Samsung's new SP-A800 1080p projector, (under $10,000, available Q4 2007), was being demonstrated by video expert Joe Kane, who was heavily involved with Samsung in its development. It exhibited technically flawless color, crisp but natural detail across the entire screen, outstanding optics (I didn't sit close enough to judge for color fringing, but Joe said that superior optics to eliminate this aberration were a key element in the design), and excellent brightness on a 10-foot screen (a new Stewart Studiotek 130) screen using that company's new, fine-trained screen finish optimized for 1080p projection. It also has an iris with Light, Middle, Deep, and Auto settings (no word on how or how well the Auto iris function works, and Joe used the Middle and Light settings for the demo).
Texas Instruments answers the challenge of new LDC and LCoS projectors with the new Dark Chip 4 1080p DLP digital micromirrror device. Claimed to produce a native contrast ratio of up to 15,000:1, it will soon appear in DLP projectors from Marantz, SIM2, BenQ, and, in 2008, likely others as well. An impressive TI demo utilized a new SIM2 DC4 1080p projector. The modified Samsung in the photo also sported a DV4 chip. I'm not sure where the 100,000:1 claim came from, though. A tad optimistic, perhaps?
The new 70" Sony SXRD—that is, <I>Bravia</I> SXRD, was producing a great picture previewing the upcoming (late October) Blu-ray release of <I>Spider-Man 3</I>. For details on the display see the entry below.
B&K showed its new Reference 70 Series 2 AV pre-pro. It will accept multichannel PCM audio over HDMI, but does not decode Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio internally. It does offer full video transcoding, as well as video processing via the HQV REON chip from Silicon Optix.
Yamaha's flagship may be the new RX-Z11, but it hasn't forgotten about those of us who like our AV receivers to be more or less affordable. Case in point, the new RX-V3800 at $1799. Offering 140Wpc x 7, it also has HDMI 1.3a with Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding, iPod compatibility network connectivity via an Ethernet port, and Yamaha's traditional two front "presence" channels. There's also on-board video scaling up to 1080p.
Infinity will please the custom install crowd, as well as consumers who are constantly repositioning their subwoofers in search of that perfect location, with the first wireless subwoofer we've seen. No, it's not battery-powered, but the PS212W ($679) requires no signal link to the receiver or pre-pro. It incorporates a 400W amp and a 12" Metal Matrix Diaphragm driver.
The wireless banner tastefully emblazoned across the grille does not come standard.
If you move up to the top of the KEF line you'll hit the flagship Reference series, also recently redesigned to eliminate the pod tweeters. Shown here is a cutaway of the smallest Reference model, the Reference 201/2 ($5000/pair). The port for this model, which is smaller than its predecessor, fires out of the top rear of the cabinet. The duct is visible at the upper left, just to the rear of the white damping material.
Pioneer also had its new S-3EX speakers on static display. A smaller, $6000/pair variation on the floorstanding S-1EX we reviewed recently, the S-3EX keeps the price down by employing a simpler cabinet, substituting carbon graphite for the tweeter diaphragm instead of the beryllium used in the S-1EX, and using a slightly smaller midrange cone (but still made of magnesium). While the S-3EX should ship soon, you'll have to wait until mid 2008 for the matching center channel and "bookshelf" models.