CES 2013 Preview Posted on January 5, 2013 By Art Feierman The 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) begins Tuesday, January 8th in Las Vegas. A day earlier (i.e., Monday, Jan. 7th) is designated as CES Press Day and several of the manufacturers of home theaters projectors and related products (including LG, Sharp, Panasonic, Sony, etc.) will be holding press briefings that day. This blog previews a few products planned for introduction at CES as well as discussing some projector technologies and related video products that may be introduced at CES for the home theater market. Updates from Jan. 7th press conferences now posted. JAN. 7 updates from Press Conferences LG – The LG press conference covered not only home entertainment electronics, but also LG major appliances (e.g., washers, dryers, ranges, etc.) and LG smart phones. LG’s new theme is “Touch the Smart Live” with lots of devices with touch screens. LG was promoting their “one touch connection” to link their products with each other, such as your smart phone with your washing machine or refrigerator. Also new LG Smart TVs will feature user voice inputs and user gesture inputs to control the TV. LG was displaying their 55 inch OLED flat panel TVs (1080p). It has previously been reported they have been having production issues with OLED display and this has resulting in a delay in bringing these to the market. At last year’s CES LG said the 55 inch OLED HDTV would be shipping by the end of 2012. Now LG is reporting their model 55EM9700 55 inch OLED HDTV be begin shipping in Korea in February 2013 and in the USA in March for a list price of about $12,000. This is billed as the “World’s Largest and Slimmest OLED TV.” The LG OLED TV is only about a thick as a pencil. LG was also promoting the “Google TV” function supported in 7 models of their Smart TVs. LG is promoting their 84 inch 4K Ultra HD LCD/LED TV that first came to the USA market in October 2012. New Ultra HD models are being added for 2013 in sizes of 55inches and 65 inches. The LG Hecto laser 1080p projector (with a very short 22 inch throw distance) with 100 inch screen was briefly mentioned and it was indicated that it will be available this month in Korea and March in the USA. There will be 21 TVs in the “Cinema 3D” series and all of LCD TVs in LG’s 2013 lineup will use LED backlighting. _______________________________________ Sharp Electronics– Sharp is promoting their new IGZO LCD technology which is claimed to be better 20 to 40 times faster than conventional TFT LCD display technology while operating at lower power consumption than conventional LCD. LG annou ced plans to release a 32 inch 4K LCD monitor using IGZO display technology. IGZO will also be used in smart phones and tablets in 2013. Sharp is said to be the first company to mass produce IGZO displays. Sharp also introduced a 4K Ultra HD 60 inch TV (called ICC Purios) with THX certification. It will ship in the summer of 2013. Sharp is also introducing a 4K Aquos series Ultra HD 3D TV using a 240 Hz LCD panel and built-in 4K upscaler with features similar to the regular 8 Series (see below). The new 4K Aquos will ship in the second have of 2013. Sharp will bring their Aquos line of 1080p LCD/LED HDTV to stores staring in March 2013 with 21 models in screen sizes of 60, 70, 80 and 90 inch screen sizes with improved audio and video performance. Quattron is featured in 10 of these models (adds a yellow sub-pixel along will the regular red, blue and green sub-pixels). There will 3 series of models (6 series, 7 series and 8 series). The new top of the line 8 series has a super bright model said to be 50% more light output. Sharp Smart TV have increased processor power and enhanced interactive features. There was no mention of Sharp projectors at the press conference. ________________________________________ Panasonic – Panasonic introduced their new projector flagship PT-AE8000 back in Sept. 2012. Therefore, nothing new projector-wise was expected to be announced at the Panasonic’s CES conference. Panasonic a very short press conference where they introduced “Smart Viera TV” in their higher end 2013 plasma and LCD/LED TVs with an emphasis on personalization and ease of access to services. These smart TVs will feature “My Home Screen” to integrate all of the entertainment options onto a single personalized screen. Some models have a built-in TV came than can be used to recognize different viewers and bring up a personalized screen for that viewer. Also featured is the integration between the Smart Viera TVs and mobile devices (i.e., smart phones and tablets). This is provided via a wifi connection. New features for the Smart Viera TVs will include a Home Shopping Network “Shop by Remote” service as well as new YouTube features. For 2013 Panasonic will introduce 16 new plasma HDTVs and 16 new LCD/LED models with screen sizes up to 65 inches (same as for 2012) but with virtually no information on any improvements to the display quality over the 2012 models. The 2013 VT60 series of Plasma HDTVs will include the “My Home Screen” feature while the ZT60 series features a new 3000 Hz. “Focused Field Drive” and includes Viera Connect. The new Smart Viera WT and DT series of LCD/LED HDTVs feature a wide viewing angle. Bottom line is Panasonic provided info no new smart features but very little information at their press conference about actual performance improvements to their plasma for LCD/LED flat panel HDTVs. UPDATE – Panasonic showed a prototype OLED 56 inch OLED 4K Ultra HD TV. No timeframe for production units nor price information as given. ___________________________________________ Samsung – Samsung is the world’s largest consumer electronic company. This year their theme seems to be creating better