171 Inches and Growing

Optoma had an incredible picture in their theater. It was sharp, bright and best of all, cinemascope wide. The HD81, a single chip 1080p DLP projector that ships at the end of the month will cost $11,000 with the anamorphic lens that lets you get the most out of 2.35:1 movies if you have an extra wide screen. The 171" screen was certainly bright enough even given its size. The processing they do to stretch the image vertically so that all pixels on the DLP chip are used seemed to work great. Runco does the same thing, but with a motorized switchable lens assembly that costs a great deal more.

The anamorphic lens is fixed, so what happens if you want to watch an 16:9 program? The image then has to be compressed horizontally so that when the lens expands it horizontally it will be properly proportioned. You'll have gray bars on the side, but motorized screen matting can solve that problem easily enough. But by electronically shrinking the image in preparation for the anamorphic lens' stretching process, you are, in effect, not using the full 1920 pixels of horizontal resolution in the chip!

Is it just me, or does anyone else notice the irony in employing an anamorphic lens so that you can use all the pixel on a 2.35:1 movie but then enduring a significant loss of horizontal resolution whenever you sit down to watch HDTV?