Vertical Limit Returns!

Ever have a neighbor dog's that just keeps coming back over to your house, and acts like he lives there? And if you put him outside, he just stays on the porch until you give up and let him back in? Well, demo disc of yesteryear, Vertical Limit is back at our collective AV house. This time as a Blu-ray Disc spun by Outlaw Audio at HE 2007, which TJN wrote about below. Badder, and louder than ever, and still plain bad as a movie.

But unfortunately what prompted me to write is not the movie itself, but rather the shockingly poor quality of this presentation. I'm generally not a real hardass about hotel based demonstrations, and if you've read my coverage of past shows you know I seldom do this. But with Blu-ray and HD DVD at this critical nascent stage of develoment, and the maninstream press so often telling people that the differences in quality between DVD and the HD formats is difficult to discern, I simply can't hold back from telling people that this demo is simply not at all representative of how stellar either 1080p or Blu-ray (or HD DVD) can look, especially on a high quality front projection system.

This demonstration wasn't very sharp or detailed, didn't seem to have particularly good blacks or contrast, and, even worse, was marred with a consistent and surprising amount of false contouring and macroblocking. I actually recall the Superbit DVD looking quite a bit better.

The Outlaw demo used a Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray player, which has outstanding image quality, along with a ProjectionDesign 1080p DLP projector outfitted with an anamorphic lens and a Screen Research acoustically transparent screen.

I haven't yet seen the Blu-ray Disc, so I don't know how responsible the transfer was for this image quality. Nor am I familiar with either the Screen Research screen or the DigitalProjection system. The screen was very large, at 10' wide, which can rob an image of its punch. I do know that even for industry veterans Blu-ray players have some unfamiliar controls and adjustments and in general can behave in erratic fashion. And sometimes audio manufacturers don't get the support they need from the video manufacturers who lend them unfamiliar gear that needs to be set up in a hurry in unfamiliar environs.

Whatever the reasons, the video quality Outlaw's big room was handily bested by the Sony Qualia SXRD rear pro playing back HD in Outlaw's smaller room. So to the folks who saw the big room demo, know that both front projection and Blu-ray can be even better still.

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