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TI Won't Cave to Sony

Add "Texas Instruments 2K DLP microchip" to your technophile lexicon.

That's what TI is hawking to the Hollywood film industry for the next generation of digital projectors. The semiconductor giant plans to stick to its guns "with its current strategies for making and selling microchips for digital projection," according to a TI executive who spoke with reporters on Friday June 4.

The move comes in the face of increased pressure from Sony Corporation, which is hyping its own projection system using "4K" chips. Sony claims its technology yields superior picture detail and contrast ratio. TI counters such claims with assertions that its DLP Cinema projector solutions have already reached "a quality level that is significant for the deployment of digital cinema," in the words of DLP Cinema business manager Doug Darrow, who claims that TI's technology has already equaled the best film projection available and far exceeds the level found in most multiplex theaters.

DLP Cinema projection systems are produced by several manufacturers including Christie Digital Systems Inc, and Belgium's Barco NV and Japan's NEC Corp. Darrow said the DLP systems have proven to be "reliable and robust" in real theaters.

TI has dominated the digital projection arena since its dawn in the late 1990s, according to a report from Reuters news service. Sony's commercial digital projectors won't hit the market until January 2005, but the company has demonstrated well-received prototypes, with features that include 4096 x 2160-pixel resolution and high contrast ratio. The SRX-R110 boasts 10,000 ANSI lumens and the SRX-R105, 5000 ANSI lumens. Like Sony's high-end "Qualia" home theater projectors, the commercial units use "Silicon X-tal Reflective Displays" (SXRD) cliamed to deliver almost four times the pixel count of current HD displays.

Acquisition and installation costs involved with gear from any maker could run $100,000 per theater screen and are still daunting obstacles for most theater owners.

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