CES 2007: Philips goes ambi-extreme

Posted by Mark Raby

Las Vegas (NV) - Philips held its CES press conference today, and - not surprisingly - the company focused on its "ambient" technology. The first move to this technology was its flat-panel Ambilight TV sets. Philips, however, wants to take this even further with full surround sound and gaming experiences using ambient technology.

In November, Philips announced that it had shipped its one millionth Ambilight TV, a brand of high-definition television sets that exude faint lights out the side of the TV to match in with the colors currently on the screen. The devices already stood out the 2006 CES, but in 2007, every new Ambilight model with a size of 42" and above will run at full 1080p HD resolution. Philips will also be releasing new sizes of Ambilight TVs, including a smaller 37" model and a new top-of-the-line 52" LCD.

Because of the success of the Ambilight brand, Philips also introduced Ambisound, a sleek, slim home theater speaker system that is comprised of six satellite speakers and a subwoofer. The company demoed the system during the press conference, by playing a clip from the Blu-ray disc of Fantastic 4, and, we have to admit, it was very impressive.

Philips' huge Ambilight TV

However, what struck us most was the next demo, a full-room presentation of home theater speakers and shifting colored overhead lights, which were all in sync with a video game demo on a giant Ambilight TV. This was an exaggerated example of what is in store for the future of Philips' ambient technology, including the AmBX gaming surround sound system, which has a subwoofer and a pair of speakers that have embedded lights, which can be programmed into the game's code to flash lights of up 16 million different colors in sync with the action in the game. It can also dynamically respond to any game not specifically programmed for AmBX. Philips says this product will be hitting the U.S. "soon".

Philips AmBX demo unit

Aside from abient products, Philips also briefly mentioned wireless HDMI, a potentially huge development for HD in the near future. Philips's wireless HDMI sends an over-the-air, uncompressed 1080p signal without a corded connection, and connects to an ultra high-band frequency so it is not interrupted by other signals like radios, cell phones, etc. Philips also touted the Blu-ray Disc, the format it has pledged support to over HD DVD, and announced that a branded 50 GB rewritable Blu-ray disc is also in the pipeline.