Digital Entertainment Group Awards – The DEG honored the best of the industry at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, which opened today. The DEG award for Best Physical Media Product went to the Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D Blu-ray Player, the award for Best Digital Media Product went to the Pioneer Elite Music Tap System, and the award for Most Innovative Home Entertainment Product was garnered by the Sony VPL-1000ES Projector. Three honors for Creative Excellence in Blu-ray discs were made. The Theatrical Title of the Year was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Two Classic Titles of the Year tied: Ben Hur: Ultimate Collector’s Edition, and Star Wars: The Complete Saga. The Music Title of the Year was AC/DC: Let There Be Rock, and the 3D Title of the Year went to Rio.
Smart and 3D TVs Big at CES – Further developments on the smart TV front are in strong focus at CES, which opened today. The idea is to make it fast and simple to display movies and TV shows on your large-screen home system instead of being limited to the up to 17-inch screen of your laptop or the up to 27-inch screen of your desktop computer. Many of the new smart TVs display all the different sources for streaming or downloading a particular item, and then you can easily select and view the one you want. Samsung’s 2012 smart TVs will support control by voice and hand gestures, tracked by a built-in camera. They also have facial recognition (like iPhoto and other computer software) which can switch to different preferences based on which family member is sitting down to watch. The Samsung 2012 line has upgrade slots for plugging in faster hardware and graphics; the upgrade kits will not be available until 2013, however. The firm is also pursuing new TV content—unusual for a TV manufacturer—and is expanding automatic cloud-based sharing among its products. Toshiba showed an 84-inch 3D Super-HD TV.
Streaming 3D Service Launched – Canadian 3D glasses maker Sensio has launched a 3D Video-on-Demand (VoD) service called 3DGO!  It allows owners of 3DTVs to stream 3D content to their big screens, and includes user-friendly access to high-quality 3D titles in their “Hi-Fi 3D” format. By this spring it will offer a variety of dedicated 3D content: from blockbuster titles to documentaries. Users install an app on their connected 3DTV, which allows them access to a 3D library; no subscription fee is required. The Hi-Fi 3D format uses a “unique frame-compatible technology for high-fidelity stereoscopic signal processing.”
Depressing Outlook for Good Audio – Most of the exhibits at the CES in Las Vegas demonstrate against the interests of audiophiles in having the best possible sound, and even the proliferation of amazingly tiny screens on portable devices demonstrate against the best interests of videophiles.  (Want to watch Lawrence of Arabia on a 5-inch screen?) The ordinary consumer today is most likely to make purchases in the area of the smaller, lighter, good-looking, convenient product—or the one that has the most features. (My new multichannel preamp has so many features that its manual has as many footnotes as text!)  Home Theater in a Box speaker systems at absurdly low prices are becoming a standard, and speaker bars to fit neatly under that big flat wall display are also coming on the market from everybody.  Neither can possibly sound as good as quality separate loudspeakers—even inexpensive ones, but few consumers seem to care about that. (And the vast majority of new TV buyers use only the speakers built into the screen!)