The 52nd edition of CES (Consumer Electronics Show) took place in Las Vegas from January 8th to January 11th 2019. CES is the most important consumer show entirely dedicated to new technologies and electronics for the mainstream public as well as professionals. This event, which brought together 4400 companies, including 414 French businesses, was the occasion to discover the newest trends and technologies from the world of hi-fi and home theater. Here is a retrospective of the best products presented during CES 2019.
TVs and video projectors
The OLED LG Signature R, the brand’s rollable screens, stole the show and all cameras were pointed at them during the entirety of the show. Introduced as the first rollable TV designed for consumer use, the LG Signature R automatically rolls down inside an elegant base fitted with a powerful soundbar. This 100 W 4.2 soundbar is Dolby Atmos compatible and is designed to ensure 360° surround sound delivery in order to faithfully recreate the movement of every single sound object. The screen can be fully unrolled or only partially to display music playback apps, menus, a weather forecast, or any other app which does not require the entirety of the screen. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant may be used to control various functions of the TV. LG OLED Signature R TVs are also compatible with AirPlay 2 technology and are set for a 2019 release.
Next to the rollable TVs, LG also presented the LG Cinebeam Laser 4K HU85, a brand new ultra short throw UHD 4K video projector. Placed only 5cm away from a wall or a projection screen, this projector delivers a picture measuring 2.28m in diagonal. At a distance of 20 cm, the picture goes up to 3 meters and can easily replace a TV. The LG Cinebeam Laser 4K HU85 is fitted with two speakers and runs LG’s proprietary WebOS which grants access to Youtube, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix. The LG Cinebeam 4K HU85 is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands and to allow the user to vocally control compatible smart devices.
In addition to rollable TVs and their new video projector, LG also took advantage of this year’s CES to unveil the 88” Z9 OLED screen and 75” SM99 LCD TV. These OLED and LCD TVs are fitted with an 8K UHD screen (7680 x 4320 pixels) clearly designed to rival Samsung’s 8K TVs. Since 8K sources are still scarce, these two models use a powerful image processor to ensure 8K upscaling from 4K sources.
LG is not the only manufacturer to have developed an interest for 8K restitution as Sony also introduced the ZG9, the brand’s 8K UHD HDR LCD Full LED screen. Available in an 85” (216cm) version and an 98” (250cm) version, it runs Android TV and benefits from Sony’s latest technologies, notably a new 8K upscaling algorithm, a calibration mode entirely dedicated to Netflix, and an IMAX Enhanced mode.
Samsung, who dominated the end of 2018 with its 8K QLED TVs, namely the Samsung QE65Q900R, Samsung QE75Q900R and 163cm to 214cm Samsung QE85Q900R, had to make a move to face this new competition. The Korean manufacturer proved once more its ability to go above and beyond by designing an 8K QLED TV measuring 2.5m in diagonal. Although Sony also presented an 8K TV of a similar size, QLED technology stands head and shoulders above LCD displays, and Samsung might very well keep its leading position in the large TV screen category.
The Korean manufacturer also displayed its range of Samsung The Frame lifestyle TVs. The TVs were mounted on a wall and displayed different artwork in order to perfectly blend in with the paintings and frames hung on the wall.
Hi-Fi speakers and wireless speakers
SVS Sound brought exciting and immersive sound restitution to this year’s CES with its new subwoofer from the 3000 series and a powerful demonstration of IMAX Enhanced technology with four SVS SB16-Ultra subwoofers for deep and energetic bass.
Klipsch, the emblematic American brand, took advantage of CES 2019 to introduce two elegant portable speakers, the Klipsch Heritage Groove and Klipsch The Mini. Directly related to the Klipsch The One and Klipsch The Three speakers, these two new speakers boast an identical design, but are much more compact for easier transportation.
Nevertheless, the Klipsch The One and Klipsch The Three haven’t been forgotten and the American manufacturer has announced a revamped version of both these models with a few updates and a slight change of color. A smart version of the Klipsch The One featuring Google’s voice assistant was also presented, joining The Three With Google Assistant in the range of Klipsch smart speakers.
