CES 2011

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Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 06, 2011  |  0 comments
One of the few loudspeaker-related audio demos on the floor at South Hall was the DTS demo of 11.1 surround with extra channels for height and width enhancement. It actually started with a mere 7.1 movie demo and worked its way up to footage of two savvy musician slash sound designers using a combination of acoustic instruments and electronic processing to create a height- and width-enhanced soundscape. The instruments included one that combined the functions of bass violin, cello, viola, and fiddle. A tree was also used as a musical instrument. It was noteworthy that the demo relied on 11.1 more for aesthetic effect (hmmm, that sounds nice) than for realism -- that is, an evocation of something that happens in the real world and is reproduced convincingly. From our seat in the back and off center, the effect was pleasing but not something we'd cite as grounds for adding numerous speakers to a basic 5.1 surround system. However, our colleague Josh Zyber saw another DTS 11.1 demo at Nobu two nights prior and said it was very impressive, with strong imaging in places you wouldn't expect. The pic, incidentally, is what folks saw while waiting in line for the 11.1 demo: other showgoers in raptures over DTS headphone technology.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 06, 2011  |  0 comments
Optoma introduced the Neo-I, an all-in-one AV iPod dock with a built-in pico projector, speakers, 16-watt amplifier, and an HDMI input. The promotional materials say it’s capable of projecting up to a 120-inch image, but I think that’s pushing it a bit. Skins will be available for the bezel surrounding the speaker grilles that will allow you to personalize the dock. MSRP is $449.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 06, 2011  |  0 comments
IOGEAR took the wraps off a prototype of a Wireless 3D Media Kit that can wirelessly stream HD video and audio up to 100 feet and supports full HD 3D video with resolutions up to 1080p (24/30/60 fps) along with 5.1-channel digital audio. The transmitter includes four HDMI inputs, one composite, one component, and one USB. The receiver has one HDMI output and one USB port. The USB ports are to be used with wireless keyboards (which IOGEAR also happens to make). The receiver also has built-in IR that allows control of hidden source devices. Each transmitter can support up to four receivers. Price for one kit (includes one transmitter and one receiver) is projected to be under $500 when it begins shipping sometime in June of 2011.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 05, 2011  |  0 comments
A life-size mannequin of Chinese basketball wonder Yao Ming was the most visually striking element of Monster Cable's typically eventful pre-show press conference. This "aspirational figure" says he integrates technology into his busy life because "music helps me achieve." He promo-toured China with Monster last summer, but what really raises an eyebrow is that Monster has opened 10 Yao stores in China. Entire stores devoted to a single marketing idea. Wow.

Monster now has 34.9 percent market share in headphones, thanks to its Beats line, with only Bose even coming close. Last year's Miles Davis Trumpet earbuds have gone into a second generation at a lower $299 price point. The "world's smallest" in-earphones achieve their small size by building the driver into the tip, not the body. Trumpet-valve-like controls are built into the cord. A release of Davis' classic Sketches in Spain in surround complements the product.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 05, 2011  |  0 comments
Recession? What recession? Panasonic's TV sales were up 30 percent in December 2010 over the previous year, the company reported at today's press event -- and sales of Viera sets were up 45 percent. So the little logo projected above the doorway in the picture above is one potent little symbol. The biggest sellers were 54-, 58-, and 65-inch sets. Areas of future growth include 3DTV, projected to rise to 32 percent of the worldwide market by 2014, and IPTV, expected to hit 42 percent the same year.

Perhaps the biggest news for 3DTV fans is that Panasonic will push for a standard for active-shutter glasses. For consumers, this would be a big improvement over the current balkanized situation, with each manufacturer having its own type. Panasonic says eyewear interoperability would drive growth. We're guessing it would also help the company defend its investment in active-shutter 3DTV technology at a time when passive 3DTV is starting to arrive from Vizio and LG. Panasonic is also opening a 3D Innovation Center to foster production technology in Hollywood. A new committee of the International 3D Society will do the same in Japan. Panasonic also seeded the student filmmaking community with 3D camcorders, with results to be chronicled on the website of the Campus Movie Fest.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 14, 2010  |  7 comments

