Panasonic is introducing 32 new HDTVs at the 2013 CES16 plasmas and 16 LCDs. The Plasmas range in size from 42- to 64-inches, and the LCD sets cover the ground between 32- and 65-inches.
When Panasonic first started shipping LCD displays a couple of years back, it restricted the LCD lineup to sizes impractical for its HD plasmas, that is, under 42-inches. No longer; bigger sets are now “in,” so the company clearly sees a future in both technologies. But rumors to the contrary, plasmas remain an integral part of Panasonic’s HDTV lineup.
Only brief comments at the press event related to any improvements in basic video performance. As we’ve witnessed from some manufacturers so far on this CES press day, the presentation centered on enhancements to the set’s “Smart” features. This year, Panasonic’s interactive menus allow each member of the family to customize the menu to favor their favorite sites. It can save separate favorites for each member of the family, and even recognize each viewer with its built-in camera (scary!) and switch to the appropriate menu for that individual.
So when I turn on one of these new Panasonics, will it default to the calibration controls?
With new HDTV technologies flying around fast, Sharp wasn’t about to be left out. This year, it’s hot on a new display technology called IGZO (Indium, Gallium, Zinc, Oxygen) said to offer twice the resolution of conventional LCD, together with significant energy savings and better touch screen performance than present display devices.
Don’t expect to see technology in Sharp’s big screen HDTVs this year (with LCD displays ranging up to 90-inches, Sharp claims to lead the industry in sales of sets 60-inches and above). But it is or soon will be available in a 32-inch, 4K monitor (particularly useful in medical imaging), a new 4.9-inch smart phone to be introduced in Japan in March, and a 7-inch tablet.
Significantly missing from the press event was any mention of Sharp’s Elite line. We’ll be checking on the show floor to see what that might mean.
With its line-array Model LS at the left and right consisting of fifteen 5.25-inch woofers and eight AMT tweeters, a similar array in the center partially hidden by an acoustically transparent screen, a stack of eight 12-inch woofers in each front corners, and a complementary setup in the rear, Steinway-Lingdorf produced the most dynamic sound, by far, at the CEDIA EXPO. All of the speakers were multi-amped, and Lingdorf’s proprietary room compensation was included. The gunfight from Open Range was so loud, but clean, that I needed ear muffs. None being handy, fingers in the ears sufficed after the first few volleys whizzed over my head. It can all be yours for a few bucks short of $500,000.
The BluWavs Headset from Mozaex is the first truly discrete 7.1-channel headphone, with 10 individual and individually driven drivers. They come with a console that provides full amplification for a package price of $1299. An optional multiband graphic equalizer (for the front channels only) adds $300. They were effective, though the frequency balance of the prototypes on display needs a little more TLC, as does the comfort for this large, heavy design.
Schneider displayed its extensive range of anamorphic lens options. The company makers some of the best (and most expensive) such devices on the market, with a wide range of mechanisms to move the lens into and out of position. The device on the right is the latest such rig.
Marantz was on hand with its latest surround preamp-processor and 5-channel amp. Apart from slightly increased price, the AV7701 7.2-channel pre-pro ($1700) is similar to last year’s model. The 5-channel, 140 WPC, MM7055 power amp is priced at the same $1700.
If there was a theme to this year's CEDIA EXPO, it would be The Rise of the Soundbar. While these devices are incapable of reproducing the full impact of a 5.1 or 7.1 surround system consisting of discrete speakers and a subwoofer, they are undeniably convenient. And many of them sound better than you might imagine. One such is this fully powered $900 model from Atlantic Technology. The driver configuration is 2-channels, but has internal processing that is said to offer a three or five channel ambient experience from a Dolby Digital or DTS surround source.
Using H-PAS technology, the Atlantic claims extension down to 47Hz without a subwoofer. While there was a trend at the show toward ultra thin soundbars, most of the latter required a subwoofer to go that low. The Atlantic is 6.5-inches deep, and may be wall mounted, shelf-mounted, or positioned on top of your stand-mounted flat panel using special brackets designed for this purpose.
The Klein K-10 Cinema Pro tri-stimulus colorimeter may not do absolutely everything that twice as expensive color spectroradiometers will do, but it comes close, is much faster, and will read much lower light levels. At $5900, it must be used with color calibration software such as the SpectraCal we use for our reviews. (Not coincidentally, it was being demonstrated in the SpectraCal booth.)
The Darbee video processor is said to cleanly enhance a video image. Based on what I saw at CEDIA (and based on Kris Deering's review that's available on this site) it does the job surprisingly well. I did notice, however, that if there are artifacts in the source material it will enhance those as well! But the degree of enhancement is adjustable.