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INFOCOMM 01 PREVIEW

May 1, 2001 12:00 PM, BY PETER H. PUTMAN, CTS


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There will be plenty of new products at infocomm this year, and the majority will have digital capabilities. That's no surprise because the professional a/v market is steadily going all-digital, just like its broadcast counterpart.

Look for some real surprises in the small-projector market, such as new entrants in the DLP game.

Graphic switchers are the hot ticket right now in interfacing, so expect new models and upgrades to older designs as everyone jockeys for market share.

THERE'S STILL A PLACE FOR ANALOG INTERFACES, BUT THE writing is on the wall — digital is coming, and you'd best get with the program. You'll see quite a few network-capable display products at the show, starting with installation projectors and branching into flat-matrix LCD and plasma monitors. While multiplexed wiring solutions will continue (Cat 5 and its variations), the long-term goal of most manufacturers is to provide IP control to all their products.

Look for some real surprises in the small-projector market, such as new entrants in the DLP game. Price cutting will continue; we'll no doubt see debuts of sub-$2000 SVGA and sub-$3000 XGA portable LCD and DLP projectors this year in Las Vegas. Plasma prices are also taking a hit, thanks to Sony's aggressive price cuts in the 42-inch market last fall. Now, you'll find quite a few 50-inch panels under $18,000, and more than a few 42-inch offerings under $9,000.

Graphic switchers are the hot ticket right now in interfacing, so expect new models and upgrades to older designs as everyone jockeys for market share. There will be some price cuts in the video scaling market, too, as end-users look for ways to precisely match the unusual pixel counts found in such devices as D-ILA projectors and plasma panels.

Because there are so many companies competing for market share, news about new products has been tight. Even so, we've managed to round up some advance information to help you make the most of your visit to the Sands Expo Center in June. (Don't forget the sunscreen!)

PROJECTORS

Panasonic will have the PT-L6600 Series of fixed-installation, ultra-bright SXGA and XGA projectors featuring the company's exclusive BriteOptic built-in dual-lamp system. The four projectors — the PT-L6600U SXGA, PT-L6500U XGA, PT-L6600UL SXGA and PT-L6500UL XGA (the latter two UL-series models without lenses) — incorporate three 1.3-inch TFT active-matrix polysilicon LCD panels with microlens array.

BriteOptic is a dual-lamp system that delivers the power of two high-intensity light sources through a high-precision prism. Users can select from four brightness settings: 3600, 2700, 1800 and 1350 ANSI lumens; and the projector can be set up vertically for rear projection. The projectors are HDTV-ready, and can automatically synchronize to display 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i video in the 16:9 wide aspect ratio.

Panasonic will also demo the PT-D8500U, a 3-chip DLP projector rated at more than 7000 ANSI lumens. It features 1280 × 1024 workstation compatibility with built-in universal format conversion and 10-bit digital signal processing. The PT-D8500U is also fully HDTV-compatible and offers built-in edge blending, allowing two to 100 PT-D8500Us to be set side-by-side or stacked up to 10 by 10 for displaying full-motion images over the entire span.

Sanyo will show off the PLC-XF12N and PLC-EF12N, two large-venue digital multimedia LCD projectors. Both units use 440-watt DC metal halide lamps and three 1.8-inch polysilicon TFT LCD panels. The PLC-XF12N is rated at 3300 ANSI lumens with native XGA (1024 × 768) resolution, while the PLC-EF12N provides 3600 ANSI lumens and SXGA (1280 × 1024) native resolution. Both projectors can be twin stacked. The units feature a power lens shift function and Sanyo's Polarized Beam Splitter optical system.

You'll also see the PLC-XP30. It incorporates a 250-watt NSH lamp to produce 3000 ANSI lumens. The projector has XGA native resolution of 1024 by 768 and a digital video interface (DVI) for direct digital connection to a PC. In addition, Sanyo will feature the micro-portable 5.7-pound PLC-XW15 LCD projector. It uses a 132-watt UHP lamp to produce 800 ANSI lumens of brightness while offering XGA 1024 × 768 resolution.

