1. Sony Commercial-Grade Home UHD Laser Projector
Sony introduced its VPL W5000ES, a 5,000 lumens 4K SXRD laser light source projector. It is, of course, compatible with High Dynamic Range (HDR), emulates the new BT.2020 colour gamut, and covers the full DCI colour space. No home projector can fully cover the DCI colour space, let alone accurately remap the REC709 colour space to BT.2020. But included are professional calibration tools (PC, compatible colorimeter and LAN connection required) for professional calibrators to further tune the projector for the best colour accuracy.
Sony’s latest iteration of Advanced Motionflow reduces blur and maintains brightness. The projector’s extremely fast imagers allow viewing of fast action content with great smoothness, even with 4K signals, along with HDR and BT.2020 capabilities. The VPL-VW5000ES also includes an HDMI 2.0a input that is HDCP 2.2 compatible. That same input has enough bandwidth to accept 4K 60p signals up to YCbCr 4:4:4 8-bit or YCbCr 4:2:2 12-bit, thus helping to ensure that the VPL-VW5000ES is prepared to handle all types of video content now and in the future.
Benefits of the VPL-VW5000ES’ laser light engine include fast on/off times with no waiting for the projector to cool down – which means you can immediately turn it back on to resume viewing. The light engine delivers a long operational life with a linear decrease in brightness, so the colour shifts seen with traditional lamp wear are not expected. But if the colour settings do shift over time, the VPL-VW5000ES includes a built-in re-calibration function that can be used to test how much the projector has drifted from its original factory calibration and compensate it.
The only caveat is the high estimated price tag of US$60,000
2. Epson 1080p Ultra-Bright Pro Cinema Projectors
Epson expanded its Full HD 1080p Ultra-Bright Pro Cinema Projector lineup with the new Pro Cinema G6970WU ($6,999), Pro Cinema G6570WU ($5,499), Pro Cinema 4855WU ($3,099), and wireless Pro Cinema 1985 ($2,499).
The Pro Cinema G6970WU, G6570WU and 4855WU are all designed with custom installers in mind, and feature vertical and horizontal lens shift (something that is missing from most projectors nowadays), centred lens design, Arc Correction, Faroudja DCDi Cinema technology, a Split Screen function, a ceiling mount, and extra lamp. In addition, the G6970WU and G6570WU offer six lens options and include HDBaseT connectivity. Meanwhile, the Pro Cinema 1985 is designed to serve as a home entertainment hub with wireless projection support with Miracast and Intel WiDi, built-in sound, two HDMI ports, and MHL support.
Unlike most projectors in this price range that tend to peak at 4,000 lumens at peak white (and around 3,500 lumens at peak colour), these projectors are insanely bright at 6,000 Lumens at peak colour.
3. Nakymatone Invisible Speakers
The problem with in wall speakers is that although they are clean looking, you can still see them. True invisible speakers have yet to achieve my minimum threshold of acceptability. Canadian speaker company Nakymatone, however, has reached and achieved far beyond that threshold. They actually sound very good. I don’t mean “very good for an invisible speaker” but “very good,” period. The full spectrum of sound was produced without any dips and peaks that usually riddle invisible speakers. Furthermore, due to the 180-degree half-dome dispersion pattern, I can only imagine how amazing these speakers would be for immersive audio applications such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro3D, even Hamasaki 22.2 formats. Price varies from model to model, but there is something for every budget.
4. Upconverting HDMI Cables from Marseille Networks
The mCable by Marseille Networks Inc. is deemed the only product currently able to produce a 4K quality picture from content designed for 1080p televisions. That includes virtually all streaming content, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. It achieves this through the inclusion of the mChip.
Current HDMI cables are only capable of producing output that is equal to input, no matter how good your expensive 4K television is. As of right now, there are very limited programs available in 4K, and UHD Blu-rays will not be available until late this year. HDMI cables can’t, of course, transmit 4K content that does not yet exist. However, because of its mChip, a processor and circuit board wrapped in a cable delivery system, the mCable has a dramatic effect on converting 480p to 1080p (if the signal is below 1080p) and converts any 1080p signal to a UHD signal.
Priced at US$129 and US$159, depending on length, the mCable outperforms far more expensive HDMI cables made by other top industry names. It is the only one that is 4K certified by Technicolor. Stay tuned for a review of this cable.
5. Hi-Res Audio Will Soon Be Available Through Technics Tracks
Technics Tracks offers consumers the ability to easily download hundreds of thousands of songs and albums from artists that reflect all tastes. If classic rock is your go-to genre, download Neil Young’s 1972 classic Live at Massey Hall, or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. If beautiful jazz vocalists are your weakness, search for Diana Krall or Emilie-Claire Barlow. If instrumental solos please your ears, get lost in the piano of Keith Jarrett or the guitar of Jesse Cook. Or, if you just want to dance, bust a move to Daft Punk or Ed Sheeran.
The vision for Technics Tracks is to bring high-quality audio back to the masses so that they can experience the depth of sound – and connection – that a person feels when they hear clear music in the company of others. Technics Tracks has been built in partnership with 7digital, a leading global digital music and radio platform operator, to ensure that the store carries tracks from the world’s largest and most important record companies, including all majors, high profile classical and jazz labels, as well as titles from a number of independent labels.
