CES 2012

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Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Not much has emerged from the Denmark-born Jamo speaker brand since its acquisition by the Klipsch Group, now itself acquired by Audiovox. But that's changing with a bevy of new Jamo products including the MS25 satellite speaker shown here. What a civilian might identify as a tweeter firing into a spoon is actually Jamo's implementation of OmniPolar technology acquired along with Mirage. This new design was reshaped by authentic Danish designers. There will be no new products labeled Mirage, bringing an end to the historic Canadian speaker brand. The product development guy who briefed us punctuated his presentation by saying "Mirage is a brand, OmniPolar is a technology"—a technology living on under another banner.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
As reported by our colleague Darryl Wilkinson, the Klipsch press conference mentioned the G-17 Air compact system, whose drivers and flat enclosure hail from the new Gallery line, and the ginormous one-piece Console, the latter to be produced in Klipsch's hometown of Hope, Arkansas. But the latter was not shown at the time, so here it is. Interesting, the bleeding-edge Palladium and other higher-end Klipsch lines are moving their manufacturing from China back to Arkansas due to higher costs in the former. This isn't a knock against the Chinese but we can't help feeling pleased that more Klipsch speakers are going to be made in America.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
The Atlantic Technology exhibit at the Venetian featured the first 5.0-channel demo of the smaller H-PAS speaker. We hope to atone for this awful picture of of it with a quasi-review in our print mag. What depraved impulse moved us to go gallivanting off to Vegas when this product was sitting in our bedroom? H-PAS uses a variety of construction techniques to produce deep, true bass without resorting to a sub. While this demo was less than ideal, we could still hear an ideally proportioned rhythm section with precisely pitched bass guitar tones and good impact from the drums. Closing our eyes actually made it sound better: Once we were freed from the tyranny of visually reinforced preconceptions, our ears told us this was the good stuff. Incidentally, the speaker will be sold in single units, so if you want five or seven of them, no sweat.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Vegas is a brutal town and, like Stephen Mejias, we hate it. Among its few saving graces: Guests at a half-dozen elite hotels can travel to the convention center via monorail. It almost makes up for the obnoxious mini-bar fridge policy at one stop on the monorail, Harrah's: If you purchase your own drinks and leave them to chill, the management will confiscate them. A label inside the mini-bar fridge says so. Sure enough: it happened. Thanks Harrah's. Let us return the favor.
Al Griffin  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments

Sony’s sprawling CES press event was about. . . OK, it was about a lot of things. I took notes! According to the company’s overview release, it is “giving consumers more access to more content whenever and however they want it.”

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  1 comments
Photo by Barb Gonzalez
Freelance home-theater journalist Geoff Morrison and I spent a pleasant hour discussing 3D on a CES panel called "3DTV: From Theater to Living Room." Topics ranged from 3D technology in commercial cinemas and at home, the objections to 3D voiced by many, what we might see in the future, our own opinions about the subject, and answers to audience questions. A fun time was had by all!
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
After flying under the radar for awhile, BenQ is back with a new home-theater projector, the W7000 ($3999, currently shipping). Like all BenQ projectors, this one is based on DLP, but it's the company's first 1080p model to offer 3D, using active glasses with DLP Link instead of IR or RF sync. The W7000 is said to produce the Rec.709 color gamut and 2000 lumens of light output, and its dynamic iris is available in 3D mode. I watched a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides presented on a Screen Innovations Black Diamond II screen, and it looked quite good, even with some room light, though darkening the room completely certainly looked better.
Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  2 comments
Roku showed a network media player that is simply a large dongle that connects directly to your TV set. Shrinking the already small Roku 2 design even more, the new device doesn’t reduce the content or experience.

The Roku dongle will connect to an HDMI port on your TV. It will not come with its own remote. Instead, once connected, you can use the TV remote to navigate the Roku’s home screen, channels and to control playback.

Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Dish Network will bring Blockbuster@Home and an expanded version of HBO On Demand and Cinemax on Demand to customers who haven’t been able to stream movies and TV shows because they have slow internet. “Dish Unplugged” will stream content directly to the “Hopper” DVR via satellite.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
At the conclusion of Sony's press conference, American Idol sensation Kelly Clarkson performed her tune "Mr. Know-It-All" with acoustic guitar. The sound system was too loud, and I'm not a big fan of hers, but the audience seemed to enjoy it immensely.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
The Sony press conference was very short on details regarding home-theater products—we'll have to get that info in the booth over the next few days. But the company is still clearly bullish on 3D, showing a 3D trailer for Men In Black 3, after which star Will Smith and director Barry Sonnenfeld (right) took the stage with Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer (left) for some lighthearted banter.
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  2 comments
Not to be outdone by its cross-town rival LG, Samsung introduced its own 55-inch 3D OLED TV at its press conference today. This gorgeous, ultra-thin masterpiece incorporates a dual-core chipset that allows multiple Samsung apps to run simultaneously. Like the company's other high-end TVs, this one includes Smart Interaction technology that lets you manage your TV experience with motion control, voice control, and face recognition. Welcome to the next generation of television!
Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Samsung's new lineup of LED-edgelit LCD TVs is topped by the flagship ES8000 series, available in screen sizes up to 75 inches. Cutting-edge image-enhancing technologies are said to provide a brighter picture and greater contrast, and the dual-core chipset allows multiple apps to run at the same time. Users can control the TV with the company's new Smart Interaction technology, which includes voice control and gesture control using a built-in camera. Also, face recognition automatically logs into each family member's Smart TV account.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  1 comments
THX has been applying its grey cells to the power amplifier, as THX grey eminence Laurie Fincham explained. The prototype shown uses what he calls a Class ABC topology with newly tweaked rail-switching power supply and compact ceramic (as opposed to bulky electrolytic) capacitors, all run off a lithium iron phosphate battery (yes, iron, not ion). In the picture you see a super-skinny two-channel output stage; adding capacitors would make it only 25 percent larger. Anyway, the result is a powerful low-profile amp that runs cool and efficient, avoiding both the power piggery of Class A and the problematic performance of Class D. And yes, it sounded great with Sonus Faber speakers and Steely Dan's "Gaslighting Abbie," achieving both well controlled bass and a high degree of overall transparency. Why this, why now? Fincham points out that his team is liberated from the tyranny of the product development cycle, enabling them to take a longer view and to incorporate ideas from the entire history of audio going back to the 1920s but also including the latest tricks. For example, the type of battery used is relatively new to audio but has been deployed in things like power tools and electric bikes. The THX amp design has yet to be built into licensed product but current licensees are getting their first look at this show. Potential uses include everything from inexpensive compact products to BD-receivers to high-end multichannel amps.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
THX's long-promised Media Director technology has finally found its way into products including two Sharp Elite LCD TV models and the Acurus ACT4 preamp-processor. Media Director automates the selection of video parameters for Blu-ray and DVD titles, saving the less tech-savvy consumer a giant pounding headache. This can be something as basic as selecting 2D or 3D mode or something more subtle. In the example somewhat fuzzily shown, under "Video Processing Flags," are two entries reading: "Video content is intentionally noisy." And: "Video content contains film grains" [sic]. It works not only with Media Director encoded content but also with regular content when the disc is played in a BD-Live enabled Blu-ray player which will go online to grab the data from the THX database. If you're not ready to ante up for a top-line TV for the kitchen, you might still get limited Media Director functionality in a non-Media Director product. It's great that this newbie-empowering technology is finally seeing implementation.