CEDIA 2016 Show Report Day 2 Coverage
LCDs have come a long way towards better black levels but they’ll likely never reproduce the deep contrast seen in OLED displays. LG continues to bear the standard with its full line of curved and flat televisions. This year they’ve introduced the Signature Series capped by a 77-inch model that retails for $20,000. It offers the expected stunning picture quality along with support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
You can see in the first photo, if you look closely, just how thin these panels are. Though the internal components are housed in a box at the bottom, the panel itself is just three millimeters thick. LG calls it “picture on glass” and it truly does meet that description.
For smart TV users, LG has included version 3.0 of its WebOS system which brings in content from multiple providers over the set’s built-in WiFi or a wired connection.
The Signature Series’ Concierge Service is a comprehensive package designed to make the ownership experience as smooth and seamless as possible. 24-hour telephone support is provided along with short-window service calls and you even get a $200 Amex gift card. LG’s own Tim Alessi suggested that money might be spent on a professional calibration. I would hope that for $20,000, the display would have at least one mode that hits Rec.709!
Epson made a significant introduction with its new Pro Cinema and Home Cinema projectors back in June at New York’s CE Week. I assumed that they would have nothing else new to show at CEDIA. I also wondered after spending time with the new 6040UB why anyone would still consider the LS10000 laser projector. Well, both questions have been answered here today.
Meet the LS10500. It’s the same high-contrast, long-life laser engine we saw in the LS10000 but with the addition of HDR. Remember that it already featured 4K Enhancement which allows Ultra HD quality from a 1920×1080 pixel imaging engine. By placing a computer-controlled refractor in the light path and refreshing the signal at 480Hz, the doubled frames are projected with a one-half pixel offset. The end result is a picture with no visible pixel gap. Not only has this technology proven itself to me in demos, I’ve spent a lot of time with the 6040UB lately in my own theater and I can attest to the fact that it looks spectacular.
Now that I’ve seen the higher-contrast LS10500 in action, I’d have to say that Epson has managed in only three years to equal the quality and depth I’ve come to expect from JVC. It looks that good.
The LS10500’s feature set retains the motorized lens and memories of the previous model. It supports HDR10 and accepts signals at both 3840×2160 and 4096×2160 pixels. An HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 input allows 60Hz operation with 10-bit color depth and HDR. The 3LCD Reflective light engine offers up to 1500 lumens of both white and color brightness. Its color gamut ranges up to Adobe RGB which means it can completely cover Rec.709 and DCI-PC. It also displays a larger portion of Rec.2020 than any other home theater projector I’m aware of. The twin-laser light source boasts a 30,000 hour service life.
I was among the first to see the demo of this excellent projector and came away impressed. The addition of HDR just enhances contrast even beyond its already-large native dynamic range. I also think its resolution and detail is easily a match for Sony’s native 4K models. That it costs half as much is something many buyers won’t be able to ignore.
The LS10500 retails for $7999, same as its predecessor; and represents an astounding value in front projection. Look for a full review at Secrets sometime this Winter.
Epson adds three new models to its value-oriented Home Cinema line, the 3100, 3700 and 3900. All offer full lens shift, output up to 3000 lumens, 1080p resolution, 3D and frame interpolation. The mid-line 3700 adds two built-in speakers for total portability and convenience. Like all Epson projectors, a full suite of calibration tools is included in the on-screen menu. Pricing is $1299, $1499 and $1999 respectively. Lens shift in a $1300 projector? That’s amazing! I can’t wait to get one of these in for review.
Sony was the first to market a native 4K projector three years ago so expectations are high. This year it’s showing three new 4K-capable products – the VPL-VW675ES projector, a 4K Blu-ray player and an updated line of ES-series receivers.
The VPL-VW675ES adds HDR10 support to stream appropriate content from Amazon, Netflix and to play Ultra HD Blu-rays. It also works with the new Hybrid Log Gamma used for UHD broadcasts in Europe and Japan. Output is a claimed 1800 lumens at a dynamic contrast ratio of 350,000:1. The lamp is rated at 6000 hours and the projector supports 3D via RF. With its HDMI 2.0/HDCP2.2 input, it stands ready for current and future Ultra HD source components.
Tweakers will enjoy the generous lens shift and zoom plus a full suite of calibration tools. Adjustments can be performed remotely via PC making the projector super-convenient for pro installers. The new model ships in November at a price of $14,999.
Not long outdone by Philips and Samsung, Sony is introducing its own Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the UBP-X1000ES. It fully supports Ultra HD Blu-ray with HDR10, Rec.2020 color and 3840×2160 resolution. It will also upscale standard Blu-rays and DVDs to 4K.
