New Video Products

Home theater products continue to get better and cheaper. One example is Panasonic's new PT-AE500, a high-definition widescreen LCD projector. The PT-AE500 incorporates several advances, including integrated cinema quality circuitry, full 10-bit digital processing and gamma correction, and new "smooth screen technology." Many of these advances derive from research and development and collaborative work done at the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory in Hollywood, California, with top Hollywood studio colorists who helped ensure the projector's color fidelity.

Built around a high-definition (1280 x 720 pixels) wide-screen LCD panel with a three-layer RGB structure, the projector yields an effective total of approximately 2.76 million pixels. A new optical system developed specifically for high-definition LCD panels delivers 850 lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 1300:1. The PT-AE500 is quiet, too, thanks to a new twin-blade fan. Inputs include HDCP-compatible DVI, component video, PC in, composite video and S-Video. A trigger terminal enables remote on/off operation. User-friendly features include
vertical and horizontal keystone correction to compensate for image distortion, a "smooth screen technology" to reduce "screen door effect," and 2058 picture quality settings that adjust contrast, brightness, and gamma levels across six picture modes. The projector also has an "AI" system that automatically adjusts the lamp brightness to the optimum level to match the characteristics of the picture in real time, and progressive scan 3:2 pulldown that automatically detects when the input signal comes from filmed material and selects the optimum progressive processing method to assure faithful reproduction of the original. The PT-AE500 has a list price of $2499.95.

Five-year-old Studio Experience (founded in 1999) unveiled an extensive selection of projectors, plasma displays, and other video products at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The Matinee 50HD is an "upscale, full-feature projector" said to produce a superior image. Equipped with an HD2 DLP €œMustang€� chip, the Matinee 50HD claims to deliver "a brighter, sharper, more reliable, all-digital image each and every time." Contrast ratio is spec'd at 1700:1; images are enhanced by a Faroudja Video De-Interlacing chip. The projector offers HDTV compatibility, native 1280 x 720 resolution, and 16:9 aspect ratio, all made easier to implement in the home thanks to four-quadrant keystone correction.

The Premiere 30HD features the latest in projection technology, including the Matterhorn DMD chip, enhanced video integration, and advanced optics. The Premiere 30HD HD-compatible, with a 2000:1 contrast ratio. For up-close-and-personal viewing, Studio Experience offers a 30" LCD monitor, with brightness rated at 500 cd/m brightness reading and 500:1 contrast ratio. The LCD has a 16:9 native aspect ratio and WXGA 1280 x 1024 resolution, allowing users to view letterbox editions of DVDs and HDTV programs without black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. This display weighs only 36.5 lb.

Studio Experience also has a 50" plasma display with integrated tuner, the PD5000, boasting 3000:1 contrast ratio, 16:9 aspect ratio and 1366 x 768 HD XGA resolution. The unit is equipped with auto channel presets, auto channel sorts, child locks, closed captioning, picture-in-picture, and auto detection for DTV-ready signals, according to a recent announcement.