Faroudja Launches 14-City HDTV Demo Tour

Manufacturer Faroudja, Inc., famous for its video projectors, line-doublers, line-quadruplers, and other ultra-high-quality video processors, kicked off a nationwide HDTV road show last Thursday with a well-attended open house at The Audible Difference, a high-end dealer in Silicon Valley, about 25 miles south of San Francisco.

Upscale home-theater fans filled a large demo room at The Audible Difference to see first-hand how Faroudja's processing technology compares to HDTV. An HDTV W-VHS tape of spectacular outdoor scenery played continuously during the demonstration on one of two Faroudja RP4800 rear-projection HDTV sets. On the other set, scenes from the DVD of Legends of the Fall were being converted to 480-line progressive format. Detail, color, contrast, edge transitions, and movement were excellent on both screens.

One Legends tracking shot in particular demonstrated how far Faroudja has advanced in video-processing technology: Actress Julia Ormond comes out of the farmhouse and moves along a picket fence toward the barn, whose roof is pitched at a diagonal against the sky. "Even on the best systems, shots like that fall apart," observed Faroudja's sales and marketing VP Thomas Harvey. "The picket fence and the edge of the roof usually dissolve into a herringbone pattern." On the RP4800, the moving verticals and diagonals were as clearly defined as they are on film. The video was even superior to film in one respect: the complete absence of glitches and visual noise caused by surface damage to the film, an inevitable result of rough handling by projectors.

Just two days prior to the Silicon Valley demonstration, Faroudja announced the release of its DFT5000 Digital Format Translator with Aspect Ratio Control. This new device will make virtually any display compatible with all 18 varieties of digital television soon to be available.

Faroudja's road show moves to Philadelphia for an April 30 date at Hi-Fi House, followed by a May 5 performance at Columbia Audio in Chicago. Front Row Center in Miami will host an HDTV open house on May 12, as will Audio Video Alternatives in Detroit. Cleveland's New Image hosts the demo on May 14, followed by Boston's Home Theater Concepts on May 19 and Fort Worth's Marvin Electronics on May 20.

The tour's home stretch will include a May 28 date at Harvey's Electronics in New York, a June 18 demo at Christopher Hansen's in Los Angeles, a June 23 show at Myer Emco in Washington, DC, and a June 24 performance at Definitive Audio in Seattle. The series of HDTV open houses will conclude with June 25 at Entertainment Designs in Minneapolis and a June 30 date at AVI in Atlanta. Home-theater fans are encouraged to attend. The 14 cities on the tour are all under FCC mandate for the early rollout of HDTV.