Home Theater Tech Spotlighted at the 2015 International CES

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2015 International CES Wrap-Up Report From The Home Theater Perspective

Official CES Logo with Technology Milestone Chart. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The 2015 International CES is now history, and it appears that this year's show may be a record-breaking event in both number of exhibitors (3,600), exhibit space (over 2.2 million square feet), as well as attendees (over 170,000 - including 45,000 international attendees and over 5,000 press and analysts).

There were also many celebrities from the world of entertainment and sports 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: 4K Ultra HD (UHD), OLED, Curved, and Flexible/Bendable TVs, as well as more 8K TV prototypes on display.

Also, although there was less emphasis on 3D (some press would lead you to believe it wasn't there at all), there were some glasses-free 3D technology demonstrations presented by several exhibitors, as well as a great demonstration of 3D streaming that I spotlight in this report.

However, what was more exciting on the TV front was some genuine innovations that are actually directed to improve color and contrast quality, via a new multi-company alliance headed up by Samsung.

In audio, headphones and compact wireless bluetooth speakers were everywhere, but the big news for home theater fans were demonstrations of several 5.1/7.1 wireless speaker systems that are suitable for home theater use that are the result of standards initiated by Wireless Audio and Speaker Association (WiSA). Also, several speaker makers demonstrated Dolby Atmos speaker system solutions which provide a truly immersive surround sound experience.

For the first time in several years, Sound Bars and under-TV speaker systems didn't get a lot of hype, now that they are firmly entrenched in the consumer market, but there were still plenty of new models on display as part of the company product lines, including Samsung's curved sound bar solution for its curved screen TVs that it had introduced in mid-2014.

As you go through this report, I present more detail on these, and some of the other home theater products and trends I saw at the 2015 CES. Additional product follow-up details via reviews, profiles, and other articles will follow throughout the coming weeks and months.

NOTE: The photo shown above includes the Official CES Logo, as well as a historical chart marking significant dates in consumer electronics innovation.

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Samsung SUHD TV Demonstration and UHD Alliance - CES 2015

Samsung SUHD TV and UHD Alliance. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Once again, the spotlight at CES fell on TVs. However, this year, the emphasis wasn't on introducing new types of TVs (4K, OLED, etc...) so much as initiatives to improve picture quality and ease of use no matter what type of TV is being offered.

What that in mind, for 4K Ultra HD TVs, Samsung announced the formation of the UHD Alliance, which extends the voluntary 4K Ultra HD TV standards announced previously by the CEA.

As of CES 2015, the alliance membership includes two TV makers: Samsung and Panasonic, five content creation and content delivery providers (20th Century Fox, Disney, Warner Bros, DirecTV, and Netflix), and video processing support companies, Dolby (Dolby Vision), and Technicolor. Sony is also a member but is not shown in the above listing.

So far, LG, Vizio, TCL, Hisense, and others don't seem to be onboard yet, but I am sure we will hear more as 2015 progresses. Also, as far as I can tell, the UHD Alliance doesn't have an official website yet.

The goal of this alliance is to provide the consumer a consistent 4K Ultra HD TV viewing experience across TV brands/models and sources.

As an example of what Samsung is reaching for in terms of TV performance, Samsung debuted its new SUHD TV line at the 2015 CES. The photo example above displays the image quality difference between one of Samsung's current 4K UHD TVs (left) and a new SUHD TV (right) using a scene that contains a lot of dark elements, combined with pinpoint bright light sources. The SUHD TV displays a more vibrant image in both the dark and bright areas, of the image that is more realistic and color accurate.

To accomplish this, SUHD combines several technologies, including Quantum Dots (Samsung refers to this as Quantum Color), and HDR (High Dynamic Range) that, in addition to the enhanced detail provided by 4K resolution, provides TVs with the ability to display both a wider color gamut and brightness/contrast range (as shown in the above photo) than previous LED/LCD-based TVs, exceeding Plasma and approaching OLED TV performance.

Samsung's SUHD TV line consists of the JS9500, JS9000, and JS8500 series. There will be a total of nine screen sizes (48-to-88 inches) - Both curved and flat screen options will be offered.

