Marantz has been the industry's #4 hitter in delivering high-end, single-box AVRs that sound great for some time. In Q2 of 2008 Marantz gets outside that single-box with the AV8003 preamp/processor (pictured above) and MM8003 multichannel amplifier.
Marantz is joining the Blu crew in 2008 as well, with a high-end Blu-ray Disc player, the BD8002. And actually, high-end doesn't even cut it. Marantz is calling this player "ultimate quality" with built-in Silicon Optix processing for superb DVD upconversion, and the press materials indicate internal decoding of both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
I spent a good part of my day Tuesday at the Venetian which is home to the high-end audio portion of CES, and often has home theater products from cutting edge crossover companies. Companies like Canada's Simaudio. I've experienced Simaudio's home theater components in the past, and they've been superlative. So, it's with high hope that I anticipate the release of the top of the line Evolution series CP-8 surround pre/pro, to be introduced later this year (the front panel says Moon, but I've been assured it will be an Evolution series component on release).
On Monday night (yes, I'm late), I went to a rave and a product introduction broke out. Mitsubishi's intro of LaserTV was all glitz and glam, complete with white chocolate martinis and dancing girls and swirling lights. And TVs. Mits indeed made one of the loudest, bravest and most fascinating product intros of CES in unveiling its LaserTV category. What's brave is that this is a large RPTV technology, with lasers as a light source, in a world that's not only going flat, but flatter and flatter by the minute.
When Academy Award winner Michael Douglas was announced to be part of XStreamHD's CES press conference, a number of us in the press corps thought, wow now that's a heavy hitter for a spokesperson! Well, in introducing XStreamHD to the assembled press Douglas revealed that his involvement is far deeper- he's one of the company's group of private investors. So, what is XStreamHD?
One of the most compelling demos of next-gen interactivity I've seen is a technology being dubbed Blu-ray Magic. Using Blu-ray's network-connected BD live platform, connects BD users to pertinent content and materials, even when there's no disc in the machine. For instance, the screen above is generated with no player in the drive, showing what's available and upcoming on Blu-ray and allows users to not only download and view trailers, but purchase or rent the featured titles through partners like Amazon and NetFlix.
I'm tempted to leave this Blog with only that one word: wow. Words are hard to come by. I've been doing this for some time now, and I can't recall the last time I was entranced in a demo, sitting forward in my seat, jaw agape. Pioneer's Extreme Contrast "Concept" plasma display demo was this and more. This might be the biggest potential sea change I've seen in any product category in my years in this industry.
The future of Blu-ray Disc interactivity is now. At a BD interactivity showcase hosted by Sony and led by film critic Leonard Maltin, Lion's Gate demonstrated what I believe is an industry first BD Live enhanced Blu-ray title, Saw IV. The content was as grisly as one would expect, but we saw the film's director add blogger style comments on screen courtesy of Lion's Gate's MoLog Movie Log feature.
Now, this is the rather fascinating thing about our industry. We love awards so much, we hand out "innovation" awards long before the products actually ship. Thus, I can tell you that while Samsung has just started shipping its "award winning" BD-UP5000 DuoHD dual format player, it has just announced its second generation combi, the BD-UP5500, for release in the second half of 2008! I am not in marketing so I have no idea how it goes selling a player whose successor is already announced before it hits the streets, but there you go.