Far from the madding convention center, Dolby provided A-B comparisons of their new Dolby Contrast technology, part of their HDR ("High Dynamic Range") tech family. The interesting part is that it is a video technology, for adjusting the range of dark to light in the LED backlighting of LCD TVs. By precisely dimming the right area of the screen at the right time, contrast can be heightened as never before, for a very film-like effect. (As the exciting screen image suggests, Blu-ray and DVD playback will both benefit.)
Nestled among Ion's various USB turntable offerings was this different spin on analog-to-digital conversion: The TAPE 2 PC copies old audiocassettes to MP3s, and even grabs track names off the internet via Gracenote MusicID. So all of you erstwhile Walkman enthusiasts (and we are legion) can now transport your library into the 21st century without breaking the bank on hundreds of Duran Duran and Rick Springfield downloads.
At the Dolby booth, this prototype of the first-ever audio/video receiver with the new Dolby Volume technology was on display outside their mini-theater. Onkyo, with a tradition of early integration of new audio technologies, won the honor of debuting the new process which organically rejiggers the loud and quiet parts of a soundtrack within a scene, such as hard-to-hear dialogue amid background sound effects, as well as equalizing the levels between two different programs when we change channels or go to commercial, with very enjoyable results in all of the demo I've heard in the past year. Clearly this is something that consumers have been demanding, one of those seemingly simple problems that's a bear to solve (otherwise everyone would do it!)
The newest iPod dock from Creative actually upscales the video quality to 720p or 1080i, and it holds up remarkably well on the big screen. The Creative Xdock HD is a $399 bundle which includes a receiver to accept streaming audio in a second room of the house, and it can support up to three additional receivers, sold separately.
This summer, look for Belkin’s FlyWire system to wirelessly connect HDMI source components to your HDMI-enabled TV. (Other, lesser connectivity standards are supported as well.) The two-box bundle is prematched, so installation and configuration of the sending and receiving units shouldn’t cause unbearable grief, and the results that they showed at their booth were flawless, even amid God-knows-how-many competing wireless demos in the South Hall. No firm price has been set yet, but expect to fork over between five and six hundred clams.
Analog video capture as we know it is fading away, as almost everything under the sun already exists in digital format, at least on our PCs. But what if we could go straight from the composite or S-video output of a source (VHS, camcorder, maybe even DVD…?) and push a digital version of that video via USB onto, say, a portable player such as a video iPod or a PlayStation Portable? Mere days from now, Pinnacle Systems will begin selling the Pinnacle Video Transfer device which does precisely that, an all-in-one solution for one-touch analog-to-digital recording WITHOUT A PC. Clear red and blue lights indicate ready and recording status, and we can also toggle between good, better, and best Mode (quality/file size) settings. Encode takes place in real time and the digital videos can be watched immediately, and later renamed as desired. AC power is required, but the Pinnacle Video Transfer will also charge your iPod while it works.
High-end gaming PC overlords Alienware showed off an ENORMOUS curved LCD screen here in Las Vegas, tentatively named... Alienware Curved Display. It's even more impressive in person, wider than any consumer-available screen I've ever seen, with a curve that does a better job filling the user's field of vision for a more immersive experience.
By a bizarre coincidence, three attractive women each holding a Samsung portable device (an MP3 player, a PMP, and an an ultra-mobile PC) wandered into The Venetian Hotel, so the Korean manufacturer roped them into the demo of their new live-TV-anywhere-on-just-about-any-gizmo technology, which will launch here in the U.S. in 2008.
Pre-matched and easy to install, Netgear's latest home networking accessory brings five-gigahertz power to wirelessly stream even high-definiton video across a high-speed home network, taking advantage of the latest Wi-Fi N developments. This is a boon not just for high-def gamers but also for the growing number of network-enabled HDTVs, providing content with virtually no lag, no jitter, and no interference, as demonstrated at their press event. The Netgear HD/Gaming Wireless-N Kit will be available later this month.
Remember those ethernet-enabled TVs I mentioned in my Netgear post not too long ago? Sharp has announced a new AQUOS Net service that will push handy content to viewers right in their home theaters, including real-time traffic and weather, plus comic strips and infotainment from NBC. Product-specific details can also be supplied to answer common questions about Sharp displays, all upon consumer approval of course.