All of Samsung's SUHD TVs will also incorporate their TIZEN operating system (read my previous report)

For the rest of the details on Samsung's SUHD TVs, read Samsung's Official SUHD TV CES 2015 Announcement

More info on features, pricing, and availability to be determined.

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LG OLED and Quantum Dot TVs At The 2015 CES

LG Bendable OLED and Quantum Dot LED/LCD TV. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Samsung wasn't the only TV maker coming to CES armed with new innovations, their main rival LG was also on-hand armed with both a host of new 4K Ultra HD LED/LCD and OLED TVs, with panels made by LG Display Company.

LG showed off their new line of Art Slim LED/LCD TVs, as well as new 4K Ultra HD TVs, some of which incorporate Quantum Dots (which it refers to as "nano-crystal" filters), and some with LG's own proprietary color enhancing technology (referred to as Wide Color Gamut technology) - both under the "ColorPrime" banner. Shown on the right side of the above photo is an LG Quantum Dot-equipped LED/LCD TV.

LG also showed its continued to commitment to OLED TV technology, despite that fact that Samsung has retreated and did not introduce any new models for 2015. LG's new OLED TV line-up will range from 55-to-77 inches, and will all reportedly incorporate 4K Ultra HD resolution. Also, its 55 and 65-inch models will be offered in both flat and curved screen configurations, while its 77-incher (shown in the photo above on the left side) will be bendable via remote command.

I am personally not a fan of curved screen TVs, but if you viewing alone or with just one other person, both of you can view the curved screen from the center sweet spot. However, if you have a large group over (Super Bowl?) the LG 77-inch  OLED TV can be flattened so that those sitting on the sides are not left out from viewing the entire picture. Of course, no price or availability was revealed on any of LG's forthcoming OLED TVs at CES, but they are promised to be coming to market soon, with the 77-inch bendable model promised later in 2015.

In addition, LG was also showing 3D on 4K Ultra HD TVs using passive glasses - which means full 1080p in each eye without any visible horizontal line structure or flickering.

In terms of using most of LG's new TVs, the sets will come equipped with its upgraded WebOS 2.0 Smart TV platform.

For more details on LG's CES TV product debuts, read my previous report, as well as an additional Official LG Announcement.

Shown in the above photo is LG's 77-inch 4K Ultra HD Bendable OLED TV, and on the right, an LG 65-inch Quantum Dot-equipped 4K Ultra HD LED/LCD TV.

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8K TV Demo Using Super MHL Connectivity - CES 2015

8K TV Demo using Super MHL Connectivity - CES 2015. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

OK, so 4K Ultra HD TVs were everywhere at CES this year (in fact, I walked past most of the shrinking number of 1080p sets that were on display), but let's face it, CES is all about showing off the next big thing, and for TVs, that is 8K!. Companies displaying 8K TVs, Monitors, or other solutions, included LG, Samsung, Sharp, and Panasonic.

Don't panic though, it will be awhile for true 8K reaches the home, and there is no 8K content or broadcasting/streaming infrastructure in place yet. In fact, I would venture to say that 8K will find a home in business, institutional, and advertising before it will become affordable for the mainstream consumer. Also, add the fact that appreciating the capabilities of 8K will only be truly visible on screens 80-inches or larger, current 4K Ultra HD TVs will hold their ground for some time.

That being said, to prepare for the eventual coming of 8K, new connectivity solutions will be required to deliver an acceptable 8K viewing experience.

To answer the call, The MHL Consortium was on hand in 2015 demonstrating its "Super MHL" Connection Standard using a Samsung 8K TV prototype. "Super MHL" incorporates a new physical connection (see bottom right of the above photo), and incorporates the following capabilities:

- 8K 120fps video passthrough capability (Although not official, HDMI 2.0 may be able to pass 8K at 24fps).

- 48-bit Deep Color Support (Although not official, HDMI 2.0 may be able to provide up to 36-bit color for 8K delivery).

- BT.2020 Color Gamut Compatibility.

- Support for High-Dynamic Range (HDR).

