Blu-Friday, Part Deux

Although everything was blue at the Blu-ray introduction, including the martinis,no one was feeling blue when we were invited into a large theater and shown comparisons of standard definition video vs. high-definition on one of Sony's 4K SXRD digital cinema projectors.

Sony's Don Eklund walked us through a dramatic demonstration using Sony's upcoming Click starring Adam Sandler. This comedy was shot digitally on Sony's Panavision Genesis HD camera at 1920x1080.

Eklund showed a split screen with the uncompressed digital master playing back on one side of the screen at a whopping 400Mbps(!), and an MPEG2-encoded stream on the other side of the screen at typical DVD data rates.

On such a large screen, blown up to 4K the DVD stream was pretty pathetic. And I was just about to talk about what a loaded demo this was, but then Eklund showed us the point. The next clip was a split screen with an MPEG2 encoded clip at a Blu-rayish data rate on one side and the uncompressed master on the other.

Even on a movie theater sized screen, blown up to 4K the differences between the BD stream and the 400Mbps uncompressed master were startlingly minimal. The BD image stream was bursting with detail and clarity.

Although 4K isn't coming to the home anytime soon, 1080p is here and I'm betting the image quality I saw will still drop some jaws when we see them at home.

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Josh's picture

I saw the Sony Blu-ray demo of Kill Bill at the HE show. The standard def and Blue-ray def of this demo seemed loaded to me or it needed to be explained better. If you looked at the sword handles as they panned through the scene showing both standard and hi def you'll see very blurry handles where you can't see the cross stitching on them in standard def but are razor sharp in hi def showing the red and black cross stitching. I haven't gone back to a copy of Kill Bill yet, but I will, and run it on my projector to see if I can see the difference. The standard def in their demo looked more like a copy of a dubbed VHS tape which has not been my experience with DVD. They said teh standard def was at 420p. Don't get me wrong the Blu-ray looked outstanding and is superior, but people should see a real world demo to see the difference. I'll keep you posted.

Fred Manteghian's picture

Josh, I agree. At one point, we joked that the left side of the screen looked more like the non-anamorphic laserdisc transfer than the disc than any DVD we ever saw. I've watched Kill Bill on Sim 300 projector when I reviewed it and (after I fixed the color wheel timing issue) it looked outstanding. I'm down one DLP projector at the moment (meaning I have none) so please, let us know what you find when you too re-view it. As a side note, I don't just get all couragous when I'm out of earshot of Sony. I did ask the presenter at the time(no one I recognized)how the video sample was created. He had no idea, but my guess is it went through more number crunching than an H&R Block accountant on Apr il 14th.

Josh's picture

Okay. So I got Kill Bill again (I love Netflix). I watched it on my InFocus 4805 projector fed by a V Inc. Bravo D2 via DVI (10m cable) on a 92" Dalite pull down screen. I was actually stunned that the Sony demo was pretty close to my modest setup for standard def. The sword handles had a little more detail than I saw at the Sony demo, but not much. Now just mentally going over what I saw, I'm sold on Blu-ray or HD-DVD (which I haven't seen yet). The problem I'm sure is now I'll need a new projector or HD monitor to take advantage of the detail you get with the native 1080p signal. Is that correct? Fred - Can you report your findings or anyone else who has a more high end setup than mine. I'd be curious to see how they compare. Thanks!

Fred Manteghian's picture

Josh - I wouldn't rush out and buy a new projector just yet. For one thing, affordable - and debugged - 1080p projectors aren't out there in abundance. The Sony "Ruby" at $10K is at least two or three times the price of your InFocus. Tom recently reviewed the latest Yamaha 720p DLP projector and found it to be near state of the art, even compared with the pixel heavy Sony. You will certainly see advantages on your InFocus over even the very good Bravo D2 (I use one as well, and it does a great job of upconverting DVDs to 720p via the DVI output). Hang in there, Josh, and follow what's going to be a very exciting year in video before you pull the trigger.

Shane Buettner's picture

Josh- While I agree with Fred that you don't necessarily have to rush right out and into a new projector, your 4805 has a native resolution of 480p and to get any benefit whatsoever from any high-definition source you'll need a display with at least 720p resolution. You can't fit two pounds of pixels into a one pound bag! 1080p front projection is still expensive, but one of the side benefits that will come with 1080p devices proliferating as they are this year is that 720p displays can be found at bargain prices. The Mitsubishi HC3000 I reviewed a while back (and loved- my product of the year so far) retails for $2500 and has a street price even lower. And right now Randy Tomlinson is reviewing a 50-something inch 720p DLP rear projector from Samsung that he likes a lot and apparently sells for around $1500.

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