Yes, it's only 2-channel, but the new Classe CP-800 preamp may be a taste of the future for such devices. Scheduled to ship in January 2010 for under $6000, it incorporates digital inputs, including coaxial, optical, and USB (asynchronous with proprietary clocking, a significant feature for us audio propeller heads), with on-board D/A conversion. Full support for Apple's transportable iProducts is also included. There are analog inputs as well, which can be set up for direct analog pass-through analog sourcesor even as a pass through for the front channels of a full surround system. The outputs can even be programmed to drive one or more subwoofers, together with bass management and parametric EQ. The subs can be set up to operate on some inputs but not others. Both remote control and a graphical user interface with a touchscreen are part of the package.
The Sharp 3D projector mentioned in our report on Wednesday's press conference was on demonstration on the show floor. Within the limits of the available animated material, in this case Despicable Me, it looked amazingly good. At a projected price of around $5000, give or take, it's one of the least expensive 3D projectors we've seen so far. And with a 250W UHP lamp, it was also plenty bright, at least in 3D terms, on an 87" wide, Stewart Studiotek 130 screen.
At $15,000, the new LG CF3D, shown here vertically behind a highly reflective glass case, utilizes two separate optical paths to provide a full 1920 x 1080 3D image using polarized passive glasses on a silvered screen. The demo, however, was disappointing. While the booth was not light controlled, the main problem was a very soft-looking image. Teething or setup problems, perhaps? The projector is in production now, and will be available here in November.
There are, at present, two ways to view 2.35 movies on a 1920 x 1080 HD projector. First, you can tolerate the black bars on a 16:9 screen (or use a 2.35:1 screen and zoom the image out to let the black bars spill off the top and bottom). Second, you can use an anamorphic lens, together with video processing, on that same 2.35:1 screen. Engineers at Projectiondesign have a third way. Working with Texas Instruments, they have incorporated a 2538 x 1600 0.9"DLP chip into their new Avielo Optix SuperWide 235, a single-chip, 2-lamp, 2D digital projector. Using a 2538 x 1080 central area of this chip, they can project a 2.35:1 image onto the screen with 1080 pixels of vertical resolution.
The DreamVision Starlight2 ($9,495) was being demonstrated on a 120" wide, flat white, Perfect View screen, with a fixed Schneider anamorphic lens. Scenes from both Avatar and Dark Knight looked terrific, which did not surprise me given my experience with the DreamVision Starlight1 and the same lens (Home Theater, October 2010).
Wisdom Audio makesd highly specialized and very expensive in-wall audio systems. The utilize line-array full-range speakers with the midrange and high end covered by long planar drivers, the lower end by several mid-sized bass units per channel, and, now, humongous subwoofers consisting of two 15" PRO drivers in cabinets estimated at over 12 cubic feet. Wisdom's brochure assures us that these 17.75" wide, 36" deep, and (I'd guess) five feet high monsters are "space efficient!" But they are designed to be hidden away.