Saturday, January 09, 2010

CES 2010 South Hall

Some Mainstream and obscure products not having to do with 3D!

Elite Screens had some nice electric "pop up" screens with or without wood cabinets. With twin 2.35:1 and 16:9 format solutions, IR, RF and remote control. A very "installer friendly company, offers minimal non-finished versions of the cabineted version.

Mocomtech Co, LTD, had a 20 gain screen on display!
It was angled down a bit to avoid the lighting, but still pretty impressive.

This Wireless ipod dock and speaker combo, weird as it looks, sounded pretty good! I can't find my information on it's manufacturer, but if you see it in a store, don't run away, give it a listen.

Blue showed off their wonderful line of Microphones, including their USB Mic.

Audioengine showed off their fabulous line of speakers and wireless audio devices as well as a new mini amplifier available in March. Knowing them it will sound fantastic and will be a perfect match for their non-powered speakers. We'll have that available on the RAM website as soon as it is available.

Cables Unlimited unveiled a new series of iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry Bold and Storm Combo Battery Cases that should have a very nice sale price that will give you the battery life you need at a price point that can't be beat! They also have a new Wireless A/V adapter set for PC to TV (HDMI) or Monitor (VGA) connections all in one device. We'll have these available on the RAM site ASAP.

Gefen who has 3 Wireless HDMI solutions to fit your needs, debuted their new installer centric Toolbox lineup of distribution solutions with a new look and very installer friendly design. They had, as usual a multitude of new products including Speakers(!), a volume stabilizer, an HDMI audio decoder to both S/PDIF and Toslink with 6 discreet analog audio outputs as well. Plus much, much more. Of coarse we'll have these available on the RAM site as soon as they are available.

Asus booth was huge again this year. Being a big Asus fan I always browse around a bit. Everyone has touch screens all over the place this year and Asus, of course had a wide variety. I could not find a netbook with a larger than 1024 horizontal resolution, which is what I want. I know you need a certain screen size for higher resolutions, but the websites and apps I want to run require at least 1280 horizontal resolution so I don't have to scroll. They did have a nice, light "laptop" with 1366 horizontal resolution with long battery life. Works for me!

Asus also had a "Bravo" Media Center video card that seems perfectly designed for HTPC use with built in video transcoding for ipod or PSP as well as multiple modes for Theater, Gaming, Pictures and "auto" with Ambient light sensing! I'll certainly be looking into this one for my own HTPC.

CES 2010 Conclusion?
There was plenty more to see, but there are certainly many sites covering all the big names. There was significant "shrinkage" this year. No Sands convention center. The South hall was smaller. There were still pretty big crowds at times this year but not as big as usual. People are scaling back still on large purchases and with 3D on the horizon, they may use that as a pretty darn good excuse for putting them off a bit longer. Until the dust sttles and the 3D scenario is clearer for the average person to grasp, I don't see a lot of people rushing out and buying new "Primary" displays. Seems like everyone is looking for any quick cheap fix they can find for now, and pushing out major purchases into the future. More and more people may minimalise their cable/satellite subscriptions and find solutions for living off online content. That means even more PC/Mac to TV solution opportunities for resellers. While it may seem like TV vendors can keep pushing built-in solutions on TV's, with 3D looming, consumers may opt for add-on's for their current TV's rather than buying new displays except for secondary usage. At least that's my takeaway from this 2010 CES.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Panasonic 3d demo CES 2010

