CES 2007 Best Buzz Awards

CES 2007 Best Buzz Awards from Insight Media

CES 2007 Best Buzz Awards

The Best Buzz awards are given by Insight Media at CES, and other trade shows each year. You can't petition to win - you win by showing a product or technology that gets people talking - that creates buzz because of it uniqueness, innovation, styling, boldness or is just plain cool. Here is what we heard being talked about the most at CES.

Best Illumination Technology
This year's Best Buzz at CES for Illumination goes to Luxim for its LiFi (LightFidelity) lamp - an electrodeless arc lamp that is driven with an RF source. After years of development, it was unveiled in a new rear -projection TV set under the Panasonic brand with new 1080p 3LCD panels from Epson. We think this is the best looking 3LCD rear -projection set we have seen to date - topping even some LCOS sets.

The Luxim lamp will vie to replace the UHP lamp and even solid -state sources going forward. Significantly, Panasonic will use the lamp across its full MDTV lineup going forward.

Why is it so good? Three reasons: 1) a broad spectrum that is more like Xenon than UHP; 2) a 20K hour lifetime to half brightness (it may even be longer once more data is gathered); and 3) a 10 second warm -up time.

This lamp should change the dynamics of the MDTV industry, as every other brand will be asking, 'Where is my long -lived lamp?' Removing the lamp lifetime as an issue on the sales floor is a big plus too. Thin MDTVs are already on the roadmaps for 2007, so the last remaining hurdle to offer performance parity or even exceed flat panel displays, are wider -angle screens.

Best New Projector Category
We don't even have a name for the new class of projector that could be in the market this year, so let's call it the family/gaming projector as this is the main audience and application the product is aimed at. Why is this important? Because these are low cost projectors targeted for applications and uses that are far removed from the users of more conventional projector products. And, more importantly, they offer the potential to sell millions of units. Have we got your attention now?

It is hard to single out any one company here as many contributed to demonstrating several new projection concepts at CES. One innovation comes from Philips, which is offering it lower -cost 50W Ujoy lamp. Texas Instruments will supply DLP chips and helped to sponsor a design contest that resulted in the concepts shown at CES. Sypro/Jabil did the actual prototype development to create working models. Therefore, we need to recognize all three.

As shown in the photo (flower and ball concept), these are very innovative designs that should attract interest of consumers. Some products may even use very inexpensive halogen lamps to reach low consumer pricing and lamp replacement costs. Sypro/Jabil even showed how it can integrate a tiny projection engine inside an Xbox. Get the picture?

Kudos to the Sypro team, and TI and Philips for sponsoring these new design breakthroughs.

Best 3D Display
LG Electronics takes the top award for best buzz in the 3D category at CES. The company showed 25 -view autostereoscopic display in their booth -presumably a 42 -inch, Full HD LCD panel targeting the digital signage market. It will be available in the 2nd half of this year.

The device is significant in that is offers 25 separate images each visible in slightly different directions. 25 views give the largest number of sweet spots over a 3 -meter range. This enables the display of 3D content to a large number of people.

Content still needs to be carefully created for multi -view autostereoscopic displays as the native resolution of the display is decreased to create the multiple views. But if done well, we think this type of display is ready to fly - and may even be flying content into your lap on your next trip to the mall.

Best OLED Display
Our Best Buzz winner in the OLED category was the Sony prototype 27 -inch OLED TV of the future. We found it to be one of the show's top crowd pleasers, with a literal horde of people getting a first -hand look. The display was in the massive Sony booth but sectioned off in a pen where you could look -but not touch.

These OLED TVs boasted a stunning 1 million -to -one contrast ratio. Also on display were a number of 11' models. The 27' is probably the biggest OLED panel to date with resolution of 1920 x 1080 while the 11' panel is 1024 x 600 (WSVGA). Both feature wide viewing angles and excellent color gamut (>100% NTSC) and beyond display quality, the units are super thin.

Don't get too excited, however. Commercialization is at least two years away and Sony and others need to be careful not to cannibalize their other investments in other TV technologies before they can re -coop some money. Nevertheless, we have seen the future and the future is....?

Best LCD Display
Sony generated a lot of buzz with their new 70 -inch LCD -TV that features the new x.v.YCC color space (branded x.v.Color by Sony) and an LED backlight unit. This set, along with an 82 -inch prototype, were both shown at CES in the Sony booth

The 70 -inch model starts selling this month for $33K with top of the line features like 10 -bit processing and 120Hz frame rates along with eye popping colors.

But besides the cutting edge technology, what put Sony over the top to get the Best Buzz award was their new emphasis on the new x.v.YCC color space standard (shorthand for Extended YCC Colorimetry for Video Applications). Co -developed with Mitsubishi, the standard purportedly covers the entire gamut of the human visible spectrum. Everything your eye can see in the natural world is covered in this color space.

