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"DarkChip" DLP Projectors

Texas Instruments continues to push the envelope of projector technology, and high-end manufacturers continue to adopt TI devices into ever-better projectors. TI's latest Digital Light Processing (DLP) devices are known as "DarkChips" for their improved contrast, a result of narrower gaps between mirror elements, smaller mirror hinges, higher reflectivity, and in a seeming paradox, better light absorption thanks to a new coating. DarkChips are said to offer better color uniformity and much lower dithering effects than their predecessors.

Among the companies demonstrating new DarkChip DLP projectors at last month's CEDIA Expo were SIM2 USA and NEC. SIM2 was the first to use TI's DarkChip3, employing the devices in updated Grand Cinema HT DLP projector models HT300 E-LINK and HT300 E, carrying suggested retail prices of $14,995 and $11,995 respectively. Claimed contrast ratio exceeds 3500:1, the manufacturer stated. The HT300 E-LINK is a version of the HT300 E with SIM2's " DigiOptic Image Processor," a multi-input device with a fiber-optic feed to the projector. Each input can be tweaked individually with settings held in memory. The new Grand Cinema projectors include the latest Faroudja DCDi de-interlacing chips.

At CEDIA, SIM2 also showed a prototype of its three-chip DLP projector, the HT500 LINK, and two 40" high-definition LCD monitors, the $8995 HTL40 and the $11,995 HTL40 LINK. Both are 16:9 HD screens with 170-degree viewing angles, 1366 x 768 pixel resolution, 1000:1 contrast ratios and styling by Giorgio Revoldini. A 46" version is due in January, according to announcements made at the show.

NEC is also on the DarkChip bandwagon with two 16:9 DLP projectors using TI's DarkChip2 technology. The very affordable HT410 is priced at $1499, with EDTV-level resolution of 854 x 480 pixels. The HT510 boasts 1024 x 576 resolution. Inputs include component video and RGB.

NEC debuted four plasma display panels (PDPs), including the EDTV-standard 42VR5 with 853 x 480 resolution, the $5795 42XR3 with 1024 x 768 resolution, the 50", $7995 50XR4, and the 61" 61XR3 (priced at $14,995). The two largest models have 1365 x 768 resolution. Inputs include DVI/HDCP, RGBHV and HD component video. NEC plasma units are available now.

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