- Support for advanced surround sound audio formats including Dolby Atmos®, DTS:X, and Auro 3D audio, as well as audio-only mode support.

- Single remote control for multiple MHL devices (TV, AVR, Blu-ray player, STB).

- Power charging up to 40W.

- Multiple display capability from a single source.

- Backward compatibility with MHL 1, 2 and 3.

- Support for the MHL Alt Mode for the USB Type-C specifications.

So far, the only other viable 8K connection solution is DisplayPort Ver1.3.

Stay tuned as more news on 8K display solutions becomes available.

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Sharp Beyond 4K TV Demo - CES 2015

Sharp Beyond 4K Demo at the 2015 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

At last year's CES (CES 2014), Sharp debuted an interesting technology called "Quattron+" (Q+) that extends the resolution visible on a 1080p TV closer to what you would get on a 4K TV (read my report for more details.

However, in a very interesting move, Sharp has decided to implement that same technology on a 4K Ultra HD TV platform - the result, display resolution that approaches 8K, or, as Sharp puts it "Beyond 4K".

Starting with its 4-Color Quattron technology that produces a wider color gamut (Sharp is not adopting the Quantum Dot solution so far), and then incorporating pixel-splitting in conjunction with its Revelation upscaling technology. The result is 167% more pixels (from 24 million to 66 million subpixels) displayed on the screen with accurate color and minimal artifacts.

In other words, even though the TV these technologies are employed in are, technically, 4K Ultra HD TVs, the "Beyond 4K" processing produces a displayed result that is perceived as being higher than 4K Ultra HD resolution, and, for all practical purposes, on all but the largest screen sizes (85-inches and up) may be indistinguishable from what you might see on a true 8K TV or monitor.

Although the need for 8K display resolution is still a ways off, Sharp has certainly made a technology statement with its "Beyond 4K" concept, which is a lot less expensive to bring to market than a true 8K TV (Sharp has also been showing off 8K TV prototypes at CES for a few years now, including this year - also see past showings from CES 2012 and CES 2014)

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Sensio Demos 3D Streaming Optimized for Compatible 4K Ultra HD TVs - CES 2015

Sensio's 3DGo! 3D streaming for 4K Ultra HD TVs - CES 2015. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Although 3D TV wasn't being hyped at this year's CES, there were a number of 3D TV viewing solutions on display. Samsung and StreamTV Networks displayed glasses-free 3D technology (StreamTV and IZON have partnered for a projected product release later in 2015). Also, LG showed of passive-glasses 3D viewing on 4K Ultra HD TVs.

In the streaming landscape, one of the prime 3D players is Sensio Technologies, which was on hand demonstrating the latest upgrade to their 3DGO! 3D streaming service. The upgrade: Optimization for streaming and viewing on 4K Ultra HD 3D TVs.

Needless to stay, the demonstration I saw (utilizing an LG 4K Ultra HD Smart TV) was very impressive. The 3D was smooth and clean, near Blu-ray Disc quality, and because the LG TV used incorporates passive viewing, the glasses are light, comfortable, and very inexpensive. Shown in the above photo is an example of the 3DGO! app along with a visual example of a film being display. Of course, the image doesn't show the 3D effect properly, but you get the idea.

3DGo! provides 24-hour rental times, with content generally priced between $5.99 and $7.99. Studios currently supplying 3D content include Disney/Pixar, Dreamworks Animation, National Geographic, Paramount, Starz, and Universal, with more to come in 2015. 3DGo! is now available on LG, Panasonic, and most Vizio 3D-enabled Smart TVs (Refer to listing provided on the 3DGO! How It Works Page).

For more details on the 3DGo! App that also provides 3D viewing optimized for 4K Ultra HD TVs, read the Official CES Announcement From Sensio.

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Viewsonic and Vivitek DLP Video Projectors at CES 2015

Viewsonic and Vivitek Video Projectors at CES 2015. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Although TVs get the big spotlight in terms of video display, new video projectors are on display as well. In fact, the video projector option has become a more viable home entertainment option as they have come down is price

Two examples that were shown at this year's CES include the Viewsonic PJD7822HDL Compact 1080p DLP projector (top image) that displays a 1080p resolution image (in either 2D or 3D), with 3,200 ANSI lumens white light output, 15,000:1 contrast ratio, and well as an expanded color gamut via its "SuperColor" technology. The suggested price for the PJD7822HDL: $789.99 Compare Prices.