Finally, look for the PLV-60N, a 16:9 XGA (1366 × 768 pixel) LCD front projector rated at 1300 ANSI lumens, and the UXGA PLC-UF10 LCD large-venue projector (yes, you read that correctly), capable of 7000 ANSI lumens or, when twin-stacked, nearly 14,000 ANSI lumens. The PLC-UF10N includes a high-definition serial digital interface as well as an IEEE-1394 interface for real-time projection of video images from a PC, digital camera, camcorder or similar device. DVI support is also standard.

Barco will bring along the BarcoReality 6500 LCD projector, a 5000-lumens design with native SXGA (1280 × 1024) resolution and full network capabilities. SDI input is standard, and there's an optional IEEE-1394 input, too. This projector can be connected to a LAN with an optional Ethernet 10-base-T interface for remote operation and service diagnosis.

Barco will also show the CineView 5, a compact 3-chip DLP projector suitable for business theater and HD projection. It incorporates 1024 × 768 DMDs and is capable of true seamless source switching by using pre-determined transitions such as wipes, box in/out and dissolves.

Sharp will have a full raft of desktop and installation LCD projectors, starting with the compact NoteVision C20 and C30. Both are 1024×768 desktop projectors rated at 1000 and 1700 lumens respectively, providing full support for a wide range of RGB, video and DTV signals. Both projectors feature dual RGB inputs and Sharp's ImageACE scaling engine.

In the installation category, Sharp will show the 1024×768 XG-P10XU, capable of 3000 lumens with over 350:1 peak contrast. It's equipped with a 1.3:1 power zoom/focus lens, and there are optional 1.3-1.7:1 and 2.5-3.2:1 zooms for wide-angle and long-throw projections. Two multiformat 15-pin RGB/component inputs with a monitor loop-out are standard, as are composite, S-video and even DVI inputs.

The XG-P20XU delivers 3300 ANSI lumens with over 300:1 peak contrast but isn't much larger than the XG-P10XU. It also uses three 1.3-inch 1024 × 768 LCD panels. The standard lens is a 1.3:1 power zoom/focus design, and it can be shifted manually to correct for off-axis keystone distortion. Optional lenses include a 1.3-1.7:1 wide angle, 2.5-3.2:1 telephoto, 4.8-6.0:1 long throw telephoto and short-throw 0.9:1 wide angle.

For larger jobs, Sharp will showcase the XG-V10XU, which can produce 3800 ANSI lumens using three 1.8-inch 1024×768 LCD panels. The XG-V10XU will handle all interlaced and progressive signal sources up to UXGA (1600 by 1280) and all ATSC DTV signals. Input connections include a pair of 15-pin RGB/component jacks, a YPbPr component input, and composite and S-video jacks. It's also got a 29-pin DVI input for direct digital connections, as well as six different lens options. The XG-V10XU is fully IP-network capable as well.

There's also the XG-V10WU, which is equipped with three 1.8-inch 1280×1024 (SXGA) LCD panels for high-resolution imaging, and can deliver 4700 lumens with 400:1 peak contrast. It also supports interlaced and progressive signal sources up to UXGA (1600 by 1280) and all ATSC DTV signals. All zoom lens options for the XG-V10XU also fit the XG-V10WU, and the latter is fully IP-network capable.

Proxima will show the PRO AV 9410, an upgrade to its popular PRO AV 9400+. The 9410 offers 3700 ANSI lumens, increased contrast ratio claimed to be 600:1 (full on, full off) and reduced audible operating noise by 4dB via the same form factor and user interface as its predecessor. It uses 1280×1024 (SXGA) LCD panels and incorporates Proxima's V-scan video processing technology, extensive connectivity, lens shift, bi-directional RS-232 and compatibility with Proxima's ProjectionLink single-wire connectivity solution. Recently expanded PRO AV lens options now include LENS-011, a long-throw zoom lens with a ratio of 4.5-6:1.

Mitsubishi will bring the X80 ColorView projector, a 7.7-pound, 1500-lumens XGA (1024×768) LCD design with their unique ColorView system. It's the first compliant sRGB projector, and it uses a 6-color RGB/CMY matrix to achieve precise color matching. It features manual zoom and focus, plus digital keystone correction.

