CES 2016 Wrap-Up Report

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01
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The Latest Home Theater Tech from the 2016 CES

Official CES Logo
Photo of the Official CES Logo. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The 2016 CES is now history. This year's show turned out to be a record-breaking event in both number of exhibitors (3,800), exhibit space (over 2.5 million square feet), as well as attendees (over 170,000 - including 50,000 international attendees and including the first contingent from Cuba!). There were also over 5,000 press and analysts.

In addition, many celebrities from the world of entertainment and sport were in attendance to add even more excitement to the massive gadget show.

Once again CES presented the latest business and consumer electronics products and innovations that will be available in the coming year, as well as many prototypes of future products.

There was so much to see and do, even though I was in Las Vegas for an entire week, there was no way to see everything, and with so much material there is no way to include everything in my wrap-up report. However, I picked out a sampling of exhibits from this year's CES in home theater-related product categories, to share with you.

The big attractions again this year: CES wouldn't CES without a lot of TVs, and there were plenty. 4K Ultra HD (UHD) TVs where everywhere covering whole range of features and price points.

Leading the pack were perennial rivals LG and Samsung, with LG bringing forth its largest number of OLED TVs, while Samsung finally announced upfront that it was incorporating Quantum Dot Technology in its high-end SUHD LED/LCD TVs.

However, the big TV tech news, was the wider implementation of HDR, which enables TVs to produce real-world brightness and contrast range, wide color gamut, made possible by Quantum Dots and/or other technologies, and (drum roll) the first consumer-ready 8K TV (only prototypes have been shown for the past few years).

In addition to TVs, there were plenty of video projectors to check out, including an increasing numbers of the projectors using LED and Laser light sources, as well as the unveiling of the first DLP-based 4K Ultra HD video projector available for consumer use.

On the audio side of things, one running theme this year was the return of vinyl and two-channel stereo, as well as consumer-ready wireless home theater speaker solutions made possible by the efforts of Wireless Audio and Speaker Association (WiSA).

Another product category that had an increased presence this year was Virtual Reality, which definitely has implications on both the home and mobile home entertainment landscape. In addition to Samsung GearVR, Oculus, and variations of Google Cardboard, there were other players that made an impact on CES attendees and press, and, my case, I wanted to explore the movie-viewing experience using these types of devices.

As you go through this report, you will see more detail on these, and some of the other home theater products and trends I saw at the 2016 CES. Additional product follow-up details via reviews, profiles, and other articles, will follow throughout the coming weeks and months.

02
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The Samsung 170-inch Modular 4K SUHD TV at CES 2016

Samsung 170-inch Modular SUHD TV Prototype - CES 2016
Samsung 170-inch Modular SUHD TV Prototype - CES 2016. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

So, what was the biggest thing in TVs at CES 2016? Well, it depends on how you define big - but to start things off, the biggest TV was Samsung's prototype 170-inch SUHD TV - but there is a twist.

The TV shown in the above photo is a 170-inch Ultra HD TV, but your eyes are being slightly fooled as the TV is actually made up of several smaller TVs. However, since each of the TVs is bezel-less, when placed together, the seams between the sets are not noticeable at normal viewing distances.

What makes this concept important, is that TVs designed using this modular approach can be made in large custom sizes for both consumer, business, or education needs and more easily shipped, as the TV can be assembled upon arrival at its destination by trained installers, rather than having to be cut, packaged, and shipped in its original size.

Also, since the cost of both manufacturing and shipping is a lot less, the final price to the consumer (minus installation) could be a lot less also.

Of course, Samsung also announced their new SUHD TV line, all of which incorporate Quantum Dot and HDR technology, as well as home control features - for more details, check out my previous report and check out Samsung's Official CES SUHD TV Announcement.

Stay tuned for more details on specific models, pricing, and availability.

