CES Showstoppers Page 5

showstoppers-Apr05-10.jpg Receivers to Die For Like Alice after drinking from one of those mysterious bottles, flagship A/V receivers keep growing bigger and bigger. At 92 pounds, Denon's AVR-5805 (shown - $6,000) weighs more than two Olympic-weightlifting bars. Then again, this THX Ultra2-certified receiver is designed to do some heavy lifting. Taking two of audio's fundamental rules of thumb to heart - you can never have to o many channels or too much power - its ten amplifier channels are each rat ed to deliver 170 watts. How you allocate them is up to you. You can run two 5.1-channel speaker systems simultaneously, with different programs flowing through each one, or have a 5.1-channel system with up to three pairs of speakers in other zones. The unusually tall receiver can set speaker balances, distance compensation, and equalization on its own. For six grand, that's the least I'd expect. • The Denon wasn't the only THX Ultra2 receiver on growth hormones. The 140 W x 7 ratings for Marantz's 7.1-channel SR-9600 ($3,500, spring) are only 0.84 dB behind Denon's. Both receivers have FireWire and HDMI connections, auto setup, and video upconversion, suggesting that these once-rare features are here to stay. - D.R.

Cutting-Edge Speakers showstoppers-Apr05-12.jpgBuying speakers no longer means having to choose between form and function, and this year's CES saw two new models that pushed design and performance boundaries. • Polk Audio's LC265ip ($3,500 to $4,000 a pair, summer) is the first IP (Internet protocol) addressable in-wall speaker - which means it can receive digital audio signals, and even have its controls tweaked, via a home network or over the Internet. Integrated modules allow IP-based audio systems like NetStreams DigiLinx to find the speakers on the network and send them uncompressed digital signals. The speakers have built-in digital signal processing (DSP) circuitry and digital amplification. • The TSS-4000 system (shown - $3,994) is the new flagship in Infinity 's acclaimed Total Solutions line. With their swivel-bracket wall mounts and three different sizes of shelf stands, the TSS-SAT4000 satellite speakers and TSS-CENTER4000 center speaker offer lots of installation flexibility. You can even buy a flush-mount kit ($50 per speaker) to put them into the wall. - J.S.

showstoppers-Apr05-11.jpg HDTV's New Tricks It's taken awhile, but the first HDTVs with built-in hard drives are finally here. Sets like Mitsubishi 's DLP-based 62-inch WD-62825G (shown - $6,000) and 52-inch WD-52825G ($5,500) record high- and standard-def shows onto massive hard drives, allowing for integrated electronic program guides (EPGs) and TiVo-like features such as time-shifting and pausing, fast-forwarding, and rewinding live TV. The Mitsubishi sets have 120-gigabyte (GB) drives that can store up to 12 hours of high-def or 72 hours of standard-def shows. • Meanwhile, LG 's 60-inch 60PY2DR ($16,000) and 50-inch 50PY2DR ($9,000) plasma TVs have 160-GB hard drives and use TV Guide's EPG. Both are due in stores this spring. • The original TiVo service is available in a combo - although standard-def - TV. The Humax LT2650 ($2,495, spring) is a 26-inch flat-panel LCD with both a TiVo-powered hard-drive recorder and a DVD recorder. • There's something to be said for integrating all of those functions into one cabinet. I'll take a 1080p plasma with a terabyte TiVo recorder and a Blu-ray Disc recorder, please. - David Katzmaier