Also, another interesting video projector I saw (bottom image) at CES was Vivitek's new Qumi Q7 Plus ultra compact LED light source DLP projector (no lamp/no color wheel). Despite its ultra compact size, the LED light source can produce up to 1,000 ANSI lumens of brightness. Also, the LED light source is good for up to 30,000 hours. The Q7 Plus has a native 1280x800 (approx 720p) display resolution.

Other features include both 2D and 3D projection (via DLP Link) and MHL connectivity for the connection of compatible smartphones and tablets. With the addition of a wireless dongle, you can also stream videos, images, and more to the projector over a Wifi network. The Q7 Plus even manages to pack in a small stereo speaker system that works for small spaces. For more details, check out the released Spec Sheet.

More info on pricing and availability for the Vivitek Qumi Q7 Plus coming soon.

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Ultra HD Blu-ray Announced at CES 2015 - Panasonic Shows Prototype Player

Panasoncy Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Prototype - CES 2015. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Moving from video display to source devices, the big news on the Blu-ray front was a formal announcement of the new 4K Blu-ray Disc standard, which has been named Ultra HD Blu-ray (which makes sense since we already have 4K Ultra HD TVs).

The final standards for the new Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format are still forthcoming (should be by mid-2015), with both hardware and software products expected to start reaching the market by the end of 2015.

However, at CES 2015 the only hardware on display was a prototype player at the Panasonic booth (shown in the above photo).

Here is what we officially know so far:

- All Ultra HD Blu-ray players will still be able to play standard 4K and standard Blu-ray Discs (2D and 3D), DVDs, and, presumably, audio CDs.

- Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will be capable of either 66GB dual-layer storage, or 100GB triple layer storage.

- Ultra HD Blu-ray content will be recorded (mastered) in the HEVC (H.265) codec.

- The Ultra HD Blu-ray format will provide support for frame rates up to 60Hz.

- The Ultra HD Blu-ray format will provide support for 10-Bit color depth (BT.2020), as well as HDR (High Dynamic Range) video enhancement.

- All players will have HDMI 2.0 outputs with HDCP 2.2 copy-protection.

- Video transfer rates up to 128mbps supported.

- All current Blu-ray compatible audio formats will be supported (should include Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or any new surround sound formats that may become available.

There are still some lingering questions that I asked in my previous report on the how Ultra HD Blu-ray might be implemented, but so far, the specs look very encouraging, and there are surely going to be more surprises to come, especially with regards to streaming and possible inclusion of hard drive storage capabilities on the new players. Also, an official logo for both licensing and market requirements is still forthcoming - so stay tuned as more info becomes available.

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Roku and Dish Network Announce 4K Support - CES 2015

Dish Network and Sling TV at CES 2015. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

CES isn't just about the actual gadgets, it is also about audio and video content. With that in mind, two important announcements were made at CES regarding more accessibility to 4K content.

First up, Roku announced that it intends to provide 4K support for available content providers through a new generation of forthcoming ROKU-equipped Ultra HD Smart TVs (no word yet on a 4K-compatible Roku Box and no prototype or pre-production Roku TVs with 4K capability were shown.

Also, Dish Network announced that it is the first satellite provider to provide 4K delivery through a new generation of set-top Receivers/DVRs under its "Joey" brand designation.

In addition to 4K content delivery, Dish also revealed its new partnership with Sling TV to provide a streaming service (independent of its Dish Satellite service) targeted directly at the Millennial Generation.

The service will be available via an app compatible with several devices, including Roku Boxes and TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Stick, some Samsung Smart TVs, and more.

The basic service will be priced at $20 and feature access to 12 channels, including ABC Family, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, Disney Channel, ESPN/ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, and the Travel Channel, as well as on-demand content from Maker Studios, while an additional $5 a month will provide access to either a Kid Extra, News Extra, or Sports Extra package.  For more details, read the Official Announcement Issued by Dish Network.