03
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LeTV 120-inch Ultra HD 3D TV at CES 2016

LeTV 120-inch 4K Ultra HD 3D Smart TV - CES 2016
The LeTV 120-inch 4K Ultra HD TV On Display at the 2016 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

While we wait for Samsung's modular concept to get implemented, two companies have announced slightly smaller, 120-inch screen size LED/LCD TVs, one is made by Vizio, the other is made by a China-based company (LeTV) that is making its first foray into the U.S. market with its 120-inch entry, the Super TV uMax 120.

With a preliminary announced price of about $79,000, the Super TV uMax 120 incorporates the following: Native 4K display resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 3D video support (not sure whether active or passive), 1.4GHz quad-core CPU, Mali-T760 quad-core GPU, 3GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, built-in Ethernet and Wifi, 4K streaming (h.265/HEVC) compliant, DTS Premium Sound, and Dolby Digital bitstream pass-through.

Some of the physical connectivity options include 3 HDMI inputs, 2 USB ports (1 is ver2.0 and the other is ver3.0, and SD Card slot, and one set of shared composite/component video inputs.

There is no word exactly when this set will be available to U.S. consumers.

04
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The LG 8K Super UHD TV at CES 2016

LG 98UH9800 8K LED/LCD TV With Super MHL Connectivity - CES 2016
LG 98UH9800 8K LED/LCD TV With Super MHL Connectivity - CES 2016. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Well, here we go again! Just when you were starting to get used to 4K Ultra HD - LG has decided its time to introduce 8K TV into the consumer market in the form of a 98-inch LED/LCD TV that, in addition to being able to display native resolution 8K input signals, also incorporates a new connection interface (Super MHL) that was first shown in conjunction with a prototype Samsung 8K TV at the 2015 CES. Also, Sharp had previously display 8K TV prototypes at the 2012 and 2014 CES, sans the SuperMHL connection interface.

Currently carrying the 98UH9800 model number designation, specific feature and specification details on LG's 8K TV are still forthcoming, but its core features (in addition to 8K native display resolution and SuperMHL connectivity) include and IPS (In-Plane Switching) LCD panel that facilitates a wider viewing angle that LCD TVs that employ a standard panel, HDR, which extends brightness and contrast performance on HDR-encoded content, Color Prime Plus, which provides a wider color gamut, and WebOS 3.0 which is the 2015/16 version of LG's Smart TV platform which provides easy navigation of operational features, as well as quick access to both streaming and network-based media content.

Of course, one thing to keep in mind is there really isn't any 8K content to watch on the set so far. However, if the forces that be, headed up by Japan's NHK broadcasting system have their why, the 8K should be fully broadcast capable by 2020 (that is only a four years away folks), coinciding with the Olympic games to be held in Japan that year.

The key to making 8K consumer-connection friendly is the integration of SuperMHL connectivity. SuperMHL provides a single connection between an 8K source (such any set-top boxes, disc players, or media streamers that may become available) and the TV. Previous demonstrations of prototype 8K TVs have required as many as four HDMI connections to provide the capacity to carry both the video and audio signal.

Speaking of audio, the 8K standard that NHK is putting forth also supports up to 22.2 channels of audio, which is more than enough capacity to support all current surround sound formats, as well any that might become available in the future. However, it remains to be seen if that audio capacity will be implemented on the consumer level.

The suggested price and availability of the 98UH9800 is still forthcoming, but LG is planning for the TV to become available before the end of 2016, most likely by special order - Refer to LG's Official 98UH9800 product page for both current info and future updates.

LG appears to be the first out of the gate with a consumer ready 8K TV, so who's next?

If you think that LG is taking a big gamble on 8K, you are probably right, but keep in mind that there were also some doubters about LG's commitment to OLED TV technology, but that move appears to have been successful, as revealed by its latest generation of OLED TVs that were shown at the 2016 CES as well.

