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Podcast #721: CES 2016

It’s that time of year again, the time when hordes of people descend on Las Vegas, Nevada to get a glimpse of all the new technology manufacturers are showing off. Last year over 170,000 people attended. This year, there will be two less. With one HT Guy in Seattle, we weren’t able to attend in person. But luckily many of our peers were, so we get to sift through their highlights without having to walk for miles through countless booths and crowds to see everything.

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CES 2016

It’s that time of year again, the time when hordes of people descend on Las Vegas, Nevada to get a glimpse of all the new technology manufacturers are showing off. Last year over 170,000 people attended. This year, there will be two less. With one HT Guy in Seattle, we weren’t able to attend in person. But luckily many of our peers were, so we get to sift through their highlights without having to walk for miles through countless booths and crowds to see everything.

Samsung, Philips and others bring Dolby Atmos Soundbars

Samsung introduced a soundbar (HW-K950) that will attempt to create a Dolby Atmos experience using a wireless speakers. The system includes a soundbar with three forward facing speakers and two pointed towards the ceiling. The system uses wireless surround speakers that also include Atmos speakers. Finally, there is a wireless subwoofer that gets you a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos system with only four speaker enclosures.  No pricing or ship date was announced.

 Philips is also shipping a Dolby Atmos Soundbar. Called the Philips Fidelio soundbar it includes 18 drivers, including two upward-firing speaker modules. Angled tweeters create a wide soundfield. Total output is 400 watts, including 8-inch 220-watt wireless subwoofer. Other features include Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding, dedicated center-channel speaker, two HDMI 1.4a inputs, HDMI audio return channel, and optical and coaxial inputs. no pricing was announced.


Samsung’s Family Hub Is A Fridge Of The Future

Among the reasons why this is deemed a smart home technology of the future is it touts 21.5-inch 1080p monitor outside and few cameras and sensors within so you will know what is inside the refrigerator without the need to open its door or view the interior of the fridge remotely on your smartphone. This is specifically advantageous if you are in a grocery store but do not know what particular foods to buy. You can tag expiration dates on refrigerator items so you use them before you lose them. The giant screen is more than just a peek inside the box, you can use it as a family message board, sync your family calendar to it, shop for groceries or surf the web for recipes. It has speakers, so you can listen to music, and we assume the web interface would allow you to get to Netflix or YouTube as well, but we don’t know for sure.


LG Annouced Premium LCD-Based Super UHD, 8K TVs

LG announced a premium line of UHD TVs (UH9500, UH8500 and UH7700). According to LG, they will all be brighter, better contrast ratios, and include a wider color gamut and HDR. LG will also introduce their first 8K TV, the 98 UH9800. For reference, Sharp’s 8K screen goes for close to $130,000!

 According to LG the UH9500 and UH8500 increase the color gamut to approximately 90% of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) P3 color space. LG is also claiming high quality sound from the UH9500 due to a Harman Kardon speaker system. Pricing was not available


LG's rollable OLED display

LG is showing the 30R 18-inch rollable display. They claim the display can be "rolled-up like a newspaper." They have been showing flexible OLED for a couple years, so how this display improves on concepts we saw in 2014 and 2015 isn’t obvious, but we expect it to have better resolution and perhaps some built-in electronics for use as an actual television/monitor. The benefit of a rollable display in a consumer environment is pretty obvious. As TVs get to be rediculously large, transporting them, getting them in the door, etc. will become very difficult. If the screens could be rolled up, then just tacked up on a wall once you get them home, it could make 100” screens in every home a reality. Not to mention video walls that can turn into faux-windows ala Total Recall would be pretty sweet.


Simple Control Adds Amazon Echo Integration

Simple Control announced that its popular iOS apps for control of AV gear and smart home devices have been certified by Amazon for use with their Amazon Echo product. Amazon Echo includes Alexa, a cloud-based voice service that can be used to give commands to Simple Control. Once Simple Control is paired with Amazon Echo, users can control the home environment simply by speaking commands to Alexa, such as "Alexa, tell Simple Control to turn on the TV in the kitchen." The Simple Control and Simple System apps operate thousands of devices like TVs, cable and satellite boxes, receivers, Blu-ray players, lights, switches, thermostats and more.