Shown the above photo is a collection of Dish Network products, including the new 4K Hopper, as well as the Sling Logo.

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Dolby Atmos Speakers and Demos at CES 2015

Pioneer Dolby Atmos Speakers - CES 2015. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

In terms of audio, there was also a lot to see at the 2015 CES. First up, there were several Dolby Atmos demos, including one from Onkyo that demonstrated the ceiling height/surround speaker option, and one from Klipsch that demonstrated the vertical firing height/surround speaker option. Both options were effective at bringing new immersive-ness to the surround sound experience, but if you have a room with a flat ceiling that is not overly high, the vertical firing option is definitely the more easily installed solution.

Shown in the above photo is the Andrew Jones-designed Dolby Atmos speaker system featuring vertically firing speaker drivers to obtain the overhead immersive surround experience.

For a fuller explanation on Dolby Atmos speaker setup options, read my reports: Dolby Atmos - From The Cinema To Your Home Theater, and Dolby Gets More Specific On Dolby Atmos For Home Theater.

NOTE: I also had a chance to experience a brief demonstration of the DTS's forthcoming DTS:X immersive surround sound format, which consisted of a cylindrically-shaped room with all the speakers mounted in the ceiling. However, there was no info provided on consumer products (speakers, receivers), or licensing partners. It is expected that DTS will reveal all in March, 2015.

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Enclave Audio Wireless 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System - CES 2015

Enclave Audio 5.1 Channel Wireless Speaker System. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Dolby Atmos wasn't the only news in home theater audio. The other news was the debut of two interesting wireless home theater speaker systems adhering to the WiSA standard. I am not talking about all those Bluetooth, Playfi, and proprietary wireless speaker systems intended more for personal listening, but true wireless 5.1/7.1 channel surround sound speaker systems that are worthy for home theater use.

To provide some background, this new breed of speaker systems, instead of connecting to an external amplifier, or home theater receiver, to get their audio power, each speaker (and, of course, the subwoofer) each incorporate their own built-in amplifier(s).

So instead of long speaker wire runs, you simply plug each speaker into an AC power outlet (can't get around that), and then flip a switch on the back of the speaker that tells a "hub unit" what channel each speaker is assigned to.

During speaker setup, a "hub unit" finds all the speakers and performs any needed speaker setup (room correction or eq) - The only other thing you need to do is connect your source devices to the provided AV or HDMI inputs (Blu-ray/DVD player, Media Streamer, Cable/Satellite Box, etc...) provided on the "hub unit" and you are set to go - 5.1 or 7.1 channel surround sound (depending on the system).

Up until now, the only really wireless home theater speaker system available has been offered up by Bang and Olufsen at an astronomical price, but the system shown in the above photo (The Enclave 5.1 Channel Wireless Speaker System) has an enough power output for a modest home theater setup, carries suggested price of about $1,000, and will be available at accessible dealers, such as Best Buy, beginning in Summer of 2015.

For more details, check out the Enclave Audio Website

UPDATE 05/04/2016: The Enclave CineHome HD 5.1 Wire-Free Home-Theater-in-a-Box System was finally released in early 2016: Read My Review - Buy From Amazon

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Klipsch Speakers On Display at CES 2015

Klipsch Speakers on display at the 2015 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Here is a further look at some great speakers that were shown at CES, in the photo above we have both classic and new speakers from Klipsch, which employ horn driver technology. On the left side, there is an original Klipshorn (I was told it was the 13th ever built), La Scala, Cornwall, and Heresy III, while on the right side, is a look at the latest Klipsch Reference Series loudspeakers. The speakers placed around the TV monitor are Klipsch's Dolby Atmos solutions, while the speakers on the far right are part of Klipsch's forthcoming Wireless Reference Speaker Line (Read Official Announcement for more details).

NOTE: That Klipschorn on the far left side - you can get room-filling sound with 1 watt (that's right, just 1 watt!) of input power.