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CES 2016 - Glasses Free 3D TV Is Finally Available and More

Glassed Free 3D TV at CES 2016 and More...
Ultra D Glasses Free 3D TV - CES 2016. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

In other TV news at CES, a new moniker, UltraHD Premium was introduced. This label is intended to provide consumers the ability to identify 4K Ultra HD TVs (whether LCD or OLED) that incorporate advanced features, such as HDR, Wide Color Gamut, and any additional standards implemented by the UHD Alliance.

For more details, check out the reports: The Ultra HD Alliance: What it is and Why it Matters and Ultra HD Premium: What it Means and Why it Matters by John Archer, our TV/Video Expert.

Of course there is more, Panasonic introduced new innovations in its forthcoming 2016 TV line

Sony showed off models in its new TV line, some of which incorporate a new variation on LED edge lighting.

TCL was on hand with its 2016 crop of 4K Ultra HD TVs, including its Quantun-Dot QUHD sets and Roku TVs with 4K streaming capability.

In addition, Hisense/Sharp, and Philips showed off their new product lines.

Finally, in exciting news for 3D fans, Stream TV (shown above) announced that 50 and 65-inch 4K Glasses Free 3D TVs are finally available for pre-order through IZON TV.

06
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Darbee Does 4K at the 2016 CES

Darbee Visual Presence Goes 4K At The 2016 CES
4K DarbeeVision At The 2016 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Video processing technologies, such as HDR and Wide Color Gamut, are getting a lot of hype these days, but another video processing technology that is making inroads for use in both the TV and video projector viewing experience is Darbee Visual Presence.

Darbee Visual Presence adds depth information in video images via a clever use of real-time contrast, brightness, and sharpness manipulation (referred to as luminous modulation).

This process restores the missing "3D" information that the brain is trying to see within the 2D image. The result is that the image "pops" with improved texture, depth, and contrast range, giving it a more real-world look, without having to resort to true stereoscopic viewing to get a similar effect. However, Darbee Visual Presence also works with 3D as well as 2D images, adding even more realistic depth and sharpness for 3D viewing.

Up to this point, it was only usable for resolutions up to 1080p - However, at the 2016 CES, DarbeeVision announced that it Visual Presence Process is now available for use with 4K resolution images.

Demonstrated in the above photo,  a split screen comparison is shown between a normal 4K resolution image (on the left), and a Darbee Visual Presence-processed 4K image on the right.

As good as 4K is, applying varying degrees of user adjustable Darbee Visual Presence Processing, users can bring out the depth and refine edge contrast using this process.

Currently, the up-to-1080p version Darbee Visual Processing is available via external boxes, such as the DVP 5000S, and the DVP-5100CIE, as well as on the OPPO BDP103D/105D, Cambridge Audio CXU Blu-ray Disc players, and Optoma HD28DSE DLP video projector.

There was no specific date mentioned for the release of products providing the up-to-4K version, but you may see it soon in standalone box form and possibly built-in to appropriate source or display devices. Stay tuned as more info becomes available.

07
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Roku at CES 2016

Roku Boxes and Roku TV at the 2016 CES
Roku Boxes and Roku TV at the 2016 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

These days, it is hard not to find a TV with internet streaming capability built-in. However, even Smart TVs don't always offer the content selection may consumers desire, so add-on boxes, such as those made by Roku are very popular.

With that in mind, Roku was on hand at CES with its entire Roku box line (including their new 4K streamer, and Streaming stick, as well as showcasing its recently announced 4K Roku streaming platform inclusion in 4K Ultra HD TVs.

In other words, Roku's TV manufacturing partners, including TCL (shown in the photo) now have the option of incorporating the Roku operating system with 4K streaming with HDR capability into their 4K Ultra HD TVs. This definitely simplifies TV operation and access to a wider range of streaming content directly from the TV without having to connect an external box.

08
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It is Video Projector Time at the 2016 CES!

Vivitek, Viewsonic, and BenQ at the 2016 CES
Vivitek, Viewsonic, and BenQ at the 2016 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Of course TVs aren't the only home theater-related products shown at CES, video projectors are also a big part, and several projector makers were on hand at the 2016 CES.

