The Coolest Products At The 2011 CES
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show was the biggest ever, taking up the Las Vegas Convention Center from end to end. With over 20,000 new products on display, we limited ourselves to all things high definition, as it is quite easy to miss many product introductions just covering our category.
Reviewing our notes, press releases and all other information we’ve come up with our top ten products. Seven will arrive sometime this year while three models are prototypes. We expect them to evolve into real products in 2012.
In no particular order, we present our list.
1) Samsung/Real D Z-Screen Full HD Passive 3D TV
Months ago we learned about this upcoming technology (link). We arranged for a screening off site at RealD’s hotel suite. We were not disappointed. The demo model: a highly modified 55-inch Samsung LED LCD TV.
We met with RealD’s president Bob Mayson. He laid out the ground rules, no photos of the prototype and deferred all product production questions to Samsung (they would not discuss it other than tell us it is not currently planned as a 2011 product). Nevertheless, we were able to get a demonstration and general explanation of the technology.
The Z-screen 3D TV is two LCD panels in one. A Full HD LCD panel with LED back light and a second LCD screen attached directly in front of the main panel called a Z-screen.
The front Z-screen panel flips its circular polarization every 120th of second, allowing the use of passive 3D glasses. To solve technical issues, the TV backlight scans from top to bottom during each frame, while the Z-screen sequentially flips its polarization in sections from the top to the bottom of the screen. The result was outstanding. Unlike the passive 3D Film Patterned Retarder (FPR) technology seen in the all upcoming Vizio and select LG and Toshiba 3D models (link) the Real D prototype produced a full HD image (1920 x 1080) without scan lines. There was no loss of the 3D effect when moving one’s eyes in excess of 13 degrees above or below center, as occurs with FPR. Nor did we see any compression of depth as we moved left or right of center. Questions remain are to when will it arrive and how much of a cost the second LCD panel add to the price.
2) Motorola XOOM Tablet
There were many tablet announcements at CES, but only one with an HDTV screen and a release date. The Motorola XOOM has a 10.1″ display as well as HDMI output to allow connection to your big screen HDTV for playback of video content. The XOOM uses the NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual core processor, and can capture 720p video through its camera and playback video content with resolutions up to 1080p via HDMI. It will ship in Q1 with a price to be announced. (photo at top)
3) Panasonic VT30 Plasma HDTVs
All the big TV manufacturers displayed new products at CES. We evaluated models from every major vendor and the VT30 plasmas displayed the best images at the show. The 2011 Panasonics employ improved phosphors to produce a brighter picture while improving energy efficiency by 25% along with deeper blacks when compared to the VT25 models they replace. The VT30 series models come in the 55″ and 65″ screen sizes. Panasonic’s new top of the line models earned the “HD Guru 2011 CES Top Picks” for Best in Show and Best 3D TV Awards.
4) Toshiba Glasses Free 3D HDTV Prototypes
Toshiba had a 56″ and 65″ glasses free 3D TV. Both units had 4K resolution (4096 x 2160) four times higher than Full HD. While a Toshiba spokesperson would not say the number of viewing positions, the resolution per viewer was stated at over one million pixels. This implies eight 3D viewing positions at one-half full HD.
The technical name for glasses free 3D is auto-stereoscopic and the technique for this type of display is called “parallax barrier”.Ã‚Â The spokesman added the TV may be viewed in 2D mode as well, implying a second LCD screen placed over the main one to produce the barrier needed for the parallax barrier method. This method has limitations, in this case a limited viewing arc of perhaps 30 degrees and viewers must be in set positions within the arc to see the 3D effect. If one move out of the viewing position the image becomes fuzzy 2D. This limitation, in our opinion needs to be eliminated, to make big screen auto-stereoscopic 3D mass market product. The price of a 65″ 4K dual layer LCD screen would be quite high compared to as standard 2K HDTV that uses active shutter glasses. Toshiba’s spokesman added they expect to bring an auto-stereoscopic large screen HDTV to the US market by spring of 2012.
