight darkening of the picture.
But Sony's active 3D glasses, up to now, have been different. When using the company's HDTV 3D glasses, a 3D image on the Sony displays we've tested doesn't darken as you tilt your head from side to side. Instead, the left and right images break up, producing significant 3D crosstalk or, as this artifact is more colorfully known, ghosting. In addition, the Sony's 3D color varies with head position, shifting reddish with a tilt in one direction from vertical and bluish in the other. The latter effect makes it impossible to do a reliable 3D calibration; one eyepiece of the 3D glasses has to be placed over the lens of the measurement meter for a 3D calibration, and even a slight tilt can affect the result. Fortunately, the Sony 3D sets we've tested recently have produced visually satisfying 3D color even without a 3D calibration, though it's unlikely to be accurate. Nevertheless, the head-tilt ghosting and color shifting are annoying.
Sony’s VPL-HW55ES HD 3D SXRD projector is the follow-on to 2012’s
VPL-HW50ES. It offers a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 120,000:1 (using Sony’s dynamic, Advanced Iris 3), an advanced cooling system, a stated lamp life of approximately 5,000 hours, and a peak brightness of 1,700 ANSI lumens. It will be available in October at $4000.
The $499 BDP-S300 is an important product, giving Blu-ray some much needed traction in the affordable player category. Combine that with recent news from rental powerhouse Blockbuster that it is expanding Blu-ray titles in its stores (at the expense of HD DVD in most cases), and the BDP-S300 looks like a no-brainer.