By Jeff Berman
Dolby is using this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to highlight the growing support for its Dolby Atmos immersive sound technology and Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range (HDR) format, as well as spotlight the Dolby Dimension wireless headphones it introduced in the fall.
“The headline here is that Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision – Dolby’s latest imaging and audio solutions — enable the best experiences possible, and Dolby is everywhere: from the largest screened movie-going experience down to mobile phones and everything in between: televisions, computers, home theater equipment [and] gaming products,” Kevin Brennan, director of product at Dolby, told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) at the show.
“And what we’re showing here is the breadth of support for these latest solutions,” he said, adding: “These are the world’s best imaging and audio solutions and very premium experiences, but [they’re] now available at mainstream price points” and across multiple product categories.
To underscore the wide variety of products supporting Dolby’s solutions, he made note of a premium LG OLED TV supporting them, in addition to a TCL LED-backlit LCD TV that sells for about $500 and a Vizio soundbar that were on display at Dolby’s booth at the Pepcom product showcase held during CES Jan. 7.
Brennan also pointed to the latest announcements by Dolby partners at CES that served to further expand the number of products supporting Atmos and Dolby Vision.
For example, Sony announced that it was adding Atmos to its 4K Ultra High-Definition (UHD) TVs featuring Dolby Vision, he noted.
Panasonic and Dolby also hosted a media event at CES Jan. 8 in which the Japanese electronics manufacturer said its new flagship OLED 4K TV, the GZ2000, features Dolby Vision imaging technology, along with built-in height speakers capable of delivering Atmos.
Panasonic is touting that TV, which comes in 55- and 65-inch SKUs, as “the world’s first OLED TV to support both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR as well as HLG Photo, the new still image format which brings still photography into the HDR world.” The GZ2000 is also “the world’s first TV with built-in upward-firing speakers capable of delivering Dolby Atmos immersive audio with total ease and convenience,” and also features Amazon Alexa and Google Home support and is compatible with Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), an HDR format expected to be widely adopted by TV broadcasters, Panasonic said.
Panasonic TVs, however, aren’t being sold to consumers in the U.S. currently, although the company will be selling its TVs as client reference monitors to post production houses within the U.S., it said.
Lenovo, meanwhile, announced at CES that its new Yoga A940 all-in-one Windows 10 desktop PC features a Dolby Atmos speaker system and a large 27-inch optional 4K wide angle touchscreen display with Dolby Vision.
The PC, which starts at a whopping $2,349.99, also boasts Lenovo Smart Assist artificial intelligence-enabled features.
This is also the first CES in which the Dolby Dimension headphones are being shown. The company started selling them direct to consumers in November and select b8ta stores started carrying them shortly after that.
The headphones feature Dolby LifeMix, a “proprietary new technology central to the Dolby Dimension experience,” the company said while announcing them. The technology “allows consumers to control how much they hear of their surroundings — from a perfect blend of their entertainment and life around them (Transparency) to shutting out the world (Active Noise Cancellation),” it said at the time.
Distribution of the headphones just expanded to Amazon, Adam Koniak, director of product management at Dolby, told MESA at the show. “We’re very pleased with it,” he said, when asked how they’ve been selling overall so far.
“A big part for us is making sure people kind of connect with the positioning and to see if really people are responding well to the use case,” he said, explaining: “It’s really focused on folks who have a system at home and can’t turn it up” as they would like, when they like, for reasons that could include they have kids. He added: “It’s really resonating with people who can actually catch up on their content when they sometimes [before the headphones chose] just not to watch. A lot of people don’t want to watch with subtitles on … or they sit with their remote in their hand because they’ve got to constantly turn it down and that’s not really the way to get immersed.”
Although some consumers may be put off by the $599 price, he said: “It’s a premium experience right now and that’s what we’re focusing on. And really the quality of the experience was really what our focus was initially…. The fact that people want a more economical version means that there’s a market for it and we’ll build off of that.”