1. Sharp Elite PRO-Z5FD Series LCD TVs
Based on the opportunity I had to get an extensive look at the Sharp Elite Series during the 2011 CEDIA Expo, the product has definitely succeeded on several fronts. First off, the new Sharp Elite has the most impressive black levels I have seen on any LCD up to this point, and easily rivals most Plasma TVs I have seen, which traditionally out-pace LCD in this area.
Next is color rendition. The new Sharp Elite incorporates Sharp's Quattron 4-color technology (although the Quattron moniker is not used), where it really provides extra brilliance, especially with bright objects. Add 3D, internet streaming, and stylish design, this TV is a real head-turner. For more details, check out my previous report.
However, the price to obtain this performance in an LCD TV definitely requires some extra cash. The 60-inch PRO-60X5FD has a suggested price of 5,999.99, while the 70-inch PRO-70X5FD has a suggested price of $8,499.99. The sets are available via authorized dealers. Sharp Elite Product Page
2. OPPO Digital BDP-93 3D/Network Blu-ray Player
The OPPO Digital BDP-93 is a 3D/Network Blu-ray Player that features 2D/3D Blu-ray Disc playback, SACD/DVD-Audio Disc playback, and compatibility with a host of other formats. The BDP-93 also features a Marvell QDEO Kyoti-G2 88DE2750 upscaling chip which provides excellent quality DVD playback. In addition, the BDP93 features NetStreaming from services such as Netflix and Blockbuster and can also access content from connected USB Flash, eSATA drives, or from a network-connected PC.
One important feature that is also included is Dual HDMI outputs. This enables the connection of one HDMI output directly to a 3D-TV, while the second HDMI output can connect to another 2D or 3D compatible display or to supply a separate audio signal to a non-3D compatible HDMI-equipped home theater receiver. To find out more, check out my Review, Photo Profile and Video Performance Test Results.
3. Panasonic TC-P50GT30 3D/Network Plasma TV
In addition, this set incorporates network media player capabilities, which allows direct access to both PC-based and online streaming audio/video content via wired or wireless internet connection. With the addition of a compatible accessory webcam, you can even make Skype video phone calls.
Getting back to the basics, the TC-P50GT30 has a 1920x1080 (1080p) native pixel resolution, 600Hz Sub Field Drive, 4 HDMI inputs, and a two side mounted USB ports for accessing audio, video, and still image files stored on flash drives. For more details, check out my Review, Photo Profile, and a sampling of Video Performance Tests.
4. LG 55LW9800 Passive Glasses THX-Certified 3D LCD TV
Debuting at this past 2011 CEDIA EXPO, the 55-inch LG 55LW9800 is a THX-certified 3D LCD TV that uses passive 3D glasses. Incorporating LG's FPR 3D system, full array LED backlighting, and 480Hz screen refresh rate, the 55LW9800 provides excellent image quality for 3D, considering the use of passive glasses. LG is definitely to be commended for providing another option for consumers to enjoy 3D, but there is a trade-off.
On the positive side, the glasses are more comfortable, less expensive, require no power, and the TV come four pairs of 3D glasses, rather than requiring an optional purchase (although you can buy more). In fact, you can use the same RealD glasses that are used in many 3D-equipped movie theaters.
However, there is a loss of video resolution when switching from 2D to 3D (although this is an issue that is being hotly debated between the active and passive proponents), as well as visible horizontal lines and some jaggie artifacts that may be noticeable if you sit too close.
On the other hand, in addition to 3D, the LG 55LW9800 also incorporates Smart TV functions, with the ability to access a variety of network and internet-based content, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and MOG.
Read My Previous Report - Official Product Page
5. KEF T205 Home Theater Speaker System
The T205 combines extremely flat and slim main and surround speakers with a slim profile compact subwoofer. The speakers in the T205 system can be either table or wall mounted, and are a great match for wall mounted LCD and Plasma TVs.
Review - Photo Profile - Compare Prices
6. Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 Speaker System
The main problem with wireless speakers up to this point is that they are confined mostly to either low-powered AC or battery-operated speakers for portable use, or in modest home-theater-in-a-box systems that are really not suitable for a higher-end home theater environment.