NEC Technologies pioneered the “Thunder” compact 3-chip DLP projection engine and has followed up the successful XT5000 with the new SX6000DC, first seen at ShoWest. This compact 1280×1024 SXGA design is rated at 4000 lumens and incorporates NEC's exclusive TriDigital image processing technology. Both models incorporate PanelLink digital interfaces and are aimed at staging, rental, theatrical and post-production applications.

For higher light output, there's the new XT9000, a 3-chip DLP design rated at 8000 lumens. The native resolution is XGA (1024 by 768), and the projector uses a 2kW xenon lamp. Contrast is rated at 400:1, and the XT9000 supports NTXSC/PAL, DTV, VGA, SVGA and compressed SXGA using NEC's Advanced AccuBlend technology, as well as the TV standards PAL/NTSC/SECAM/NTSC 4.43/HDTVB. For smaller installations, there's the GT2150 LCD projector with SXGA (1280×1024) native resolution. It's rated at 2500 lumens and supports DVI and analog video.

JVC stirred up some dust at ShoWest with the first true QXGA projector, the DLA-QX1. Look for a more finished version of this box in Las Vegas. It offers 2048×1536 pixel resolution with three 1.3-inch D-ILA reflective LCD panels, 10-bit processing per color channel, and 7000 ANSI lumens with a 2kW xenon lamp.

And there's more. JVC will also showcase the DLA-M5000SC, an SXGA (1280×1024) projector rated at 5000 ANSI lumens and claimed to have a 1000:1 contrast ratio. It supports all RGB and DTV formats, including an optional HD-SDI interface. Interchangeable lenses and full mechanical lens shift are standard.

JVC's new DLA-M2000LU projector delivers resolution as high as 1365 by 1024 pixels and generates 2000 ANSI lumens. Other features include JVC's proprietary Adaptive Digital Pixel Conversion technology and improved digital gamma correction. In addition, the projector offers digital keystone correction, 16x digital zoom, freeze function and 40-user channel presets for automatic and specialized setups.

Christie Digital will also showcase new projectors including the 1024×768 Vivid Green desktop/installation LCD projector, first seen at ShoWest. Other models that will be on display include the Prodigi 3-chip DLP family, available as the Prodigi 420 (3500 lumens, 1024×768 resolution), the Prodigi 600 (5000 lumens, 1024×768 resolution), and the Prodigi S-class (12,000 lumens, 1280×1024 resolution). All three models provide interchangeable lenses and 13-bit user-selectable gamma tables.

Sony will have a batch of new projector designs in Las Vegas in all categories, although the details weren't available at press time. In the installation area, look for the “spaceship” VPL-FX50U, a desktop/installation 1024×768 design that is fully network-capable. It's rated at 3500 lumens and supports DVI and all composite and component video/RGB formats. The big brother VPL-FE110U is a 4500-lumen SXGA (1280×1024) chassis with a quad-lamp feature for better uniformity and redundancy, and it's also network-capable. Both projectors have interchangeable lens options with mechanical lens shift.

Toshiba's offerings will start with the TLP-X20 LCD multimedia projector. The compact, lightweight (13 pounds)TLP-X20 delivers 2400 lumens of brightness and includes features such as a DVI terminal and a built-in PC memory card slot that accepts PC Type II memory cards. The TLP-X20 displays full XGA (1024×768), compressed SXGA (1280×1024) and compressed UXGA (1600×1280) resolution as well as 480p and 720p formats. It also accepts 1080i signals and displays HDTV signals in the EDTV format.

Toshiba will also introduce several new low-cost LCD projectors at INFOCOMM. Look for prototypes of the new Toshiba TLP-550 and the TLP-551, which are sub-9-pound XGA (1024×768) projectors rated at 1000 ANSI lumens. These will be accompanied by two new SVGA models, the TLP-250 and TLP-251.

