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CES: Cheaper, Bigger, More Colorful

Although it's primarily a consumer show, many products on display at CES will eventually work their way into pro AV.

Incidentally, for those who thought tubes were on their way out the door, both LG and Samsung had demonstrations of super-thin widescreen CRTs. The Samsung models were only 14 inches deep, compared to the 20-inch models used in its current DTV sets. LG's version requires just a tad more depth at 15.7 inches with a 30-inch wide screen.

Trend to watch: advancements in HTPS

At the back end of the LVCC South Hall was a large booth identified as “3LCD.” Sponsored by Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, Epson, Fujitsu, and Sanyo, this booth featured both 720p and 1080p rear-projection TVs using high-temperature poly-silicon (HTPS) panels with a few 720p and 1080p front projectors on hand, too.

Why 3LCD? After years of ignoring Texas Instruments' DLP promotional and branding efforts, the major players in LCD projector manufacturing decided they had to counter some of the negative buzz about HTPS. You could see just how far 3LCD technology has come at Fujitsu's suite in the Venetian hotel. Its LPF-D711W front LCD projector looked particularly clean and crisp and had excellent color saturation. This native 1080p front LCD projector will retail somewhere in the $25,000 range, putting it up squarely against Sony's Qualia 004 SXRD and JVC's DLA-HD2K LCoS offerings.

Speaking of LCoS, both Philips and Intel gave up trying to tame the LCoS beast earlier this year. But there are still plenty of other companies in the game, most notably Sony and JVC. Several LCoS manufacturers are active in China and a few new panels were announced at the show, including eLCOS' VAN eHD70 0.7-inch diagonal panel. This 1920x1080 pixel imager is supposed to have 4,000:1 contrast and less than 10 ms response time.

The issue of color quality is also being addressed. PerkinElmer's Cermax division had a demo at the Mirage Hotel of just how good its compact and economical xenon arc lamp can look in both front and rear projection LCD and DLP applications. These lamps, which can operate from about 300 W to 800 W, have far superior spectral output than UHP and related mercury-vapor lamps and make an enormous difference in flesh tone rendering.

For a clever sidebar demo, InFocus, BenQ, and Mitsubishi showed a trio of palm-sized “pocket DLP projectors.” The illumination source was sequentially switched red, green, and blue LEDs. Perhaps not bright enough to be practical, but they made for interesting concept products.

Trend to watch: digital interfaces

Silicon Image, which has the unenviable task of maintaining and updating the DVI and HDMI standards, has announced an HDMI interoperability program to ensure that HDMI-equipped DVD players, receivers, set-top boxes, and TVs actually work with each other. They've also come out with low-cost HDMI receivers and a brand-new HDMI-equipped video scaler and processor chip, the SiI 8100.

Look for more interface manufacturers to get with the program and bring out DVI and HDMI distribution amplifiers and switchers as Gefen has done. Most HDMI-equipped TVs and monitors only have one such input. Gefen's products can expand that to four, and Silicon Image is showing new HDMI interface boards with two, three, and even four direct inputs for future products.

Pete Putman is a contributing editor for Pro AV and president of ROAM Consulting, Doylestown, PA. Especially well known for the product testing/development services he provides manufacturers of projectors, monitors, integrated TVs, and display interfaces, he has also authored hundreds of technical articles, reviews, and columns for industry trade and consumer magazines over the last two decades. You can reach him at pete@hdtvexpert.com.



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