Of course, along with Technics Tracks, Technics also offers two hi-res stereo systems: The Premium Class C700 series and the Reference Class R1 Series, which retail for approximately US$5,000 and US$60,000 respectively. Technics also plans to launch additional audio equipment in early 2016 after CES.
It is important for consumers to note that Technics Tracks files can be played on any
system outfitted for FLAC files such as the Panasonic PMX70, PMX9, and PMX100, which range in price from $350-$600. Stay tuned for the review of Technics Tracks and Panasonic PMX100.
6. Sony 4K UltraHD Projector with HDR Capability
The VPL-VW665ES projector is a native 4K projector with SXRD panels, Sony’s proprietary TRILUMINOS engine, Motionflow picture technology, and built-in RF 3D transmitters. To be fully UHD-compliant, it includes HDMI 2.0a connectivity with HDCP 2.2 compliance and long-lasting lamps for up to 6,000 hours of performance under normal mode (believe me, it’s bright enough you don’t need the bright mode). In addition, the VPL-VW665ES offers HDR (high dynamic range) support and features a 300,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Pricing is estimated at US$14,000. Sony’s 20-minute demo featuring both this new projector and new receiver (which also made the list) is worth the wait to see, showcasing Atmos, DTS:X, a 4K TV show, and HDR.
7. Anthem MRX AV Receivers with Dolby Atmos & DTS:X
After a couple of years experimenting with a “for the masses” receiver line up, Canadian audio company Anthem showcased its new MRX 1120, an 11.1-channel receiver with integrated support for up to 7.1.4 systems. The new series incorporates HDMI 2.0a connections with 4K HDR and HDCP 2.2 compliancy. Built-in Dolby Atmos and future DTS:X support are also included, along with DTS Play-Fi connectivity for wireless music streaming. Pricing is estimated at US$3,500. If 5.1.4 meets your needs, Anthem also announced the MRX 720 at an estimated MSRP of US$2,500. Both receivers, of course, come equipped with the highly acclaimed Anthem Room Correction.
8. MartinLogan Motion AFX Dolby Atmos-Enabled Speaker Module
With the bombardment of immersive audio from both Dolby and DTS, it is only logical for more manufacturers to offer solutions for immersive audio. MartinLogan has revealed its latest speaker, the Motion AFX, which is designed to sit atop other speakers, adding a height layer of sound. The speaker features a 0.75-inch aluminum dome tweeter and 5.25-inch polypropylene cone bass/midrange driver. Using Dolby Atmos-enabled technology, the drivers are angled upward, allowing them to bounce sound off the ceiling to create overhead audio. It can sit on top of the Motion 15, 20, 35XT, 40 and 60XT MartinLogan speakers, or other brands of speakers that have a flat top. It is expected to launch in November for an estimated price of US$600/pr.
9. Sony STR-ZA5000ES Flagship Receiver
The STR-ZA5000ES is Sony’s first ES receiver to offer Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. With its built-in 130 watts x 9-channel receiver, additional amplifiers can be added to offer support for up to 11.1 channels to accommodate 7.1.4 immersive audio configuration. Dolby Atmos compatibility is built-in and DTS:X will be supported through a firmware upgrade. Likewise, the receiver includes HDCP 2.2-compliant HDMI 2.0a connections and can support High-Res audio, 4K Ultra HD sources, HDR, and even the BT.2020 wide colour gamut standard. DSP technology, a high performance 32-bit floating point processor, and Sony’s latest D.C.A.C. EX tech are incorporated as well. It is expected to start shipping in April 2016 for a suggested retail price of US$2,800.
10. MStar Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD TV SoCs
With the slew of upcoming UHD Blu-ray titles, broadcast, and on-demand titles to be released in 4K resolution and High Dynamic Range, a more affordable processing solution that can be applied on any display is needed. By creating a Silicon on Chip solution, Mstar technology will be adopted by SoC giants such as Mediatek, RealTek and HiSilicon. The choice of using Dolby Vision technology, in my opinion, is a logical one as Dolby Vision is an end-to-end video technology that uses HDR and wide colour gamuts to create and display content with superior brightness, contrast, and pop. Dolby Vision VS10 also has the benefit of being a universal HDR playback solution, allowing the tech to support Dolby Vision content and other HDR profiles based on the SMPTE ST 2084 standard. Furthermore, Dolby Vision had signed an agreement with multiple vendors such as Warner Bros., VUDU, Netflix, and the UltraHD Blu-ray Forum to ensure that there is enough content out there for the Dolby Vision HDR standard to be used. Canadian cable companies Bell and Rogers will follow suit in January 2016 to stream sport channels and on-demand movies on CraveTV and Shomi, respectively, in UHD HDR.
11. No Region Coding for UltraHD Blu-ray Discs
As someone whose shiny-disc affliction started during the LaserDisc age, this is truly a great news. During the LaserDisc days, you could buy any disc from anywhere in the world to be played back anywhere in the world. This fun was immediately stopped when DVD was divided into six regions (seven if you include the airline-playback-only discs) and somewhat alleviated when Blu-ray was “only” divided into three zones. Movie collectors worldwide can rejoice, as the UltraHD Blu-ray Forum announced that there will be no more region/zone coding for any UltraHD Blu-ray release. January 2016 cannot come soon enough.