One of a number of heavily customized Chryslers used in the film, the Black Beauty on the Sony stage was from the latter part of the movie, shot-up and beat-up all to hell, featuring many dozens of bullet holes, and was later to be parked in a demo area in the Sony display that allowed for show-goers to be photographed sitting behind the wheel.
Sony emphasized both 3DTV and internet-enabled TV, debuting 3D camcorders, 3D Cybershot digital cameras, and 3D-enabled VAIO PCs, and they talked about their upcoming 3D tentpole movie releases for 2011, including Men In Black 3D, Smurfs 3D and Spiderman 3D, and the booth also featured a number of 3D-enabled PlayStation3 gaming setups that had booth visitors enthralled. While the jury is still out on whether or not 3D will “go wide” this year, the availability of 3D games will surely stoke the fires, and will probably be the defining factor. As far as 3D content goes, Sony upped the ante by announcing their 3NET 3DTV channel, in a partnership with IMAX and Discovery, both avid 3D content producers.
In other 3DTV news, the expected availability of third-party 3D glasses included announcements from Monster, who demo’d their universal 3D active shutter glasses, said to work with all the major 3DTV brands whose sets require active shutter technology (we expect to have a review as soon as possible). Marchon, a leading eyewear maker was at a press preview partnering with Vizio with their new 3D model that uses passive polarized 3D glasses.
Glasses-free 3DTV also made news at the show, with Sony and Toshiba demonstrating displays that provide a 3D effect without the need for specialized 3D eyewear. Toshiba’s demo had show-goers standing on pre-defined footprints slightly off axis from center screen, and while there was some discernable 3D effect, it was very mild compared to current 3DTV offerings. Neither would be considered ready for prime time, but compared to earlier demos, they’re indicative of continuing development that may bring improvements in the future.
And 3D wasn’t all about the visual milieu at the show, as a number of audio vendors demonstrated impressive three dimensional sound system solutions. DTS hosted a lovely press dinner prior to the show at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Nobu restaurant, and previewed their Neo:X codec, which provides for an expanded soundstage that includes aural height effects. Slated to appear in products that will be available in 2011 second quarter, the DTS booth on the show floor included an impressive Neo:X 11.1 channel demo featuring a video clip from performance artists Diego Stocco and Patrick Leonard that was truly 3D immersive from a sound perspective. Two new DTS theatrical trailers were also demonstrated, both of them being aurally and visually enticing, especially the one that features a symphonic blast with paint cans erupting in geysers of colorful color (and created in real time with no CGI, no less).
THX had a demo suite nearby at the Renaissance hotel with a sneak peek (and listen) of an ambitious audio system that features an array of compact mini-woofer modules coupled with a slew (dozens) of tweeters intended to reside directly below a projection screen or HD flat panel. Combining powerful DSP processing along with an innovative compact power amplifier module, the system allows for precise audio focusing, such that a viewer in one position can hear a completely different audio program than someone else hears nearby (that is, from just a few feet away).
That would allow for one viewer to hear an English language soundtrack, while a companion could listen to an alternate language. While the concept is still in the early stages, the THX gang, including long time industry veteran Laurie Fincham, passed around what looked very much like off-tool samples of the drivers, the amplifier module, and a multi-layer printed circuit board. Cumulatively, the cost to get thus far must have been well above a million dollars, indicating that this is no scribble-on-the-napkin exercise.
We’re already lining up a number of reviews of enticing new products introduced at CES—do stay tuned in the coming months.