Sony showed this giant 82” LCD prototype, which featured LED backlighting and XVycc color space, but you can actually buy a 70” model (for $33,000) with similar technology. A special SXRD rear-projection prototype was powered by a laser rather than a light bulb and was only 10” deep. While there were many claimed advantages of using a laser as a light source, I found something just a bit wrong-looking about the picture on the SXRD prototype. The current SXRDs looked great as did the LCD sets.
Toshiba is clearly promoting its Regza LCD sets above other technologies as there were only two DLP sets shown. The new Regza line has some impressive innovations which could push Toshiba to the LCD forefront. Even the 720p sets have a dynamic backlight to improve contrast ratio by a factor of 5 and advanced 14-bit video processing (instead of 8). All 1080p models have a wider color space but the Cinema Series sets (available up to 57”) also have XVycc technology for enhanced color space conforming to the new IEC standard plus a 120 hz refresh rate. Most models are coming by April but the Cinema Series will be delayed until June/July.
Samsung had an impressive showing of newly developed LCD technology beside the old. Their LED backlit model boasted a 100,000:1 contrast ratio and a new, clearer panel for enhanced contrast and color clarity. One comparison showed how the LED backlit set, even working at 60 hz, was able to show motion as clear as a conventional set running at 120 hz. While Sharp seems to have the advantage in LCD right now, that may all change in the third quarter of this year when these new Samsung models arrive.
Sharp was showing a side-by-side comparison of last year’s 1080p LCD sets vs the new models. One comparison showed the advantage of 120 hz refresh rate vs standard 60 hz with 120 having a very obvious advantage in maintaining focus during movement. The second comparison showed the far darker blacks of the new sets, which have 3000:1 contrast ratio enhanced to 15,000:1 by the dynamic backlight. Many sizes are offered (most available now) to directly compete with plasma including a 65” model (coming early summer). The premium D92 series also features a 5-wavelength backlight for improved color. The step-down D82 series has slightly less contrast and a 4-wavelength backlight. A mega-contrast (and mega-expensive) 37” model was also shown boasting a million to one contrast ratio.
JBL's new ES Series will include a tower with six-inch woofers ($500/each), plus a center ($329), surround ($329/pair), bookshelf ($400/pair), larger bookshelf ($500/pair), and a couple of subs ($450 and $550). I'm still waiting to get my hands on the cute bottle-shaped CS 6100 unveiled at CEDIA in September 2006. It's on the way!
The ProCinema 600 sat/sub set replaces the same-sized ProCinema 60 for $799. In a more ambitious mood, DefTech also showed the mythos ST SuperTower ($1799/each) with a built-in powered SuperCube subwoofer. New in-ceiling and in-wall speakers were also announced.
Cambridge SoundWorks attempts to out-Tivoli Tivoli with a traditional AM/FM radio (none o' yer fancy digital stuff) including a six-in-one tuning dial (that is, it moves faster than your hand). It costs $120. Analog chic? Priceless.
HK's CP 55 home theater package consists of the AVR 146 receiver ($349 when bought separately) with the DVD 38 player and a lovely 5.1-channel sat/sub set in gloss black. The price is $1199 and it's shipping soon. Definitely a contender.
Replacing the value-oriented Beta Series, Infinity's new Classia Series starts with the C336 tower ($899/pair) with three six-inch woofers, a 3.5-inch midrange, and one-inch tweeter, all in the company's composite aluminum/ceramic CMD material. There's also a C225 center ($499), C205 bookshelf ($329/pair), C255BS dipole ($499/pair), and 12-inch PS-12 sub ($799). The classily shaped MDF cabinet looks like the extruded aluminum in the higher-end Cascade Series. Fed a brassy big band, the system showed off its extended treble and overall naturalness. In development: a wireless sub!