CES 2009

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Shane Buettner  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  1 comments
Panasonic’s DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55 players have been ensconced in our Top Picks since last fall. That they’ve been replaced by the DMP-BD60 and DMP-BD80 is significant in and of itself, but that’s not the half of it. The core DVD/BD functionality remains the same on the new players, which means top notch BD and DVD playback. Both are BD-Live capable (and they still require the user to buy SD media for storage which remains my only gripe with the players). But what’s new is Viera Cast. Through this networked player users can now access Internet sourced content from YouTube, Picasa photo sharing, Bloomberg Weather Channel and now Amazon Video On Demand. I think players like this one, and those from LG and Samsung will expand Blu-ray’s growth exponentially this year. I think there’s a better opportunity for players with more value-add features at higher prices than players that only play movies at even cheaper prices. Not forcing users to choose between Blu-ray and streaming/downloading is a big plus in my book. Plus, nothing will make Blu-ray’s strengths more apparent than easy direct comparison to streaming video. The new players will be available this spring. Pricing was not determined yet but I'd expect them to be in line with current pricing on the BD35 and BD55.
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  2 comments
Consumers can now pump up their DVR experience with Digeo’s Moxi high-def DVR. This HD DVR is aimed solely at digital cable subscribers. It requires a multistream CableCARD, and allows users to record two shows while watching already recorded programs. In addition to a slick proprietary interface, the Moxi ships with 500GB of internal storage. That’s 75 hours of HD recording, which more than doubles what I’ve got in my Comcast DVR. But cooler still is that the eSATA port is active and you can increase that storage to 2 terabytes! Remote web scheduling is allowed and happens in real-time. Although On-demand dover cable doesn’t work with Multistream CableCARD there is a host of content that can be streamed from the Internet, including Flickr photo sharing, Finetune, and weather and sports info. Digeo says more will follow. HT has already acquired one of these units for review, so there’s more to follow. Digeo also threw out another tidbit- the Moxi Mate pictured here on top of the DVR will allow users to network the Moxi experience throughout the house cost effectively. As a sign of the times, Digeo is launching this component with Amazon as its exclusive retailer. Or, e-tailer if you will. Available now at $799.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  1 comments
The 1.25-inch Teteron tweeter in this year-old DCM speaker line is called "synthetic silk." It's said to be as thin as silk, distinguishing it from other synthetic drivers, but is stronger and impervious to moisture. Here it's part of the TFE200 tower ($1000/pair), TFE60C center ($350), and TFE160BDP bipole/diple surround ($500/pair). DCM makes it and the other drivers used in the series, which include 6.5-inch kevlar or glass fiber woofers.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
The Panasonic Z1 series should be in a store near you come June. The TC-P54Z1, shown here, is not only roughly 1.5" thick, but can wirelessly transmit a full 1080p/60 image up to 30 feet in the same room without adding additional compression to the image data. Moreover, it weighs just 67 lbs. The inputs are located in a separate box together with the wireless transmitter (shown below the screen, along with the receiver box which must sit near the set.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
This diminutive speaker (about as high as the water bottle sitting beside it), uses two 3.5", full-range drivers. While it may be used as a surround, its real purpose is as the first speaker specifically designed for use in the new Dolby height format, Pro Logic IIz (discussed in an early blog). No price as yet; this was an early prototype.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  1 comments
The AVR600 ($5000, bottom) is the first HDMI receiver from British manufacturer Arcam and therefore the company's first model to support lossless surround. It's HDMI 1.3, of course -- otherwise why bother? -- with five ins and two outs. The seven times 120 watt amp is Class G, which combines Class AB power output with a linear tracking power supply that ensures peaks are well-supplied with juice. Though Arcam had previously used Class G in HTiB products, this is the first implementation in an a/v receiver. Shipping in February. The company also showed a prototype of a forthcoming Blu-ray Profile 2.0 player (top) – Tom has the details below.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  1 comments
Joseph Audio announced the Pulsar, a two-way stand mount speaker that will retail for $7000/pair when it streets later this year. There's no center channel, but if you can spare the dime you could buy five (or seven) of them for identical performance in each channel!
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  1 comments
Both of Samsung’s new BD players, the uber cool hang-on-the-wall BD-P4600 (shown here) and BD-P3600 look good and are fully loaded BD players with BD-Live and full audio decoding. But finally, a manufacturer has acknowledged that not everyone has hardwired Ethernet near their AV gear. Samsung includes a W-Fi dongle for both of these players. The PlayStation 3 has been alone in offering this feature far too long. Bravo Samsung!
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
JVC’s TH-SB100 raises the soundbar to a new level. Not only does it ship with a BD-Live capable Blu-ray player, this “3.1-channel” system includes left, right and center channels plus a wireless subwoofer for the boom king. Ok, like all “wireless” speakers we’ve seen AC is required, but you get the drift. Available in April for $699.
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
No pricing or availability was set yet, but Panasonic showed this portable Blu-ray player, which includes the same capabilities as its standard players. It uses the same outstanding UniPhier decoding/processing chip the standalone players do, and here’s a trick- it also has an HDMI out so you can plug it into your TV when you get back home from your road trip. Because you can doesn’t mean you will, but that’s still kinda cool.
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
Vivitek was the only manufacturer I found showing DLP projection with an LED light source. And there’s good reason for that- the company claims an exclusive deal with Texas Instruments on its LED-based DLP light engines. This technology is significant in two areas- no bulb replacements, ever, and no more color separation “rainbow” artifacts. The H6080FD is full 1080p, and incorporates TI’s DynamicBlack dynamic iris system. The image was being shown on a very small screen by front projection standards, but had a lot of pop and detail with rainbows nowhere to be seen. The 6080 is due later this year at an MSRP of $19,999. This is a new wrinkle we’re very anxious to get a closer look at!
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  1 comments
The RBH 8300 tower ($8300/pair) is second from top of the line. It has three eight-inch woofers, two 6.5-inch mids, and a 1.1-inch silk dome tweeter. Except for the tweeter, sourced from ScanSpeak, all drivers are proprietary. Thirty finishes are available. Matching center and other models will spring from the loins of RBH's designers in due time.
Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
Hitachi showed a prototype of a motion sensing TV that could be controlled simply by waving your hand in front of its sensor. On screen circles and arcs help you determine the volume levels and other controls. Simply applaud the end of your show (clap your hands) to turn the TV off. It’s estimated that this won’t be available until 2010 or 2011.
Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  1 comments
Panasonic showed a prototype of a TV remote control that works on technology like that of a mouse touchpad on your laptop. Actually, it is equipped with two touchpads and is motion sensing. A point and click technology, the secret is in the onscreen navigation and onscreen virtual remote. Turning it sideways you can thumb-type—like you would for texting—on the onscreen virtual keyboard. The cartoon thumbs that appear onscreen to show you what you are clicking on definitely add a comic personality to this interface.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
This company, once known for beautifully simple and relatively affordable British-made turntables, has branched out into other territories, including the Screen 2 on-wall speaker ($4399/pair). It's roughly four feet tall, and weighs 44 pounds, but is just four inches deep. The driver array includes an eight-inch woofer, two five-inch mids, and one-inch tweeter. The wall bracket is a simple two-piece affair. One part attaches to the wall and the other part to the speaker, so it's easy to remove the speaker from the wall. Revolver has an even bigger on-wall in the planning stage.