CES 2009

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Tom Norton  |  Jan 08, 2009  |  0 comments
If you want to hide your flat panel, Premier Mounts makes this riser that will conceal it within a custom cabinet, and elevate it when needed. Premier makes the automated riser in various sizes; the custom cabinet work is up to you.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2009  |  0 comments
The Panorama is a $2200 bar speaker from Bowers & Wilkins, one of the world's coolest speaker manufacturers. Available in March, it has distinctive curves at the sides which distinguish it from other bar speakers. Behind the metal grille are two 3.5-inch drivers in the middle, handling the center channel; two 4-inch subs that go down to 40Hz, and at the sides, two pair of 3.5-inch full-range drivers. You'd think the latter would split the front and surrounds channels, but no, each driver mixes the two with some DSP magic. Unlike a lot of bar speakers, this one has three digital inputs (both coax and optical) and two analog ins, and onboard decoding for Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II (but not the new lossless stuff).
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2009  |  2 comments
The B&W XT8 is slim and hip, whereas I am merely hip. It replaces the XT4 with the same tweeter-on-top but sports a new midrange, woofer, and crossover. Available for $3500/pair in aluminum or black.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2009  |  0 comments
In addition to the new Focus 360, Dynaudio showed the cosmetically matching but smaller 220 II, heir to the original 220. In addition to a makeover that makes it resemble a smaller 360, it’s also got significant upgrades to the crossover and port tuning. Price is $2200/pair, shipping in March.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2009  |  0 comments
Wireless speaker connection is coming, as an option, to (nearly?) every speaker model in the Pure Acoustics Line -- now that's going wireless. It consists of a receiver mounted in the top of the speaker plus a dome-shaped transmitter. Note that we're not talking about self-powered speakers or room-to-room tranmission, just in-room.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2009  |  0 comments
This company makes some of the best PC speakers and compact systems. In the former category is the Expressionist BASS ($129), a cone-shaped wonder with sub firing out of the bottom. For the bedroom, Altec offers the Moondance GLOW ($179), a clock/radio with pyramid-shaped snooze remote. Finally, inMotion MAX ($199) is the successor to my all-time favorite portable system, the im600, which I own, use daily, and gave my Mom for Christmas. It's iPhone hip -- in other words, shielded from microwave radiation -- so you can keep your iPhone on and take calls while it plays music through the system.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2009  |  0 comments
If you like your iThing-docking speakers chunky and bass-hip, the Earthquake IQ-52W/B ($475) may be worth hearing, though it wasn't demoed on the floor.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2009  |  0 comments
The desktop control panel at the Mirage includes an HDMI input. That is the kind of forward-looking hotel room design we like to see.
Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 08, 2009  |  6 comments
After Tom Hank’s fun snarky intro to Sony’s omnipotence in the electronics and content market, we were treated to Sony’s vision for upcoming products. It started with glasses with a portion of the lens devoted to little video screens. Imagine walking through your real life while watching a picture-in-picture movie.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 07, 2009  |  0 comments
Sony, and other manufacturers as well, are big on 240Hz refresh rates this year. At CEDIA in September Sony showed one Bravia line that operates at 240Hz—the XBR7 (just beginning to ship now).
Tom Norton  |  Jan 07, 2009  |  0 comments
Sony's exhibit at the CEDIA EXPO in September leans heavily on flat panel displays and projectors. But at CES they back off on that emphasis and go for a wider range of audio, video, and other electronic thingys. We're not covering computers here, but I was drawn to the new VAIO P Series Lifestyle PC ($900, February). Especially attractive to long-suffering A/V bloggers suffering under the weight of oversized laptops at trade shows, this tiny compact computer tips the scales at 1.4 lbs. Its 8-inch screen is not for the weak or eye, or the smallish keyboard for the thick of thumb. I found typing on it reasonably easy, though wouldn't want to use it to write the Great American Epic. Wireless everything, of course. Why didn't Steve Jobs and Apple think of this first?
Tom Norton  |  Jan 07, 2009  |  0 comments
Panasonic has announced a major initiative to bring true, full 1080p resolution on Blu-ray to the home theater. At their press conference they announced that they will be conducting demonstrations of 3D at their booth at the show. This demo will use active shutter glasses. No polarized lenses or glasses using funky colored filters. The company will work toward the adoption of an industry standard for the future of home 3D, and hopes to have such a standard in 2009 with consumer 3D products meeting that standard available by 2010. By February 1 of this year they plan to install a 3D disc authoring authority center at the Panasonic Hollywood Labs.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 07, 2009  |  0 comments
I went to six press conferences today, and every one of them made a big deal about "How green is my company." Whether it was the energy efficiency of the product itself, the manufacturing of same, or how you can dispose of it in ways that are friendly to birds, fish, and other living things (though perhaps not to Chinese villagers*), they were stumbling all over each other to impress the conservation- and ecologically-minded members of the press. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but I couldn't help thinking that the industry has discovered that there may be green in being green.
Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 07, 2009  |  0 comments
We’re hearing it again and again from many TV manufacturers. TVs are becoming the center of our home entertainment beyond broadcast TV, cable or satellite. Networked TVs that can download content from the internet and can show photos, play videos and music from the computers on your home network. All of the TV manufacturers from LG, to Toshiba, Sharp, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung were announcing their partnerships with different content providers. Yahoo widgets were omnipresent. These mini applications—widgets—let you get local weather, news, sports, stock tickers and more. As widgets you can choose the type of stocks you want to follow or put in other customizable information. Yahoo widgets are open source which means that software developers can let their imaginations run wild and we’ll all benefit from what they dream up.
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 07, 2009  |  0 comments
You know, with several hundred of Sony's closest friends. This is a good snap shot of what CES press day is like. Lots of lines, lots of people, and lots of madness. It was hard to tell what was being said from back there. I think he said something like, "blessed are the cheese makers." (Hint- Monty Python reference.)