And, Sony launched new camcorders to begin to acquire content in the new color space as well. This is the beginning of an exciting new phase in the TV industry. Let's go!

Best PDP Display
Pioneer, always a leader in high -quality PDPs, upped the ante at CES by embracing a new high -end strategy that includes accelerating the delivery of their next generation plasma technology.

The company claimed 'immeasurable contrast' from their new panels, which we presume means it is better than the 100K:1 and even 1M:1 ratings from the likes of Samsung and Sharp LCD's.

All specs aside, the company did deliver one impressive image that looked just as good in high ambient light as in the preferred low light viewing environs. Better high ambient viewing has been a key selling point for LCDs over PDPs, so addressing this will put some more wind back into the PDP sails (and sales).

At the CES show, the company had a side -by -side demo comparing its newest technology in different ambient settings. The image was impressive and colors popped from the emissive plasma display. In bright ambient, the image did show a marked improvement over the outstanding Elite PDP display, what some analysts already call the benchmark in the industry.

Pioneer expects the newly designed plasma display to arrive on the US market this summer but don't expect them to be cheap.

Mine is Bigger than Yours...
Sharp used CES to make its claim on the 'world's largest' flat panel display and for the first time, it's not PDP.

Like most previous super -large panels, this is probably more about Sharp putting a stake in the ground than creating a product for mass consumption, but to the LCD panel makers they are clearly saying we have arrived and no size is beyond our technology capabilities.

The company did say they will sell the product in the digital signage market, once they find a supplier for the front films that can be made in one massive single sheet.

MicroDisplay Corporation gains a CES Best Buzz award this year by offering what we believe to be the best single -chip LCOS powered set available today (it's also the only one). Not only is the 1080p performance up to snuff, but with one instead of three panels, it should offer a lower cost solution.

The company will manufacture the sets for its first OEM brands: Memorex and Akai. A 56 -inch model will be the first to market, with 52 - and 62 -inch models expected to follow.

The company dubs their single -panel solution Liquid Fidelity. It's less expensive to manufacture and align because of the single chip and it borrows heavily on components already established to support single -chip DLP production. But the approach also requires an LCOS panel fast enough to support smooth operation. MicroDisplay Corporation is the first company to mass -produce LCOS devices with the fast response times necessary for use in a single -chip design - albeit with a scrolling color wheel approach.

Best Laser Demo
We saw a lot of laser projection demos at CES, but we have to give the Best Buzz award to Novalux for the impressive array of demos they lined up in their suite at Ceasar's Palace. On display was a full line up of products all powered by the company's NECSEL laser technology.

On display were tiny handheld projectors for use as accessories for phones, PDAs and iPods. An LED -based pocket projector was retrofitted with laser to show much high light output. Rear -projection TV sets were also retrofitted to exhibit the very wide color gamut possible with lasers, while an InFocus 777 3 -chip DLP projector was modified to pump laser light via fiber optics and illuminate a 12 -foot screen.

Not only is the company delivering on promised improvements in its NECSEL laser, but it has now signed up three top tier manufacturing partners to make laser modules and engines for a variety of customers. With this kind of application flexibility, there just may be a laser projector in your future.

Best DTV Standard Advancement
Samsung's newly -proposed ATSC transmission mode got the Best Buzz Award for digital TV standard this year. The company demonstrated the reception of DTV images in moving vehicles at any legal speed. A -VSB will enable both portable and mobile digital TV reception directly from local TV stations.

Riding in a specially equipped invitation -only demonstrator bus, a live over -the -air DTV demonstration showed rock -solid pictures even when we hit Las Vegas highway speeds. The technology, developed by Samsung and Rohde & Schwarz, is building on the current ATSC transmission standard, to enhance DTV receivers' ability to receive the main TV transport stream in dynamic environments.

The demo confirms what Samsung research and field tests have shown - that A -VSB turbo streams are receivable even when the receiver is moving rapidly in a typical urban environment. The ATSC standard could be released as early as this summer.

Best HD Player
At CES, LG Electronics unveiled a groundbreaking dual format HD laser player, the LG BH100. It will be the first player on the market with the capability to play both next -generation disc formats, Blu -ray and HD -DVD discs. The player was announced along with a dual format disc drive (the GGW -H10N) that offers even more functionality for PCs and laptops.

The Super Multi Blue 50GB drive is compatible with Blu -ray Disc, DVD, CD read/write and HD -DVD -ROM (read). LG calls it 'the most universal unit available.'

What LG hopes to achieve from the launch is consumer momentum lost when the industry introduced the confusing dual format message. By launching a Blu -ray player with HD -DVD read capabilities LG has gone a long way in mitigating consumer concerns of being stuck with a format that is DOA.

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