Best of CEDIA 2009

Best of CEDIA 2009

Attendance at the just-concluded CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association) Expo, held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, was down for the second straight year to around 20,000, and the number of exhibitors shrunk from 500 to 400. But the good news for home theater enthusiasts is as follows: What the various exhibitors that remained actually exhibited was a considerable amount of ingenuity.

Amid the myriad goods being shown including high-end projectors; flat-panel HDTV mounts; pull-down screens; hydraulic projector lifts; decorative technology; reclining theater seating; tube amplifiers; cables; ridiculously pricy speakers; and everything in-between, it seems everyone was hawking some new connectivity scheme or other. For example: There were a plethora of HDTVs not connected to high-def sources via the emerging HDMI-cable-replacing WirelessHD standard. And, of course, all these new WirelessHD-enabled HDTVs include an external box to which you connect all your HD sources (cable box, game player, media server, et al) or an A/V receiver. A sudden burst of connected HDTVs (and, of course, Blu-ray players) that can also pull content from your home PC likely signals the coming death of dedicated media servers to boot. In addition, there were also new affordable wireless home automation schemes replacing typical expensive, wall-bursting, wire-pulling methods via the ZigBee wireless control specification.

But out of all these clever inventions, which are most worth keeping an eye on? Here are (in our humble opinion) the top products unveiled this past week.

Best of CEDIA Conneted DevicesConnected Devices

Vizio VIA VF552XVT ($2,199)

A milestone HDTV, this 55-inch LED backlit LCD set includes a number of choice enhancements. For instance: Built-in WiFi b/g/n (a first); a remote that has a slide-out horizontal QWERTY (a first); a USB jack through which you can play video, music and photos from a USB drive (rare); and connectivity to Yahoo widget-powered Vizio Internet Apps. Better yet, it’s likely to cost less than $2000 when it hits Costco and Sam’s Club in December.

Vizio VIA VF552XVT

Sony BDP-N460 ($250)

Believe it or not, this is Sony’s first connected Blu-ray player. In addition, when it goes on sale next month, the device will include built-in software for Linksys’ wireless bridge, Sony’s Yahoo widget-powered Bravia Internet, and connectivity to Slacker Internet radio. As an added bonus, later this fall, the player will automatically update itself to supply access to Netflix.

Sony BDP-N460

Sherwood R-904N NetBoxx ($650)

It’s a regular AV receiver with 3 HDMI ports, but it’s also a media streamer with an 802.11g adapter to pull in YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, CinemaNow, Amazon Video On Demand, Rhapsody, Internet radio stations, Hulu, Netflix, and a bunch of TV stations along with your PC-based multimedia files.

Sherwood R-904N NetBoxx

Archos 9 ($500)

In many ways, this 9-inch tablet, available next month, is a netbook without the QWERTY keyboard half. It runs Windows 7, plays 720p HD video, is equipped with an Atom Z515 processor, offers Bluetooth 2.1 and WiFi (b/g, not n) connectivity, and includes a replaceable battery that provides around 4.5 hours of electro-fuel.

Archos 9

Samsung LN65B650 ($6,000)

At 65 inches, this is Samsung’s biggest LCD HDTV. It’s not only an oversized 120 Hz set though – it’s also connected via the Yahoo widget-powered Medi@2.0 suite with access to YouTube, Flickr, USA Today Sports, Twitter, and other online favorites. Happily, USB ports let you jack in thumb drives with other multimedia content as well.

Samsung LN65B650

Best of CEDIA HDTVHDTVs

Panasonic VIERA TC-P54Z1 ($5,500)

Equipped with WirelessHD connectivity, this 1-inch thin 54-inch plasma set has a shiny brushed aluminum bezel and includes an RF remote. As such, we can’t wait to get our hands on it.

Panasonic VIERA TC-P54Z1

JVC GD-463D10 LCD HDTV ($8,995)

JVC’s stab into the 3D realm, this 46-inch LCD HDTV is designed for the custom installation market. Instead of the ornate Panasonic sensor system though, you only need the regular old red/green cardboard glasses to enjoy eye-popping effects.

JVC GD-463D10 LCD HDTV

Seura Hydra ($3,000)

If you need to watch while you wash you’ll want this 19-inch waterproof LCD HDTV, designed to sit (ahem) flush with your bathroom tile. It comes in either a pearl white or black onyx frame but, for an extra $600, you can even match your WC with any Pantone-colored frame.

Seura Hydra

Toshiba 19LV612 ($350)

Looking for a set that fits right in with your kitchen’s decor? Framing this 19-inch LCD HDTV with a built-in digital TV tuner is a beautiful stainless steel border designed to match all your appliances. Plus, it’s equipped with a slot-loading DVD player on the left edge.

Seura Hydra

JVC D-ILA DLA-RS4000 ($175,000)

Yep, you read that price right. This 110lb 4K projector is capable of projecting 4096×2400 video (more than four times the resolution of HD), or you can display up to four screens with full HD or WUXGA resolution images simultaneously. We’ll take two, naturally.

JVC D-ILA DLA-RS4000

Best of CEDIA Home AudioHome Audio

Yamaha YHT-S400 ($600)

One of the truly great ideas, this is a 3.1 channel surround sound system with a 2-inch-high soundbar connected to an 50 WPC AV receiver with a built-in 100-watt subwoofer via HDMI. This arrangement, due early next year, elegantly simplifies connectivity and lets you attach up to three HDMI components.

Yamaha YHT-S400

Panasonic SC-BTX70 ($1,000)

Own an HDTV? Now you can match it with a Blu-ray player, a 2.1 channel surround system and an iPod speaker dock all packed in one home theater system in a box that sits elegantly just below your flat-panel set.

