CES 2013

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Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 10, 2013  |  0 comments
Every CES is loaded with exhibits from hopefuls looking to make their mark. Many of these tales of aspiration and struggle are never told. Let us say up front that Taiwan-based oBravo does not yet sell its products in the United States. However, its AI-25P powered sat/sub set got our attention with its folded ribbon tweeter, which produced remarkable detail with violin, acoustic guitar, and other stringed instruments. The 2.1-channel system including speakers, sub, compact amp, and dock would sell for $2500. Note that the dock has the 30-pin Apple connector but a snap-in module adapts it to the new Lighting connector.
Rob Sabin  |  Jan 07, 2013  |  0 comments
At its pre-CES press conference, LG Electronics announced that 2013 will see the release of new uber-TVs—two new 4K-resolution UltraHD models and a long-awaited 55-inch OLED display.

The OLED, which went to market in Asia late last year, will be arriving at U.S. retailers in March, LG representatives said, at a suggested retail price of $12,000.

Two new UltraHD models at the 55-inch and 65-inch sizes...

Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 11, 2013  |  0 comments
New TVs will have home screens like media players for viewers to choose what app or source they want to watch.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2013  |  1 comments
Panasonic and Sony have teamed up to produce OLED panels using a (presumably more productive and thus likely more economical) printing technique. If successful, the company's will share panels though go their own way on electronics. Should be interesting to watch. This 4K, 56-inch Panasonic OLED did look fabulous. Of the OLEDs on display at the show, only Sony's and Panasonic's were 4K.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  1 comments
Panasonic is introducing 32 new HDTVs at the 2013 CES—16 plasmas and 16 LCDs. The Plasmas range in size from 42- to 64-inches, and the LCD sets cover the ground between 32- and 65-inches.

When Panasonic first started shipping LCD displays a couple of years back, it restricted the LCD lineup to sizes impractical for its HD plasmas, that is, under 42-inches. No longer; bigger sets are now “in,” so the company clearly sees a future in both technologies. But rumors to the contrary, plasmas remain an integral part of Panasonic’s HDTV lineup.

Only brief comments at the press event related to any improvements in basic video performance. As we’ve witnessed from some manufacturers so far on this CES press day, the presentation centered on enhancements to the set’s “Smart” features. This year, Panasonic’s interactive menus allow each member of the family to customize the menu to favor their favorite sites. It can save separate favorites for each member of the family, and even recognize each viewer with its built-in camera (scary!) and switch to the appropriate menu for that individual.

So when I turn on one of these new Panasonics, will it default to the calibration controls?

Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2013  |  2 comments
We've all been wondering when Panasonic would make use of some of the Pioneer Kuro knowledge that Pioneer engineers brought with them when they went to work at Panasonic some three years ago whewn Pioneer left the TV business (Panasonic also reportedly licensed some Kuro technology). We won't know for certain until we get our hands on one of the new Panasonic ZT series sets when they come out in the spring (in 60- and 65-inch sizes. But in a dark room demonstration, the blacks looked considerably deeper than the blacks from last year's well-received VT series sets. There will be new sets in all of Panasonic's plasma lines, of course (and LCD sets as well), but its the ZT that has us champing at the bit. Prices are as yet unknown, but hopefully they won't be outrageously higher that the VT series (perhaps $1000 or so more?).
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  0 comments
If you want to see the future of Paradigm's Signature line, take a closer look at the 30th anniversary speakers shipping soon including the Tribute tower and Inspiration monitor. The wood veneer enclosures, a Paradigm first, will probably trickle down to Signature and the woofers come from the existing Signature. Shipping has been pushed from December 2012 to February 2013 and the originally envisioned limited run of 400 units may be increased though not much.
Bob Ankosko  |  Jan 11, 2013  |  0 comments
The Fidelio HTL9100 soundbar Philips introduced at CES is the first we’ve seen with detachable wireless speakers. Remove the compact enclosures from either end of the wing-like soundbar and the system automatically shifts from virtual surround to discrete 5.1 surround. The speakers’ on-board amplifiers are battery powered and said to run up to 10 hours when fully charged. Other highlights include Bluetooth connectivity for streaming music from smartphones and tablets, two HDMI inputs, and a sensor/equalizer that detects whether the soundbar is mounted on the wall or sitting on a shelf and adjusts the sound accordingly. The HTL9100 comes with a wireless subwoofer and will be available in May with a suggested retail price of $800.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 11, 2013  |  0 comments
Plex is a media server and suite of apps for your computer, mobile devices, a variety of connected devices that helps you access and control your local and online media from just about anywhere and easily share it with friends and family. There are specific versions of Plex apps for Roku boxes, LG TVs, Samsung TVs, and Google TV. If it really is the “bacon of media apps”, though, digital-media-savvy vegetarians are going to be left out.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2013  |  0 comments
When I asked if the Polk Woodbourne one-piece audio system, discussed earlier here, can be used as a soundbar, the answer was yes,since it includes at least one digital input and can decode Dolby Digital. At it's $599 price, that's a bonus likely to be useful to the right customers. The white grille cloth, however, might be better in black in that application.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 09, 2013  |  1 comments
A lot of compact wireless audio systems have crossed our desk over the last few years but the forthcoming Polk Woodbourne, named for a neighborhood in the company's native Baltimore, is different. It has a fiberboard (not plastic enclosure) and the enclosure is sealed (not ported). Wireless options include both AirPlay and Bluetooth apt-X. Power is 70 watts RMS for each woofer and 20 for each tweeter. The demo was impressive for its spaciousness, thanks to the outward-aiming mounting of tweeters on the far sides of the curved baffle. We could close our eyes and imagine we were hearing a larger system. Pricing will be $599 when it arrives between April and June. Polk also showed the new TSx series which replaces the TSi. There are three towers, two monitors, and two centers in cherry or black. Woofers are polypropylene impregnated with other materials so that the intrinisic resonances of any one material are canceled out. Their size has increased in the towers and the larger center from 5.25 to six inches for bigger bass. Pricing ranges from $199 for the smallest center to $999/pair for the biggest tower.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2013  |  0 comments
The Habitat1 powered subwoofer from REL is not only wireless (meaning that no wired connection is needed to your AVR, though of course you must plug it into the wall!) but is designed to fit inconspicuously against the wall. There are two active 6.5-inch drivers, a 10-inch passive radiator, and 200W of amplification. More than one may be daisy chained together if desired. The passive radiator sits in the back and given space to breathe by spacers that separate the enclosure from the wall by an inch or so. A stand will also be available to those who don't wish to drill holes in their walls. $2000, available in April.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 09, 2013  |  2 comments
The Revel Rhythm2 has an 18-inch aluminum driver with four-inch voice coil backed up with 2000 watts. Of course like any state-of-the-art sub it can be room corrected via USB, in this case with a third-party measuring tool. But this one is slightly unusual because it takes into account the bass output of the speakers as well as that of the sub. The demo was impressively powerful though marred by an unavoidable rattle in the room ventilation—if you want to own a sub this powerful, you may need to invest a little extra to make the room fit for it!
Tom Norton  |  Jan 10, 2013  |  0 comments
The upcoming Samsung OLED was discussed earlier in this report (scroll further down) but the flat version, at least (a Samsung curved OLED is shown here) may sport a unique feature. It can display two totally different 3D programs on the screen simultaneously. These images are then separated out by using 3D-like active glasses that pass only the program the individual wants to watch. But how can it do this and still maintain full 1920 x 1080 resolution? Because the glasses alternate twice as fast as they normally would. That means that the images must flash on the screen twice as fast as on an ordinary 3D set. They can only do this because OLEDs can switch blindingly fast. The demo we saw worked flawlessly,though the issue of isolating the sound effectively is still open. This means that in addition to brilliant color, inky blacks (the light from the OLEDs can switch off instantaneously at the pixel level when required), and off-axis performance equal to plasma, there should be no more motion blur on an OLED HDTV than is present in the source.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  0 comments
Samsung claims to be showing the world's first curved OLED, but there seems to be some dispute about that (see below). Nevertheless, you'll see flat OLEDs in Vin's Video Barn before you see curved ones. Exactly when we'll see the flat versions remains a question mark. LG has starting to sell them in Korea either now or claims it will do so shortly, but the US availability date will be later. Samsung claims in June of this year or later. Expect prices between $10,000 and $12,000 for the only size anticipated for now: 55-inches (the 56-inch Sony shown below does not have a delivery date). How that will stand up in the market against the increasingly cheaper big-screen designs remains to be seen.

One thing is certain: OLED can trump any current display technology in a wide range of important performance parameters. The off-axis performance and black level quality comes through in this photo, even on a your computer screen, which itself will certainly have a far poorer black level.