ways for humans and computer based (i.e., smart) devices to interact. This will provide consumers a simpler way to find what is important to them. Samsung introduced a new flagship Blu-ray player, model BD-F7500 that includes upconversion of 1080p video to a 4K video output (some 2012 models, such as Sony’s flagship model, also had this feature). Samsung announced many new LCD/LED and Plasma TV models and the 55 inch model KN55F9500 OLED TV. This OLED TV supports multi-view so that two users wearing special glasses (similar to active 3D glasses but with ear buds for the audio) can be watching two different TV programs at the same time. Samsung’s most advanced Smart TVs will incorporate “Smart Hub” as the user interface to manage functions and media content. Live TV and on-demand streaming video are integrated as well as other integrated on-line services. Samsung introduced an “Evolution Kit” (a small plug-in hardware box) for their smart TVs to allow the smarts (processor, software, etc.) of the TV to be easily upgraded by the user for new functions/features and increased processing capabilities. For example, today’s Samsung smart TV can be updated to add the features introduced in next year’s models. The Samsung F8000 is their flagship 1080p LCD/LED Smart TV series with a very thin profile with a quarter inch wide bezel and with screen sizes up to 75 inches. The F8000 series will include LED micro-dimming for improved images. This series of smart TVs features includes voice command and visual movement inputs. Support will be provided for the new H.265 codec (HCVC) for steaming video. The UN85S9 is a 4K Ultra HD TV. This 85 inch model uses an unusual configuration with a frame around the “floating” screen (referred as the “timeless gallery design”) with built-in speakers with 120 watts of audio. Also a 110 inch 4K Ultra HD model is being introduced and demo’ed at the Samsung booth at CES (not showen at the new conference). ___________________________________________ Sony – Sony only introduced one new projector at the Sept. 2012 CEDIA show and that was their entry-level model VPL-HW50ES. Last year’s highly rated flagship 1080p VPL-VW95ES and the 4K VPL-VW1000ES have remained in the line since first announced nearly a year and half ago CEDIA in Sept. 2011 and have now been available to the consumer for a year, or more. As I reported in my previous blog, the big question (projector-wise) for Sony going into CES 2013 was if they would announce any new mid-to-high end projectors. Sony’s slogan for this year’s products seems to “make.believe”. Sony introduce a new Android smart phone with a 5 inch full HD 1080p display (if you like to watch your HD video on a 5 inch screen). Sony is promoting connectivity between smart phones and their other consumer electronic devices. They have a series of “one touch” products to allow information/media to be transfer between devices by simply touching the source device to the output device (TV, media player, etc.). An updated line of flat panel HDTV was introduced with Sony’s “Triluminos” display technology claimed to offer truer colors on both 1080p and 4K TVs. Sony is adding 55 inch and 65 inch 4K Ultra HD TVs to join the recently launched 84 inch model. The new smaller and less expensive models will go on sale in the spring of 2013. Sony is going to launch a 4K video distribution system in the USA during the summer 2013. Native 4K movies by Sony Pictures and other media companies will be offered by the 4K video distribution system. This will require the use of a 4K player connected via the internet to the Sony 4K distribution service. As previously reported, Sony is providing consumers that purchase their 84 inch 4K Ultra HD with the loan of a 4K Ultra HD Video Player. I assume this is intended as an interim measure before the 4K video distribution system and it own 4K players are released. Also it is certainly possible that the upcoming Playstation 4 will support this 4K video distribution service, but the PS4 is not being announced at CES, so we will have to wait for that announcement, most likely coming sometime later this year. Sony is exhibiting a prototype 4K camcorder designed for the consumer at their display booth (no price or production data mentioned at the press conference). Sony will release of series of “4K line up of Blu-ray Discs this coming spring”. It appears they are only talking about conventional 1080p Blu-ray Discs made from 4K masters and not a next generation of Blu-ray that has a native 4K resolution. Sony announced and displayed a prototype OLED 56 inch 4K Ultra HD TV. No pricing or availability information on this OLED TV was released at the press conference (but it could be perhaps a year or two away from production). There was no mention of consumer projectors during the Sony press conference. However, it’s still possible something will show up when the trade show opens tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 8th). ___________________________________________ That is the end of the info from the Pre-Show News Conferences ___________________________________________ My earlier CES preview info is below ____________________________________________ NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR 2013 It appears that 2013 will be the year 4K (Ultra High Definition) consumer projectors using laser-based light engines make their appearance. Professional video camera manufacturer RED is set to begin production, within the next few months, of a 4K resolution projector with a laser-based light engine. The lasers are housed in a separate box connected to the projector head via a fiber optics cable. The laser box can be remotely mounted several feet away from the projector head. Red showed an early prototype at