CES 2013

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Tom Norton  |  Jan 09, 2013  |  0 comments
As mentioned in our early CES entries, Sharp is working on a new variation on LCD display technology, called IGZO for Indium, Gallium, Zinc, and Oxygen. It is said to offer ultra low power consumption, improved touch screen capabilities, and twice the potential resolution of conventional LCD. The limited range of products produced to date include a 4K, 32-inch monitor said to be useful for medical imaging, financial analysis, and other possible applications.

Screen shots are notoriously bad at showing the quality of a display, but even on your computer screen you can see the potential. This shot is only a portion of the entire screen image.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  0 comments
Though the Mirage brand name is on ice, its Omnipolar speaker technology lives on in two new 360 Series satellites from Jamo. The larger of the two, the S35, is the size of a grapefruit, has a 3.5-inch woofer, and will be sold in groups of four with a conventionally shaped center and sub. The smaller S25 has a 2.5-inch woofer and will be sold in a five-pack. Available colors will be determined based on dealer feedback at the show with shipping later in the year.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  1 comments
Vizio’s new top-of-the-line range of 2K (1920 x 1080) LCD HDTVs is the M-Series shown here. The 3D models are expected to be available later this year in 50-inch ($859) 55-inch ($1200), 60-inch ($1600), 70-inch ($2500) and 80-inch ($4500) sizes. All will have a 240Hz refresh rate, passive 3D, Vizio’s Internet Apps, an ultra slim, thin bezel design, and local dimming. It was not clear from Vizio’s press materials, but we assume from the ultra slim design and the prices that the local dimming is edge-lit rather than the more complex and expensive to implement full backlit zone dimming. The picture here shows all but the 55-incher; only one of the four employs an IPS panel (which typically offers better off-axis performance). Ignore the room reflections and guess which one.

The M-series also includes 32-, 40-, and 47-inch models, which are 2D only.

Bob Ankosko  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  1 comments
You might mistake it for a high-end Blu-ray player at first glance but, no, the Parasound Halo CD 1 introduced at CES 2013 is definitely a Compact Disc player (remember those?) and it costs $4,500. Designed in collaboration with Holm Acoustics of Copenhagen, Denmark, the player uses a Linux-based computer running proprietary software and a CD ROM drive running four times the speed of a conventional CD drive to read and process data in a new way. Vast amounts of data are analyzed and read multiple times to reduce errors and, in turn, the negative effects of error concealment. The result is said to be a nearly bit-perfect data stream.

In keeping with the high-end legacy of the company's Halo line, the C1 has a heavily shielded aluminum chassis, separate power supplies for its analog and digital sections and several output options, including balanced XLR, gold-plated RCAs for analog, and digital audio via BNC, coaxial and optical connectors. A novel “Discrete OpAmp” selector offers a choice between listening to the analog outputs directly from the player’s low-noise op-amps or via discrete transistor output stages.

Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  1 comments
Toshiba is taking their Smart TV streaming capabilities a step further, announcing that their new TVs will have the Toshiba "Cloud TV." A list of features includes a Toshiba server based system for ongoing upgradability.

The Smart TV ePortal hub has a redesigned multi-page ePortal for "ease of use." The ePortal not only displays streaming media apps, it now includes a constantly updating news feed, weather, personal messaging and a family calendar. There is also a new MediaGuide with recommendations of TV shows and movies that you might like to watch.

All Toshiba Cloud TVs work with their wireless keyboard with touchpad accessory that is included with the L7300 TV models and above.

To make it easier to stream media from other devices, the Cloud TVs feature "Miracast" to mirror Android tablets and phones to the TV and are WiDi enabled to use the TV as a second display for your laptop.

The Cloud TV was announced at a mixer Sunday night where Toshiba demonstrated the features of its new TV line. While I'm not a fan of playing games on a TV, a poker game they demonstrated looked fun. Each player connects using the KontrolTV app on their device or on the Toshiba TV and can see their poker hand. Rather than challenging one other player, a group of friends or family can play.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  0 comments
ADA is best known for its world-class surround separates so it's a pleasant surprise to see it getting into receivers, or as the company calls them, integrated controller/amps. The Cinema Rapture ($5000, shipping this week) musters 150 watts into eight ohms and 300 into four ohms while the Cinema Rapture Jr. (price and shipping to be determined) offers 80 watts into eight ohms and 150 into four ohms. Both use Class D amp modules of ADA's own design. They are not licensed from someone else. We can't wait to hear how they sound in our own listening room.
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.