Digital Projection International has announced three models of its Digimax DLP cinema projectors. The first model features a standard lamp cabinet, while the second is a transportable model based on a self-contained hydraulic lift system and compact lamp housing. The third design is a portable version designed to rest on a tabletop. Each Digimax projector can be configured with variable lamp illumination to deliver SMPTE standard 12 ft-L of illumination and 1000:1 contrast on screens up to 50 feet wide. A variety of anamorphic and zoom lens options deliver imagery at any film aspect ratio.

Texas Instruments' DLP technology is sure to show up in some surprising places. There is likely to be a sub-2-pound single-chip DLP projector on display in at least one booth (will it be PLUS again with a super-lightweight projector?), and we may also see the first 2000-lumens single-chip DLP design. Of course, TI would very much like to see one of its OEMs break the $2000 barrier with a single-chip DLP projector, so look to Sharp for one of those.

PLASMA AND LCD MONITORS, AND VIDEOWALLS

Pioneer will show its industry-leading thin-mullion videowall screen, the RM-V2550S2, as an option to the standard 4mm mullion screen that comes standard with Pioneer's RM-V2550U. The latter is a thin videowall featuring a 50-inch cube in a cabinet measuring only 29.5 inches deep.

In the plasma department, Pioneer will showcase its 40-inch PDP-V402 plasma monitor with native 640 × 480 (VGA) resolution and cabinet depth of less than 3.5 inches. This model offers increased image brightness and contrast and allows the end-user an optional down converter to display both XGA and SVGA signals.

Pioneer was the first manufacturer to offer a 50-inch PDP and continues with the PDP-502MX 50-inch XGA (1280 × 768) monitor. It features three proprietary technologies (True Matrix Imaging, Continuous Emission Display and Digital High Density Image Scaling).

Fujitsu plans to improve on its popular PDS4221 PDP with a new 42-inch plasma display at INFOCOMM. Although exact specifications have not been released as of press time, the new model is claimed to have a brighter and sharper picture. Look for Fujitsu's first 50-inch plasma panel to show up in Vegas (after its cameo appearance at Winter CES) hooked up to an RGB Spectrum Dual View video processor.

Sony took a big leap in the market with the PFM-42B1, a 42-inch 1024 × 1024 non-square pixel plasma panel that brought the price barrier for 16 × 9 plasma under $8000. It is a format-agnostic panel that will support any and all YPbPr and RGB video and computer formats, and measures just over 3 inches thick. Now that Fujitsu has shown a 50-inch panel, will Sony also have one at INFOCOMM?

NEC Technologies isn't sitting still in the 50-inch department. Their new PlasmaSync 50MP1 panel is a wide XGA (1365 × 768) design that accepts all kinds of video and progressive-scan RGB signals. The 50MP1 has a unique split-screen capability that can mix both 4 × 3 and 16 × 9 images, as well as two-thirds pulldown compensation for filmed programs and a motion-compensated 3-D scan converter. NEC's AccuShield phosphor protection lets you invert the image or select low-power mode as well as orbit pixels.

NEC also announced the largest commercially available plasma monitor, the PlasmaSync 61 MP1. This 61-inch (diagonal) PDP features 1365 × 768 pixel resolution and 600 cd/m2 screen brightness with peak contrast claimed to be 1000:1 in dark rooms. Coming standard are a 3:2 cinema mode and a newly developed digital signal processing circuit for converting interlaced video to progressive scan.

Sharp plans to show a new widescreen TFT LCD monitor, the LC-28HM2. This 16 × 9 aspect ratio panel features true high-resolution imaging (1280 by 768 pixels), and requires only 2.4 inches of depth. It accepts a wide range of video and RGB signals, including all DTV formats. Brightness is claimed to be 400 nits, with contrast over 150:1. Gamma correction and a digital comb filter round out the picture.

Electrosonic will showcase their new Vector Director system. Developed for corporate presentation applications, the Vector Director hardware package provides two video/SVGA inputs and one HD/SXGA source, with all continuous signal auto-detect. The output card can drive two separate progressive-scan displays up to 1280 × 1024 resolution, or a single 1600 × 1200 display.

