THX Certification Comes To Desktop PC Products

Last week, Lucasfilm THX announced the availability of the first THX certified PCs under a newly created THX program that the company says is designed to deliver "the best picture and sound to date on a personal computer." A Lucasfilm press release states that "with consumers increasingly turning to the PC for entertainment content, a THX certified PC ensures that movies, music, games and more will be enjoyed with a sound and visual impact that will satisfy the most demanding multimedia user."

The company says that the first PCs to be available with THX certification under the new program are the 8100 and 4100 Series from Dell, which combine THX certified multimedia speaker systems and Dolby Digital surround sound with PC subsystems. Lucasfilm notes that THX PC certification comes with a software-based program, called the THX Picture and Sound Optimizer, which is intended to simplify setup and which allows users a quick verification of the THX settings, including adjustments for color balance, brightness, contrast, aspect ratio and 5.1-channel Dolby Digital decoding.

THX PC certification covers the entire system, and it is the system as a whole that is certified. According to Lucasfilm, research has shown that it isn't just the quality of the various components and PC subsystems that determine performance; in addition, the interaction among these critically affects sound and picture quality. Lucasfilm says that THX and Dell engineers collaborated over an 18-month period to ensure optimum picture and sound quality in the selected subsystems.

Lucasfilm's Monica L. Dashwood explains, "Our objective with this new program is to do for the PC what we did for the movies and home theatre: provide standards to ensure the best possible picture and sound. We see the PC rapidly expanding its role as an entertainment content delivery device, so it's natural for THX to apply our two decades of experience and expertise in sound and image reproduction to this new category."

The company's Laurie Fincham adds that "a key issue is compatibility—it's the biggest technical challenge in optimizing PC audio and video performance. There are complex interactions among PC components and between PC hardware and software. That is why we certify the complete system rather than the individual components. Our focus is on the result—top quality audio and video performance—rather than on specific product specifications."