Hitachi was showing the color advantages of their LCD sets using LED backlighting.
This side-by-side clearly showed more realistic colors, especially reds and greens, though the non-LED set had slightly better blacks. In a technology statement off to the side, Hitachi confidently stated that they expect to achieve infinity contrast (meaning a set that can truly go down to absolute black) by the proper application of LED backlight modulation. Looking to the future (maybe next year), Hitachi also showed a new method of smoothing out film judder and a technology to greatly enhance the resolution of lower resolution upscaled images without noticeable artifacts.
Here’s an interesting demo showing the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit color (that's 10 bits per primary or 30 bits total). One of the Sony LCD sets was modified to operate at 10-bit while the other was stock. The whole point of the demo was to show the improvements possible with HDMI 1.3, which is required for 10-bit color to be delivered to the display. I expected and saw a much smoother grayscale without visible transitions, especially at the dark end and a complete elimination of false contouring. I didn’t expect the not so subtle difference in color. Though I was told the color space of set number 2 wasn’t altered and saturation was identical, each color appeared deeper and richer. 10-bit allows a far greater color depth and it shows. While a number of display technologies run at 10 bits or higher, there has never been a way to deliver that from the source, plus the source material (even HD-DVD and Blu-Ray and current video games) aren't 10 bit yet. The HDMI group is hoping that manufacturers will take advantage of 1.3's greatly increased capability and improve their sources accordingly.
Panasonic showed their huge 103 inch plasma again but now it’s actually for sale. More interesting to most people was the complete line of 1080p plasmas at 42, 50, 58, and 65 inches. These new panels are claimed to be nearly burn-in proof and offer a lifespan (to half brightness) of 60,000 hours or 27 years at 6 hours per day. The previous silver styling has been replaced by solid black. Panasonic, totally committed to plasma in larger sizes, will soon have the ability to make 11.5 million panels per year. Below 37 inches, LCD will continue to prevail.
Datacolor is promoting their <I>Spyder TV</I> hardware and software by providing FREE hands-on training classes at the Sahara Hotel (Suite 2244) at 10AM and 2PM daily. <I>Spyder TV</I> products are designed to automate and simplify video setup for the end user seeking the best possible picture from his or her display. Calibration essentials include optimizing all user controls both with and without DataColor instruments. Nearly every display technology is represented. Instruction is provided by Gregg Loewen and Michael Chen, two of the most experienced ISF calibrators in the world. More advanced instruction with <I>Spyder TV Pro</I> and <I>ColorFacts</I> software is also being provided for installers and industry professionals.
Sony's rear-projection 1080p SXRD sets really lit a fire under the HDTV market last year. Using Sony's dynamic iris system, these RPTVs produced deep blacks and stunning contrast like never before for a non-CRT "microdisplay". No other RPTV could match it, and of course, no flat panel plasma or LCD set could even approach it when it came to dark scene beauty and detail. These XBR1 series three-chip SXRD sets had nearly everything going for them and seemed to fly out of showrooms and into the homes of discerning videophiles. These sets truly put the last nail in the coffin of CRT-based RPTVs.
JVC developed LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) technology for television years ago so it should be no surprise that JVC's considerable experience with this technology, which they call D-ILA or Direct-drive Image Light Amplifier, has recently produced a product with few peers. Last year the first JVC 1080p LCoS RPTV came out, and JVC has since taken to calling these sets "HD-ILA." Whatever the name, last year's JVC 1080p set was widely considered one of the top two available. Sony's SXRD rear projectors (different name, same basic technology) probably offered the stiffest competition.
The rear projection big-screen TV market is hot. Consumers are discovering that the latest RPTVs can often beat plasma in picture quality and offer bigger screen sizes for much less money if hanging it on the wall isn't a priority.