All four projectors shown above are DLP-based, provide 1080p native display resolution and provide 2D and 3D viewing options. Also, their strong light output that makes them appropriate for use in rooms with some ambient light, and are currently available.

Starting on the top left are the:

Vivitek H1060 - 3,000 ANSI lumens output, six segment color wheel, and MHL connectivity

Vivitek H5098 - 2,000 lumens, 50,000:1 contrast ratio, Rec709 and SRGB compliant, Optical Lens shift, and features 5 interchangeable lens options).

More details on both Vivitek projectors are forthcoming.

The bottom row shows the:

Viewsonic Pro7827HD (official product page forthcoming) - 2,200 Lumens, 22,000:1 contrast ratio, vertical optical lens shift, 3 HDMI inputs (2 of which are also MHL-enabled). Suggested Price: $1,299.00 (available beginning February 2016).

BenQ HT3050 - Rec. 709 compliant, 15,000:1 contrast ratio, optical lens shift, 1 standard  HDMI input and 2 MHL-enabled HDMI inputs. Available Now: Buy from Amazon

09
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Optoma Does 4K and More at the 2016 CES

Optoma Video Projectors At The 2016 CES
Optoma's Consumer P Video Projectors At The 2016 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Another major video projector maker on hand at the 2016 CES was Optoma. Shown above is their entire video projector line-up for 2015/2016. All of Optoma's video projectors are DLP-based.

Also, if you look at photo on the left, and go to the very top left-hand corner, you will see a ceiling mounted projector. This projector is the first single chip DLP-based led-illuminated 4K-lite video projector available for consumer use, which was being publicly shown for the first time at the 2016 CES via partnership between Optoma and Texas Instruments.

The reason I am using the term 4K-lite is that the DLP used in the projector contains 4 million rapidly moving mirrors, but true 4K resolution requires the ability to display 8 million pixels. However, as the mirrors on the chip move, the position of the pixels are rapidly shifted 1/2 pixel width up and 1/2 pixel width the right. This rapid shifting allows the display of an image that comes extremely close to the actual detail of a true 4K image.

As an additional note, although this is not the first time a pixel shift method has been used in a DLP platform, JVC has employed a similar pixel-shifting technology (known as eShift) in several of its video projectors to achieve a 4K-like display result.

In my opinion, from standard viewing distances, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a 4K-lite image created by pixel shifting, if executed properly, and a true 4K image - it is also a more affordable solution.

In addition, in the center photo, is a look at Optoma's table mounted short through projector that utilizes a laser light source, and on the right right photo is a look at Optoma's ML750ST compact LED light source projector.

I have actually reviewed two of the projectors in their current line-up, the GT1080 Short-Throw Projector and the HD28DSE with Darbee Visual Presence Processing.

10
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Epson Brightens Up The 2016 CES

Epson Shows Home Cinema 1040 and 1440 Projectors at the 2016 CES
The Epson Home Cinema 1040 and 1440 High-Brightness Projectors at the 2016 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

There were certainly plenty of DLP-based video projectors on display at the 2016 (as evidenced by the two previous photos). However, Epson was also on hand at one of the evening press events with their two currently available high-brightness video projectors (the Home Cinema 1040 and 1440) that incorporate 3LCD technology.

What makes these projectors a little different than DLP-based projectors is that they all have 3 chips (Red, Green, Blue), no spinning color wheel that can sometimes cause the Rainbow Effect, and are capable of projecting the White and Color portions of the image at equal brightness levels.

When you see published light output (Lumens) specifications for DLP projectors, they are referring to an amount of white light output, the amount of color light output will always be somewhat less. For more details, refer to my article: Video Projectors and Color Brightness.

The Epson 1440, shown on the top portion of the photo can push out as much as 4,400 Lumens, while the smaller 1040 (photo is not to scale) is rated at 3,000 lumens, which means that both are definitely capable of projecting bright images.

