2003 CES, Day Two

On Thursday, the first official day of CES, attendees were treated to another day of warm, dry weather—and a mind-boggling array of new home theater products.

One of the most enticing is DWIN's TransVision TV3, a DLP projector with true high-definition capability: both 16 x 9 widescreen aspect ratio and 720p scan rate. The T3 combines excellent optical and digital technologies, including a precision Carl Zeiss zoom lens, a Texas Instruments 16:9 micromirror device, and proprietary video processing. The TV3 renders bright, high-contrast images with excellent detail—what DWIN calls "movie theater realism."

The TV3 has an "adaptive film mode" that reduces motion artifacts and a "signal dynamic range expansion" circuit said to increase the apparent depth in the image. The projector adjusts its aspect ration automatically according to the source material and has an automatic scaling feature that "eliminates double processing of the video signal." Its high brightness is achieved by a 200W lamp, and a lens-shift feature lets you mount it almost anywhere without "keystoning" the picture. Projector-to-screen distance isn't critical either, since the Zeiss lens allows a full, distortion-free image anywhere between 1.41 to 2.1 times the screen height. The T3 has DVI, composite, component, S-Video, and RGB inputs two each, actually) and can be used mounted for front- or rear-projection on the ceiling, tabletop, or floor.

Burbank, CA–based DWIN also debuted a 50" 16:9 high-definition plasma display, the PlasmaImage HD-50TS. The plasma display also features DWIN's video processing circuitry, and a 3:2 "pulldown" that eliminates artifacts in film-originated sources. The HD-50TS has the same array of inputs as the T3, making it completely compatible with almost any video source. DWIN also unveiled a stand-alone video processor, the TranScanner TS3, which also accepts almost any video input and outputs the native resolution of any fixed-resolution display.

Bel Canto Designs, a Minneapolis company known for great audio products, has introduced its "PRePro," a reference-level home theater preamp/processor capable of 7.1 channel output. The PRePro can process Dolby Digital, Digital EX, ProLogic 2 EX, DTS/ES/6.1 Matrix, DVD-A, MLP, 7.1 Matrix, and is said to be "THX EX and THX Ultra 2 ready." The back panel offers four Toslink and six coaxial digital audio inputs and two component video inputs, as well as a component video out, 7.1-channel analog "throughput" and eight balanced XLR outs. Two superb features are an integrated LCD video screen on the front panel, ideal for navigating the menu on a DVD-Audio disc without engaging a large display, and the PRePro's broadcast-quality video switching with 500 MHz of bandwidth. Company reps here say the PRePro is "more than ready for HDTV." Street price, if we remember correctly, will be about $8000.

San Francisco's Parasound, long known for high-value/high-performance products, may give Bel Canto a run for the money with its Halo C1 and C2 A/V controllers. Debuting at CES and scheduled to arrive at dealers this spring, both are THX Ultra 2 certified. The C1, at $6000, features a small LCD video display, as does the PRePro. The C2, at $4000, foregoes that luxury with an alphanumeric display.

Both controllers are said to benefit from "the world's most sophisticated DSP engines" and are said to deliver performance previously unattainable at any price while being very easy to set up and operate. An RS-232 port provides an interface for a fully automated home entertainment system; multi-zone capability lets users run secondary audio, such as a whole-house system, from one location. A unique feature is the Halo controllers' four programmable channels that can be used for secondary subwoofer feeds, blended L+R for "center fill" with two-channel sources, or for additional surround or effects channels. The controllers are said to be nearly identical except for additional input connectors and the LCD screen on the C1. SGHT has slated the C2 for review, to appear later this year.

Parasound also introduced the H21, a power amp that can be used in two-channel, five-channel, or seven-channel configurations.