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CES 2011-Full Coverage

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Adrian Wittenberg Show Coverage

CES 2011 Las Vegas, Nevada

 I haven't been to CES in a couple years but this time around I have been eagerly anticipating what kinds of improvements and innovations we could hope to find from the manufacturers in the coming year. Last year, we were just starting to see 3D displays from Samsung, Panasonic, and Sony but this year most of the manufacturers are implementing 3D technology on the majority of their sets. Samsung for example will feature 3D capability on all but one of their Plasma series of displays and Sony will only offer three LCD's that do not feature 3D. Some people are still holding out before making the call as to if 3D is here to stay but if you are in the market for a TV this year, it is more than likely going to have 3D capability.

There was a lot of energy in the people on the show floor and there was plenty of television coverage on hand.

Microsoft was proud to show off their Kinect motion sensor expansion for the Xbox 360. The woman shown here gave this poor chap a virtual beat down and these gentlemen pictured below were putting up a good fight for the crowds.

A lot of the booths went all out on their demonstrations. Here Canon was doing a demonstration for some of their video equipment using a very elaborate set and colorful costumes. 

One of my first stops for the show was a visit to Sony's private demonstration of their new and magnificent SS-AR1 Loudspeakers. These speakers are crafted from multiple variations of wood. The heavy front baffle is made from maple trees that come from Hokkaido Japan and the specific maple wood they used is described to be very special by Sony. 

Here we can see an interior view of the cabinet which is constructed out of Birch. The cabinet is not glued together and is rather meticuously hand crafted so that the bezels align up perfectly enough to allow the enclosure to stand on its own. Sony designed the drivers used in this loudspeaker and as you can see in the image, midrange/tweeter sections are seperated in the enclosure from the bass section.

The SS-AR1 comes in a piano black finish which is highly reflective and the speakers will list for $27,000 a pair. I heard a short demonstration of them and they sounded astonishing. It was an amazing demonstration because the sound blended into the room extremely well and the dynamic range was exquisite as the music track faded into silence and the end point of the track was almost indistinguishable.

I continued my tour with a visit to Sony's Booth where 3D and internet based content were a major focus in their products. They were doing a 3D demonstration on probably the largest LED screen the world has seen. The demonstration had a few clips of football games shown in 3D. Using the passive glasses that Sony provided I felt that the 3D presentation of the football game gave it depth and dimension that enhanced the viewing experience as I could more easily tell the spatial distances players were from each other or how far the ball was away from a player attempting to catch the ball.

Sony's newer line of LCD displays will feature the X-Reality Pro chip for video processing.

The X-Reality pro is said to be a pixel adaptive processor and makes use of something Sony terms as the "Reality Creation Database" which allows the chip to make intelligent applications of processing to an image. As you can see in the image above where the top image has been processed by the X-Reality Pro and the bottom image has not, there is a significant difference in edge definition as well as the contrast of the image.   

Sony's top of the line XBRHX929 will feature the X-Reality Pro processor. It will be a full array, local dimming panel and range in sizes of 46",55", and 65". The XBRHX929 will feature an enhancement to it's motion flow processing where the panel will quickly flicker off the complete backlit array between original and interpolated frames. This is said to enhance the perception of the motion and make it look smoother without retaining the artificial look that frame interpolation techniques are known to create.

Sony wouldn't be Sony if there weren't some cool innovative products on display. Seen here, the HDR-PJ50V Camcorder features an embedded projector so you can preview your masterpiece on something more than the tiny LCD screen. Light output definitely seemed like it might be an issue, but this still looks like a very convenient feature to have. This particular model will list for around $699 features 1920 x 1080 at 60p, a 220 GB hard drive, and will be available in March.

Here we see Sony's VBP-MA1 portable Blu-ray recorder. This is primarily meant as a way to burn Blu-ray media off of your camcorder or camera, but it can also be used as a Blu-ray burner for your PC as there is USB connections available. You could even use this to transfer VHS to Blu-ray as there is composite inputs on the back. Very nice product that will list for $299 in March.

Samsung had a behemoth of a booth and as I walked past the row of laundry machines and refrigerators I was reminded of the huge success of this Korean based company in reaching the home with a variety of quality products. In this image, we can see a glimpse of the upcoming gourgeous 9500 series LED TV possibly due out in August 2011. This TV's primary feature difference over the 8000 series will be hugeness and an included super cool remote control. Sets will be available at 55", 60", and a whopping 75". I couldn't wrestle a price point out of any Samsung reps so we will have to wait and see on this one.

