CES 2014

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Brent Butterworth  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  First Published: Jan 08, 2014  |  0 comments

Amps & Watts is a new company that specializes in wireless speakers. But this isn't your usual Bluetooth or WiFi stuff. Instead of hard-to-find buttons and cryptic controls, all of the company's speakers include a conventional remote.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 08, 2014  |  2 comments
Samsung’s new Auto Depth Enhancer, on its 9000 and S9 Ultra HD sets, analyzes different areas of the screen and adjusts their contrast separately to provide a greater illusion of depth with 2D sources. In a side-by-side comparison with one of Samsung’s 2013 sets, it definitely worked. There was a bit of the cardboard cutout 3D look, but since the depth enhancement, while appealing, was subtle, this wasn’t bothersome.
Lauren Dragan  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Just when you thought you had found every way possible to connect your audio devices to portable speakers, Korus introduces their premium wireless speaker system. But wait! They’re not Bluetooth! Bucking the Bluetooth trend, Korus connects your device via the proprietary SKAA protocol which actually sends a signal from a plug-and-play dongle at a claimed near-zero-latency (40ms). The dongles come in every (30 pin/USB/lightning) configuration you could need and can broadcast to up to 4 separate speakers. Inside, those speakers can be up to 35 feet apart, outside up to 65 feet apart. The distance itself is rather impressive as most Bluetooth gets a few yards at best before beginning to crackle and sputter.

Also potentially handy is the fact that the dongle is literally plug in and press play easy to use. So no pairing with devices or entering passwords. What comes out of the device to which the dongle is attached is what you hear in the speakers. And because of the low latency, the Korus can also be used in conjunction with a TV specific dongle (they call it a Baton) to create a temporary TV speaker setup for a meeting, or as a permanent/ modular solution for TVs that have small speakers.

Available in two sizes, the V400 is 4.4 lbs with a low range of 125Hz and retails for $299 each, and the V600 is 11 lbs with a low range of 80Hz for $399 each.
Bob Ankosko  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Hisense is not exactly a household brand but the Chinese-based company came out swinging at a pre-CES press conference touting aggressive plans to grow its business in the U.S. and become one of the world’s top three TV manufacturers. The company, which opened a U.S.-based subsidiary in Atlanta more than a decade ago, sells boatloads of TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, and other products through Walmart, Best Buy, hhgregg, and Costco.com. In TV alone, it produces more than 10 million sets a year globally.

Hisense executives are counting on the new Android-powered H7 VIDAA series smart televisions to meet their goals.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Two Sony events two days in a row told two radically different stories about what you might want in an amplifier. In Monday's press-day event, news of the STR-DN1050 surround receiver arrived in a single run-on sentence that also referred to several other products. Wish we knew more; ship date and price were unavailable. But Sony has been on a roll with its receivers and we hope to get this one in for review ASAP. Afterward we jumped onto the stage and disrupted someone's video shot just long enough to grab a pic. In a special event Tuesday, reporters were treated to the extraordinary story of how amplifier genius Nelson Pass resurrected the VFET, a nearly forgotten 40-year-old Sony technology, and built a couple dozen pairs of them into a 250-watt mono-block design which he promptly turned over to Sony as an apparent gesture of audiophile love and respect, probably mixed with a healthy practicality. Again, marketing details were scanty, but that does not diminish the story's cool factor. As a kicker, we were also told that our long-awaited sample of the HAP-S1 high-resolution DAC-amp will soon arrive. It's been an eventful couple of days!
Leslie Shapiro  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Skullcandy has an image as a badass headphone manufacturer. They showed up at CES set on keeping that reputation. The Air Raid (MSRP $150) is a portable Bluetooth speaker that plays loud, and has drop-resistance and weather-resistance to take on all the abuses you can throw at it. I chatted with Sam Noertker, one of the engineers behind the Air Raid for some inside perspective.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
The audio industry, so given to soul searching and navel gazing, does have a reason to exist and here's how Audioengine's Dave Evans describes it: "Because you love music." Really, isn't it as simple as that? If it's not it should be. The maker of the giant-killer A2 compact powered speakers, great for the desktop and our TV speaker of choice, recently introduced the USB-driven A2+, which we've just reviewed. New for CES was the D2 USB thumb DAC, selling for $189 and shipping since late last year. We'll got our acquisitive eye on that too.
John Sciacca  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  1 comments
If you’ve never seen a 3D printer in action, well, then you are missing out my friend. Watching the printer head whizzing back and forth, slowly growing, building and creating a 3D creation, it is just totally cool and like magic. And in the world of 3D printing, MakerBot is at the forefront.

MakerBot’s Chief Executive, Ben Petti, says that his company and product is about unleashing your creativity and to date there are over 44,000 MakerBots in the world. And they see this number growing to over 1,000,000.

Al Griffin  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Drones are big news these days (a recent 60 Minutes piece on Amazon’s drone package-delivery plans drove the hype machine to full throttle), so it comes as no surprise that drones—or Unmanned Aerial Systems, as manufacturers of consumer-grade drones like to call them—are a category here at CES. One maker, DJI, even held a press conference to introduce its new Phantom 2 Vision, a quadcopter with a built-in 14 megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p video (4 GB micro SD card included).
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
For 2014, Sony is extending its Ultra HD offerings to include nine new models, ranging from 49- to 85-inches. They’re all LCD/LED designs—no sign of commercial OLEDs from Sony as yet. All of these new 4K sets employ Sony’s new X-tended Dynamic Range PRO technology, which sounds a lot like a new High Dynamic Range technology being promoted by Dolby, which we expect to see later at the show. In any case, this is said to increase the contrast ratio for greater image punch.
Al Griffin  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Despite the word “Consumer” in its title, the Consumer Electronic Show is basically a B2B event: It’s for companies to introduce products, technologies, and concepts to other companies with the goal of getting down to bizness and making money. That’s one reason why there are hundreds of conference sessions and press events related to stuff other than huge TVs, headphones, and other gadgets.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  2 comments
Ain't it the truth!
John Sciacca  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
Door locks are not meant to be cool. Door locks are not meant to be sexy. Door lock are supposed to be utilitarian devices that keep the bad people out of your house when you’re not home, and require limited access by using a good, old-fashioned key, the way our forefathers intended.

These are all things that Goji has clearly never heard, because the company’s new Smart Lock is by far the sexiest industrial design I’ve seen on a door lock. In fact, I think that Goji might do for the smart lock what Nest did for the smart thermostat.

John Sciacca  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  0 comments
A consortium of flagship audio/video companies have once again teamed up to provide the most immersive, over-the-top home theater demo at CES 2014.

Using detailed engineering schematics from Antony Grimani’s firm, Performance Media Industries (PMI) they rebuilt a meeting room in the Venetian into the ultimate movie listening and viewing space. Grimani told me that his company reengineered the room omitting all of the “wrong” hotel dimensions, and coming up with the layout and design for the room’s seating, riser heath, screen size, acoustic treatments and more.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 07, 2014  |  1 comments
The Holy Grail of 3D has long been 3D without glasses—technically known as autostereoscopic 3D. But past CES demos of this technology have been notable duds.

The only way to do 3D without glasses is to process the image so that the images to each eye are isolated. But this has a side effect. You can see the 3D when viewed straight on. Move off center by a few degrees and the 3D disappears, taking some image quality with it. Move a bit further off-axis and the 3D returns. And so on—and off. The result is you get 3D only in a limited range of viewing zones, and poor image quality in others.