Tom Norton  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  0 comments
In a stunning display of one-upsmanship, Sony not only showed a 4K OLED display, but one that's a full 56-inches diagonal. The other OLEDs on show were all a paltry 55-inches.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  0 comments
Klipsch likes to bring its trombone to jazz bars and jam after hours.... No, no, that's not it. Klipsch is introducing horned speaker design to soundbars. Yes, that's more like it. The two HD Theater Series bars shown include the SB 1, $599, with two three-inch IMG (injection-molded graphite) woofers and a silk tweeter on each side; and the SB 3, $799, similar but with 3.5-inch woofers and more power. Both speak wirelessly to 10-inch subs though the larger bar has a more powerful and deeper sub. The big guy can produce SPL of up to 110dB (in other words it's very loud). Both have optical and stereo analog ins plus a mini-jack on the SB 3. Klipsch also showed the fifth generation of the legendary Quintet sat/sub set. It now comes in a BMC enclosure, a type of forged stone polymer that's high-pressure injection-molded and is acoustically inert. The motors take up the entire innards of the enclosure. 90 by 90 degree horns surround the 0.75-inch aluminum tweeter and the woofer is another 3.5-inch IMG driver. The new Quintet will be sold in 5.1 sets for $899, same price as the original Quintet, or in five-packs with no sub for $549. When I have more time remind me to tell you about the amazing $2,000 Stadium powered speaker with its opposing subwoofer drivers and quadruple-threat connectivity: AirPlay, Bluetooth, wi-fi, and DLNA.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  0 comments
They won’t be available until later in the year, so no prices were yet available, but Vizio joins other HDTV manufacturers (with Panasonic a notable exception) in making this CES the year of 4K launches—though 4K source material will be very thin on the ground. Nevertheless, this Vizio 70-inch 4K set looked outstanding in upconverting what was apparently a standard Blu-ray source. 65- and 55-inches Vizio 4K sets will also be available, though the latter size seems a tad small to take full advantage of the format.

Next to the 4K display, Vizio also showed a glasses-free 3D prototype, though this was apparently a technical demonstration rather than a product we should expect anytime soon. The 3D effect was modestly effective, but not equal to the glasses variety. And the picture was otherwise rather grainy (possibly due to the screen treatment needed for the glasses free experience) and not yet quite ready for prime time. As with other glasses free 3D we’ve seen, the 3D effect was only visible at several specific zones across the viewing area, but unlike those other sets, the picture merely went to 2D in the areas between those zones rather than breaking apart into the two separate eye images.

Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 09, 2013  |  First Published: Jan 08, 2013  |  1 comments
D-Link announced a new router with StreamBoost technology for better high definition video streaming, and with a new dashboard to monitor and control your home network. The DGL5500 router is called a "gaming router" because it has low latency (no lag time) for online game play. This capability also makes it an excellent router choice for streaming movies.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  0 comments
With new HDTV technologies flying around fast, Sharp wasn’t about to be left out. This year, it’s hot on a new display technology called IGZO (Indium, Gallium, Zinc, Oxygen) said to offer twice the resolution of conventional LCD, together with significant energy savings and better touch screen performance than present display devices.

Don’t expect to see technology in Sharp’s big screen HDTVs this year (with LCD displays ranging up to 90-inches, Sharp claims to lead the industry in sales of sets 60-inches and above). But it is or soon will be available in a 32-inch, 4K monitor (particularly useful in medical imaging), a new 4.9-inch smart phone to be introduced in Japan in March, and a 7-inch tablet.

Significantly missing from the press event was any mention of Sharp’s Elite line. We’ll be checking on the show floor to see what that might mean.

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 08, 2013  |  2 comments
Samsung helped usher in a new era of television on the eve of CES 2013 with the announcement of two next-generation TVs: the super-sleek 85-inch S9 Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV, boasting four times the resolution of today’s 1080p sets, and the 55-inch F9500 OLED TV with a Multi-View feature that enables two people to watch different programs simultaneously from the same screen. Pricing and availability was not announced for either model.

The S9 (shown) boasts a striking design with a screen that appears to float within a frame. Highlights include “extremely high contrast ratio,” a proprietary upscaling engine that converts high-def images to UHD quality, and a 1.35 GHz quad-core processor that’s more than three times faster than last year’s processor for improved content/app multitasking. The set has enhanced voice and gesture control and uses a new version of Samsung’s Smart Hub interface with five content discovery panels that appear onscreen as thumbnail images.

At the heart of the F9500 OLED TV are self-emitting red, green and blue sub-pixels that eliminate the need for backlighting, which is said to ensure absolute blacks and pure whites with no motion blur. The Multi-View feature is enabled by special 3D glasses with built-in speakers that deliver a personalized audio experience. The set also uses a quad-core processor and the updated Smart Hub interface.

Tom Norton  |  Jan 08, 2013  |  0 comments
This is just one of the images that the LG video wall morphed into. The moving 3D images ranged from the surreal to the fantastic. It was the standout booth entrance at the show. LG provided the passive polarized lens of the 3D glasses over the camera lens.