This makes both projectors, but especially the 1440, suitable for use in rooms with ambient light, which is great for large screen daytime viewing or when you have a crowd over for special events, such as the Super Bowl, World Series, March Madness, etc..., where huddling everyone in a dark room is not such a great experience. However, it must be noted that there is some sacrifice in terms of getting deep blacks when viewing brightly lit rooms. They are also great for outdoor evening viewing.

Both projectors display 1080p native resolution, and provide abundant connectivity (including MHL and USB).

For more details on the features and connectivity for both the Epson 1040 and 1440, refer to my previous report.

Both projectors are currently available:

Espon 1040 - Buy From Amazon

Epson 1440 - Buy From Amazon

11
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CES 2016 - Here Comes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray!

Panasonic, Samsung, Philips, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Players - CES 2016
Panasonic, Samsung, Philips, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Players - CES 2016. Panasonic and Samsung Photoa © Robert Silva - Philips Image Provided by Philips

Just as TVs and Video projectors have continued to evolve, so have source components, and one of the most important source components is a Blu-ray Disc player.

Although announced and expected to arrive late in 2015, it looks like evolution of the Blu-ray Disc player will begin in 2016 as Panasonic (DMP-UB900), Samsung (UBD-K8500), and Philips (BDP7501) are releasing the first Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players for the consumer market.

The players are indeed flexible - Although they will be the first players to be compatible with 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs, with the ability to pass HDR and Wide Color Gamut signals, they will also be backwards compatible with your current Blu-rays and DVDs (with 4K Upscaling), and even audio CDs. Also, on the streaming side, you will be able to watch Netflix and other select services that offer 4K streaming content.

The Samsung UBD-K8500 carries an initial price of $399 (Read My Product Profile - Buy From Amazon). If you have a 4K Ultra HD TV - this is no brainer - especially when you consider that the first Blu-ray Disc players started at about $999, back in 2007.

The interesting thing so far is that two other major Blu-ray Disc player makers, Sony and OPPO Digital, apparently have not announced their own branded 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players yet, but Sony Studios has announced a number of disc titles.

For more details on the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format and disc releases, read the following reports:

Blu-ray Disc Association Finalizes Ultra HD Blu-ray Format Specs and Logo

First Wave Of True Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs Announced

UPDATE 08/12/2016: The Philips BDP7501 is available - Read my report - Buy From Amazon.

12
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Auro 3D Audio at the 2016 CES - Surround Sound On Steroids!

The Auro 3D Audio Demo At The 2016 CES
Auro Technologies Returns To CES 2016 With Stellar Demo. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

In addition to video, audio is a very important part of home theater, but also of CES. At the 2016 CES there were hundreds of audio products on display, and for home theater there were some great products and demos.

For me, the most impactful audio demo was provided by Auro 3D Audio. Auro 3D Audio, in the consumer space, is a competitor to the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive surround sound formats, but has its own characteristics.

In its basic form, Auro 3D Audio starts with a traditional 5.1 channel speaker layer and subwoofer, then surrounding the listening room (above the listening position) is a set of front and surround speakers. Finally, in the ceiling the Auro 3D audio format employs a single ceiling mounted speaker referred to the as the VOG (Voice of God).

The goal of Auro 3D Audio us, to provide an immersive surround sound experience (similar to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X) by encasing the listening environment in a "bubble".

I have heard Auro 3D audio before, but that setup was in an open exhibit hall and although I felt that is was still impressive given the exhibit constraints, at the 2016 CES I was getting a chance to hear it in closed-room environment.

However, since the Venetian Hotel (where the room was located) is not too keen on mounting speakers on the ceiling, the VOG channel was created using a mix into four height-surround speakers. The result was a 9.1 channel speaker setup.

Needless to say, the demo was great. What was impressive is that although Dolby Atmos and DTS:X provide a similar immersive surround effect with movies, I felt that Auro 3D Audio did a better job with music.

