The annual CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association) conference was held last week in “Big D” Dallas and the theme this year was “Think Big.” Actually, from a group perhaps best known for installing six-figure home theaters in million dollar houses, “Big” would be apropos every year.
The companies on the trade show floor underscored BIG with ear-popping chest-high, high-end audio speakers, eye-popping 4K projectors lighting up 11-foot screens, and all-encompassing whole home automation systems that link everything from your front doorbell to your patio lights.
As in years past, CEDIA was projector-centric, with many of the TV manufacturers either not having a booth or taking a lower profile. Sony is one of a select few that competes in both the TV and projector markets.
Sony, for their part, upped the ante with their “Think Bigger!” 100-inch XBR100Z9D top-of-the-line Z Series 4K TV, which they had publicized in July. They have yet to reveal an exact availability date or price.
For a really big image, Sony announced their VPL-VW675ES 4K HDR Home Theater Projector, which will be available this November with an MSRP of $15,000. Sony specs its screen size from 5 to 25 feet.
Displayed alongside one of their new ES line of audio video receivers (all of which support 4K HDR capability and incorporate both Dolby Atmos™ and DTS:X™ immersive audio), Sony was previewing the X1000ES Universal Player. The description of this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player sounds enticing, but we’ll have to wait until its due date of spring of 2017 to see how it performs. I found this delay curious since Sony Pictures seems to be embracing the Ultra HD Blu-ray format with a number of releases already.
JVC announced their newest flagship, the DLA-RS4500 showcasing their proprietary native 4K D-ILA device illuminated by their BLU-Escent™ laser phosphor light source. For $35,000, (available in December), you would expect all the high-end features and this Reference Series projector delivers. You can peruse the substantial list in their press release.
As reported earlier this summer, Epson has released two 4K-enhanced models for about 1/10th of the price of the JVC projector. As a reminder, both the Epson Home Cinema 5040UB ($3000) and the wireless 5040UBE ($3300) are 1920 x 1080 resolution projectors that can accept 4K content and display it with a 4K Enhancement, or as some of their competitors like to label it, Faux K.
This is the second time that I have viewed a demonstration of this unit and the picture was impressive on an over 10-foot screen, especially considering the price tag. I credit much of this performance on its ability to display HDR content with a wide color spectrum.
As for Ultra HD TVs, at the LG early morning press conference, Tim Alessi, Director - New Product Development, was unveiling LG’s “Big” entry in the CEDIA parade, the brilliant OLED77G6P.
This 77-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV is a luscious testament to the capabilities of an OLED display.
Select LG retailers have begun taking orders for an expected delivery date in October. The $20,000 price includes the LG SIGNATURE CONCIERGE service and a welcome package of a gift card and an LG G Pad Tablet.
Considering the preponderance of gargantuan speakers, with corresponding price tags, on the tradeshow floor, it was gratifying to see smaller scale speakers, more appropriate for a tiny house. As I toured the high-end audio rooms, many of the manufacturers were highlighting at least one variety of a more intimately sized speaker.
Many of them are wireless versions that can stream music providers like Pandora or Spotify and can act independently or can be grouped. For example, the compact RIVA ARENA unit ($249) produces a noteworthy aural presence all by its lonely, but the system is designed to work with up to 32 speakers synched together.
Of course, some of the micro-speaker home theater systems like the Bose LIFESTYLE 650, at $4000, still demand a premium. But if you have a more moderate budget, you should be able to assemble an audio system that is music to your ears.
The next wave of new product announcements, especially for Ultra HD TVs, will accompany the massive CES exhibition in early January. In the mean time, we will keep our eyes wide open and update you on new and interesting 4K merchandise like the 4K Roku devices and the Google Chromecast Ultra, their 4K-capable streaming media player.