Panasonic SC-BTX70

Airfonix AFX-19IP001 (apx. $300)

Running speaker wire for outdoor or rear speakers can be a pain the back – and wallet. Thankfully, this reasonably affordable iPod dock is also a USB hub and a transmitter that beams 24-bit uncompressed stereo audio to compact receivers that can be connected to any speaker.

Airfonix AFX-19IP001

Samsung HT-BD3242 ($800)

An instant home theater of sorts, this 5.1 surround sound system includes a connected Blu-ray player with access to Pandora and Netflix, tallboy front speakers and powered wireless rear speakers to simplify connectivity.

Samsung HT-BD3242

Yamaha MCR-140 ($400)

Put your iPod or iPhone into a wireless dongle and transmit your music wirelessly to this otherwise traditional but modular iPod dock speaker system. Now you can control your music, take calls or surf the net and check email while you groove. You can even match your décor – the gizmo will come in 10 colors when it’s available next month.

Yamaha MCR-140

Best of CEDIA Home VideoHome Video

JVC SR-HD1500US/SR-HD1250US Blu-ray Recorder ($2550/$1995)

The surprise of the show, these are the first Blu-ray recorders for the U.S. market. Designed more for the video pro, neither will record TV, but come equipped with FireWire, USB and RS-232 jacks to connect pro gear and high-def camcorders, along with 500GB/250GB hard drives to store content for continual duplication.

JVC SR-HD1500US/SR-HD1250US

Toshiba BDX2000 Blu-ray player ($250)

The world, or at least custom installers, got its first look at Toshiba’s first Blu-ray player this past week. It’s a straightforward BD-Live deck with an SDHC card slot, and it’ll be available in November, which should please fans of the manufacturer.

Toshiba BDX2000 Blu-ray player

Samsung HT-BD8200 ($800)

Even simpler than a traditional home theater in a box system, this sleek 2.1 channel soundbar incorporates a vertical connected Blu-ray player with Netflix and Pandora access, as well as a wireless subwoofer.

Samsung HT-BD8200


NAD Master Series M56 ($2000)

It may not be THX certified like competing models, but inside its steel chassis and behind the die-cast aluminum front panels this NAD BD-Live Blu-ray player packs a plethora of audiophine- and videophile-friendly bells and whistles, including uncompressed 24-bit 7.1 linear PCM playback, a 7.1 analog output and, for custom-installed systems, an external IR input for connectivity to home control and automation systems.

NAD Master Series M56

Pioneer Elite BDP-09FD ($2,200)

For more well-heeled audiophiles, this is the first THX Select2-certified reference Blu-ray player. Aside from its 16-bit video processor and 8 Wolfson Audio DACS, the 30lb BD-Live deck, which its solid steel frame, is built like an Abrams and includes 4GB of memory, twice as much as usual.

Pioneer Elite BDP-09FD

Best of CEDIA Home AutomationHome Automation

Crestron Prodigy (apx. $3,200)

Trying to expand beyond its intricate custom-installed whole home automation roots, Crestron has created a simplified DIY system based on the ZigBee wireless specification. For the price indicated, the Prodigy can control up to six rooms’ AV, lighting and climate conditions.

Crestron Prodigy

Savant Protégé (apx. $5000)

Also answering the call for a simpler to use/easier to afford complete home control (A/V, lighting, climate, security, etc.) solution, Savant unveiled its wireless Protégé system. Instead of, or supplementary to, touch panels and RF remotes, you can happily use an iPhone in conjunction with it to control your house.

Savant Protégé

Control4 EC-100 ($TBA)

You’ve heard of LAN and WAN. Well, now there’s the HAN (Home Area Network), referring to wireless control of your home’s energy usage. To make a long story short: The Control4 EC-100 will the first system-based HAN touch control pad to monitor, control and automate new smart meters that are, in turn, connected to the growing number of two-way smart grid energy systems being rolled out by local power companies. As such, it can save you a considerable amount of cash, and help your home operate a little greener.

Control4 EC-100

Kwikset Smartcode ($100-$110)

In a clever touch for home security, when someone punches their code into this electronic combination door lock, designed to be integrated with a Control4 system, you receive a notification email. More interesting still, the lock can be programmed for up to 30 codes, allowing you to monitor a number of individuals’ comings and goings.

Kwikset Smartcode

Pioneer ETap (TBD)

Pioneer is still developing this total entertainment control media hub network concept. Equipped with Control4 wireless control protocols and a 1TB drive onto which you can rip Blu-ray discs and all your other multimedia content, ETap lets you pull, push and control all your multimedia content throughout a variety of devices.

Pioneer ETap
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Home Theater

How to know if you’ve got great Dolby Atmos sound

Dolby Atmos surround sound has become the holy grail for home theater lovers who want the best possible sound from their systems. But getting Dolby Atmos isn't as straightforward as you might think. Compatibility problems between components…
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ ‘Bumblebee,’ ‘Alita,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame, as well as new trailers for Alita: Battle Angel and Bumblebee.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Deals

The best 4K TV deals under $500 and over 50 inches

Big-screen TVs with high-resolution displays and 4K color have dropped so far in price that you can find highly rated 50 to 55-inch models under $500. We searched major retailers for the best deals on 4K UHD TVs.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2, Neo Yokio: Pink Christmas, and more.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

Between sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

Stranger Things season 3 predictions: Decoding the episode titles

Netflix has revealed the episode titles for season 3 of Stranger Things, and the eight titles could shed light on what we can expect to see when the hit show returns in summer 2019.
Deals

This one-day Skullcandy sale gets you wireless earbuds for under $30

Today only, you can save 40 percent on wireless earbuds, noise-canceling headphones, and classic earbuds direct from the Skullcandy website. If you're hoping to get a pair of headphones before the holidays arrive, now is the time.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.