CES 2014

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
For 2014 Vizio announced three new lines of HDTVs in a bewildering range of sizes. The big news is that all of the new sets, including the cheapest 23-incher in the budget E-Series, will have full array LED backlighting with local dimming. The only compromise is in the number of LED zones behind the screen. The E-Series will have 16—not a lot, but at least potentially better than the edge lighting used in most other sets at equivalent or higher prices). The more upscale M-Series (shown in the photo) will have 32 zones.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Vizio also announced five new Ultra HD sets in its P-Series. These UHD designs will have 64 zones of local dimming and will be available in 5-inch increments from 50-inches ($999!) to 70-inches ($2600). They will, of course, have all of Vizio’s smart TV features.
Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  First Published: Jan 08, 2014  |  1 comments
The second installment of the hi-res music panels focused on content creation. Clearly, garbage-in, garbage-out. For great-sounding music in our homes, we must rely on engineers and producers to create it in the studio. Complicating that picture is the fact that artists and labels must also agree that sound quality is an important part of the job at hand. The panel tackled those and many other hi-res issues.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  First Published: Jan 08, 2014  |  0 comments
The International CES is where new technologies are launched. Experts discuss what the market potential is, what consumers in that market really want, and how companies can deliver it. To that end, a show-within-the-show was created for hi-res music and the emerging market for high-fidelity recordings. Three panels are being presented, each with industry leaders with their pulse on hi-res music. The first panel discussed opportunities and challenges associated with the licensing and distribution of hi-res music recordings. Two subsequent panels will discuss ways to create and archive hi-res content, as well as ways to market hi-res titles.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Topping off Vizio’s 2014 offerings will be the company’s new Ultra HD Reference Series. The big news here is the inclusion of Dolby’s new High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology. The Reference Series panels are capable of 800 nits of peak lunimance (just under 234 foot-lamberts).
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
The Holy Grail of 3D has long been 3D without glasses—technically known as autostereoscopic 3D. But past CES demos of this technology have been notable duds.

The only way to do 3D without glasses is to process the image so that the images to each eye are isolated. But this has a side effect. You can see the 3D when viewed straight on. Move off center by a few degrees and the 3D disappears, taking some image quality with it. Move a bit further off-axis and the 3D returns. And so on—and off. The result is you get 3D only in a limited range of viewing zones, and poor image quality in others.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Two Sony events two days in a row told two radically different stories about what you might want in an amplifier. In Monday's press-day event, news of the STR-DN1050 surround receiver arrived in a single run-on sentence that also referred to several other products. Wish we knew more; ship date and price were unavailable. But Sony has been on a roll with its receivers and we hope to get this one in for review ASAP. Afterward we jumped onto the stage and disrupted someone's video shot just long enough to grab a pic. In a special event Tuesday, reporters were treated to the extraordinary story of how amplifier genius Nelson Pass resurrected the VFET, a nearly forgotten 40-year-old Sony technology, and built a couple dozen pairs of them into a 250-watt mono-block design which he promptly turned over to Sony as an apparent gesture of audiophile love and respect, probably mixed with a healthy practicality. Again, marketing details were scanty, but that does not diminish the story's cool factor. As a kicker, we were also told that our long-awaited sample of the HAP-S1 high-resolution DAC-amp will soon arrive. It's been an eventful couple of days!
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Having marketed soundbars for a couple of years in Europe, Maxell is bringing them to the United States. The top model is the SSB-4W ($299, shipping now), a console-type bar with SRS surround tech, HDMI times three, two bottom-firing woofers, and four smaller drivers across the front. Stop the servers: It has a fiberboard enclosure, as opposed to plastic. Could this be the ultimate killer budget bar? The USB port is also a charger.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  3 comments
Dynaudio has rethought its Excite line, of which the smallest member is the X14 ($1500/pair). Just about every part has been overhauled, including the one-inch silk dome tweeter, said to have 65 percent more usable surface area than a typical same-sized driver; and a 5.25-inch proprietary woofer made of magnesium silicate polymer. Yes, there's a matching horizontal center, the X24 ($1000). There's not an Excite sub as such but Dynaudio suggests the 10-inch Sub 250. All shipping end of January.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
The audio industry, so given to soul searching and navel gazing, does have a reason to exist and here's how Audioengine's Dave Evans describes it: "Because you love music." Really, isn't it as simple as that? If it's not it should be. The maker of the giant-killer A2 compact powered speakers, great for the desktop and our TV speaker of choice, recently introduced the USB-driven A2+, which we've just reviewed. New for CES was the D2 USB thumb DAC, selling for $189 and shipping since late last year. We'll got our acquisitive eye on that too.
Bob Ankosko  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
If you patiently search the big-name booths at 2014 CES you’ll find a couple old-fashioned Blu-ray Disc players tucked away—far away—from the gleaming Ultra HD TVs everyone is ogling over. But you really have to hunt. My Day One travels in the cavernous main hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center turned up a couple models, both of which offered new features.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Paris-based KEEKER was one of more than a dozen participants using an appearance at ShowStoppers LaunchIt Power Session at CES2014 to give the company’s pitch for higher-level funding and partnerships to a panel of judges. KEEKER is part mobile computer, part robot, part home entertainment system, and part security system. It looks a bit like a large, 16-inch wide by 25-inch tall egg on wheels; and it contains a built-in projector, 360-degree sound system, and a lot more. It’s either one of the silliest ideas here at CES2014, or it’s going to be a paradigm breaker. For example, one of the benefits touted in the brief pitch session was the ability of KEEKER to bring the TV to the viewer, rather than force the viewer to sit passively in front of the traditional “black box” TV set. The built-in projector can be used to display an image on any wall or ceiling. Since KEEKER is on a motorized, wheeled platform, it can be instructed to move anywhere in your home – displaying the news on the wall in your dining room, for example, and then rolling into your bedroom and shining a late-night TV show on the ceiling. (Or substitute a variety of viewing situations and content based on your own experiences.) In fact, later in the day, KEEKER was out and about in the hotel hallways displaying video on the vaulted ceiling above. KEEKER is shooting for a release date of sometime in the fourth quarter of 2014 with a tentative selling price of $5,000.
Al Griffin  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Drones are big news these days (a recent 60 Minutes piece on Amazon’s drone package-delivery plans drove the hype machine to full throttle), so it comes as no surprise that drones—or Unmanned Aerial Systems, as manufacturers of consumer-grade drones like to call them—are a category here at CES. One maker, DJI, even held a press conference to introduce its new Phantom 2 Vision, a quadcopter with a built-in 14 megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p video (4 GB micro SD card included).
Leslie Shapiro  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
While most press conferences here at CES are geared towards big, life-changing electronics, there is a growing segment of conferences and products devoted to kids and families. While most companies target products to women by making them smaller and well, cuter, other companies are recognizing that moms also purchase serious technology to make their lives easier. Another oft-overlooked segment is the educational and children’s technology market.

Al Griffin  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
As promising as the first two OLED TVs to hit the market, a pair of 55-inchers from LG and Samsung, were, there was one problem with both: their screens were curved. That’s why the 55-inch OLED model hanging in Chinese TV-maker Hisense’s booth caught my eye.