Texas Instruments is promoting their DLP technology with a prototype rear-projection set having a claimed 100,000:1 contrast ratio. While no such product is yet available from any of their licensed manufacturers, just proof that it can be done with DLP should be enough to make Sony and JVC very nervous. The RPTV shown was only 12 inches deep and was clearly able to go right on down to coal black. Imagine a state-of-the-art 3-chip front projector with that capability. It’s coming.
Optoma had an impressive demo using their new HD81 1080p DLP projector fitted with an anamorphic lens and beautifully filling a huge 171 inch (diagonal) 1.3 gain Stewart screen. The HD81 is based on the TI Dark Chip 3, boasts a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, and an impressive 1400 Lumen light output. The accompanying processor is the HD-3000, which features Gennum VXP technology and a host of high-end features. The projector and processor sell for $6000. The special lens (not required) adds $4000 more.
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 The previous silver styling has been replaced by solid black.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.