Overall, the 2010 CEDIA show in Atlanta, Georgia was underwhelming if I'm honest with many manufacturers showing old or currently released products that have already been covered and or reported on. 3D was again the darling of the show, however it too failed to garner the same "look at me" enthusiasm it had just a year prior. I got the sense that 3D, while still new, had reached a sort of critical mass with show attendees for there is still a lack of content, not to mention confidence in its (3D) longevity. Regardless of the overall tepid tone of the show, there were a few notable attendees showcasing some new and interesting equipment.
Wisdom Audio was showcasing a new subwoofer to compliment their phenomenal in-wall line-up of loudspeakers. The STS or "Steamer Trunk Series" subwoofer (that's not a joke) features two 15-inch drivers, which can be powered by an amplifier of your choosing (of course Wisdom would love it if you used theirs) and can reach depths below 17Hz with relative ease. While large, the STS's can be placed in a ceiling, floor cavity or closet for a more "hidden" installation. The price for this unique high-end, concealed thud muffin? A cool $10,000.
JVC was showing static displays of their consumer line-up of projectors and flat panel TVs in the main hall but it was their show off-site at the Omni Hotel that earns them a spot on my list this year. JVC will be hitting the front projector market hard in the coming months with a new line-up of projectors both 2D and 3D starting at $2,999 and topping out at $12,500.00-not counting their 4K beast, which retails for a $170,000. For the first time in JVC's history they have two projection offerings below $5,000, which is a segment of the market that JVC hadn't really touched until now. All of their projectors, be it their budget offering on up through to their 4K monster showcased beautiful, crisp, vibrant images rife with natural detail and motion-all things JVC is known for. If I was the competition I'd be none to happy about JVC's entry into the sub-$5,000 marketplace.
In the main show hall JVC was showcasing two passive 3D displays-where by JVC employed the use of polarized glass on the display itself negating the need for costly active glasses. JVC was using RealD 3D glasses (like the ones you get at your local multiplex) to showcase their 3D flat panel displays. No word on release date or street price but of all the 3D HDTV demos I saw at CEDIA the passive 3D displays at JVC were among the best.
LG has come on strong as of late and for the first time it was enough to really get my attention. LG and their booth had some of the best looking 2D and 3D imagery of the entire show-though I believe their 2D to be superior to their 3D and possibly superior to all 2D displays I saw at the show. LG's products had terrific form factor combined with stunning visuals and some of the most ingenious, not to mention affordable, connectivity solutions-mainly their $300 wireless 1080p video hub. LG really got my attention this year and if their booth is any indication of things to come I feel they're about to get a lot of consumers' attention as well.
SI Screens, makers of one of my favorite projection screens of all time, announced their Black Diamond II screen material was now available in a motorized drop down configuration. Because of the Black Diamond's largely "black" appearance the new motorized version features no masking or surrounding black material, instead the whole screen is pure Black Diamond II magic. This material was very cool and very effective even in very difficult locales. SI was displaying dead center of the show floor with zero cover or light control and was producing a readily viewable and enjoyable image for all to see.
Digital Projection had a host of new projectors on hand for the CE world to see, including updates and new products to their LED projector line up. The coolest product for me however was their all-in-one short throw projection solution which is still unnamed and does not have a street price but is able to project a 92-inch diagonal image from a distance of about a 12 inches thanks to the projector's unique configuration. They also had a projector (not on public display) that can switch between flat or 1:85 aspect ratio material and 2:35 material without the need for a special lens or anamorphic attachment.
SIM2 seemed to throw quite a party, as their booth was arguably the most crowded at the whole show. SIM2 was showcasing their two projector 3D solution, which utilizes dual Lumis projectors placed in stacked configuration. The nice thing about this method of showing 3D material is that you don't need active glasses and the two projectors can be combined, if you so desired, for an uber bright, super punchy 2D presentation. SIM2 also unveiled their new Teatro projector, which is their flagship offering capable of reproducing stunning images for large venue home theaters.
However the product that caught my attention most at SIM2's booth was a prototype of their new HDR capable HDTV. HDR for those of you who don't necessarily follow photography trends is a new technology that essentially allows a camera to take two images virtually simultaneously-one which is slightly over exposed for better shadow detail and one that is slightly under exposed for better highlight detail. The two images are then combined to create the best overall image for an effect that is truly awesome when viewed properly in its native form, which the SIM2 HDR display can do. (Obviously it's a bit more complicated than what I've just described but at least you have a rough idea.) HDR is in full effect in the still photography world and is just beginning its journey into video and film-but make no mistake it's coming and SIM2 is on the forefront.
The AV Processor market was largely silent this year with the exception of the Marantz AV7005, which is pretty much all the AV goodness one could ask for at a truly affordable $1,499 price point. Look for a full review in Home Theater Review soon as several of the staffers here, myself included, commented on wanting to buy the AV7005 on the spot.
On my way out of the show on Friday I stumbled upon a brand I thought to be extinct - Aragon. Displaying next to Aragon was Acurus, another "thought to be dead" brand. Well, both Aragon and Acurus are alive and well and under new management with Indy Audio Labs. Both Aragon and Acurus products should be ready to ship by year's end and Indy Audio Labs is currently signing up dealers nationwide. Stay tuned for more details.
Lexicon had a new digital amplifier on static display that utilizes a chip that is roughly the size of a fingernail which allows it to be used in a number of compact applications, mainly car stereos, however at the Harman booth they were showcasing it inside an eight channel distribution amplifier which weighed a total of eight pounds-five or six of which had to rest in the aluminum chassis itself.