Panasonic has two new plasmas and two new projectors. The plasmas use the same glass as the 700 series, but lose an HDMI input, the anti-reflective coating, and about $200 each. The TH-42PZ77 is $1800 and the TH-50PZ77 is $2800. Both are scheduled to ship this month.
Pioneer let loose a new Blu-ray player, the BDP-95FD. It’s part of their Elite line, and has the usual 1080p/24 output and HDMI 1.3. What’s different is that it will actually output the bitstream of Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio. Up until now, even the HDMI 1.3 BD and HD DVD players all converted these formats to PCM before outputting them digitally. Look for it in October for around $1000.
Sony, not to be outdone by other 1080p projector announcements (see below), unveiled the VPL-VW60, a replacement for the VW50. They claim a doubling of the native contrast ratio, and an available anamorphic lens system to watch 2.35:1 movies without black bars (on a 2.35:1 screen). Even cooler, you can align each LCOS (sorry, SXRD) panel to within 0.1 pixels. So any jarring in shipping or installation can be tweaked out to remove any colored halos. It’s shipping this month for “under $5,000.”
Sharp is finally releasing a Blu-ray player, and they’re claiming it’s all their parts. Certainly a subtle, but perhaps unintended, dig at Sony. The BD-HP20 will ship this month for $549. It will do 1080p/24 and they claim it will go from off to picture in less than 10 seconds. I’ll believe that when I see it. Sorry for the crappy pic. When I do a booth tour later in the show, I’ll get a better one.
JVC teased us with some video shot in 4,000 by 2,000 resolution shown on a projector of the same resolution. They even hinted that such resolution was possible in consumer equipment. Don’t hold your breath.
Toshiba had a press conference, which was an hour of graphs, charts, heat, and blown-out sound effects. I’ll give them credit for the Star Trek theme (of course I would), but after the dozenth time of “HD DVD has won!” or “LCD is the best!” I tuned out.
If you read the post below, it is obvious that I was in Germany, though I neglected to mention why. Every year, the IFA show takes place in Berlin. It is a truly gigantic trade show that encompasses a few dozen buildings. CES, every year in Vegas, probably has more booths. But the average size of each booth at IFA is much larger. Some of them are entire buildings.
The new models of HD DVD and Blu-ray players are coming faster and faster. Even better, they're getting cheaper and offering more features. The big draw for the HD-A20 is its 1080p output. That, and a price tag of $499.