A Vector Director system can be controlled via touchpanel, hand controller or PC. Two additional slots are available for input/output cards, allowing the system to be easily expanded as required. Vector Director is set up and controlled using Electrosonic's Presenter software, which employs intuitive drag-and-drop windows and menus to choose and display video and computer sources.

ImTech's Activu product is a completely software-based large-scale display (data and videowall) control and processing system that adapts to off-the-shelf computers. Using Activu, one or more operators can launch, view, control, resize, move, save, recall, reformat and terminate any network application. It can display any data, in any format, in super-high resolution from any feed, from any host. Activu is compatible with all modern peripheral displays and devices such as plasma display panels, liquid crystal flat panel displays and monitors.

Princeton will show the AI3.6HD, a 36-inch viewable 4:3 direct-view CRT, NTSC TV/computer monitor with integrated Ch.1 Internet service for enhanced TV and Web functionality. The AI3.6HD monitor supports video, 480p, 1080i and 720p (letterbox) digital formats as well as VGA, SVGA and XGA graphics from computer sources. The Ch.1-enabled AI3.6HD comes with universal IR remote/keyboard/mouse and RS-232 port.

INTERFACES, SCALERS AND SWITCHERS

Communications Specialties will open with “three dueces” in Vegas. Their Deuce HD Intelligent video scaler offers high definition images from any NTSC or PAL source by converting it to one of five scaled outputs — 480p, 720p, 1080p, 1280 × 1024 or 1366 × 768. Making use of three different algorithms (adaptive frame using inverse 3:2 pulldown, vertical temporal or static mesh), Deuce HD automatically selects the most effective motion compensation method, or combination of methods, based on the source material being scaled. The unit is able to support aspect ratios of both 4:3 (standard) and 16:9 (letterbox), and provides conversion from one format to another.

CSI's Deuce MC Intelligent Video Scaler converts standard TV video to high-resolution, non-interlaced video and offers a unique user-selectable, motion-compensation feature that can be set based on the input source. The motion compensation feature enables users to select either adaptive frame using inverse 3:2 pulldown, vertical temporal or static mesh. Deuce MC has three scaled output resolutions (852 by 480, 800 by 600 and 1024 by 768) and standard line doubling and quadrupling outputs.

You'll also see the Deuce Pro, which converts interlaced video signals (NTSC, PAL and SECAM) to a non-interlaced progressive scan output in 10 different resolutions, including two custom formats. Deuce Pro offers video decoding and A/D conversion for composite video, S-Video, YUV and RGB video. Additional features include component and RGB processing controls to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and hue. Two custom output formats are preset to 480p and 720p 16:9, but can be configured to almost any resolution via the DPro graphical user interface.

RGB Spectrum will also hold a pair. The RGB/Videolink 1690 scan converter accepts any inputs up to 1600 × 1200 resolution and outputs the imagery as NTSC/PAL composite video, S-video (S-VHS, Hi-8) or component analog video (Betacam/MII). SMPTE 259M digital output is available as an option. The unit employs state-of-the-art digital signal processing circuitry to eliminate interlace flicker, and offers zoom, autosync and multiple levels of flicker filtering.

RGB's 4View multi-input display processor is designed for applications in broadcast monitoring, video conferencing or anywhere multiple video images must be shown on a screen. The 4View displays 4 video inputs in quadrants on a monitor, flat panel, or projection screen. It allows all four video inputs to be displayed at full resolution on a 1280 × 1024 pixel screen, providing much higher visual quality. Features include titling, borders, and both front panel and RS-232 control. Other options include an auxiliary video rate output and an optional DVI digital output.

Kramer Electronics is busy with a new line of video signal distribution and switching products. Their new VS-4×4FW is a passive FireWire router for desktop video production environments where digital video or storage is being routed via the new FireWire (IEEE-1394) standard. Offering data speed compatibility up to 400MB/s, the VS-4×4FW uses the industry-standard 6-pin (type B) connector for the host sources as well as the outputs. It is fully compliant with the IEEE-1394 standard for data transmission.

Kramer will also demo the FC-5000, a combination standards converter and time-base corrector. With three inputs (one dedicated composite and two composite/S-video inputs), the FC-5000 includes two S-video outputs and two composite video outputs all with proc-amp controls. Other features include AGC from 0.5 to 2 volts, digitally generated EBU bars, cross hatch, PLUGE and multiburst patterns and a digital comb filter.

