Coverage of HI-FI '99 Begins This Week

Consumer Days begin this Friday, but Wednesday saw the first of two Trade Days. Although not the full-blown killer demos that crank up when Joe Public roams the halls, there were a few notable displays.

Dolby's demo starts with 10 minutes of HDTV movie excerpts played from a Sencore hard-disk player, then moves to a live HDTV feed from the EchoStar satellite system of the movie The Ghost and the Darkness, using a prototype decoder feeding a Unity Motion set-top box. A Runco 930 projector does a fine job of displaying the images on a Stewart screen, especially considering that the EchoStar signal must pass through 750 feet of cable and four video amplifiers en route from the roof-mounted antenna to the demo room on the third floor of the Palmer House Hilton. According to Dolby, this is the first time an HDTV satellite signal with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound has been presented. EchoStar is currently broadcasting three channels of HDTV, but the prototype decoder is not yet available to end-users; a commercial version should be ready for sale this fall.

More to come.