There are two kinds of toys that I got to see at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this January. On the one hand there are these gadgets that looked, felt and performed so brilliantly that they almost had me believing that they were made with alien technology – an I am talking about aliens from outer space not the Alienware company that I personally worship – and that I would need to have access to Bruce Wayne’s bank account to afford. And on the other hand there were also these cool bits of technology that were developed to provide every day, non-millionaire users, the level of technology that only the Bill Gates of the world could normally enjoy.
Now, I would love to be able to tell you that there were samples of both technologies for every category that makes up a home theater system. That way we could all start setting some money aside for this summer or autumn when most of the affordable technology is likely to hit the market, and there would also be some technology that would make us keep looking on to an even brighter future. However that is not the case. Oh, there are plenty of new technologies that will be fueling my dreams for years to come but there are so very few technologies developed for an outstanding level of quality and an average sized wallet. Still there were some and I can hardly wait to tell you about them.
I know you were hoping that I would tell you this summer will be your chance to own a 55 inch OLED, ultra high definition, or 4K, whatever you want to call it, TV. But it’s not! First off Panasonic only announced that they are working on such a device and that it will be created using their own printing technology. The screen will have a resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels and will be just half an inch thick and will weigh 27 pounds. If you are not sure about what that resolution means just take a look at your HDTV, or any HDTV you can find and picture 4 times more pixels because your average HDTV only has 1024 pixels.
If you happen to be Bruce Wayne than you don’t really have to wait for the Panasonic release, but you will have to choose between an 85 inch ultra high definition (UHD) TV and a 55 inch OLED HDTV. They were both unveiled by Samsung at CES 2013. The 85 inch UHD is called the UN85S9000 and it uses a 1.35 GHz A15 quad-processor to up-convert videos to its 4k standard. Another nice feature that this powerful processor enables is the fact that the TV accepts voice commands and it allows navigation through Samsung’s Smart Hub. Not that anyone who can afford this kind of TV would rely on its own speakers but the S9000 does come with a 3.2 channel, 120 watt speaker system.
The alternative is the 55 inch OLED HDTV called the KN55F9500. It is a 3D HDTV that offers the first sample of the Multi-view feature. This basically means that you and the misses can put on the Samsung active shutter glasses and you can watch the latest game and she can watch her cooking channel shows at the same time. The TV basically displays both channels and the glasses filter who sees what. Additionally you will both have to wear stereo headphones but that goes without saying. This TV also features the Voice Interaction and Smart Hub navigation of the UN85S9000.
Having seen both of them I can honestly say, to you Mr. Wayne, of course, that I dearly recommend buying the 85 inch UHD UN85S9000 because the OLED technology still has some tweaks to resolve, still needs to claw its way up to the UHD standard and, basically, when it comes to TVs bigger is always better.
Floor Standing Speakers
The floor standing speakers presented at this year’s CES are my pride and joy and I am ever so happy to be able to tell you about them. There were obviously plenty of models to choose from but the ones that really grabbed my attention were the Triton Seven using their own Golden Ear technology. These are the speakers that I can guarantee you will grace the houses of my friends who look at me for audio expertise. They are the last in a very long line of attempts to create high end speaker sound for entry to mid level prices, but they are also the first in what I hope an equally long line of successful attempts at that goal. What I am trying to say is that these speakers do sound incredibly good and they are only 1500 dollars a pair.
They are Triton’s smallest floor standing speakers but they are still pretty impressive in size and you will be blown away by the dynamic range and the revealing qualities of these speakers. The Triton 7 should hit the market in the second quarter of this year so they are the perfect gift to celebrate the beginning of the summer holiday.
Obviously now self respecting floor standing speaker system will be complete without an amplifier and the ADA Home Theater Controller Amplifier was a magnificent example of just what great innovations you can stumble on just by walking the halls of the Venetian Hotel where all the audio companies were exhibiting their stuff. The ADA amplifier is great for several reasons not the least of which being the fact that it allows you to connect every audio and video gadget you could think of including 3D pass through. It is also THX Ultra 2 Certified and it is made in the USA. But the most impressive feature of this amplifier is that it is one of the coolest running systems to have hit the market in a long time. That means it will have a longer life span and it is very reliable.
Home Theater in a Box
However the real work horse of the home theater industry is the home theater in a box system and, despite my best efforts to change the world, there are still a lot of people very interested in buying these systems. Well, if you are bent on using an HTiB then I would suggest the Samsung HT-F9750W. It features that vacuum tube preamp stage that we talked about on the Samsung 6730W.
The new HTiB from Samsung brings a new audio processing system called Neo Fusion that is designed to create a 10.1 channel virtual surround sound system. It still uses the same kind 7.1 setup that the Samsung 6730W features but the new processing system does bring a more open and spacious feeling to the listening experience. Granted it has been some time since I last really listened to the 6730W but I would definitely recommend the new HT-F9750W to anyone interested in a HTiB.
Many buyers and even some reviewers tend to downplay the importance of the Blue-Ray player but the fact is that your entire movie or music experience is influenced by how flawlessly this system performs. And I was truly impressed by the LG BP730 Blue-ray player that actually won an innovation award. It plays all the usual suspects, DVDs, Blue-Rays, audio CDs and any wireless connection you might want. It further boasts a double core processor that gives it a very snappy response time when navigating through the menus. And the navigation is done with the help of LG’s Magic Remote which works pretty much like a wireless mouse. And the final, most impressive feature is that it can also upscale movies to the 4K format required by those wonderful UHD TVs we talked about.
In my opinion the projector is really the poor but smart man’s alternative to the HD TV, but, of course, you need to find a 720p capable projector. It will never look as good as HD TV but some of the best projectors, like the Epson’s Home Cinema 750HD featured at the CES 2013, do come close. The great thing about this particular projector is that it can project 3D movies and games right out of the box. You can connect it to any Blue-Ray player or game console and start enjoying the fun. It comes with a pair of Epson’s RF 3D glasses that last up to 40 hours on a full battery charge or can be set on a quick three minute charge and then they will work for the next 3 hours. Now, those are some impressive features that should get you thinking if a new HD TV is really the best way to go.
Ultimately CES 2013 had to end and with it all the fun of discovering new gadgets for our entertainment lair. But there are some very interesting products that I can hardly wait to tryout and I will let you know as soon as they hit the shelves or are sent to me for an early evaluation. If you would like to be the first to know about how the Triton 7 worked than make sure you register to receive my newsletter where I will be giving all the more personal and amusing details that come up whenever I need to install a new speaker system.