Additional characteristics I noticed, is that when the height layer was activated, the sound not only went vertical, but also became wider in the physical gap between the front and rear speakers. This means that there is no need to actually have a set of wide speakers to get an wide open surround sound experience.

Of course, in order to get the full benefit of Auro 3D Audio, you need movie or music content that is properly encoded (Check out the Official List of Auro 3D Audio-encoded Blu-ray Discs).

However, as part of the implementation of this format, and Auro Technologies also provides and additional upmixer (referred to as Auro-Matic) that can take advantage of the Auro 3D Audio Speaker layout.

Auro-Matic not only does a good job with expanding the surround sound experience of traditional 5.1/7.1 channel content, but also does an effective job of bringing out sonic detail and expanding the soundfield up for both two channel and mono (yes, I said mono) source material, without exaggerating the intent of the original recording.

As a final demo, I was also treated to the headphone version Auro 3D Audio, and it was definitely one of the best surround-over-headphones listening experiences I have had. The Auro 3D headphone experience will work with any set of Binaural (stereo) headphones and receiver/headphone amplifier (or even tablet or smartphone) that incorporates the technolology or app.

Auro 3D Audio for home theater is currently available as either a built-in or upgrade format for a select number of home theater receivers and AV processors, including higher-end units from Denon and Marantz, as well as several independent manufacturers, such as Storm Audio.

13
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CES 2016 - MartinLogan's Dolby Atmos Solution

Martin Logan Motion AFX Dolby Atmos Height Speaker Module
Martin Logan Motion AFX Dolby Atmos Height Speaker Module. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Dolby Atmos is becoming a more common feature in home theater receivers, but to take advantage of the immersive surround sound format, in addition to Dolby Atmos-encoded content, you to add either at least two ceiling mounted speakers, or add a vertically firing floor or bookshelf speakers.

Several speaker makers have answered the call, including MartinLogan, which is offering up its Motion AFX Dolby Atmos height effects speaker module, which goes for $599.95 per pair (Buy From Amazon).

The Motion AFX is designed to be placed on top of existing speakers, such as several of Martin Logan's Motion Series, but can be used in combination with other branded speakers, provided there is room on top of the speaker enclosure to place the Motion AFX module.

For more on why such speakers are needed in a Dolby Atmos setup - refer to my article Dolby Atmos: From The Cinema To Your Home Theater.

Also, here is a continually updated listing of Dolby Atmos-encoded Blu-ray Disc and streaming releases

14
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CES 2016 - Wireless Home Theater Speakers Come Of Age

WISA (Wireless Speaker and Audio Associaion) At The 2016 CES
WISA (Wireless Speaker and Audio Associaion) At The 2016 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

For several years, WiSA (The Wireless Speaker and Audio Association) has been at CES showing the potential of wireless speakers suitable for use in a home theater environment. We are not talking portable Bluetooth or Wifi speakers, but wireless speaker options that have enough built-in amplifier power for room-filling surround sound.

At this year's CES, WiSA displayed products from Klipsch and Axiim that will be available in 2016.

Shown in the photo above are the WiSA banner talking points on the left, examples of the Klipsch wireless speaker control center and Axiim wireless AV receiver (sitting on top of a Klipsch wireless center channel home theater speaker, and, on the right is the rear of a Klipsch wireless home theater speaker that illustrates how easy it is to set up.

All you have to do is designate where you are placing the speaker (left, center, right, left surround, right surround) by pressing the appropriate labeled button on the Klipsch speaker, and either the Klipsch control center or Axiim AV receiver will detect and identify the speakers and perform all the needed setup functions to get going.

Also, one of the features of WiSA-enabled products is that in most cases, brands are interchangeable, which provides flexibility in purchasing and using products bearing the WISA logo.

Also included on the above photo montage is a look at Klipsch's entire WiSA approved wireless home theater speaker system that was on display at Klipsch's booth during the 2016 CES.