A Ford Mustang you can order online with free shipping for Amazon Prime members? No, but the automotive company is partnering with Amazon to let you control your smart home from your car through Ford's Sync Connect and AppLink services and Amazon's Echo home-automation hub and Alexa voice-concierge service. Beyond Amazon, Ford announced it plans to work with the Wink smart home platform to provide similar levels of voice commanded functionality straight from your driver's seat.


HARMAN’s Mark Levinson® Previews № 519 Audio Player:

High-Resolution Wired and Wireless Streaming, Network, Disc and Digital Inputs

HARMAN International Industries previewed the forthcoming Mark Levinson № 519 Audio Player, an ultra high-end source component designed to accommodate every digital audio format. The № 519 was designed to be the heart of high-performance audio systems, with the ability to play back virtually any audio format from streaming music services to networked storage, to CD to high-resolution digital inputs and even Bluetooth® wireless. In addition, it includes high-performance headphone connectivity and integrated digital volume control allowing it to serve as a fully integrated digital music source. Designed and engineered at HARMAN’s Engineering Center of Excellence in Shelton, CT, USA, the № 519 provides a full compliment of wired and wireless digital audio inputs and as well as an integrated slot-loading CD player, making it a truly universal digital audio playback device. The integrated high-resolution DAC receives its nine digital inputs including USB asynchronous streaming and mass storage, Gigabit Ethernet, Balanced, Optical, Coaxial, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless featuring aptX® technology for maximum resolution.

The Mark Levinson № 519 offers high-resolution digital decoding up to 24-bit, 192kHz from PCM and double-speed DSD. Its DAC incorporates an ESS Sabre32 Reference converter for superlative musical accuracy with exceptional resolution and dynamic range. The Mark Levinson № 519 Digital Player will be available in July 2016. No official pricing at this time but the buzz on the street is that it will run about $8,000.


UHD Alliance Defines Premium 4K Ultra HD Experience

The UHD Alliance (UHDA) has defined performance criteria that Ultra HD TVs and content must meet to deliver what the group calls a premium 4K experience. The association also introduced a logo that will appear on certified content to guarantee a premium experience for consumers. The Ultra HD Premium logo is reserved for products and content that comply with minimum requirements for resolution, bit depth, high dynamic range (HDR), peak luminance, black levels, and wide color gamut.

The UHD Alliance said its technical specifications "prioritize image quality and recommend support for next-generation audio.”


Home Kit

  • Kwikset  announced the launch of its first HomeKit-compatible product, the Kwikset Premis. Available in 2016, no pricing announced.
  • iDevices - Introduced their Socket, Wall Switch, Dimmer Switch and Wall Outlet. The socket allows standard light bulbs to be used with homekit. The wall switch/dimmer and outlet bring Home Kit support to your lights and devices in your home. The new HomeKit accessories will be released throughout 2016, but pricing was not disclosed
  • Honeywell announced the Lyric Round™ Wi-Fi Thermostat Second Generation is available for pre-order $250.
  • Hunter Fan Company announced new Wi-Fi & Apple HomeKit-Enabled Celing Fans. Named Symphony and Signal the Symphony’s MSRP is $329 and  Signal’s MSRP is $379. Both fans will be available spring 2016


UHD Players

  • Samsung announced that the UB-K8500 is available for pre-order right now, and will sell for $400.
  • Panasonic unveiled its Blu-ray player which it promised will be available in the US this year. A similar player was introduced in Japan in November which retails for roughly $3,300 USD. No word on pricing for the US version.
  • Philips will introduce a player that supports the optional Dolby Vision HDR technology
  • LG and Sony did not introduce UHD players.



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Reader Comments (1)

When you talked about wireless surround systems without a receiver, you forgot the new Klipsch HD wireless system. This is completely by passes the receiver. It can go up to 7.2. Also Sonos supports Deezer Elite, which is FLAC. Great show thanks!

January 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDevin B.

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