If there was a buzzword at all the booths that featured 3D displays it would have to be crosstalk. Crosstalk or ghosting occurs when the left eye image is bleeding into the right eye image in a 3D presentation. The result of crosstalk is false edges of an image and an overly annoying and fatiguing viewing experience. I have seen as well as heard of reports of crosstalk on earlier Samsung 3D panels and I can very happily say that the upcoming 7000 and 8000 series of panels has made huge improvements in this problem. Samsung also has made large improvements in the contrast of the 3D image using a feature called 3D auto contrast which applies contrast filtering based on the spatial depth of the object or pixels. 

Smart and stylish would be how I would describe the design of Samsung's new iteration of their 3D glasses. Despite looking pretty cool these glasses are extremely light and as such are very comfortable and far easier to wear for longer periods of time. Thanks goes out to the CES participant who modeled these glasses for this image!

Samsung was also working on making improvements to the depth of black in an image and overall contrast with their micro dimming feature available on the 8000 and 9000 series of panels. There were a couple of disbelievers at the booth that couldn't see the improvements until I reminded them that the off angle viewing experience of an LED is going to give you higher levels for black level. They agreed that when looking straight on at the panel, it looked really good.

Samsung's major push on both Blu-ray players as well as displays was something they called Smart Hub. We have seen internet based features gradually becoming more predominant on Blu-ray players and Samsung goes further by adding their own interface which allows for purchasing of Samsung apps as well as searching for content not only through the internet but also from your own PC content streamed through DLNA.

Samsung was also improving their 3D technology for Plasma displays by implementing phosphors that had a quicker decay time.

Samsung will also be releasing a 3D projector some time in 2011 shown here.

Panasonic was also focusing on 3D technology and content. Panasonic had the benefit of acquiring the engineers from Pioneer who were working on the renowned Kuro displays.

Here Panasonic was demonstrating a 3D interface. This looked very clean through the active 3D glasses and was making use of hand gestures to create a unique new way of navigating through a menu.

In this image Panasonic describes methods they use to improve the 3D experience on their VT30 Plasma by redesigning their panel.

JVC was demonstrating their 3D camcorder. The effect was excellent and the image had a large amount of depth.

JVC is very well known for their projectors but this year we are likely to see some LCD displays from them as well.

Here we see JVC's upcoming 65" Xinema 3D LED LCD display. This unit features an edge lit display with local dimming and is due out in Q4. This display features passive glasses and together with the 3D demonstration produced from a JVC 3D camcorder had an image that produced very little eye strain. I would like to see a 3D movie on this same display to compare the comfort level on the eyes.

JVC had an excellent demonstration of a 2D to 3D image converter. This was one of the best demonstrations for 2D->3D at the show and more can be found out at http://pro.jvc.com/2D3D

JVC's Flagship DLA-X9 3D projector that is the first projector to receive THX's new 3D certification. This projector boasts the highest contrast ratio among JVC's new 3D projectors at 100,000:1. The demonstration that featured this projector was excellent and there was no apparent ghosting issues and the image was extremely sharp and vivid.

LG was another manufacturer that was featuring both active and passive glasses 3D displays. In this image we can see a large portion of their LCD lineup featuring the new Cinema 3D improvements displayed in the slide below.

Panel thickness was still a major focus for LG and as you can see in this image, it's hard to get any better than this.

LG's upcoming PZ950 60" Plasma display. This is one of three LG plasma's that will be certified through THX 3D certification. Features will include a 20pt white balance, LG's software apps, and LG's Magic Motion Remote.

Mitsubishi was on hand to show their upcoming massive 92" 3D DLP display.

Sharp was displaying the latest iterations of their Quattron displays.

Control 4 was demonstrating their total home solution. One of the new features Control 4 was demonstrating was a video wall control application where screens on a wall could be very easily manipulated.

This is probably going to be seen most often in Sports Bars but the Control 4 rep was telling me that he was seeing more people create video walls in their homes or their "man caves". 

Control 4 had some of their newer and cheaper wall mounted touch panels on display. Prices ranged around $599 and up.

Earthquake was showing off their Titan line of loudspeakers and some of their smaller monitor speakers.

Here we can see Earthquake's massive 7 Channel Cinenova Grande amplifier capable of 328 Watts RMS @ 8 Ohm, 600 Watts RMS @ 4 Ohm, and 750 Watts RMS @ 2 Ohm. MSRP $5999.00

Greensound Technology was featuring some very unique glass based speaker designs. MSRP was $17,000 for the pair including a subwoofer. I sincerely hope any owners of these don't have kids.

By the end of the show people took any opportunity they could to get off their feet. This year's CES was huge and there was so much to see that it was truly difficult to see everything.