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Picture This: Video Technology at CEDIA

Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

Better image quality abounds at CEDIA Expo 2008.


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Two more projects that were not on the show floor offered an intriguing look at the future. Both Digital Projection and Asian OEM supplier Chi Lin showed lamp-free 1080p projections. Production models are as much as a year away, and current brightness was limited to 500 lumens to 600 lumens, but these LED-lit projectors boast remarkable color accuracy and contrast. I would expect higher brightness by the time they are ready.

THIN FLATPANELS

One of the most stunning flatpanels at CEDIA was Hitachi's 1.5in. thin plasma with a free-standing white base and chassis. It was only a prototype with no pricing or delivery information available, but the thickness matches that of Hitachi's line of 1.5in-thick LCD TVs, which were introduced at CES and are now shipping.

Panasonic's new TH-65VX100U 65in. plasma touts “ultimate black,” with a contrast ratio of 60,000:1. Unfortunately, the new series won't be available until the CES timeframe next January. Still, between Hitachi, Panasonic, and Pioneer's recent announcements, plasma seems to be hanging around as a very viable flatpanel choice.

Joining Samsung, which showed its second-generation 950 series LED-backlit LCDs, Sharp and Sony each introduced their own LED-backlit LCD TV series. Sharp's 52in. and 65in. Aquos are said to reach 150 percent of the NTSC color gamut, with a dynamic contrast of 1,000,000:1 (thanks to the ability to literally turn off the LEDs). Leveraging a separate AV module allows Sharp to limit the panel depth to just 1in., while still offering five HDMI inputs, plus standard analog video inputs. Sony's new 40in. and 52in. Bravia LCD TVs are even thinner at just 9.9mm thick. More uniquely, Sony has quadrupled typical frame rate to 240Hz, interpolating as many as three frames.

Toshiba's new higher-end Regza line of LCDs includes built-in upconverting to give standard-definition DVDs and cable/braodcast television a near-HD appearance. That built-in Super Resolution Technology (SRT) actually comes directly from the ill-fated HD DVD disc format (which lost to Blu-ray Disc in its attempt to become the next-generation HD version of today's DVD). Toshiba's XDE is basically the same upconverting technology as SRT, but it's built into Toshiba's new line of DVD players, enabling them to output interpolated 1080p from standard-definition DVDs.

Mitsubishi's consumer-television division announced laser-lit televisions more than a year ago, and it appears that the 65in. LaserVue is finally ready to ship this month. Pricing has been set at $6,999 — which is, thankfully, down from the five-digit pricing Mitsubishi was first offering. The 65in. LaserVue will be just 10in. thick. That's very good for an RPTV, but it still faces thinner form factors and falling prices from plasma and LCD makers.

Anchor Bay, maker of the high-end DVDO iScan series of video-processing engines, has a much different take on these new premium televisions. The company suggests you buy as cheap a television as possible and let the new Edge handled all the image processing and scaling. At $799, the Edge is much more affordable than other iScan models, and it has a built-in HDMI hub. It's also probably less than the cost of a premium-series television that is likely to have had to squeeze image-processing functions down to a chip.



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