It wouldn't be INFOCOMM without Extron Electronics, branching this year into a new line of digital switchers. The Digital Xpoint matrix switcher line is made to switch serial digital video signals to multiple digital video devices in production studios, non-linear editing suites and broadcast studios. The two models are the DXP 88 SDI (eight input, eight output) and the DXP 44 SDI (four input, four output).

Each input has an equalized and buffered loop-through, and each output has dual buffered and re-clocked BNC outputs. These SDI matrix switchers handle four SMPTE 259M data rates: 143, 177, 270 and 360 MB/s. They are capable of switching 4fsc (composite) or 4:2:2 (component) serial digital video transmission standards. The Digital XPoint Series provides automatic rate selection; the matrix automatically detects and locks onto the incoming data signal.

The Digital XPoint Series provides Extron's exclusive Digital Sync Validation Processing to verify active sources. When input serial data is locked, the matrix indicates the presence of a carrier source and data rate. Sixteen global memory presets enable individual I/O configurations to be saved and conveniently recalled either from the front panel or RS-232/422.

Princeton will demo the PureProgressive PSC-1500 scan converter for improved images from DVD and standard video (NTSC) sources. The motion-adaptive deinterlacer creates a 480p image that is claimed to be better than those created by line doublers/scalers costing thousands of dollars. The new product replaces Princeton's PSC-1000 by adding a horizontal squeeze function for viewing 4:3 formatted material on 16:9 displays. Output signals are available either as component (YPbPr) video or RGBHV.

Analog Way will also be in the picture, presenting its Graphic Switcher II for seamless cuts, fades, dissolves, mixes and wipes between interlaced and progressive-scan signal sources. The GS II features 16 computer/video inputs, and each input is scaled up or down to one user-programmable output signal that can be VGA, SVGA, XGA, SXGA, D-ILA or HDTV (480p, 720p, 1080p). Both main and preview outputs are standard, as is an optional T-bar controller for multiple screens.

Folsom Research will show the ViewMAX, a high-performance downconverter that converts high-resolution computer (1600 by 1280) to broadcast-quality video in real time. The ViewMAX offers dynamic pan and zoom, one-button image presets, HD input and a user-friendly interface. It's intended for on-air Web broadcast, post-production, video conferencing, rental and staging, computer generated graphics, recording or just viewing an image on an NTSC, PAL VGA, or Mac monitor, or an LCD, DLP or plasma display device.


Peter Putman is well known for his yearly in-depth reviews of the Projection Shoot-Out at INFOCOMM; these reviews required over 5 hours of viewing time during the 3-day trade show and the subsequent grading of over 100 display devices in nine performance categories. Pete also performs numerous hands-on reviews of projectors, monitors, scan converters, line multipliers and video scalers at his studio in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. These reviews appear on his web site, www.projectorexpert.com, as well as in the pages of S&VC.

INFOCOMM Info

INFOCOMM International, sponsored by the International Communications Industries Association Inc., is the largest event of the year in the audio, video and presentations industry. INFOCOMM International 2000 had over 26,000 qualified attendees, and more are expected in Las Vegas in 2001.

Schedule

Show dates have been changed to Wednesday through Friday, June 13-15, and the show floor will be open at the following times:

Wednesday, June 13: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday, June 14: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, June 15: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Advanced registration online is open now and closes June 8. Housing Registration is also open now for all attendees and exhibitors.

Location

INFOCOMM International will be held in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, 201 E. Sands Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89109.

Three other exhibitions under the INFOCOMM label are held around the world: the biannual INFOCOMM Asia in Singapore; the annual INFOCOMM Europe in Germany; and the annual INFOCOMM Japan.

What You'll See

INFOCOMM International 2001 covers more than 400,000 square feet of exhibit and special event space, featuring new products in projection technology, display devices, audio technology, screens and monitors, control systems and interfacing equipment and computer hardware and software for communications.

For more information, call 800/659-7469.



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