Last week Sony put on its best April clothes and entertained the foreign press in Los Angeles. Consumer electronics scribes attended from the U.K, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, and likely others that I (with apologies) can’t recall. Only a few of local CE press were in attendance, including your humble reporter.
Though outwardly similar to last year’s VPL-HW30ES, Sony’s new VPL-HW50ES (available in October) is an updated design. It incorporates the same Reality Creation processing as the company’s flagship VPL-VW1000 4K projector, scaled down here for 2K operation. There’s a new Iris 3 algorithm for the projector’s advanced dynamic iris, for a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 100,000:1. The light output is also said to be increased by 30% to 1700 lumens. The 3D transmitter is internal, and the 240Hz panel is claimed to reduce 3D crosstalk. There’s also a 2D-to-3D conversion mode and a 244-zone panel alignment feature to insure convergence.
While at $4000 the VPL-HW50ES is more expensive than the HW30ES (which remains available at a reduced price of $3000), the new projector’s price includes 2 pair of active 3D glasses and a spare projection lamp.
Late this summer, or shortly thereafter, Sony will attempt to upend the way we look at UHD and high dynamic range (HDR) with its new Z9D series of premier Ultra HD. Don’t look for them at Joe’s Video down the street, however, but rather in premier outlets such as Magnolia (located in or adjacent to selected Best Buy stores) and custom installers. They’re also likely to find their way into more than a few professional facilities.
When it comes to high-end speakers, Sony has had tough sledding in the U.S. market, despite some quality products. Its current SS-AR1 and SS-AR2 are excellent designs, but at $27,000 and $20,000 per pair respectively, they'll be a hard sell to any but the passionate and well-healed audiophile.
So when I saw a new pair of concept speakers side-by-side with Sony's new 84-inch, 4K flat panel on the company’s show floor booth I was intrigued. They weren't getting much attention from the CEDIA crowd, of course. All eyes were on the HDTV, and the sound was at a very low level and drowned out by the general din of the convention center din.
But the speakers were being demonstrated rather secretively at a nearby hotel. The official introduction is still weeks or months away (possibly at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver in October but more likely at CES in January), so it’s all very hush-hush for now. If I tell you more about them here I’d have to kill you. But you can get a closer look in the following entry, including the speaker’s unique tweeter arrangement. For now I'll just say that they will get a lot of positive attention when they arrive officially. The pricing is still TBD, but will be lower, and perhaps considerably lower, than the SS-AR1 and SS-AR2. And unlike be those determinedly 2-channel designs, matching centers, bookshelves, and subs will be available.
Recall that on Day 1 (setup day-when the
show floor was closed to attendees) I reported on arrays Sony LCD displays, each showing HD clips from diffferent upcoming Blu-ray discs, including possible releases of season sets of <I>Stargate SG-1</I> and <I>Stargate Atlantis</I>. Those clips disappeared with the opening of the show floor, to be replaced by content that extols the glories of Sony products and technology. Oh well.
Sony was the only Ultra HD 4K exhibitor that showed a still of a newspaper page in both standard HD and 4K Ultra HD. The photo shown here (standard HD) and below (4K) only show a very small area of the screen.
The color shift you may see here and above, plus moire, are the likely result of my camera's pixels strobing with the pixels on your screen. But other than cropping and identical downscaling, no other processing was performed on the photos here and above. The improved clarity of 4K version here is impossible to miss even after the photos were reduced so they could be used in our blog format. The differences were even more obvious in person.
As with all of the major set manufacturers, Sony introduced more new sets than any blog can cover. Models in the new LX and HX ranges will be fully 3D capable, using active shutter glasses (most manufacturers plan to use shutter glasses rather than the cheaper but less effective (according to some) polarized glasses). There are models with LED backlighting (edge-lit and backlit local dimming) and others with conventional CCFL lighting.