While only designed for entertainment purposes at the show, this tabletop using Microsoft Surface, allows multiple windows to be open (like a browser). Windows can be moved around with one finger. Place them where ever you like, then pinch or expand them to change the window size. Video can be played on each window individually or all at once, just touch the play/pause key. The forward thinking technology of the movies (remember Minority Report?) may be a reality soon.
LG offers two Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives to hold movies, photos, and music. They are perfect for using with the broadband TVs. The N481 accepts up to four swappable drives and the N281is smaller with capacity for 2 drives. The size of the drives can be whatever you choose and both drives have built-in Blu-ray writers.
While wireless networking seems to be getting all the headlines and buzz, another networking method is to use your existing powerline. There are a couple of associations promoting this, with two to three dozen manufacturers and a few chip designers supporting the technology. The concept being– why create something new when you can use what already exists in your home. I'll admit I don't know all the intricate details behind this technology but the first thing I can see as a negative is all the extra external devices (i.e. wall warts) you are adding to your electrical outlets. It just doesn't seem very green to tax the power grid even more. What I would like to know is how does this effect your electrical bill?
Massive flat panel displays are usually the center piece of most major manufacturer's and there were some very impressive one's this year. However, Sharp's Aquos display was incredible, with their 108" LCD anchored at the bottom.
Last year, Wadia Digital introduced the 170 ITransport, a high-resolution audiophile iPod dock for playback on high-end A/V systems. A new companion piece is the 151 Digital Amp, which creates a miniature 2-channel system for listening to not only your iPod but other stereo sources as well. The 151 has 2 coax and one optical input, along with a USB port (for flash drives). The high-end DACs (which is what WADIA is well known for) coupled with the build-in 50 watt amp, creates a compelling high-end system that doesn't cost a lot (by audiophile standards) or take up much space. The iTransport sells for $379. The price for the 151 Digital Amp was not disclosed but would definitely be under $1K.
ZeeVee started delivering product in the fall of 08, so they are hardly a household name yet. What they offer is a solution for integrating your computer, not just your files, to a remote TV or even your home theater. The ZeeVee interface offers a simple scroll and click interface with icons for key internet sites where you can watch TV programs such as Hulu.com, CBS, Fox, CNN etc. Like many other networking systems, you can access the media files on your computer. However, ZeeVee goes a step further and does something I have not seen yet. Your entire desktop is now on a TV in another part of your house, so not only can you browse the internet you can open you applications and launch into Word, Photoshop, or whatever. The basic unit is not exactly cheap at $499 though it includes an RF remote & transmitter that sits at your computer. A RF keyboard is on the way to complete the integration (Price-TBA). Currently, it is only PC compatible but the Mac firmware upgrade should be available in late Q1.
Sooloos, manufacturer of server-based home entertainment systems, was recently acquired by Meridian, well known for their luxury AV products. The Sooloos has been considered one of the most intuitive and user friendly (as well as costly) media servers available. The merge with Meridian is a great fit for both companies.
While the ZeeVee offers a more sophisticated solution, with their own UI, Altona is sure to sell a ton of their simple USB to HDMI converter, the HDPix. Priced at $179, the convertor allows you to hook up your computer via USB to any TV (or projector) with HDMI. Its also Mac and PC compatible. On the input side there is both a USB port and a mini jack that you plug into the audio output of your computer. The converter automatically embeds the audio into the HDMI out. I don't see this as a high end solution but it surely is an inexpensive solution for getting your computer output to a TV.
Axar Media, a company based out of the UK, was showing a prototype of a Wireless HD system. The system looked simple enough with a transmitter and a receiver. Using two suites at the Venetian Hotel, they effectively demonstrated the transfer of an HD signal (both from a media player and a Blu-ray player) from one room to the next. They use the H.264 AVC video compression scheme to make the most effective use of the bandwidth. There is some degradation in the signal quality, and I detected some motion artifacts especially from the media server transfer. However, we have to start somewhere and the time for Wireless HD has finally come. Its just a matter of time before it will be as ubiquitous as streaming audio.
Distributed by Koetsu USA, Italian manufacturer Blacknote introduced a high-end solution for playing any type of digital file including Wav, Flac, AAC, OGG, DFF, WMA MP3, MP4, and M4O. The DSS30 (shown in foreground) uses a 24-bit DAC and features four USB ports (two in front, two in back) that accept hard drives as well as flash drives. It also accepts direct input from memory sticks and CD-Rom players. With both balanced and unbalanced outputs it can be integrated with a range of high-end audio gear. The Ethernet port allows it be integrated into a home network as well.