I'm not much of a gamer but as I walked past these fully-equipped gaming chairs with built-in transducers that let you feel all those explosions and bullet impacts, it occurred to me that sitting in one of these might be pretty intense next time I watch Casino Royal. I hear line extension.
THX is sure not sitting around and living off their existing licenses. Like everyone else they are looking for the next Big Thing. Here at CES, they are touting a new THX technology called Media Director that is meant to simplify home theater set-up and operation. MD turns movies, music and video games into, what THX calls “smart content” that can communicate information about AV settings directly to your home entertainment products. The technology lets consumers tap into and maximize the features and modes of their electronics. More than ever consumers are faced with an overwhelming amount of playback and set up options on their gear and its no wonder they are confused, tending to use the out of the box settings. THX hopes to take a lot of that confusion and frustration out of the process.
Bowers and Wilkins goes back to their roots and their original name. No longer using the abbreviated B & W moniker, the loudspeaker manufacturer is looking seriously at the lifestyle market. Using the prestige of their innovative reference speaker systems, Bowers and Wilkins is making inroads with a whole new generation of consumers. Last year, they came out with the ultimate iPod speaker system, that used trickle down technology from their Nautilus series. This year at CES, they are showcasing Liberty, an integrated 5.1 system featuring wireless cable-free speakers.
I was up at the crack of dawn to make sure I made it to LG Electronics annual 8am press conference. One of the major announcements was their commitment to quality audio performance to accompany their high definition flat panel TVs. Audio has never been a major product category for LG Electronics so this new venture is extremely ambitious. They have partnered with legendary audio designer, Mr. Mark Levinson. Together they have collaborated on the development of two new home theater products that deliver enhanced sound quality accented by a stylish design.
The AP3133 is a high-definition AV home theater system featuring multi-driver floor standing loudspeakers, a center channel speaker, surrounds, and powered subwoofer. The system includes a 7.1-channel AV receiver with 150Watts X 7 , Burr-Brown PCM 1796 24bit/192kHz DAC, multi-input HDMI switching with near 1080p upscaling [whatever that means] and Audyssey Auto Room Multi EQ Adjustment. Moreover it is built around LG’s “Super Blu” dual-format player. However, since WB's recent announcement to go Blu and drop HD-DVD, it may not matter much.
The LHT888 was inspired by the slim elegant form of the champagne glass, which can be seen in the loudspeakers unique parabolic housing and tapered integrated pedestal. The system includes a 700W 5.1-channel DVD receiver with near 1080p upscaling, a built-in wireless kit, HDMI output and LG's SimpLink™ multi-device control (HDMI-CEC) and multi-format playback compatibility.
There were no images in the press kit and it wasn't until I left the standing room only crowd did I learn there was some demo models off the side of the stage. So the image here is just from a banner behind the podium. I hope to hear a sample of both systems at some point in the show, so I can provide more details and images.
As home networking not only becomes more popular but has become a necessity in complex home entertainment centers, Sharp introduced a new and simple networking solution, the Powerline Communication (PLC) adapter. It enables users to send high-definition data to their Internet-ready televisions, computers or other peripheral devices through a home’s existing power lines, offering a much easier alternative networking method that doesn't expensive installation of in-wall cabling. Users can connect multiple devices, such as TVs, set-top boxes, gaming consoles, PCs, and routers, using Sharp’s PLC adapters wherever there is a power outlet.
The PLC's offer stable communication with a high-speed connection of 85 Megabits per second (Mbps). Additionally, Sharp’s PLC networks achieve one of the highest levels of security with a government-adopted AES 128-bit encryption, ensuring data passes safely through the network.
Considering the potential cost of running long lengths of cable through the house, the Sharp PLC's are a bargain and about the same price as a high quality router. Three models will be available in March 08 for the following retail prices:
In the first two press announcements of the day we are seeing manufacturers stepping up and making a strong commitment to audio, once again.
PIoneer has created a new subsidiary called the "Technical Audio Devices Laboratories" or TAD Labs for short. The purpose is to elevate the
standard of performance for high fidelity audio equipment. During CES, they will showcase the Reference One loudspeaker [which is already available] and a new power amplifier. There was no demo at the announcement but I'll be checking them out once them out once the show starts . So stay tuned.
I was encouraged by the amount of time Sharp investing in their press conference addressing the real problem of electronic waste. Its a huge problem and one that is only going to get a lot worse as our rampant consumerism for our favoite gadgets increases.
Sharp has formed a joint venture with Panasonic and Toshiba to provide a recycling service called MRM (Manufacturers Recycling Management Company) to electronics manufacturers and others, including state and local governments. Currently they are setting up recycling programs in several states from late 2008 or 2009, including Connecticut, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Washington. They anticipate eventually creating a long term national solution. A spokesperson for Sharp said, the formation of an independent company to manage collective electronic recycling programs is the best way to achieve the economies of scale and efficiencies necessary to create a sustainable recycling system for used electronics products. MRM has already entered into collection and recycling agreements with Hitachi Electronics, JVC, Mitsubishi, Philips, Pioneer, Sanyo and Olevia brand maker Syntax-Brillian. More will surely sign on.
Sharp also commented on their continued commitment to toward solar cell research and that they are working on new cost effective ways to further worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Well the answer to that questions appears to be 9mm. Pioneer intent is to have your next HDTV appear to be floating on the wall. Kuro's slim bezel flat panel HDTV is pretty cool looking, appearing to be a thin sheet of glass.
Also, Pioneer is making the claim they have made a major breakthrough in contrast ratio. Its so amazing that it is beyond measurement. They call it the Extreme Contrast Concept Model and it eliminates all idling luminance. Can't wait to actually get a demo of it.
During a press conference, Sharp announced a second generation Blu-Ray player, the BD-HP50U. It ships in spring '08 and will sell for either $699.99 or $799.99 (I received two press releases with different prices). The player provides Full HD 1080p digital output and supports the BD-ROM Profile 1.1, allowing consumers to tap into supplemental interactive material without leaving the movie. Some of the interactive features include movie trailers, special subtitles, and director's commentary.
Of course, its compatible with HDMI 1.3 technology and outputs the most advanced lossless surround-sound formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD via HDMI. The BD-HP50U outputs 1080p video at 24 frames per second [frame rate of the original film], which eliminates the need for any frame-rate conversion.
A welcome addition is Sharp’s proprietary Quick Start feature, which takes viewers from disc loading to viewing in less than 10 seconds. What I want to know is when did a fast starting DVD player become a proprietary feature?