In my previous blog, "In the Black," I stated that the new Sony VPL-VW100 SXRD projector would not accept 1080p directly. That was the impression I obtained at its press introduction at last September's CEDIA. But I subsequently learned, in completing Part I of my review of that projector, which will be posted on this site tomorrow (Sunday, December 18, 2005), that it will indeed accept 1080p/60 at its HDMI and DVI inputs.
Joel Brinkley's recent comments on black level issues with the new digital video displays was right on the mark for flat panel displays, but things are looking up, at least a little, with front and rear projection sets. I'm currently working on reviews of two new models, the front projection Sony VPL-VW100 SXRD projector and the Hewlett-Packard md5880n DLP. Both of these are 1080p displays—though only the HP will accept 1080p through its HDMI inputs.
Earlier this week companies supporting the upcoming Blu-ray high definition disc format gathered at the Fox Studios in Los Angeles to give an update to the assembled press. The companies represented were Buena Vista Entertainment (Disney, Touchstone, Miramax), Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Panasonic, Pioneer, Dell, and Sony.
I suspect that Los Angeles has the greatest concentration of first-rate movie theaters in the country. True, there are fewer and fewer premier-quality movie houses even there than in the past. At least two have disappeared in the past 12 years. And every time I visit the Village or National in Westwood (two of the biggest and the best) I wonder how long the crowds (which rarely fill more than half of either theater, even for a hit movie on a weekend evening) can continue to support the maintenance of such a large space in such a pricey real estate market. Nevertheless, there more such theaters here than in any other large metropolitan area in the US. Which is, as you would expect, when you think about it.
I dropped in to my local Costco today after lunch to pick up a couple of new DVDs. (No, Virginia, we don't get free review samples for <I>all</I> the titles that come out.) The aisles were crowded with cartons containing new televisions, all of them plasmas, LCDs, and DLPs. I saw the same thing last week when I was in Fry's—a California chain well known for just about everything electronic and a few things that are not. The branch in my area gives the same amount of space to a giant, 10-foot ant suspended from the ceiling (not a real one—just in case you were wondering if I've been watching too much science fiction lately) as it does to the latest in big-screen TVs. With the boxes piled high and deep at retailers everywhere, it's obvious they're all humming <I>'Tis the Season to be TV Buying</I> and <I>Jingle Bills</I> (but no interest until 2007).
And you thought it was already here. It's true that a number of films over the past few years have been digitally projected in a small number of theaters around the world, using primarily DLP technology (and occasionally LCoS). But these presentations have employed a wide range of formats. For example, 30 different release masters were reportedly made for the 30 theaters that showed <I>Van Helsing</I> digitally in 2003. This lack of standardization could never support the massive conversion to digital cinema (and the savings in print distribution costs) that the studios are hoping for.
All videophiles are looking for the holy grail—a video projector that will blow everything else out of the water and cost next to nothing. Short of the industry adopting the business model used for computer printers (charging $100 for the projector and $4000 for a replacement lamp), that next-to-nothing price will likely remain a dream. But manufacturers are competing hard to make good home theater projectors much more affordable, if not exactly cheap.
If you checked into our website this week (and of course you did, or you wouldn't be reading this!) you've noticed a whole new look. Access to you favorite sections will be easier, thanks to a more detailed top line. Loading time—we anticipate—will be faster. And, most important—there's a whole new layer of content.