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Sony's Pearl

OK- Sony's Pearl is probably the worst kept secret the industry’s seen in years. And yes, I tried to remain a jaded, even cynical reporter during its introduction here at CEDIA 2006- especially since just this morning, several hours before Sony’s press event, a well-informed reader sent me some of the projector’s key specs and even the price!

So, while it seems there wouldn’t be much to inspire me to tell you that you don't already know, here is the Sony VPL-VW50 front projector!

Ok, first off, the Pearl’s honey of a form factor melted me a bit. This projector looks sweet, and it looks like it ought to cost a lot more than its $4,999 price. And as you already know, it’s a three-chip, full 1920x1080 SXRD front projector with a dynamic iris for heavy-duty blacks and contrast. This is what we knew coming in.

More of a surprise is that the projector uses a single-chip video processing solution, which is certainly a cost reducer, and that it will not only accept a native 1080p/24 signal, it will display 1080p/24 material at 96fps, which is a multiple of film’s 24fps rate. This eliminates the temporal distortions involved in performing 3/2 pulldown.

Although Toshiba’s first-gen HD DVD players output 1080i, the discs are encoded at 1080p/24 native. Ditto Blu-ray Disc, but even the first-gen BD players will output 1080p/24 native. The Pearl is made for the next-gen HD formats.

Another potential added bonus is that the Pearl uses a less expensive lamp than its SXRD predecessors. Our measurements will tell us if the bulb’s natural characteristics result in an accurate color gamut, but we know for certain that the replacement bulbs will be cheaper.

Well, the $10K Ruby bettered the $30K Qualia 004 in many key respects, including black performance and contrast. Can Sony drop the price in half again and maintain a performance edge?

We’re dying to find out just as soon as we can get our hands on one!

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