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Paradigm Prestige Loudspeakers - CES 2015

Paradigm Prestige Speakers at CES 2015. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

In addition to the Enclave and Klipsch speakers, I had a chance to hear a lot of speakers and speaker systems at CES, and, in some cases, it was hard to choose which ones are best. However, I can say this, Canada-based Paradigm consistently makes great sounding speakers, and the new Paradigm Prestige speakers were (in my opinion) the best Paradigm speakers I have ever heard - and the Prestige isn't even their top speaker line.

I actually sat down and listened to this speakers right after I had listened to Martin Logan Neoliths ($80,000 a pair) and still felt totally satisfied with what I heard from the Paradigm Prestige system. If you don't have $80,000 to spare, the Prestige 95F's I heard at $5,000 a pair are a real bargain.

Shown in the above photo is a look at the entire Prestige line - For all the details on each speaker, check out the Official Paradigm Prestige Speaker Page.

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BenQ Trevolo and Mass Fidelity Core Compact Audio Systems at CES 2015

BenQ Trevolo and Mass Fidelity Core compact audio systems. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Although my beat is home theater, sometimes I run across something unusual in the audio arena that catches my attention and BenQ Trevolo and Mass Fidelity Core were two such products - the reason, both of these diminutive audio systems put out a lot more sound that you would expect - and definitely something I wouldn't expect from BenQ, who is video projector/display company.

First up, on the left side of the above photo is the BenQ Trevolo. The Trevolo is a wireless Bluetooth speaker that incorporates flip-out electrostatic speakers, in conjunction with a mini built-in subwoofer, to produce sound.

In a small soundproof listening booth, about three times the size an old phone booth, the Trevolo sounded fantastic for a small system, with excellent vocal clarity and mid-range detail. The bass, although limited by the small form factor, was still very good. However, listening in a booth and getting into a home environment are two different animals, so it will be interesting to find out once Benq sends me one for review.

That being said, the Trevolo has an interesting feature package including Bluetooth 4.1 (with aptX), Micro USB digital audio inputs, a 3.5 analog stereo audio connection, and even an analog line audio pass-through output for connection to a larger, external, audio system. In addition, there is an integrated noise-cancelling microphone that can be used in conjunction with a compatible smartphone.

The Trevolo can run on its included rechargeable battery for 12 hours, or you can use an AC Adapter for longer listening periods.

For more details on the Trevolo, check out the Official Product Page and Spec Sheet. The Trevolo is priced at $299.00 and is available for Pre-Order as of the publish date of this post (January 2015).

Next up, shown on the right, is the Mass Fidelity Core. What makes this wireless speaker system unique is that despite is very small cube-like appearance (6 x 6 x 4 inches), this little guy can produce a two-channel stereo sound field that makes you think you are listening to left and right speakers that are about 6 feet apart.

According to Mass Fidelity reps, the stereo sound field is created by combinations of Wave Field Synthesis and Beam Forming (sounds like the technology used in Yamaha's digital sound projectors). By combining both processes, an effective "Acoustic Bubble" is created that places the listener in a space where sounds appear to come from specific points across the two-channel sound stand (this technology can also be, and has been, applied to surround sound).

In addition to the great listening experience, other features of the Mass Fidelity Core include:

- 5 Custom designed high output speaker drivers.

- 120-watt amplifier power output (However, no info on under what conditions (1 Khz or 20Hz/20kHz test tone, distortion level, RMS, IHF, Peak?) that measurement was obtained.

- Frequency response: 44Hz-20kHz (flat, + or - 3db or 6db?)

- Bluetooth (aptX - also compatible with AAC, SBC and a2DP file formats).

- Multi-room Network capable (up to 9 Core Units - 5GHz transmission band).

- Built-in Rechargable battery with 12 hours running time - can also be run off AC adapter.

Pricing and availability forthcoming, but in the meantime check out the Official Mass Fidelity Core Product Page for more product details.

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Samsung and Archt Audio Omni-Directional Sound Systems - CES 2015

Samsung and ArchtOne Omni-Directional Audio Systems. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Another interesting take on loudspeaker technology shown at the 2015 CES were products from Samsung and Archt Audio that emphasized omni-directional sound.

In other words, instead placing the listener within a stereo or surround sound field. Omni-directional sound allows the listener to experience all of the sound coming from the source equally no matter where they are in the listening environment.

