2023 CES Preview

The 2023 edition of CES opens its doors in Las Vegas on Thursday, January 5, making a full return to the in-person format upon which the world’s largest technology show was built over more than half a century. 2020 CES, which narrowly escaped the grip of the pandemic, was the last full-on show and followed by a fully virtual (and disappointing) gathering in 2021. Even last year, Covid concerns led to a vastly scaled back hybrid virtual/live affair that saw a multitude of exhibitors drop out in the weeks leading up to the show.

As CES regains its footing, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) is expecting 100,000 attendees to descend upon some 2,400 exhibitors occupying more than 2 million square feet of space across the Las Vegas Convention Center and a number of other venues and hotels. As impressive as these numbers sound, they signify an event that is still considerably smaller than the 2020 show, which attracted 171,000 attendees and hosted 4,419 exhibitors in upwards of 3 million square feet of space.

Even so, the return to normalcy is cause for celebration and, make no mistake about it, CES remains the place to be whether you’re introducing a state-of-the-art 8K TV, a new robot (including one designed to kill weeds), the latest self-driving car, or a flying vehicle. Indeed, in a CES first, RSE Aero Technologies will demonstrate the RYSE Recon, an “aerial ATV anyone can fly.” Resembling an over-sized drone, the Recon is a sight to behold and illustrates the mind-boggling breadth of CES today.

As cool as RSE’s flyable drone is, Sound & Vision’s coverage will as always focus on all that is new and special in the world of audio and video entertainment. Here’s a quick preview of a few of the new products slated for introduction this week in Las Vegas.

LG Ups its OLED Game

Once again, LG continues with its tradition of jumping starting the CES news cycle with a preview of products it plans to highlight on the show floor. The brand’s signature OLED TVs will be front and center, led by new Z3, G3 — successor to our just-announced 2022 Top Pick of the Year — and C3 evo series models.

All have been designed to deliver significantly higher brightness with improved color accuracy and clarity/detail as well as enhanced dynamic tone mapping, thanks to LG’s new Gen6 AI-based α9 (Alpha 9) image processor. A new light-control architecture and light-boosting algorithms are said to increase brightness by up to 70 percent, mapping and controlling it on a pixel-by-pixel basis. The α9 processor also brings improvements in sound through a new AI Sound Pro feature said to create a virtual 9.1.2 Dolby Atmos surround-sound experience from the TVs' built-in speaker system.

Aesthetics also get a boost in the new G3 series models thanks to a wall hugging “no visible gap” mounting bracket. Watch for a more detailed eyes-on report of the new OLED TVs after the show opens.

LG also offered a sneak peek at its 2023 soundbar lineup, which includes new SC9 and compact SE6 models designed to integrate seamlessly and wirelessly with the company’s TVs to simplify control and create an expanded soundstage with “improved height, depth, and power;” dubbed Wow Orchestra, the sound expanding feature will be activated via a software update. The new soundbars also feature what LG calls Triple Sound Technology, which uses a “triple up-firing speaker” and HRTF-based spatial technology to create a virtual mid-layer that further expands the sound field and converts two-channel audio into multichannel surround.

The new soundbars support 4K/120Hz passthrough and are equipped with an IMAX Enhanced DTS:X sound option. LG is also offering a new bracket that attaches the soundbar directly to the TV for a more integrated minimalist look.

Amp Genie Gets the Party Started

In its first CES appearance, Amp Genie will be demonstrating its namesake product, a first-of-its-kind compact signal sensing device that “listens” for music from any wired source and automatically powers up and configures your home receiver for instant playback through your main speaker system, whether the Play command originates from a streaming app, traditional remote control, voice control system, or simple button push.

The $399 Amp Genie has a database of pre-programmed infrared (IR) codes that supports all of the major receiver brands — including Yamaha, Denon, Marantz, Sony, Onkyo, Pioneer, Anthem, and AudioControl. It also features an integrated cradle for a Sonos Port or Sonos Connect streaming player and works with any analog or digital (SPDIF and optical) audio source; three types of connecting cables are included.

Setup is described as fast and easy, taking only 5 to 10 minutes and provides adjustments for input and DSP selection, volume level (25% or 50% upon wake-up), and auto power-off after 10 minutes of silence.

“This product was made by Integrators, for everyone”, explained company founder Brian Staller, who noted it saves time and frustration by eliminating extra steps and button pushes when all you want to do is kick back and listen to music over a good audio system. “In the 10 years that we’ve been installing home theater systems both our installers and clients were frustrated that there wasn’t a better receiver integration solution that married the high sound quality of a receiver with the convenience of a smart speaker. I created Amp Genie to bring back the joy of music, effortlessly.

For more information, visit ampgenie.com.

Xgimi Aims to Refine Portable Video Projection

Xgimi, the Chinese company specializing in inexpensive portable projectors, will highlight its new ISA (Intelligent Screen Adaptation) 2.0 technology in the MoGo 2 Pro portable DLP projector slated to ship later in the year. Designed to “make setup a breeze,” the technology automatically focuses and keystone-corrects the projected 1080p image, while intelligently mapping the borders of the projector screen — all in an effort to make portable video projection as flexible as possible in any environment — even outdoors.

“The intelligent focusing and stabilization occurs automatically and unnoticed by the user, as there is no physical set-up or waiting time compared to the previous [MoGo Pro] version,” Xgmi said in its pre-show press release. Brightness has also been increased slightly from 300 ANSI lumens to 350 ISO lumens, while retaining a maximum diagonal image size of 200 inches (though the company recommends not exceeding 120 inches for the best viewing experience). The updated projector also supports HDR10 high dynamic range.

Standing about 6.5 inches tall, the Mogo 2 Pro is almost an inch taller than its predecessor and, at 2.2 pounds, weighs a bit more but is still light (and small) enough to move around with one hand. Pricing not announced but the current MoGo Pro sells for $499.

Cleer Audio Previews Open-Air Wireless Earbuds

San Diego-based headphone specialist Cleer Audio will ring in the New Year with a new, improved set of open-ear wireless earbuds. Slated to ship by the end of March, the $150 ARC II earbuds are water-resistant and sit on — not in — your ears so you can enjoy music without sacrificing spatial awareness. Each bud has an ear hook that fits around the back of your ear and is rated to provide up to 8 hours of playtime per charge with an additional 27 hours possible with the charging case.

The earbuds support aptX-enabled Bluetooth with simultaneous multipoint connectivity for two devices and feature large 0.6-inch drivers. Simple touch gestures provide control over track selection, volume, calls, and accessing a voice assistant — or you can use free Cleer+ app, which also provides an equalizer for customizing music playback. The ARC II will be offered in dark or light gray.