Audio features befit its inclusion in the ES product line. Not only does it support every optical video format, it appeals to audiophiles with SACD and DVD Audio compatibility. I’m betting only Oppo will be able to compete with this player in terms of features. A 32-bit DAC along with native DSD and LPCM up to 192kHz should help those who store hi-res music on a laptop or NAS.
Build quality appears to be first-rate with a solid chassis and plenty of heft. Installers will appreciate both RS-232 and IP-based control options. Look for this player next spring at a price yet to be determined. I’m betting it won’t be cheap!
If you’re adding Ultra HD and HDR to your theater, you’re going to need support for these formats, plus DTS:X and Dolby Atmos, in your AVR. To that end, Sony is adding four new models to its ES line, STR-ZA3100ES, 2100ES, 1100ES and the entry-level ZA810ES. All are compatible with Ultra HD, HDR and Rec.2020 via their six HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 inputs. They also process Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-oriented audio. Outputs number two and can be assigned to different zones. Lower-res video can be upscaled to Ultra HD at 24Hz.
Pricing ranges from $800 to $1700. Power output is from 100 to 110 watts per channel times seven. The top two boxes will allow a 5.4.2 configuration while the bottom two requires additional amps to augment their 5.2.2 setup. Look for these new receivers sometime next spring.
This morning I attended Paradigm’s introduction of its new Persona line of high-end speakers. There are four tower models plus a stand-mount, a center-channel and a sub. All are equipped with beryllium tweeter and mid-range drivers. The cabinets are beautifully curved and made from molded MDF finished with a metal front baffle and a hand-rubbed lacquer finish. Four colors will be available to start but customers can have them painted in any automotive finish they can find a color code for. Ferrari red sounds cool, or perhaps orange creamsicle!
The flagship 9H has four active woofers controlled by Anthem Room Correction built right into the cabinet. I have to admit, this is the first speaker I’ve ever seen with a USB port! The patterned grills over the top two drivers are called phase-aligning lenses. They serve more than a cosmetic function by controlling output for minimal distortion and the widest possible soundstage. Each woofer has its own 700-watt amplifier with DSP control.
I enjoyed a fantastic demo that featured some of the most detailed recordings I’ve heard. The transparency and resolution seemed almost without limit. The goal of Paradigm’s five-year development was to minimize distortion. To my ears, they’ve eliminated it. I look forward to seeing these speakers measured because they presented nothing but clean neutral sound. Fans of the Canadian design will herald these as the pinnacle of that genre. Sales begin soon and the 9H caps the range at $35,000 a pair.
Last year I saw two new products at Screen Innovations that were still in the prototype stage. One was their cool rollup screen called Zero G. By using a large pipe as both the core and the weight, it only takes a couple of slim cables to control the whole thing. They’re calling it “rollup television.” It automatically tensions as it unrolls so you don’t need unsightly cables and clips bowing out from the edges. When stowed, the whole thing fits into a soffit or wall-mounted box behind two bay-style doors. It’s just the thing for chic media rooms where you want to completely hide the fact that you have a projector.
The other product I’m really excited about is Transformer. We’re not talking about Bumblebee here though he was standing proudly outside their booth. This is a cool alternative to traditional masking systems. Rather than blocking light with blackout panels, the screen changes width, frame and all. It achieves this feat with a sliding frame system that rolls the material in and out so you can go from 16:9 to 2.35:1 easily. It’s ideal for a constant-height setup with an anamorphic lens or one of the newer projectors with lens position memories.
Both screens will be shipping soon and I hope to review them at that time.
Sandy Gross from GoldenEar had his invisible Atmos setup again this year; and it sounded great as usual. But where was that extra bass power coming from? Introducing the new SuperSub X. This relatively tiny box houses two active eight-inch woofers and two passive radiators in a sealed configuration. Amplification is 1400 watts controlled by a 56-bit DSP. The bass was massive but tight and detailed in the movie and game demos I watched. And the room was shaking from the efforts of a single sub. Some attendees actually looked under tables and behind chairs convinced there was another sub in operation! This thing puts out some serious juice. It’s available now for $1249.
Wireless audio solutions seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days. Whole-house audio no longer has to mean pulling miles of cable and installing amps and speakers everywhere. With RIVA Audio’s new Wand series, you can put a small box just about anywhere and control it from a mobile app.
I checked out two models called Arena and Festival. They create a stereo effect from one box by using three driver arrays and some clever signal processing. You can arrange up to 32 of them in a single network all controlled from a single app. Connectivity includes Bluetooth, AirPlay, WiFi, DLNA and DDMS. You can also use a USB source or a 3.5mm audio cable. There’s even a battery for the Arena that runs it for up to 16 hours if you want to take one with you. If you don’t want to use RIVA’s app it works with Google Cast, AirPlay and Spotify Connect. Look for a review at Secrets in the next couple of months.