I also want to point that two additional wireless home theater speaker systems are available that are not shown, the super-high-end Bang and Olufsen BeoLab Wireless Speakers, (which have been available since early 2015) and the more affordable Enclave 5.1 wireless speaker system, which was first shown at the 2015 CES.

However, it is also important to point out that even though the speakers are labeled as "wireless" - they still need to be connected to an AC power source so that built-in amplifiers can function.

For more details wireless speakers for home theater, also read my previous report: Wireless Speakers And Home Theater - What You Need To Know.

More WiSA-compliant home theater audio and speakers systems are on the way, so stayed tuned...

15
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Bang & Olufsen Goes Big and Small For CES 2016

Bang & Olufsen - BeoLab 90 and BeoSound 35 - CES 2016
Bang & Olufsen Demos BeoLab 90 and BeoSound 35 at CES 2016. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

One of the most interesting audio presentations at CES every year is put on by Bang & Olufsen, and the 2016 CES was no exception.

The Demark-based audio company is well-known for three things: Excellent Sound, Excellent Product Design, and, High Prices. However, no matter what your budget, if you have an opportunity see and listen to their products, you are in for a real treat.

Shown in the above photo are the two main products showcased for 2016, the imposing BeoLab 90 Powered Loudspeaker, and the sound bar-looking BeoSound 35 Wireless Music System.

BeoLab 90

First up, the BeoLab 90. Although its design is really weird, to say the least, the sound it produces is nothing short of amazing.

Bordering on magic, the BeoLab 90's built-in room correction system can create a stereo sweet spot for multiple listeners sitting in up to 5 different room locations at the same time - a phenomenal feat when you consider the complex physics that is required to accomplish this.

If you want a pair of these "babies" they cost $80,000 a pair and are available through select Bang & Olufsen Dealers.

For more details on what is inside the BeoLab 90, as well as its connectivity options - Check out my previous report.

BeoSound 35

The BeoSound 35, on the other hand is definitely a more modest audio product (at least in Bang & Olusen terms), but offers a high-end twist on the wireless music system concept.

The BeoSound 35 can be wall or shelf mounted, and, yes, it can be used as a sound bar for your TV (albeit a very expensive one). However, it also has the ability to stream music from the internet from a variety of source (Tunein, Deezer, and Spotify), and also incorporates Apple AirPlay, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0.

In addition, the BeoSound 35 can stream music to other compatible Bang & Olfusen wireless speaker products, allowing it to serve as an anchor for a multi-room audio system.

The BeoSound 35 also incorporates light, but heavy duty, aluminum construction, housing two 4-inch mid-range/bass drivers and two 3/4-inch tweeters (which face outward to the sides at 30-degrees providing a wide stereo image). The entire system is powered by four 80 watt amplifiers (one for each speaker).

Although not as sophisticated as the monster BeoLab 90, the BeoSound 35 effortlessly produced room filling sound during the CES demo presentation.

The BeoSound 35 is priced at $2,785 (USD) and is expected to be available through Authorized Bang & Olfusen dealers beginning mid-April 2016.

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Our Audio Past Becomes Trendy Again At The 2016 CES

Sony, Onkyo, and Panasonic/Technics Two Channel Audio Products at CES 2016
Sony, Onkyo, and Panasonic/Technics Two Channel Audio Products at CES 2016. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

CES is all about the future of consumer technology, but in one important case, our past is returning for a second run.

In the past few years there has been renewed interest in analog two-channel audio and vinyl records. Combine that with the introduction of Hi-Res two-channel digital audio, and you have a new hybrid of listening options for both casual and serious music listening options for consumers.

With that in mind, there were several exhibits at the 2016 CES showcasing audio turntables and two-channel stereo receivers, including Sony, who displayed their new PS-HX500 turntable (which also performs analog-to-digital audio conversion), Onkyo with their previously released flagship two-channel analog and network and hi-res audio enabled TX-8160 two-channel stereo receiver (Read my previous report for full details), and Panasonic, with several new products from their resurrected Technics audio brand - including the SL-1200GAE 50th Anniversary Limited Edition turntable.

