Sam Runco of Runco International Page 2

The Runco CineWide adaptor

Runco again broke new ground with its CineWide adaptor (shown attached to the projector lens), which enables you to watch super-widescreen (e.g., 2.35:1) movies without black bars at the top and bottom of the screen and with no loss of resolution.
Do you go to movie theaters often? I'll probably go tomorrow night to see Casino Royale. I try to pick the best theaters so I can rate the experience against what it is we're doing in the field - and when I say "we," I mean the video-display industry collectively. At one time, my company was in this alone, but now there are a lot of companies producing good display devices. And they've all caught on to some degree to what level of quality you need to achieve to emulate and exceed film. I go back to movie theaters often enough so that I can keep my experience alive and that I can speak from that experience when I talk about what you can do with our home theater equipment. The quality of movie theaters is actually getting better. They're using digital projectors now like the ones we're selling.

Is there any aspect of home theater you think is seriously lacking? The only thing lacking right now is enough high-def content. My complaint would have been bigger last year, but the content is getting better and better since we now have HD DVD and Blu-ray. The one thing our company is trying to do right now is encourage standard labeling on discs. When you buy a DVD, not all the production companies describe things the same way. If you buy a widescreen edition, the packages will say 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 or 16:9. Some of them will describe it in a way that doesn't make any sense. Then there's full-screen. That term came around because when people were watching DVDs on a regular, square TV, there were black bars on the top and the bottom. So they created versions of these movies using a technique called pan-and-scan, and they called the releases full-screen. But that's confusing. So we're writing what we think is going to be the bible for understanding what it is you're buying when it comes to content.

What do you think the big innovations in home entertainment will be over the next 5 to 10 years? That's a tough one. When you make these statements, you're always proven wrong no matter who you are. What we see right now, though, is that 1080p seems to be the last frontier for a while as far as the mainstream is concerned. It was a big thrust in 2006 and will continue to be for the next year or two. At the high-end, companies like ours will try to improve resolution.

The next 5 years - and I'm going to say a word that makes some people in my end of the industry nervous - are about convergence. We're actually going to be in a position to marry a lot of the computer devices and servers to our entertainment systems in a way that actually works. There have been a lot of problems with computers as consumer-electronics products because of things like perceived reliability and low-cost video cards that aren't optimized for high-end displays, but they're getting better and better. And the gamers are coming on really strong. They're spending $6,000, $7,000, $10,000, on gaming computers, and these things all need displays. Even though they're watching them in their rooms now, as they get older and can afford it, they're going to want to have big screens.

I'm sure Bill Gates and all the people in that business would say, "No, Sam, you're wrong. That's happening right now. We can do it." It's not happening now, but certainly in the next 5 years it's going to be really tight. As for 10 years from now - that's tough. I have a hard enough time figuring out what I'm going to have for dinner. We've produced products before their time, and I don't like doing that anymore. I have the arrows in my back to prove it. Now I wait until a product is on time to sell it rather than before its time. But now that they're doing a lot of things with computer and entertainment systems, I really want to look at having that be a part of Runco's future.

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