Published On: January 11, 2010

2010 CES Show Report- Andrew Robinson

Published On: January 11, 2010

2010 CES Show Report- Andrew Robinson

HomeTheaterReview.com's reporter Andrew Robinson gives his impressions of the mood on the floor at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and finds a lot of people expressing cautious optimism after surviving the hardships of 2009.

CES-2010-AndrewRobinson.gifComing off of a fairly subdued 2009 CEDIA I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from 2010 CES. The buzz around the convention was that consumers and manufacturers were in good spirits and happy that 2009 was behind them. I couldn't agree more and after spending ten minutes on the main show floor in the South Hall I'd say the buzz was dead on the money. The CES 2010 show was exciting... and packed.

Read CES 2011 Coverage including 97 photo slideshow from HomeTheaterReview.com - click here.

 

CES had been a bit dead the past few years compared to what I'd seen earlier in the decade, but this year's showcased a renewed vigor in all things consumer electronics. It's still a bit too much of a gadget show and could use some additional focus but clearly 2010 was better than past years. Here are some of my highlights and not so highlights.

LG
LG was one of the first booths we visited at CES this year, albeit by accident, and I must say LG is definitely up to something because their booth was the busiest I encountered of all the CES attendees. The LG booth was so jam packed with press, dealers and the like that it was impossible to actually view anything they were showcasing. I cannot speak definitively on the nuts and bolts of their upcoming displays other than to say they are clearly focused on 3D (as is every HDTV manufacturer) and from what I was able to see it looked very good indeed. Truth be told, the booth was so chaotic that I found the nearest escape route I could out of fear of being crushed.

Samsung
Samsung gets my award for the "look at me booth" with their multi-story entrance featuring more LED based HDTV's than I could count. While the entrance was a mad house, mostly because everyone was trying to get a photo of the impressive display, elsewhere in the booth it was much more manageable.

Samsung was showcasing their newest line of LED based HDTVs with 3D technology and out of all the demos featuring 3D I have to say Samsung's was among the best overall. Samsung's 3D displays were virtually flicker free and had some of the widest viewing angles out of all the manufacturers. Now, I'm still not whole-heartedly convinced that consumers are going to want to wear glasses (which I understand are sold separately) to view their displays for long periods of time but it's a step in the right direction. Also, I'm still at odds about LED or LCD being the best format to showcase 3D for the extreme brightness and super glossy screen material does create an awful lot of visual vibration in the 3D space, especially during fast motion sequences. CG-based animation seemed to fair the best in most 3D demos, which is no doubt why Samsung relied on it almost exclusively to showcase their newest sets.

Aside from 3DTVs, Samsung was also showing a new line of LED based LCD TVs that were so thin, somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter of an inch or less, that they were virtually invisible when viewed from the side. Very cool stuff and no glasses required.

Toshiba
Not to be outdone by Samsung, Toshiba was also showing various 3D displays however Toshiba took it a step further with their CELL Technology, which is actually a processor that rests in a standalone box that can convert, in real time, any 2D material to 3D. Polarized lenses or glasses are still required to complete the effect but the initial demo was encouraging to say the least. I'm not sure the still photo portion of the demo was as spectacular as Toshiba was hoping for, seeing your old photos remixed in 3D is a bit weird and disjointed if you catch my drift, but the video portion of the demo was very impressive.

Another thing about Toshiba's 3D displays that I did like was the fact that their displays didn't seem to utilize a high gloss plastic or glass, which cut down tremendously on image vibration as well as improved black levels and perceived contrast. I'm going to definitely keep my eye on Toshiba and their CELL Technology in 2010.

Panasonic
Panasonic, once again took the honors in the "my HDTV is bigger than your HDTV" category, though I'm not sure any of the other manufacturers were playing along; for no one was trying to win the bigger is better fight this year. Still, Panasonic did have several 3DTVs on display all showcasing sports footage, which was interesting to see and wise on Panasonics part since most initial 3D broadcasts are bound to be of sporting events.

If 3D can capture the sports market then it will definitely have legs in the consumer space and judging by the quick football clips I saw at Panasonic's booth the effect 3D has on the field during a football game is cool and convincing.

No word yet on how beer goggles change the 3D experience but I'll keep you posted as things develop.

Read Paradigm, SIM2-Krell, Atlantic Tech and many other CES Show reports on Page 2

CES-2010-AndrewRobinson.gif

Bowers & Wilkins (B&W)
Bowers & Wilkins was really showcasing their newest line of Mobile Hi-Fi headphones and MM-1 computer speakers more than anything else and while I'm not a headphone fanatic the Mobile Hi-Fi's were uber-comfortable and sounded very good indeed.

What really caught my eye at the Bowers & Wilkins booth was the new and improved 800 Series Diamond line. Not much was given on just what improvements were made at the show but visually they've stepped it up a notch or two, and take my award for the best looking speakers of CES 2010. Expect a full review of the new and improved 800 Series flagship in Home Theater Review soon.

Parasound / Atlantic Technology
Parasound was showing with Atlantic Technology this year and the pairing, especially with Atlantic Technology's new H-PAS based speakers was impressive. The bass and resolution the speakers were producing was jaw dropping, especially considering their suggested retail price is $2,000 when they go on sale later in the year.

Parasound was also showing, albeit on static display, the latest addition to their JC or John Curl series of Halo products, the JC3 Phono Preamplifier. Parasound says the JC3 will be available soon and should retail somewhere around $2,000.

Anthem / Paradigm
Paradigm had two rooms at the Venetian, one showcasing their products on static display and the other featuring a full demo of their updated Signature Series speakers mated with a full compliment of Anthem components, including their new Blu-ray/DVD/CD player. As good as Anthem's new Blu-ray appeared to be the real story of the showcase was Paradigm's new SUB 1 and SUB 2 subwoofers.

Both are complete monsters with the SUB 2 being the king shit of the line featuring six 10-inch high excursion drivers powered by a 4,500 Watt digital amplifier. Both subs are hexagonal in shape and are simply massive and a statement long before power up. While the conditions in the Venetian suite were far from ideal the SUB 1 and 2 proved they could rock and roll with the best of them.

Krell / Sim2
My award for best sound of the show has to go to Krell and their updated Evolution line of amplifiers. Krell was showcasing the improved Evolution 402 amplifier feeding a pair of Krell Modulari Duo's to a room of invited guests. 30 seconds into the presentation it was more than abundantly clear that the new and improved Evolution 402's weren't simply an evolutionary step forward but a whole other animal.

I've never heard anything like it and its hard to describe, for the original 402's were near perfect in my opinion, so to improve them the way that Krell has done still has me scratching my head. The purity, speed, openness and control the 402E's exhibited was otherworldly. The good news is I'll be getting one for review and current 402 owners will be able to upgrade their units to 402E spec in the very near future.

Krell was also showcasing their new Blu-ray player, which will retail for a cool $15,000 when it goes on sale later this year. Their Blu-ray player was connected to Sim2's new Mico50 projector and the pairing was quite possibly a match made in heaven. Look for a full feature review of the Mico50 projector this summer.

All in all it was a good show, one of the better CES's of recent memory. It was good to see that both the manufacturers and consumers seemed to have a little bit of their mojo back, given the thrashing we all took in '08 and '09. While I still think there is a long way to go in terms of getting consumers to part with their hard earned money the way they did in the late 90's, it's nice to see that manufacturers have gotten the memo and kept prices obtainable while offering more features and value for the money. If CES 2010 is any indication of things to come, 2010 should be quite an exciting year.

Read CES 2011 Coverage including 97 photo slideshow from HomeTheaterReview.com - click here.

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