5) Toshiba Glasses Free 3D Laptop Prototype
This Toshiba Qosmio laptop has a 15.1-inch 3D single viewer auto-stereoscopic screen which tracks the user’s eyes and adjusts the “sweet spot” to provide a continuous 3D experience without glasses. No price or availability. We believe eye tracking will become a feature on many single user glasses free displays such as laptops and tablets.
6) iCoat 3D Passive Glasses
iCoat’s specialty is proprietary lens coatings that enhance the performance of passive 3D images (such as upcoming the Vizio, select LG and select Toshiba 2011 3D TV models). Its line of Sfirex 3D glasses provides brighter, higher contrast images than the Real D models. We made a comparison at CES with our Real D passive glasses and verified a significant improvement in image quality with the Sfirex model. An iCoat executive told us their glasses have 15% higher brightness and 88% less reflection causing glare as compared to Real D models (like the ones you receive in a movie theater). These new Sfirex 3D glasses are expected to arrive in optical stores by spring.
7) Samsung’s 75″ 3D LED LCD
This was the biggest production ready flat screen HDTV at the CES (there were some bigger professional monitors such as the 150″ Panasonic). Like the other high end Samsung LEDs, it has all the top features including Internet streaming and apps, remote with second screen and full HD 3D using RF shutter glasses. The unit is ensconced in a silver bezel. Samsung has not provided a release date, although a spokesman said it will ship sometime in 2011.
8) Mitsubishi 92″ 3D Rear Projector
The Mitsubishi 92-incher provides a projection home theater experience without the need for blackout shades or curtains due to its rear projection design utilizing a very bright UHP lamp.
The 92-inch 3D Home Cinema TVÃ‚Â features include: Fully integrated 3D TV with built-in emitter, StreamTVÃ¢â€žÂ¢ Internet Media, Multi-speakerÃ‚Â Immersive Sound Technology (IST), Center Channel Mode w/Center Channel input, Rear Channel Pre-outputs, Sub-woofer Output, Bluetooth Streaming Audio, 4 HDMI input, ISFccc, USB Media player, Advanced Calibration Mode, Universal Remote Control, 120Hz Sub-Frame Rate, Jade User Interface and New Clear Contrast Screen.
A great centerpiece for any home theater, the 92 inch Mitsubishi WD-92840 will ship later in 2011 at a price between $5K and $6K.
9) Motorola Atrix Smartphone
The NVIDIA Tegra 2-powered smartphone uses two operating systems at once: Google’s Android 2.2 and a customized Motorola version of Linux. The Atrix can turn into a desktop or laptop PC with matching optional docks. Ã‚Â The beauty of the unit is the ability to download high definition content from the phone, the laptop or the PC conversion and send it over the adapter’s built-in HDMI connector to your big screen TV for a viewing experience of up to 1080 line resolution.
The Atrix is a normal looking top end smart phone with a 960 x 540 screen resolution. It features 802.11n, 1GB RAM, 1 GB internal storage and a microSD card slot. It can be inserted into its multimedia dock consisting of connections for a monitor, keyboard and mouse as well as HDMI output or the slim laptop dock.
Either way it can play downloaded videos to your HDTV. The Motorola Atrix ships in Q1 2011 with the price to be announced. The video above is courtesy of our friend Suzanne at techlicious.com
10) LG Smart TV Upgrader
The LG Smart TV Upgrader is a small box that packs a lot of punch. It can be attached to any legacy HDTV with a HDMI input and convert your old dumb TV into a smart one with Internet streaming videos services like Amazon Video on Demand and VUDU, TV Apps, Widgets (such as stocks and weather). It also includes an Internet browser. Similar to the Logitech review in functionality (however LG’s unit the QWERTY keyboard is on-screen), the LG will retail for $149.99 when it ships later this year, versus $299.99 retail for the Logitech unit (although it currently sells for $249.99 on Amazon
The LG SmartTV Upgrader received the HD GURU “CES 2011 Top Pick Award” for Best New Home Theater Component.
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