Video (a broader report will be forthcoming from Playbackâ€™s video specialist David Birch-Jones in a few days, but here are some brief observations from Chris Martens):
JVC: Two very interesting video demos were presented by JVC. One demo featured a 4K-resolution D-ILA projector showing native resolution material recorded on a prototype JVC 4K-resolution greater-than-HD videocam. Perhaps a glimpse of what will come after HD? The visual effect came as close as any man-made system weâ€™ve yet seen to the experience of simply looking out a window. Stunning. The other JVC demo featured HD-in-3D material using a system of polarized filters on both the projectors and, of course, on the corresponding viewing glasses. We found the results very effective, very vivid, and much easier on the eyes than the red-blue commercial 3D systems more commonly seen.
LG: LGâ€™s big announcement for CEDIA was the firmâ€™s new BD300 Network Blu-ray player ($400). The operative word, here, is â€œNetworkâ€ since the BD300 is the worldâ€™s first (and, for now, only) Blu-ray player that â€œinstantly streams movies and TV episodes form Netflix.â€ In effect, this means the BD300 offers customers a thoroughly competitive, up-to-the-minute $400 Blu-ray player, plus all the benefits of streaming Internet movie players such as the popular Roku device (previously covered in the â€œGearheadâ€ column of Playback magazine). Can you say â€œconvenient?â€
To access Netflix downloadable content, BD300 owners A) must have Netflix subscriptions, and B) must log on to the Netflix Web site to set up their download content queues. Once these two steps are taken care of, though, BD300 users can play content directly from the Netflix site. At present, Netflix instant-download content is (at best) DVD quality and provides stereo soundtracks. At some future point, though, Netflix may upgrade its instant download service to provide higher quality audio/video streams.
PANASONIC: Panasonicâ€™s display offerings included an impressive new 1080p-capable projectorâ€”the PT-AE3000 ($3499). The PT-AE3000 delivers 1600 lumens brightness, a 60,000:1 contrast ratio, offers proprietary Frame Creation Technology, and offers a Lens Memory Load feature the facilitates switching lens setting to accommodate different aspect ratios (e.g., 21:9 or 16:9, etc.). Other highlights include Panasonicâ€™s Pure Contrast Plate technology which â€œblocks unwanted light from the path of projection,â€ plus Dynamic Iris and Smooth Screen technologies.
In the flat panel realm, Panasonic continues to emphasize its Viera-series plasma sets, stating unequivocally that, at this time, â€œnothing is superior to plasmas in large-screen (flat panel) applications.â€ And at the top of the Panasonic pyramid are the PZ850 Viera plasma TVs, which are offered in 46-, 50-, 58-, and 65-inch sizes. One of the more intriguing aspects of the PZ850 family is the Viera Cast feature, which allows the sets to stream video content directly from Internet sources such as YouTube, Picasa, or Bloomberg News.
PIONEER: Pioneer showed a new pair of Signature-Series Kuro plasma monitors based on technology from the firmâ€™s famous Kuro HDTV sets. The monitors are just thatâ€”displays sans tuners or speakers, andâ€”as you might expectâ€”look terrific. Part of the reason why is thatâ€”get thisâ€”the monitors feature display assemblies hand-picked from the Kuro assembly line, and that represent the top 15 percent (or crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me) of all Kuro production. As a result, the super-monitors cost the same as the equivalent Kuro TVs on which they are based, and come with presentation-grade certificates documenting their exceptional performance specifications. Available models are the 50-inch PRO-101FD ($5500) and the 60-inch PRO-141HD ($7000)
SHARP: While Sharp provided updates on its entire line of TV, Blu-ray, and audio products, perhaps the most exciting news involved the firmâ€™s new Aquos Limited Edition-series TVs, which are offered in 65-inch (LC-65X1U-S) and 52-inch (LC-52X1U-S) versions. The impressively thin (1-inch deep at the thinnest point), 1080p, 120Hz sets feature Sharpâ€™s 10-bit Advanced Super View LCD panels with RGB-LED backlighting, providing â€œ150 percent NTSC color gamutâ€ and a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of â€œgreater than 1,000,000:1â€ (no, thatâ€™s not a typo). Finally, the Limited Edition sets incorporate Pioneer-designed â€œspeaker barsâ€ powered by Sharp 1-bit digital amplifiers.
SONY: Sony announced two new 1080p-capable SXRD projectorsâ€”the VPL-VW70 with 60,000:1 contrast ratio and anamorphic lens capabilities ($8k) and the VPL-HS10 with 30,000:1 contrast ratio ($3500).
In the flat panel realm, Sony can claim refresh rate bragging rights with its new 240Hz Motion Flow-system-equipped KDL-52XBR7 LCD HDTV. Other technical highlights include the setâ€™s Bravia Engine 2 video processor and Advanced Contrast Enhancer, which is said to enable an 80,000:1 contrast ratio. The new XBR is also set up to take advantage of a slew of optional Bravia Link features, including Bravia Wireless Link, Bravia HDMI Link, Bravia DVD Link and Bravia Internet Video Link (phew!).
In the â€œhow-thin-can-you-go?â€ sweepstakes, Sony may just have a winning entry with its new KLV-40ZX1M LCD monitor, which measures just 9.9mm thick and draws its styling cues from Sonyâ€™s small, sleek OLED TV.
TOSHIBA: Announced that it would be upping the frequency of new TV product roll-outs to two series per yearâ€”essentially offering spring and fall product lines. The reason? Toshiba wants to get new technologies in customersâ€™ hands faster than ever before, and felt that a traditional one-year product roll out cycle was simply too slow. Accordingly, the firm revealed a full line of 11 new Fall-series products that should be arriving soon, including an expanded set of Regza flagship LCD offerings.
The Regza models incorporate SRT (Super Resolution Technology) designed to make SD content look and feel like HD content, plus AutoViewâ€”a feature that automatically (and interactively) adjusts picture settings in response both to â€œambient room lighting and the type of video content being displayedâ€¦â€ The new Regza models are collectively called the XV545 series and are available in 42-, 46-, and 52-inch sizes.