CES 2009

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Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  First Published: Jan 12, 2009  |  5 comments
Bryston had this classy-looking new preamp-processor, the SP-3, on static display. It will have all the important bells and whistles, including decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, when it goes on sale, probably in the second half of 2009. No prices were given.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  First Published: Jan 12, 2009  |  1 comments
Some audiophiles combine their home theater and 2-channel systems. If they have a modest AV receiver, but want to improve the sound of their system, especially for 2-channel playback, one possibility is to use a separate, quality stereo integrated amp to drive the front left and right channels, with their best 2-channel sources connected directly to it. The receiver's front left and right preamp outputs are then connected to one of the line level inputs of the integrated amp for home theater use. This can be made more direct, with less chance of messing with the calibrated home theater volume levels, if the integrated amp offers a fixed-level, pass-through input (independent of the integrated amp's volume control) to which the receiver's front channel preamp outputs can be connected.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 12, 2009  |  3 comments
CES attendance was down a bit more than expected, according to figures released on the last day of the show by the Consumer Electronics Association. 2008 attendance had been 147,000. Estimated attendance for 2009 had been 131,000. But in its press release, CEA has revised those numbers downward to 110,000.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  First Published: Jan 12, 2009  |  2 comments
The new Mythos 9 ($800) from Definitive Technology may be used as an on-wall LCR speaker, or alternately as a center channel with Def Tech's Mythos STS Super Towers.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  First Published: Jan 12, 2009  |  3 comments
Usher showed up with a whole new line of relatively affordable speakers, the NV series. They're still being refined, but should be available in a few months. The NV 601 is the smallest model in the line. I was one of the first to hear it; they hooked it up for the first time at the show (they claimed) just before I walked into the room, and a few minutes from the close of the show (they had been featuring their more upscale models in their two rooms throughout the show). The sound was impressive, with a solid midrange, good balance, and detailed but very sweet highs— just the right balance for home theater and music. Estimated price will be in the neighborhood of $1100/pair (stands not included). There are also two floor standers and a center channel, the NV 603.
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
OK, I added the "sinister" part. But doesn’t it still sound like a super secret weapon employed by an evil genius in a Bond flick? Sharp showed two new BD players at CES. The most compelling of the two is the BD-HP22U, which is BD-Live out of the gate, including 2GB of onboard storage and a USB port that can be used to expand storage capacity and upload new firmware. The audio decoding is murkier- Sharp’s reps and the logos on the player indicate decoding capability for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The press release is only specific on its ability to output the advanced codecs as native bitstreams. The BDP-HP22U will be available in May for $299.
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
Now this is an IPTV. Or a PC TV. Or a home theater pc built into a TV? Or a TV with an HTPC built in? Who cares! Anyone who’s used an iPhone or an iPod Touch or a Sooloos knows the future of interface is in touch screens. Allio’s IPTV’s are built around a Vista Media Center platform and have touch screen options on their smaller models. The screen you see here has two Internet-driven streams playing on screen with a third window showing Hulk on Blu-ray (that’s the ever so lovely Jennifer Connelly there). I was able to move, manipulate and resize these windows, images and media using my fingers like Tom Cruise in Minority Report. It’s striking how much the PC gets out of the way when controlled by touch. Cool stuff.
Barb Gonzalez  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  1 comments
LG’s new feature, the “Picture Wizard” aids the average viewer in optimizing the TV’s picture by offering onscreen examples of what is the optimal setting. They can then see the effect of the changes they’ve made in the setting as compared to the onscreen examples. Setting adjustments in the Picture Wizard include: black level, white level, color, backlight adjustment, tint, vertical sharpness and horizontal sharpness. Calibration made easy.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
If the above Panasonic plasma isn't thin enough for you, this one-third of an inch-thick prototype might fit the bill. But the above design is closer to production.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
Say hello to Acoustic Technologies, which made its world debut at CES with a product three years in the making. The Classic is a slim tower using a single three-inch full-range driver. Why not do woofers and tweeters? Because they insert a crossover, and with it various irregularities and ill effects, into the signal path. Don't laugh -- this speaker had a highly natural, pleasing, gentle, ungimmicky sound with a well developed midrange and good soundstaging. Vocals sounded just right. Complementary models will arrive next year to bring the new company into surround territory.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
We've seen the Meridian 810 Reference Video System before; it's the first 4K x 2K video projector available to the consumer. It won't come cheap a just a few thou south of $190,000 for the projector, video processor (needed to scale available 1920x1080 material up to 4800 x 2400. It looked fabulous, even though even better images are possible from it with native 4K program material (essentially non-existent to you and me). They had to settle for a 10' wide projection screen (a curved, 2.35:1, Stewart Studiotek 130), and were claiming 48 foot-Lamberts! Clearly the projector is intended for a much larger screen.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
In addition to its AVR600 A/V receiver (expected to ship in March, which is when we're hoping to get a sample for review), Arcam showed an early prototype Blu-ray player. It wasn't quite bug-free, but then it's probably nine months away from market, leaving plenty of time for Arcam to sort them all out. To our knowledge, this makes Arcam and Cambridge Audio, both of them UK companies, the only two small, specialty manufacturers to come forward with a Blu-ray player. The system was producing great sound through a pair of Totem Wind speakers and an Arcam subwoofer
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
This new spectroradiometer was brought to my attention by William Phelps, video expert and currently working with Meridian on its digital projectors. A spectroradiometer is a sophisticated test tool used to measure and calibrate video displays (we use the Photo Research PR0650 in much of our testing). This SP-100 from Orb is not a product for the average consumer, but something for the calibration specialist, or well-healed video perfectionist, to know about. Not cheap at about $8000, it's nevertheless less expensive than much of its direct competition. According to Phelps, it compared favorably to a $30,000 Minolta device.
Tom Norton  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  1 comments
3D was a big story at CES. Or at least with several manufacturers, apparently looking for the Next Big Thing. Most of the demos were dismal. The best was from Panasonic. It used shuttered glasses and claimed full HD resolution. More on Panasonic's 3D initiative near the bottom of this blog file (it was posted on the first day). Even Panasonic's however, conducted on their big 103" plasma, suffered from motion lag, uncharacteristic of that form of display, on some of the clips. Much of the material, however, looked stunning.
Shane Buettner  |  Jan 11, 2009  |  0 comments
The vibe of CES is hard to imagine. This show couldn’t be anywhere but Las Vegas. This picture of this sweet rig parked in the middle of the showroom floor says something about the experience.