Pioneer has no new plasma panels at the show, but it was not to be outdone in the Blu-ray player department, with three new models. Under the Pioneer brand, we have the BDP-120 (<$300, pictured) and BDP-320 (<$400), while the BDP-23FD ($600) joins the Elite brand. All are BD-Live with internal memory (except the 120, which comes with a memory stick). The unique feature here is that all can be connected to USB hard disks—up to 2TB!—for additional BD-Live storage. Not only that, the 320 and 23FD can power portable hard disks. As I always say, you can't have too much storage!
Panasonic introduced two new conventional Blu-ray players, the DMP-BD60 ($300, pictured) and BD80 ($400), which are identical except for 7.1 analog outs on the BD80. Also on hand was the DMP-BD70V ($450), which combines a Blu-ray player and VHS VCR for those who still cling to those relic tapes. All are BD-Live out of the box with 1GB of internal memory, and all can access online and networked content. Twentieth century, meet the 21st!
Meet the world's first portable Blu-ray player. The 8.9-inch screen has a resolution of 1024x600, but the HDMI 1.3 output can feed a 1080p display. Like Panasonic's other new BD players, this one conforms to BD-Live, and it can access online content. The battery has a claimed life of 3 hours, with a 6-hour optional battery available. It should ship in June for $800. It even comes with a car-seat holder, so the kids can be entertained in high def on those long trips.
LCDs aren't the only TVs slimming down this year. Panasonic unveiled the TC-P54Z1 54-inch plasma that's only 1 inch thick. Using the company's new Neo PDP plasma panel, the Z1 achieves a claimed <I>native</I> (not dynamic) contrast ratio of 40,000:1. It's also twice as bright as last year's panels while consuming the same amount of power, or looked at the other way, it produces the same brightness with half the power consumption. Not only that, the Z1 has wireless HD capability. It should be available in April or May.
Joining the nearly ubiquitous trend toward thinner flat panels is LG's 55LHX LCD TV, which is just under 1 inch thick with a screen size of 55 inches. It features 240Hz operation and wireless HD capability operating in the 60GHz range and offering a data rate of 3Gbps. Thin is definitely in!
In addition to many TVs, LG also introduced two new Blu-ray players, the BD370 and BD390 (pictured here). Both are BD-Live ready (the BD390 has 1GB of internal memory), and both can stream content from Netflix, CinemaNow, and YouTube via Ethernet as well as access content on networked DLNA servers. The BD390 can also stream via WiFi, and it has 7.1 analog outputs.
Anthem Electronics demonstrated its upgraded version of the Statement D2 pre-amp/processor/tuner. The upgraded D2 includes 8 HDMI v1.3c inputs with 2 outputs, a new Sigma Designs video scaler and new audio decoders for DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD.
It's only the second week in January and I've already found one of my top picks for 2009 – the Wisdom Audio Sage Series L150i Architectural Loudspeakers. The Wisdom L150i is a line source in-wall speaker system that stands at 76-inches tall and is large enough to be the wall. Each channel consists of 12 six-inch woofers and planar magnetic line source drivers. The woofers and planar drivers are housed in separate aluminum back box enclosures and Wisdom recommends that the drywall be replaced with plywood or MDF for greater rigidity. The system requires a Wisdom electronic crossover and must be bi-amplified.
Do you remember the Motorola "Works in a Drawer" TV sets from the 1960s that promoted ease of servicing? NAD Electronics has brought it back with a slightly different twist. NAD is showing its new M15 HD AV Surround Sound processor and three AV receivers featuring Modular Design Construction (MDC) technology that provides a future-proof upgrade path. Let's face it, there are few things more frustrating than buying a new AV component that becomes obsolete or outdated in less than a year. The M15 chassis houses six removable modules that can be swapped with upgraded modules as new audio and video features become available. The six modules will include digital video, digital audio, HD analog video, SD analog video, analog inputs and analog outputs. The M15 has all currently available modules already installed. Additional features include 4 HDMI ins/ 1 out, and a Sigma Designs VXP video processor and Audyssey MultEQ Pro, Dynamic EQ & Volume. The M15 will be available in Feburary with a suggested retail price of $3999. The three AV receivers in the MDC series are the T785 (200 x 7, $3999) the T775 (160 x 7, $2999) and the T765 (120 x 7, $2499).
If you just need to have your media accessible where ever you go, Seagate's Free Agent Theater might come in handy. Pop in one of their Free Agent portable drives into the slot on top of the Free Agent Theater, then plug the unit into a TV. It has it's own GUI for you to navigate through your media. A huge design misstep (in my opinion) is no HDMI out, only component and composite video. Also, no coax or digital out, only analog (RCA) outputs.
You might be wondering why I am even talking about a hard drive here on Ultimate AV. However, Click Free is not just any portable hard drive and it can really come in handy for those of us that are starting a serious digital media collection. Click Free drives have embedded software that will automatically transfer data from your computer to the drive. As we collect more and more digital media, we need to find more efficient ways to transfer and manage our files.
Tivo is in beta on an entirely new menu. You can do all the things you could do before but there are several additional features such as streaming content from Netflix and Amazon or search through the vast YouTube library. You can even order pizza from your local Domino's. The new beta version of the graphic user interface is available as a simple firmware upgrade to consumers with TiVo Series 3, Tivo HD, and HD XL components.
I'm sure it's happened to you. You're at a party and you want to show everyone the latest viral video on YouTube and everyone is huddling around your iPhone but still not everyone can see it at once so you have to show it like four times. Not anymore, 3M's MPro 100 pocket projector saves the day. While it comes with composite and VGA inputs, you can get adapters to use it with various devices. The size maxes out at about 50-inches but that's pretty good for portable, plus it only sells for a mere $359.
IOGEAR’s Wireless USB Audio / Video Kit creates a wire-free solution for streaming audio and video content to an in-room TV up to 30 feet away. The product consists of three adapters: audio for speaker connectivity, VGA for a TV or monitor and Wireless USB for the hosting PC. It provides HD streaming at resolutions up to 720p and supports stereo sound. It is compatible with
Windows XP 32-bit (Service Pack 2) or Vista (32-/64-bit) operating systems and will be available in March 2009 at an MSRP of $349.95.