High-quality music listening is back!

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Dish Goes Over The Top At The 2016 CES

The Dish Hopper 3 Satellite DVR - CES 2016
The Dish Hopper 3 Satellite DVR at CES 2016. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

A lot of products are showcased at the annual CES, and, frankly, some of them are just plain "over-the-top". For 2016, my pick for the most over-the-top product at CES is Dish's Hopper 3 HD Satellite DVR.

So what is so unusual about the Hopper 3? The answer: It has 16 built-in satellite TV tuners!

What this means is that the Hopper 3 can record up to 16 TV programs at once. This is more than enough capacity for even the most avid video recording fanatic.

To further facilitate all that recording capacity, the Hopper 3 also comes with a built-in 2 Terabyte hard drive.

In addition, the Hopper 3 can display four channels on your TV screen at once (referred as the "Sports Bar mode") - If you have a 4K Ultra HD TV, that means 4 live 1080p resolution images on a single screen.

Other features include a beef-up processor for increased menu navigation speed, and the ability to work with Dish's satellite Joey boxes for even more recording and multi-room TV viewing capability.

Dish is also coming out with a new Voice-enabled Remote Control for the Hopper system.

For more details on all of the features and specifications of the Hopper 3, check out the Official Dish Hopper 3 Announcement

18
of 18

Home Theater Gets Personal at the 2016 CES

Mobile Home Theater - Royale X, Vuzix Eyewear - CES 2016
Mobile Home Theater - Royale X, Vuzix Eyewear - CES 2016. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

To finish off my annual CES wrap-up report, I wanted to include something a little different.

At last year's CES I got my first taste of Virtual Reality with a look at the Samsung Gear VR, so this year I wanted to dig a little deeper to see how such devices might fit in with the home theater experience.

In my search, I found two such product variations that are not so much Virtual Reality-oriented, but more optimized for movie watching, the Vuzix iWear Video Headphones and Royole X Smart Mobile Theater. Neither product requires the use of a Smartphone as its screen.

Keeping with the home theater theme, both devices allow you to connect an HDMI source (such as Blu-ray Disc player) to small control box, that is, in turn, then connected to the headset.

In the headset there are the glasses (which allow 2D or 3D viewing depending on content) that incorporate separated LCD screens for each eye, as well as a audio headphone system that allows for surround sound listening.

Both systems, despite their bulky appearance, where fairly comfortable after a few minutes (you have to get used to it).

What you see is a virtual large movie screen, and what you hear (depending on content) is a pretty decent surround sound experience.

Although both systems need a little tweaking (higher-resolution screens, and a little more compactness), the movie watching experience was pretty good.

For the home, such devices can allow you to watch a Blu-ray Disc movie, along with thunderous surround sound, without disturbing the neighbors, or the rest your family, on those late nights.

For the road (not while you are driving, of course!), you can take your home theater experience with you just take along your iWear Video Headphones or Smart Mobile Theater, plug in a compatible source (some Blu-ray Disc players are so compact, you would fit one in a small laptop bag), and you are all set.

It will be interesting to see how these products are accepted by consumers in 2016.

For full details on the Vuzix iWear Video Headphones (which received a 2016 CES Innovations Award) - Check out the official product page

For more on the Royole X Smart Mobile Theater, refer to their official product page.

Final Take

This ends my annual CES Wrap-Up Report for 2016 - However, this is definitely not the end of my reporting on products that were shown at CES - as I will have more info on individual products and technologies in the coming weeks and months of 2016.

More Products Shown At The 2016 CES

Samsung Makes Its Smart TVs Smarter With Home Control Features

Samsung Announces Dolby Atmos-enabled Sound Bar

Axiim Offers Up A Wireless Home Theater Audio System For 2016

SVS Announces Versatile Prime Elevation Speaker

More On Digital Cameras Shown At CES 2016

 

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