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3D Steals Show at CEDIA Expo

23 Sep, 2010 By: Chris Tribbey

ATLANTA — While less crowded than January’s Consumer Electronics Show, the CEDIA Expo could easily have been confused for the giant electronics show after just a few minutes on the convention floor.

“3D is the big thing this year,” said Ron Epstein with the Home Theater Forum. “Everywhere you look, everyone is looking for a way into this business. There aren’t many [product] announcements, but 3D seems to be the theme.”

During the first full day of the Expo, close to a dozen new product announcements were made in the world of at-home 3D entertainment, from projectors to Blu-ray Disc players.

Pioneer showed off three new 3D Blu-ray players — the company’s first — that will hit the market later this year, as well as iPhone certified receivers, iPhone and iPad docking stations and more. The Blu-ray players will include applications for Netflix, Pandora and YouTube. Pioneer has not yet released pricing for the players.

“We want to play nice with every type of content, high-def, low-res, 2D, 3D,” said Eric Smith, national trainer for Pioneer’s home electronics department. “I think we all know content is king, and 3D is a lot of fun once you have it.”

Samsung showcased its line-up of 3DTVs and 3D Blu-ray players, and also touted the 80-plus applications available on its connected HDTVs. With Google TV set to come out later this year — marrying a Sony HDTV with a full Internet browser — Dan Schinasi, senior marketing manager for Samsung’s HDTV product planning group, said it will be interesting to see how that device works.

“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but every one of our applications is tested before it’s made available, to make sure it works,” he said. “It’s not the wild, wild west.”

As for 3D, Samsung showed off its ultra-slim LED back-lit 9000 HDTV that can render 2D into 3D in real time, and includes Hulu Plus, Netflix, Facebook, Google Maps and more. There’s also the HT-C9950W home theater system with 3D Blu-ray player, iPod/iPhone dock and 7.1 surround sound system.

Samsung’s UN65C8000 is purported to be the largest full HD LED back-lit 3DTV out now, at 65 inches, and the plasma 8000 series offers not only 3D, but also four HDMI ports and a Touch of Color brushed titanium bezel design. The portable BD-C8000 Blu-ray player is capable of 3D playback when connected to a 3DTV.

Yet with all these 3D devices, Schinasi was quick to point out that more 3D content, especially on Blu-ray, will be made available by the studios, beyond the bundled titles, like DreamWorks Animation 3D Blu-rays and Samsung.

“Somebody’s got to be first, and there’s no question Hollywood is committed,” he said about bundled 3D Blu-ray vs. standalone titles at retail. “We’re committed to bringing 3D into the home, and the bundles are limited. The bundles give consumers content and gets them started on the road to 3D in the home.” He added that 3D sports, like that from ESPN 3D, are also a big driver for 3D in the home.

However, some at CEDIA Expo said the relative lack of content was a black eye for 3D in the home.

“We think there’s a huge, pent-up demand for Blu-ray movie servers, as more people get into high-def,” said Linus Wong, director of product marketing for movie server company Kaleidescape. “[But] this 3D format is so new, and there doesn’t seem to be as much traction as when Blu-ray itself launched. If the market calls for it, we’ll deliver support for it.”

From JVC USA there were six new 3D-enabled projectors unveiled, several with 100,000:1 native contrast ratios and all packaged with two pairs of glasses. Available in late November, the projectors range from $4,495 to $11,995.

“3D has recently become a major box office draw,” said Gary Klasmeier, product engineering manager for JVC Professional Products. “Now, with 3D broadcast channels emerging, and a growing number of 3D Blu-ray titles available, consumers want the immersive 3D experience in their homes.
“JVC’s contrast ratio numbers are not artificially inflated by electronic circuitry or a dynamic iris, so every frame consistently and faithfully reproduces peak whites and deep blacks,” he said.

Sharp Electronics not only unveiled new 3DTVs, 3D Blu-ray players and 3D projectors, but also used CEDIA to announce a partnership with Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Illumination Entertainment to promote 3DTVs.

The marketing campaign bundles a 3D Blu-ray of Despicable Me with the purchase of a Sharp Aquos Blu-ray player and has actor George Takei and the “minions” from Despicable Me together in a new ad campaign. Streeting Dec. 14, the Despicable Me 3D Blu-ray will also be available widely at retail.

“We’re thrilled to pair the box office-blockbuster Despicable Me with the introduction of Sharp’s groundbreaking 3D Quattron TV,” said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “3D Blu-ray has completely redefined the home viewing experience, representing the most superior technology available in home entertainment today. This promotion combines this breakthrough medium with one of the most creatively brilliant films of the year. We’re extremely pleased that purchasers of the Aquos LE925 will have an opportunity to enjoy Despicable Me in the richest and most vibrant home theater offering this holiday season.”

At CEDIA Sharp showed off its new Aquas Quattron 3D LED LCD TVs (paired with two sets of 3D glasses), the company’s first 3D HD DLP home theater projector, and two new, networked 3D Blu-ray players, the BD-HP9OU ($499) and the BD-HP80U ($429).

“These Blu-ray Disc players offer top-of-the-line performance and operation features that enable consumers to take full advantage of the 3DTV standard as well as the many diverse entertainment options available to them,” said Bruce Tripido, associate VP for Sharp’s Entertainment Products Division.

Sony Electronics unveiled its first 3D front projector, the VPL-VW90ES ($10,000, November).

“Sony understands the 3D ecosystem better than any manufacturer so dealers and installers can count on Sony products to deliver the best possible 3D experience,” said Brian Siegel, VP of Sony’s home audio and video business.

Luxury display company Runco said its new line of 3D projectors can deliver a high-def picture using passive glasses, as opposed to the active-shutter shades used by consumer electronics companies today.

“The 3D-at-home revolution is an exciting development for display companies and for 3D enthusiasts,” said Runco marketing VP Jennifer Davis. “Runco approached 3D from both a physiological and technological perspective and the result is better than any 3D TV or 3D projection experience being sold today. Runco’s 3Dimension solution produces an incomparable 3D experience in the home and private cinemas that surpasses the public-theater experience."

The Runco D-73d projector comes this fourth quarter with a price tag of $49,995.

Also in eyewear news, 3D glasses company Xpand unveiled its universal 3D glasses solution, allowing owners of most any 3DTV to use the same style of glasses.

In non-3D news, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment was the lone studio to set up its own booth, promoting its World of Wonder WOW DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, which help both amateur and expert home video enthusiasts make the most of their home theater systems.

“We’ve had just a lot of interest,” said Louise Garvie, director of digital distribution for Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. “A lot of people want to know if they can have it today!” The DVDs and Blu-rays go on sale in November.

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