The range of Klipsch connected hi-fi speakers was updated with the arrival of the Klipsch The Fours, a more compact version of the current Klipsch The Sixes. This active speaker is an all-in-one solution fitted with an RCA input with phono preamp to connect a turntable, a digital optical input, a TV via the HDMI ARC input, a USB Type B port for a computer, and even a subwoofer.
Headphones and earbuds
Wireless speakers were not the only new products introduced by Klipsch, as the brand also presented its new range of in-ear headphones named Klipsch T5. Four different models are currently available, including a true wireless version which proudly adopts the brand’s iconic vintage esthetic. The wireless transmission is carried out via Bluetooth 5.0 and a maximum battery life of 24 hours has been announced. The earbuds come with a charging case which resembles a Zippo lighter. As for the sound restitution, the brand has announced that we can expect the legendary, detailed and dynamic Klipsch sound.
Other types of in-ear headphones have also been announced, including a pair of Bluetooth headphones, neckband headphones, and a pair of wired earbuds presented as a perfect solution for workouts.
The Danish manufacturer Jabra has announced a new model of Bluetooth headphones which will be the successor to the emblematic Move Wireless, the Move Style Edition. These new headphones are almost completely identical to their predecessor and have the same sound signature. The only difference is that the battery life has been increased to 14 hours while the Move Wireless’ previous version only offered 8 hours.
In addition to the Move Style Edition, Jabra announced the release of the Elite 85H. These smart headphones are fitted with eight microphones in order to analyze the surrounding acoustic conditions and sounds in real time and adapt the sound restitution based on outside elements. This function is actually quite similar to the technology implemented by Sony with their WH-1000XM3. In addition, the microphones of the Elite 85H allow the user to make phone calls and to use voice commands such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Other features include two 40mm transducers, a protection against dust and rain, and a battery life of 32 hours.
While the turntable seemed destined to fade away in the late 80s, it has enjoyed a considerable resurgence in popularity over the last few years. Far from the bulky and cumbersome models from the early days, modern turntables are elegant products equipped with some of the latest technologies from the world of hi-fi, so much so that many models were on display at CES 2019.
One of the new turntables presented at CES 2019 was Sony’s PS-LX310BT, a fully automatic model fitted with a Bluetooth transmitter in order to let you listen to music on wireless speakers or with Bluetooth headphones. It also features a phono preamplifier and USB output to digitize vinyl records and listen to them on a portable device such as a smartphone, a tablet, or a DAP. Nevertheless, the sound quality of the exports isn’t quite as good as the Sony PS-HX500 turntable, which is fitted with a digital-to-analog converter compatible with DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz audio streams, as well as WAV files up to 24-bit / 192kHz.
More than 11 years after the release of the latest model in the series, Technics finally announced that an heir to the SL-1200 DJ turntable was set for release. The new Technics SL-1200 MK7 uses a coreless direct drive motor that gives the turntable more rotation accuracy and power. The platter features a rotation inversion function, which is essential for DJing and mixing, and is made of aluminum and rubber to ensure a minimum of vibrations.
In addition to the SL-1200 MK7, Technics introduced the SL-1500C, which is a model designed to take over the SL-1200G and SL-12GR and ensure audiophile grade hi-fi listening. This new semi-automatic turntable shares its main specs with the SL-1200 MK7 but leaves out all the elements specific to mixing, such as pitch shifting, the stylus illuminator, and the rotation speed control fader on the side. A few changes have also been carried out to ensure that the SL-1500C is perfectly suitable for hi-fi listening, such as the addition of an Ortofon 2M Red phono cartridge and a high quality RIAA phono preamp for example.
TVs, wireless speakers, subwoofers, headphones… novelties and technological innovations pertaining to the world of hi-fi, video, and home theater were plentiful at CES 2019. You can also discover many other new products by following and browsing Son-Vidéo’s Instagram account.