the NAB show last spring but they may not make an appearance at this month’s CES. Red is not listed as having their own exhibit booth but there is a chance a Red projector may show up someone else’s booth. Also it is possible that Sony will be showing their own 4K laser-based projector (just a rumor at this point). As discussed in my previous blog (HERE) it is anticipated there will be some announcements about 4K video sources that likely incorporate a new generation of HDMI interfaces (i.e., HDMI version 1.5?) and a new, more efficient video codec (i.e., H.265). There may be information released at CES about whether the Blu-ray Disc Association has decided to move forward with the development of a new standard for a 4K Blu-ray disc. Such a new Blu-ray standard is necessary in order for the consumer electronics manufacturers to develop the next generation of Blu-ray players and the movie studios to produce discs that support 4K (i.e., Ultra High Definition). Also it will be interesting to see if there are any announcements at CES for new hard drive based 4K video players. I’ve seen no specific product announcements released in advance of CES for 4K video sources other than the info on the Sony and Red 4K hard drive based video players discussed in my previous blog. However, some information may come out as early as the Monday, Jan. 7th press day events. PRE-SHOW PRODUCT ANNOUCEMENTS As discussed in my previous blog (HERE) a few products announcements came out well in advance of CES. The only new projector described in my previous blog was the new LG Hecto short throw, laser-based, projector with an included 100 inch screen. LG Hectro Laser Projector Another interesting home theater product (but not projector related) announced for CES, and discussed in my earlier blog, is 110 inch LCD/LED 4K (Ultra High Definition) flat panel displays from Westinghouse, TCL and perhaps some other companies. See my earlier blog (HERE) for more info on these products. Gefen is introducing a new 3D video converter that separates the left and right 3D video streams to support use of a pair of regular 2D video projectors for a passive 3D setup. I discussed such an arrangement in a 10-part series of blogs last year (first one of the series is HERE). Below is an excerpt from the Gefen press release: The 3D Split Image Converter can also deliver 3D video when its two DVI outputs are connected to two stacked projectors at the same time. Imagery can be configured as left eye/right eye or as identical 2D signals, depending on your preference. 3D content can be viewed using standard, polarized 3D glasses. “In both cases, the 3D Split-Image Converter will also extract digital audio from the HDMI source and deliver it as a separate optical output to feed an audio amplifier and increase your sound making it great for home theaters,” said Hagai Gefen, president, Gefen. Increased brightness adjustments on the 3D Split Image Converter enable a high quality picture. High definition resolutions up to 1080p full HD are supported. The 3D Split-Image Converter works with all hi-def video sources capable of producing 3DTV content including Blu-rays, set-top boxes and gaming consoles. It offers control through front panel buttons, IR remote or RS-232 interface. Wolf Cinema has been selling video projectors through custom home theater installers. Their projectors are based on imaging electronics sourced from JVC. Wolf has issued a press release announcing two new models. Their new SDC-12 model appears to be using what JVC calls eShift and what Wolf calls V4K for an upscaled (i.e., not native), pseudo 4K image. Below is an excerpt from the Wolf Cinema press release: Wolf Cinema, a leading manufacturer of high–performance home cinema projectors, announces the release of two all-new 3D projectors – the model SDC-8, also known as the “GRAYWOLF” and the model SDC-12, called “GRAYWOLF 4K”. Suitable for home theater screens up to 11’ wide, these two fully-featured home cinema projectors deliver all the 2D and 3D [stereoscopic] viewing excellence expected from Wolf Cinema, but at ore affordable retail prices. The SDC-8 boasts a next generation three-chip, D-ILA® [Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier] light engine for ultra-high-fidelity 1080p viewing, while the SDC-12 adds our remarkable V4K™ technology to deliver enhanced 3840 x 2160 on-screen imaging from all standard video sources. Both models release in January 2013 and at North American Suggested Retail Prices of $8,000.00 [model SDC-8] and $12,000 [model SDC-12]. Wolf Cinema SDC-12 Projector In recent years Lumagen has been manufacturing some of the best video processors for use with home theater projectors and about a year ago Darbee Vision began offering a single purpose video processor for providing detail enhancement. Lumagen has recently licensed the rights to incorporate the Darbee functions into their line of video processors. An exceprt from a Lumagen press release is below: According to Lumagen’s president, Jim Peterson, “Darbee Visual Presence is a great fit for our video processor product line, which includes the CEA™ 2010 Platinum award winner for Video Product of the Year, the RadianceXE. We are always working to improve the video quality available to our customers and see Darbee as a great way to add value to our products. We look forward to offering Darbee-enabled products beginning in the first half of 2013.” Darbee and Lumagen will demonstrate their technologies working in tandem to the international consumer electronics market at the 2013 CES show in Las Vegas, ________________________________________________ I’ll Post a new blog after CES is underway and also be sure to check out Art’s Blogs (HERE) and Art’s tweets (HERE) for his CES observations.