I waited in line for quite some time. Thank the smart phone gods for me having the ability to sit and read on and on about the Eagles/Cowboys upcoming game and the possible total meltdown of the entire city of Philadelphia if the Eagles don't find some miracle way to come back and beat the Cowboys who are playing about as well as any team in the NFL, except, perhaps the Chargers. Sorry for bringing it up, but this is playoff time. HDTV's are partly as popular as they are in this country due to FOOTBALL. I'm pretty sure the top 3 HDTV sales spikes are: right before the football season, Christmas time (er, "holiday time?) , and Super Bowl time (not in order). 3D is going to need Football as well, so NOT sorry for going off topic.
Finally, I got in there to see this, the most hyped 3D demo at CES. Missed it last year.
The beginning is pretty much a Panasonic feel good promo thingy, which is ok, I mean they put a LOT of money into this setup. Then came the clips. And, well, they were at times scarily impressive. I mean weirdly, freekily like being there. At other times, and I mean this changed from moment to moment, they were less impressive. Sometimes showy. Sometimes gave you that 3d cardboard cutout in front of other stuff in the background kind of feeling. But then, suddenly, there was a 3D landscape right in front of you that looked so real! It was slightly annoying that it was not quite as seemless as it could have been. But they were jumping around from impressive clip to slightly less impressive clip to amazing, etc. Overall I was very impressed. Some clips were more impressive than Avatar in 3D iMax. Some quite a bit less.
The worst part of this for me was after leaving. What if my polarized glasses were messing things up! Oh no! I should look into that! I started looking at my own perspective of 3D in actual real life. Hmmmm, how much depth perspective do I see in those people across the street? Jeez, they look a bit flat from here.... Depth perception goes only so far, and I certainly need a new glasses prescription... My reality 3D is no good! Wow, these waitresses at burger bar look very 3D up close! Not as much from a distance... Somebody needs to 3D video record these waitresess so I can compare!
OK, you get the picture. I have some issues....
Still, I am sold. I want to see the next Eagles Superbowl in 3D. Of course by then they may have some new ultra-hyper-reality type thing with my luck. Thankfully the Phillies in another world series would look great in 3D. Unfortunately there are no cheerleaders in baseball...

CES 2010 Day 1 - 3D Heaven and Hell and Toshiba's revenge?

CES 2010 Day 1
3D Heaven and Hell and Toshiba's revenge?

Central Hall

3D is everywhere this year, from the big booths to the smaller ones. It's almost scary. It seemed like every major display manufacturer had a 3D demo, some quite impressive, some more or less pretty good, and some pretty boring. 3D glasses of many types are all over the place. Expensive shutter types on chains or other tethers, plainer polarized glasses, and real cheap cardboard ones depending on the 3D technology used for the demo. In the 3D area in the back of the hall as well as at interspersed throughout the hall there were other 3D demos, some good, some bad, and some downright silly.

My first 3D was from JVC in their DiLA Theater. The first was, a fantastic looking clip from Couples Retreat. Then some 4k video clips that looked great, but were rather boring. Then came 3D glasses time for a a very impressive 3D short.

Panasonic's 3D Theater line was too long, so I'll try to catch it later. They did have a nice boot with an amazing 145"(?) Plasma that was pretty amazing. They were focusing on showing their gains or (losses?) in creating lower power consuming plasmas.

LG's booth was very impressive, as usual, a huge video wall greeted you, the most impressive video wall type thing I think I have seen. They had a great booth. I should have taken pictures!

Sharp has a new line of Quad pixel - RGB+Y (yellow) LCD technology. I'd like to get to the bottom of that. No time now.

They also had a interesting demo of their new UV2A panels showing why they have whiter whites and blacker blacks. I'm pretty sure other variations on this theme exist with other manufacturers.


Toshiba is pushing their new "Cell TV's" which are 3D ready, but also have built-in technology to take standard TV and convert it to 3D with a click of your remote. While having a very fast cell processor in the TV surely has lots of varied advantages, what strikes me is the whole "easiness" of having 3D conversion of standard TV built into the TV for the mass market. Many people are going to be so overwhelmed at the thought of new source devices, new source discs, new TV's that have to be compatible and the complications and stress that all of that entails, they are quite likely to say, "hey, all I need is this Toshiba TV and some glasses and I've got 3D?, screw that other stuff!". The demo, was from demo material and not actually working prototypes, or so they said, but it was interesting enough, if not nearly as good as the "real thing". Still it seems they are onto something here. Keep it simple, stupid. And the masses may follow?

Fujifilm had a 3D picture demo and 3D digital picture frame demo, which was, er, 3D.