Driving from Las Vegas to LA, I had to stop and get a picture of my favorite highway sign, which marks the exit to Zzyzx, California, an unincorporated settlement in San Bernardino County and the former site of the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa that is now occupied by the California State University Desert Studies Center. My ride was a 2010 Lincoln MKZ on loan from THX so I could evaluate the car's THX-certified multichannel sound system. I played a wide variety of music on CD and DVD-Audio, including jazz, classical, and rock as well as two CDs I recorded—one with my wife, Joanna Cazden, and the other with my avant-garde trio Many Axes.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 14, 2010  |  5 comments

Another CES has come and gone. This was my 15th, near as I can figure—an odd coincidence, since, according to my pedometer, I walked nearly 15 miles during the 2010 geekfest.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 11, 2010  |  0 comments

In addition to all the 3D flat panels on the show floor, there were also a few 3D front-projection demos, including one from Optoma at the low end of the price spectrum. I've always been impressed with the quality and value of Optoma DLP projectors, but its 3D demo was very disappointing—it wasn't even 1080p! The projector was the 720p HD66, and the source was an HQFS (High Quality Field Sequential) DVD playing at 480i through a composite connection. There were jaggies galore, and the sense of depth was very unconvincing. A separate demo of 3D stills, from which this photo was taken, looked better, as I would expect with no motion.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 11, 2010  |  0 comments

Sensio is one of several companies that provide 3D infrastructure to manufacturers. In fact, Vizio announced at the show that it will use Sensio technology in its XVTPRO720SV LCD TV, and THX Media Director now incorporates Sensio's 3D flag, which allows a compatible TV to automatically switch between 2D and 3D depending on the content. According to the company, the algorithm encodes the right and left views of a 3D image into one datastream that requires no more bandwidth than a 2D signal, and it works with any type of 3D display technology.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 11, 2010  |  3 comments

Samsung's flagship C6000 ultra-thin LED LCD TV provides a super-cool, full-color touchscreen remote. In addition to controlling the TV, it can also display a live video signal, though I can't see why you'd want to watch the remote when you have a big, beautiful TV in the same room.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 11, 2010  |  1 comments

DTS-HD Master Audio is nothing new, of course, but the 7.1 demo sounded superb using standard home-theater gear, including a Sony PS3, Onkyo TX-HR3007 AVR, Definitive Technology Mythos 1 speakers, and Earthquake subwoofer. I learned a bit about the upcoming next-gen Neo, which will upmix to 11.1 channels to add height and width speakers to an existing surround system, much like Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments

I profiled the KEF Concept Blade speaker <A href="http://blog.ultimateavmag.com/ultimate-gear/blades_of_glory/">here</A>, but since there's only one pair in the world, there was no way for me to hear it until the company brought it to CES and set it up in a room at the Hilton with an Audio Research CD5 CD player and DSi200 integrated amp. Listening to Patricia Barber in a live recording and a tenor sax with rhythm section, it sounded quite good overall, with very clean, tight low bass, but the upper bass and vocal range was slightly congested. The KEF rep agreed and said it was the room, and I couldn't disagree—hotel rooms generally make lousy listening environments.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  2 comments

IDT isn't the only company working on cleaning up low-quality Internet video—Anchor Bay demonstrated its solution to this problem in a Hilton suite. Looking at 480i from DVD, 720p from Apple TV, and video from an iPhone, the new DVDO chipset did a great job at smoothing out jaggies as shown in the split-screen photo above (processed image on the left), but not so well at reducing noise. The new chipset is less expensive than the company's PReP (Progressive Reprocessing) technology and is intended for products such as iPod docks and the like.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  0 comments

As I was wandering around the 3D Tech Zone, I stumbled upon a small booth with an autostereoscopic 3D LCD TV&#151;in other words, no glasses. Technicolor was demonstrating its algorithm that takes in right and left images, derives depth information for each pixel, and interpolates six additional views between the right and left images, a process that cannot yet be performed in real time.

Scott Wilkinson  |  Jan 09, 2010  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2010  |  1 comments

B&W announced that it has updated the 800 series with diamond tweeters in all models as well as improvements in the other drivers and crossovers, resulting in greater dynamic range, lower distortion, and higher power handling. Prices range from $2750 for the HTM4D center-channel to $24,000/pair for the 800D, and all models should be available to consumers by April. You can read more on the 800 series and diamond tweeters, <A href="http://blog.ultimateavmag.com/ultimate-gear/diamond_john/">here</A>.