Gird your senses and wallet, because your home cinema is about to get a serious transformation.
The tech world's annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – staged in America's home of all things conspicuous, Las Vegas – is the top place for tech companies to show off their latest and greatest technological marvels.
As usual, this year a range of exciting home entertainment devices were announced, with TVs and soundbars hitting quite the sweet spot. If you've been waiting for the right time to revamp your home cinema, this is your moment.
More than meets the eye
A growing trend in tech is the increasing amount of equipment and devices that either don't resemble a conventional device – like a foldable smartphone - or transform between one use and another. The televisions at CES this year were a prime example.
Debuting a consumer device based on last year's concept announcement, say hello to the roll-out OLED TV. You read that correctly; the rolls out from its base and sports a screen every bit as glorious as a boring, old non-rolling TV. Chances are it will earn a nickname as the 'Gladwrap TV'.
Samsung is another company finding novel ways to get more out of your appliances, with a new modular UHD TV large enough to function as a wall.
Comprised of MicroLED screens, this year's demo version of consumer The Wall measured 219 inches, but is configurable to any size the consumer wants. Need a TV to fill the wall in your grotto? Problem solved!
Bigger than life
Speaking of TVs that will leave you speechless, this year the ultra-high definition consumer TVs that many companies actually announced last year were out in force. To be sure, 2019 will be there year we can't escape 8K TV.
What is 8K TV? Glad you asked. Simply, 8K UHD (ultra high definition) is the highest resolution available in television and cinema; be it a Hollywood cinema camera or a computer monitor. 8K equipment and media has four times the resolution as 4K, which compares in the same fashion to standard HD.
When we talk resolution, we're basically talking about the amount of information in an image. More information means more detail, a sharper picture, more colour and so on.
With ultra high definition TV also comes features like: high-speed frame rate, perfect for action, sports and gaming; and High-dynamic-range imaging, which displays video with greater depth in shadows and highlights.
Wired(less) for sound
No home cinema system is complete without immersive sound. Once strictly the domain of the super wealthy or the most dedicated cinephile, a surround sound is the ultimate, nay, only way to experience all the sound effects, music and aural atmosphere of your favourite films and TV.
But – and that's a big but – until now, enjoying surround sound involved setting up five, seven or more speakers and running cables back to a (usually) large surround sound received. "What I need, ulcers?!" We hear you. Lucky for you, a superlative audio experience can now be found in a single piece of equipment: a soundbar.
Cementing the company's growing presence in the Australian market, Hicense announced two soundbars to complement its new range of Ultra HD Laser TVs; with one model featuring 11 built-in speakers.
Hook it to my ears
This new soundbar actually offers a 5.1.2 surround sound experience, which means you get a five-speaker system – two each front and middle, left and right speakers plus one centre – and a subwoofer, with overhead sound simulated by the upward firing speakers. Some soundbar systems even include wireless rear speakers, which push this immersion to 7.1.2 sound.
To get surround sound, every component in your entertainment system must be Dolby Atmos or DTS:X compatible. This includes the cables you're using to connect each device to the next.
Not to be outdone, Vizio also showcased a soundbar concept with cylindrical side speakers that actually rotate, directing regular audio out at the listener or up to the ceiling to create immersive surround sound.
If the idea takes off, we may see other companies produce equipment that responds to different audio in various ways.
If you'd like to give your home cinema an overhaul, check out the gallery above to for a little inspiration.