CES 2012: Hidden Gems

posted on Sunday, 22nd January 2012 by David Slater


Is the American market picking up?

Well, it certainly looks like people are out and spending again. As CES 2012 draws to a close, the Vegas weekend is upon us and it's as if the clocks have been turned back three years. The famous Las Vegas strip is buzzing; the casinos are bulging at the seams with people spending their hard earned cash. It's good to see.

So what were my highlights of CES 2012?

The show was certainly a good one with plenty of great new screens on offer from the likes of Panasonic, LG and big player Samsung; with bezels only millimetres thick, now even the biggest LED looks deceivingly smaller.

It was the usual case of "Let's show awesome colourful HD content on the screens", which doesn't let you test the screens out for everyday use, but I have to say what I saw was very pleasing to the eye. Black levels were truly amazing and the colours virtually jumped out of the screen. Samsung is putting an HD camera on some sets, as well as motion and voice control, which suddenly makes remote control very interesting. Will it really turn the channel over if I say "CORONATION STREET please!"?

On the Panasonic stand there seemed to be shades of  Samsung design going on. The screens look very similar, with very small bezels; once again images were jaw droppingly good and the extra slim bezels just make the screens that tad bit sexier. Two models will be heading to the shops: the 55-inch P55VT50 and the 65-inch P65VT50; designed using a single sheet of glass with ultra-thin bezel, these screens reproduce great black levels thanks to the company's 'infinite black ultra panel' design. The 3D TVs can also convert 2D images for added depth, as well as smoothing 24p 3D using proprietary picture processing. Also on the feature list is a touch pad controller which is specifically designed for navigating the screen's Smart TV web-connected features, and even includes shortcut buttons for Skype.

Sometimes to find real surprises at these shows you have to dig into rooms that are set up in the Venetian hotel and one setup I stumbled across that stopped me in my tracks was a speaker from a company called Golden Ear. Yes, I agree, a strange name, but they sounded awesome. The Golden Ear's Triton Two Tower has clearly set new standards with extraordinary sound quality and elegant styling. It's earned an incredible series of rave reviews and industry accolades from around the world including more than a few Speaker and Audio Product of the Year honours and awards.

Also on display was the company's sound bar, the SuperCinema 3D Array. Now I have never been a great fan of soundbars, but this is one of the best I have heard, creating a rear channel sound field that sounds almost as good as having real speakers behind you. The SuperCinema 3D Array (SC3DA) incorporates left, center and right channel speakers, plus a second set of drivers that utilise 3D Array Technology to effectively cancel out crosstalk distortion between the left and right channel. There are talks underway for this to be available in theUK, it'll be launched around springtime.

Walking on, I was drawn into the Parasound room where they were proudly showing a new range of amplifiers for spring 2012 delivery. The A 31 three channel model was working hard with 250 watts into 3 channels; this is a great amp for your front stage speakers. With circuitry design by the legendary John Curl, you know you are in safe hands for the delivery of fast and accurate power.  Look out for these when they land in theUK shortly, priced around £2000.

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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