As I reported in my news story on the recent <A HREF=" http://www.ultimateavmag.com/news/082006displaysearch/ ">DisplaySearch HDTV conference</A>, rear projection displays have lost much of their allure. Everyone, it seems, wants flat, Flat, FLAT! Plasma and LCD displays are hot, and many potential buyers see bulky rear projection displays as old school technology. Some folks even confuse them with CRT rear projection sets.
The August 2006 issue of <I>Popular Mechanics</I> devotes one entire page (!) to HD DVD. The main feature of the article is a comparison between HD DVD and the standard disc played back on a much less expensive, upconverting DVD player (an $80 Philips).
In mid-2005 the average selling price of a 50" plasma display began its yearlong plunge from over $5,000 to a June 2006 average of just above $3,000. The number of sets sold at the new prices more than tripled, even accounting for the traditionally hot fall (2005) selling season.
It has long been rumored that Sony is readying a new, lower-priced SXRD front projector to slot in under the current VPL-VW100. Now those rumors, while not yet confirmed, have more substance. The new projector is codenamed Pearl, and may have the official designation VPL-VW50. (The internal codename for the VPL-VW100, Ruby, has stuck as a name for that projector, though it appears in none of Sony's promotional materials). If the rumors pan out, the new projector will be introduced at the 2006 International Funkausstellung in Berlin in early September, and most certainly will have its official U.S. launch at the 2006 CEDIA EXPO in Denver two weeks later.
Two years ago you would have paid over $10,000 for a large, widescreen flat panel LCD display. And "large" might well have meant 32" diagonal. The picture would have been bright and crisp, but a pale reflection of the overall image quality available from still-plentiful CRT direct view sets. Its resolution would have been 1280x720, tops, or one of those bizarre resolutions like 1365x768 that are still featured in many flat panels.
Pioneer Elite's DV-79AVi "Universal" DVD player ($1,000) won't play HD DVD and Blu-ray discs, but it does play nearly everything else on a 5" consumer disc format. A glance at the specs tell you what formats it's designed to handle, though with all such players there will be exceptions. For me, it never hiccupped with any DVD-Video, CD, CD-R/RW, DVD-Audio, or SACD discs I threw at it. For the present, I don't speak either DVD-R/RW or MP-3/CD-ROM, so I did not check either format, though the player is specified to handle them.
There's an interesting story behind the photo of the Samsung rear projection set that appears on the home page and in the product review. As most of you know, such photos are almost never taken directly from a television showing an actual image. Instead, the image is inserted later into a blank screen photo of the set using a computer program, most often Photoshop. This program allows nearly any photo to be resized and reconfigured to fit a television screen originally shot at any angle.
Denon has reported that audio component sales, long declining, increased significantly last month (June). Not coincidentally, the company's own sales increased by double digits in the past year to the point where, in dollar sales, it holds the second place market share in the receiver/amplifier/tuner category (after Yamaha).
Hot on the heels of the currently in theaters <I>Superman Returns</I>, Warner Brothers announced a slew of new DVD releases of the original films. There has been no formal announcement of any of these titles appearing on HD DVD or Blu-ray (Warner supports both formats), but we can hope.
Samsung has announced that the first production run of its BD-P1000 Blu-ray Disc player, which includes all players now in use and in stores, has an error in the programming of a Genesis chip used in the design. A noise reduction feature in that chip which cannot be user defeated has apparently been set to a level high enough to noticeably soften the image—an error that could account for the mixed reports on the player and the Blu-ray Disc format that have been published to date, here and elsewhere.