There were some awful 3D things to be found as well, usually with very nice, actual 3 dimensional booth babes helping out with the demonstration or sales.

Intel previewed their new line of Core Processors, i3, i5, and i7. Can't wait to see some benchmarks!

Venetian High End Audio and THE Show High End Audio

Venetian High End Audio

I usually wait until my ears bounce back from the torture of flying to check out the high end audio, but I have a tight schedule this year, and had to squeeze things in when I could. So from the central hall I got a quick lunch and hit the Venetian to listen to some high end audio. I generally only talk about the speakers I listen to since talking about the Amps, Dacs, CD or LP record players would just get silly, especially since I only get a few hours to enjoy listening, and want to listen to a lot of lovely speakers.
A couple of things always bother me when trying to listen and compare things. The listening material is always picked out to show off certain aspects of the system, and in most rooms they are trying to push how "detailed" the system is. Things often sound like someone threw an equalizer in there with the 3kHz-4kHz frequency spectrum boosted. I am sure it's often just the CD's or LP's they pick out to play, but it's annoying that I listen to speakers that should sound great, and very smooth and musical, but they seem a bit too detailed and unnaturally so. Sometimes I think they might go overboard on cables and use them as filters, but this seems a poor explanation since it seems quite impossible to make a cable that acts as a finely tuned bandpass filter with slopes and shelves built in. OK, enough of that silly thought. On to it.

Scaena had a wonderful "Line Source" speaker (and I'm always a sucker for a line source) that were awesomely detailed (of course) but they positively seemed to "Yank" me into the music. I remember extremely good, articulate bass, but I don't remember much low bass, but they were absolutely lovely in the sweet spot, really involving. No idea what they cost, but it can't be less than what I currently owe for my condo. Quite nice looking as well to me, but WAF appeal for a big speaker like this is tricky!

Electrocompaneit speakers from Norway had nice, custom, top of the line Scanspeak and Seas drivers and sounded very impressive, but I couldn't get into the music. Why do Europeans always have some completely different music esthetic that us dull, cro magnon Americans just can't get into? I hear so many nice speakers with weird music. I mean, how about some "normal music" like Tom Waits? (haha) Plus, a name that is a little easier to deal with would be nice. Still, I hope to see a review, they are a very well made speaker.

QUAD - I always go to this room and it always makes me want them.


How weird is it that the first amazing thing I came across at a high end audio show was an amazing Projector screen? DNP Screens ( had an amazing demo of a very nice, large Projector screen that looked absolutely unbelievable in an obscenely well lit big room with no seeming ill effects. Not washed out in the least. Check them out for the technology involved. Although, the idea of the technology is just that, a technology idea, that they pull it off so amazingly well with a real product? Priceless!!! Plus, even better still, the price is only incrementally higher than than what you would pay for a similar screen size of high quality. I'm not kidding to say that I was shocked by this demo.

As a Maggie lover and owner, I like to see what's new in the Magnepan universe. I got to listen to the new MG1.7 demo with the gorgeous and impressive CCR center channel. Quite an amazing demo. Something seems impossible about the tweeter in the 1.7. Of coarse something always sounds so impossibly "real" when it comes to maggies. It's a stunning looking speaker as well, with a new, sharper look from the 1.6QR. Around $2k.

I also heard the mini Magnepans which absolutely blew me away. As a computer desktop speaker or small system speaker for small rooms or low volumes it is that real magnepan "big sound" in a very small overall form factor.

Electrostatic Speakers from Sanders Sound Systems. Very big and loud Electrostatic System from Roger Sanders. Very impressive volume. Electrostatic detail. Well matched with dynamic bass driver for lows. Impressive demo, but I would have liked to hear some music I was familiar with.

Reference 3A - Big fan, I am. I have Dulcets. Heard the new Grand Veenas. Strange old 60's tune, sounded absolutely fantastic. I can't help feeling that their big speakers don't image quite like the Dulcets (what does?) because of their big, broad surfaces. I should have stuck around for more but I desperately needed a Margarita immediately!