This is a great concept for applications such as background music, or listening to music while accomplishing daily chores where the listener can't afford to spend time seated in a stereo or surround sound sweet spot but still desires a quality listening experience. Also, the way that omni-directional speakers are designed, they lend themselves to some interesting installation options.

Shown on the left side of the above photo are the omni-directional wireless powered speaker systems from Samsung, the WAM7500 and WAM6500. Both units are portable, but the larger WAM7500's (those are the ones hanging from the ceiling like lamps and also shown on floor and table stands) require plug-in power, but the smaller WAM6500's (the smaller ones that look like they have a lantern-style handle) are battery operated (rechargeable battery included).

Sound is produced primarily via a unique "ring radiator" at the bottom of the units, while the tweeter is located at the top. Sound is projected in a full 360-degree dispersion pattern.

Both products are compatible with Samsung's Shape multi-room audio system. For more details on these speakers, read my pre-CES report (availability coming soon).

Moving to the image on the right side of the above photo is another omni-directional wireless speaker product from Archt Audio, the Archt One. The Archt One is a more substantial system than the Samsung WAM7500/6500. The main sound (mid and high frequencies) exits the unit through an array located near the top, while a built-in subwoofer disperses sound from vents located near the bottom.

Other features of the ArchtOne include: WiFi, Bluetooth, and Apple AirPlay compability, as well as providing USB and analog audio inputs for physical connectivity. Also, if you desire a stereo setup (that will definitely sound more immersive than traditional stereo), you can pair two Archt One's in a left/right channel configuration.

As an added bonus, a mobile app is provided that allows the Archt One to fine tune its performance in relation to your room environment, similar to automatic speaker setup systems provided on many home theater receivers.

For more details, including pre-ordering information, refer to the Archt Audio Website.

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Samsung and Oculus Virtual Reality at the 2015 CES

Samsung Gear VR at the 2015 CES. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

OK, so you are real home theater fan, but don't have the space or money to put together a "real" home theater system? Well if you have about $200 bucks and compatible Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, then Samsung and Oculus have a solution for you (GearVR) - your own personal virtual reality theater.

The way it works is that you install the Samsung/Oculus App onto a compatible Galaxy smart phone, clip the phone with the screen facing your into the headgear, and then put the glasses on.

When I sat down for a demo, I didn't know what to expect - but because I told the reps I cover home theater, they set me up with a virtual reality application that placed me inside a movie theater (in 3D). After putting on the head gear when I turned my head, I could see the seats, the balcony, the exits, the stage, the curtains, and the screen - and then a movie trailer popped up on the screen.

Other things I was shown were a play and a band that placed me on the stage with the characters and musicians (all in 3D).

So here I was, at the Samsung booth at CES, sitting inside a 3D virtual movie theater environment, watching a movie (trailer). I must say, the experience was pretty cool - but I don't know if I would want to sit for two hours with the headgear. Also, as cool as the experience was, there was some roughness to the images, as well as some flickering.

For more on Samsung's GearVR - Check out two more reports from the Lifewire.com New Tech Site

What Titles Are Launching With Samsung’s Gear VR?

Samsung Has a Service to Watch Virtual Reality Movies

Samsung's GearVR was a great way to conclude my CES experience, and also provides a great way to end my main photo wrap-up report here on Lifewire.com for CES 2015.

However, I will have additional articles as a result of what I saw and will be reviewing many of the home theater-related products that were shown at CES, so stay tuned throughout the year for exciting info from the Lifewire.com Home Theater Site.

Also, in case you missed them, check out my coverage of Pre-CES announcements that were made before the Show began:

Samsung To Show Off New Powered Speakers and Sound Bars at the 2015 CES

LG To Show Expanded 4K Ultra HD TV Line At CES 2015

DTS To Counter Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D Sound With DTS:X

Samsung To Show Off Smarter TVs at CES 2015

Celebrities Appearing At The 2015 CES

New TVs Will Be Missing From Toshiba's 2015 CES Booth

Channel Master's DVR Offers Up LinearTV at CES 2015



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