To meet this challenge, Aperion Audio and Summit Wireless have teamed up on both a 5.1 and 7.1 channel wireless speaker system that meets the needs for full home theater application. For all the details, read my overview of the new Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 Speaker System.
Note: As of 2013, this product has been discontinued.
7. Optoma HD33 3D DLP Video Projector
I saw several great video projectors throughout 2011, and have chosen the Optoma HD33 as my choice for the annual best-of-the-year list. For its modest $1,500 suggested price - this projector really delivers.
The HD33 provides 2D and 3D viewing utilizing DLP technology, supported by 1920x1080 (1080p) native pixel resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and up to 1,800 lumen output capability. The HD33 also provides an easy-to-use plug-in RF 3D synch transmitter (each pair of 3D glasses requires a separate purchase). 2D and 3D image quality is great, especially when projected on a large screen.
However, even if you aren't a fan of 3D, or you want to wait before investing in the glasses, the HD33 projects great 2D images as well. Whether jumping into video projection for the first time, or replacing and older projector, consider the Optoma HD33.
Review - Photo Profile - Video Performance Test Results - Compare Prices.
8. Anthem MRX700 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver
On the higher-end of the home theater receiver spectrum, the best overall unit I had the chance to check out this year was the Anthem MRX700.
The Anthem MRX700 Home Theater Receiver everything you need in a high-end dedicated home theater receiver, starting with sturdy build-quality, beefy power supply, and a well-laid out connection panel. However, even if you are a novice, the MRX700 is as easy to setup and operate as many lesser-expensive units.
The MRX700 offers 7 channels of amplification that deliver real power that doesn't depend on inflated ratings to get your attention as well as excellent audio and video processing performance for your home theater setup. With HDMI 3D pass-through, analog to HDMI video conversion and 1080p upscaling, Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, Internet Radio, iPod connectivity, and Anthem's own room correction and speaker setup system, the MRX700 is definitely worth consideration. To find out if the Anthem MRX700 is the right Home Theater Receiver for you, read my Review, and also check out my supplementary Photo Profile and Video Performance Tests.
9. Onkyo TX-NR709 Home Theater Receiver
10. Western Digital WD TV Live Streaming Media Player
The WD TV Live provides access to audio, video, and still image files from your home network. The WD TV Live features convenient WiFi connectivity that allows it to stream content from HuluPlus, Netflix, Spotify, Blockbuster On Demand, CinemaNow, and Pandora, as well as being able to access digital media content stored on PCs and media servers, for viewing on your TV or listening on your home theater system. In addition, the WD TV Live also provides 1080p video output resolution via HDMI connection. To find out if the WD TV Live would make a good addition to your home entertainment setup, read my Review and supplementary Photo Profile.
11. ThinkFlood RedEye Remote Control System
The system works with an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPod or Android phone in combination with with a downloadable iPhone app or Android App. The app is free with the purchase of either a RedEye or RedEye mini.
After the downloadable app is installed on either an iPhone or Android phone, the phones send remote control signals either via WiFi to the RedEye station, or via direct plug-in to the RedEye mini. The RedEye station and Mini then send standard IR signals to the devices that are to be controlled. The app enables control of devices individually or as group using an "activity" function (such as turning on your TV and home theater receiver when you want to play a Blu-ray Disc). Also included in the app is access to a real-time online program guide. To support the Red Eye system, an extensive online database provides remote control codes for thousands of devices. The RedEye staton also doubles as a charger/AC adapter for your phone.
If you have an iPhone or Android phone, this is definitely an app and remote control system to check out.
NOTE: As of 2013, ThinkFlood is no longer in business. More information can be accessed on their Website.
12. Ben-Hur: 50th Anniversary Limited Edition - Blu-ray Disc
Warner Brothers has done an excellent job of both transferring this film to Blu-ray and packaging it with a excellent collection of supplements. Due to its long 226 minute running time, the film is spread across two Blu-ray Disc and is presented in its original 2.76:1 aspect ratio, which means you will see black bars on the top and bottom of the image. However, it is important that the film is viewed in its wide aspect ratio get the full impact of the epic scope of this film.