CES 2017 Show Report Day 1 Coverage
Welcome to Sin City! Currently waiting in line for the Sony press event.
The Sony “presser” is about to begin.
This is the first time I’ve had a chance to attend one of these press events and this Sony one seemed reasonably well attended although at only 20 minutes long it didn’t seem overly packed with new announcements. A few folks seemed like seasoned veterans at this thing so it was amusing to watch them as things got started.
When the lights went down and the loud music started, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai came out and kicked off the presentation. He began by touching on a new LED technology dubbed “Crystal LED Integrated Structure”. It involves a lighting structure of superfine LEDs that are so small as to render the pixels individually imperceptible. There was, at the front of the booth, a 32′ x 9′ 8K display featuring this new tech. The viewing angles were extremely wide with virtually no brightness falloff with the looped content it was showing. An impressive looking proof of concept.
He also spoke of the Philosophy of “Kando” which describes the stimulation of an emotional response and how it factors into the design of all of Sony’s product.
Mr. Hirai spoke of the increase in content creation and end user products involving HDR and how important that was going to be to the viewing experience. And then he unveiled their line of new OLED displays!
Sony is also releasing an UHD Bluray player called the UBP-X800. A very simple and straightforward looking device, it supports HDR, can stream 4K content from services like Netflix, has Bluetooth for wireless headphone connect-ability, a USB port, and high resolution audio playback including DSD 11.2 MHz. Ships this spring and price is TBD.
The new Sony OLED displays were dubbed BRAVIA OLED A1E series. They came in thee sizes: 55″, 65″ and 77″. The overall design is interesting in that it the whole structure opens and supports itself like a picture frame you’d have on a desk. The screen is impressively thin with the electronics being mounted in the fold out stand portion. The images displayed were suitably saturated, crisp and vibrant with black levels that we’ve come to expect from OLED technology. The displays support the Dolby Vision HDR spec and run on Android TV with built in Google Chromecasting. One other interesting feature is that the displays do not have traditional speakers built in. The sound seems to come from the screen itself as it acts like a giant tactile transducer, vibrating to project the sound. None of the sets were actually playing any sound so the effectiveness of this technique remains to be seen. Pricing was TBD and availability was loosely hinted at third quarter of this year.
Sony’s new VR headset for the PS4 being tested out on this innocent guinea pig…err….bystander. The poor dear honestly seemed like she was fighting for her life!
Sony’s Signature Series of personal audio products consists of the MDR-Z1R headphones with custom made balanced cables by Kimber Cable, the NW-WM1Z digital Walkman and the TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier. I sampled them at RMAF and again tonight. They are impeccably built, are impeccably priced (at $2299.00, $3199.00 and $2198.00 respectively) and sound, you guessed it, impeccable!
Sony was also showing off their Dolby Atmos capable soundbar, the HT-ST5000. It uses a compliment of 12 drivers and comes with a wireless subwoofer as well. It has 3 HDMI inputs that are 4K and HDR capable, along with USB, Bluetooth, optical and analog connections too. The bar is said to convincingly simulate a 7.1.2 Atmos speaker setup. There was no way to realistically tell how successful it was inside the smallish, semi open booth that the display was in. But it sounded plenty loud and clean during parts of The Magnificent Seven remake.
Fought through the crowds at the Las Vegas Convention Center this morning to start the day off with Panasonic. While they didn’t have much in the way of new displays and such, their booth covered a broad range of what they do in many different product categories. This “Surface” type autonomous car interface particularly caught my attention.
The one display that Panasonic did have in their booth was a 65″ OLED 4K model that was being considered for European release but US availability had not been decided. The display, using custom Panasonic electronic processing, showed beautiful color and black level rendition with the UHD content being played along with being admirably slim. The display supports the HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) standards. Attached to the screen were two new, lower priced, Panasonic UHD Blu-Ray players to support their two currently available models. The DMP-UB300 and 400 both featured Panasonic’s proprietary video processing and High-Res audio file playback with the 400 model adding a second HDMI output and 4K streaming service support. Availability and pricing were TBD.
As the parent company of Technics, Panasonic had a dedicated space in their booth to feature some newly released product of the high-end brand.
First up are the new SB-G90 Grand Class stereo speakers. Weighing in at 71 lbs each, these tower speakers feature extensive internal bracing and drivers mounted to sub-baffles within the enclosure in order to reduce resonances and help make the cabinet more inert. The speakers use a coaxial driver for the highs and mids and two long stroke woofers to make up the bottom end. Claimed bass extension is down to 27Hz in room and they have a 4 ohm impedance with a sensitivity of 88dB. Price is $5000.00 per pair.
Next is the new Grand Class SU-G700 Integrated amplifier, which is visually striking with it’s twin old school VU meters and heavy aluminum construction. It essentially uses digital amplification mated to a linear power supply to generate a rated 70 watts into 8 ohms and 140 watts into 4 ohms. It also has an Asynchronous USB input and can accept PCM signals up to 32 bit 384kHz and DSD signals up to 11.2 Mhz. Price is $2500.00.
And finally, Technics has announced a wider availability and more affordable release of their revived turntable called the Grand Class SL-1200 GR. Derived from the limited edition SL-1200G released last year, the GR features the same basic design with some more simplified construction in order to bring it’s price a little more down to earth. The turntables are manufactured and calibrated by hand in Japan and are turned out at a rate of 20 per day. Price is $2000.00.
Each of these components reek with a solidity of construction and a classic, understated style.
“Piero, I found your car!”
Here is a video tease of what awaited us in the LG booth. It was a large room with sidewalls and curved ceiling made up of LG OLED displays. It was like walking into a digital aquarium at night!
The first day of CES is here and as usual, I spent most of the day orienting myself and drinking in the enormous amount of exciting tech crammed into the convention halls. CES is loud, bright, colorful and CROWDED!
Of course, I like to check out the splashy booths at Samsung, LG, Panasonic, etc, but I also like walking the floor and just seeing what cool little nook and cranny gadgets catch my eye.
Here I am checking out the Home theater headset by Royole. Contrary to what it looks like, it’s not a virtual reality setup. It’s a set of 1080p goggles with surround sound earphones attached. It’s meant to be a mobile home theater that encapsulates you in your own space. I love the idea of it but the effect was too soft and “view master” like. It wasn’t a crisp image. If they get it close to my home display, then they’ll have something. They’re not there yet.
Samsung booth CES