This web site represents views related to home theater and its underlying technologies. The owner of this web site is not associated with any manufacturer, distributor or retail sales organization (except for the few affiliate links contained on this web site). Every attempt has been made to provide unbiased information and ideas that others interested in building or upgrading a home theater may find useful.
Updated June 28, 2012 -- email comments to: dtvmax.com
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July 2012 Update
Vizio has announced they are ready to begin shipping the first flat panel HDTV (LCD/LED) with a ultra wide screen aspect ratio of 21 x 9 (instead of the HDTV standard 16 x 9). Some home theater enthusiasts that use front projectors have been using 'scope' screens (with 2.35:1 aspect ratio) for a number of years. Such wide screens as being offered by Vizio when combined with video processing to zoom the image can eliminate the black bars at the top and bottom of the image when displaying movies filmed in Cinemascope with its similar aspect ratio. There are many movies on Blu-ray discs that are in 'scope' format that will benefit from being displayed on such wide aspect ratio displays. Below is part of the text of the Vizio press release:
The XVT Series Cinemawide HDTV features VIZIO's award-winning Theater 3D technology, providing flicker-free 3D that is clear, crisp and up to two times brighter than conventional 3DTVs, delivering a vibrant cinema-quality 3D experience. VIZIO Internet Apps® also stands as a key component, providing endless entertainment options by bringing thousands of streaming movies, TV shows, and songs directly from the Internet, to the consumer's fingertips.
VIZIO's Theater 3D technology delivers the state-of-the-art 3D technology used at your local movie theater into your home to produce an immersive 3D experience. Four pairs of lightweight, inexpensive and comfortable battery-free 3D glasses are included with each Cinemawide 3D HDTV.
The VIZIO Cinemawide provides the ultimate smart TV experience. Users can enjoy full-screen, full-resolution 16:9 HDTV on the rightside of the screen while accessing VIZIO Internet Apps in a column on the leftside of the screen. This allows viewers to check scores, catch up on news, or a share a tweet - all while watching TV. Built-in Wi-Fi makes it easy to connect to the Internet and a premium Bluetooth® universal remote control with full keyboard lets users type search and browse apps with ease.
The VIZIOmodel XVT3D580CM - 58-inch class Cinemawide LED Smart TV with Theater3D is now available exclusively on VIZIO.com for $2799 MSRP, with a limited time, introductory offer of $2499
Other news from Vizio is they plan to release the Vizio Co-Star stream player for $99 during July. This box supports Google TV and Vizio says that it supports "thousands of apps, full-screen web browsing capabilities-via Google Chrome with Adobe Flash Player and HTML 5 support." The Co-Star supports 1080p Full HD and 3D content, includes built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi access, provides a USB port to connect with external hard drives, keyboards and other peripherals, and provides DLNA support to stream pictures, videos, and music from DLNA networked devices. The Co-Star includes a remote with a keyboard.
When will LED and Laser light sources replace bulbs in mainstream home theater projectors? That is the question that many home theater owners have been asking for the past couple of years. Currently there are many small business projectors (e.g., pico projectors) intend for use with small screens that use a LED light source and there are also a very few expensive home theater class projectors that also LED light sources. However, even these expensive models have limited light output as compared to many less expensive bulb-based home theater projectors. Several companies have announced or introduced mid-level business projectors for 2012 that use a combination of LEDs and Laser diodes in their light engine, but LED and/or Laser based home theater projectors in the moderate price range (e.g., $1500 to $7500) are still absent from the major consumer electronics/projector manufacturers. At least two different manufacturers of the LEDs or Laser diodes have announced new products that are said to have higher light output and appear to be well suited for use with a home theater class of projector. The question of when projectors equipped with such LED/Laser light engines it still unanswered but perhaps there will be some announcements emerging from the CEDIA Expo in early September. However, the widespread evolution from bulb-based home theater class projectors to LED/Laser based projectors is still probably two or three years away.
Revenue for sales of flat panel HDTV (e.g., LCD/LED plus Plasma) has declined for the first time, even though the number of units being sold is ahead of 2011 levels. Also the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA is an trade association of consumer electronics manufacturers) is forecasting weak revenue from consumer electronics sales in the second half of 2012. The CEA's chief economist and senior research director Shawn DuBravac predicts that the overall spending on consumer electronics projects will be lower in the 2nd half of 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011. This does not mean that sales will be slower for consumer electronics in 2012. Rather that the growth in sale volume is not enough to compensate for the generally declining prices of such products.
The news items from April - June 2012 appears below
Will 4K be the next big thing - going well beyond HDTV? The term 4K along with the technology, comes from the digital cinema industry where 2K and increasingly 4K projectors are being used at local movie theaters. The terms 2K or 4K (or even 8K) refers to the approximate number of pixels displayed across the width of the screen. The consumer HD 1080p resolution is very close to the 2K in terms of resolution. While the consumer 1080p HD standard has 1920 horizontal pixels by 1080 vertical pixels, the digital cinema 2K standard has a slightly higher resolution of 2048 pixels by 1080 pixels. The digital cinema 4K standards doubles those numbers to 4094 x 2180 pixels. Thus 4K displays with their 8.8 Mpixels have more than 4 times the pixels of today's consumer HDTV 1080p standard. As of today the only consumer video projector with a native 4K resolution is the Sony VPL-VW1000 which carries a not so consumer friendly MSPR of $25,000. JVC markets some projectors starting at prices under $8,000 with pseudo-4K resolution, what I like to call 4K-lite. These projectors use a technique JVC calls eShift to create an on-screen approximation of 4K from a projector that uses a native 1080p set of micro display chips. Unlike the Sony 4K projector, the JVC projectors do not accept a 4K video signal input. Rather, they only support using the projector's internal video processing to upscale regular 1080p inputs (e.g., from a Blu-ray Disc) to the 4K-Lite display. LG has indicated they plan on introducing 4K LCD/LED flat panel displays later in 2012. There are reports that the Blu-ray Disc Association, that controls the Blu-ray Disc standard, is working on an updated standard that will include support for 4K resolution discs. These will require discs with more than today's 2 data layers in order to hold the additional data required to store movies with the much higher resolution. Prototype 4-layer and 10-layer discs have already been demonstrated. There are also reports that Directv investigating how they will provide 4K video in the future. I would not expect to see very much consumer acceptance of true 4K displays, especially at very premium prices, until 4K video sources become available.
Panasonic's 2012 models of Blu-ray Disc players are now available with their new 3D lineup including the DMP-BDT120 replacing last year's DMP-BDP110 and the same for the new BDP220 and BDP320 directly replacing last years models. In addition Panasonic is introducing a new flagship model the DMP-BDP500 that is expected to be shipping during April.
2012 is forecast to be the year when there will be more movies viewed by consumers via internet streaming services as compared to from DVDs. However the revenue to the movie studios from DVDs and Blu-ray Disc sales is expected to far exceed what revenue they will collect from video streaming services. Most quality conscience home theater enthusiasts strongly prefer the video and audio quality from Blu-ray discs as compared to the streaming video quality.
Blu-ray Disc players by the end of 2011 were in about one fourth of US homes according to results released by Centris Research. The same company is reporting that HDTVs are now in about 63% of US households.
If you are interested in a do-it-yourself project to create a 3D home theater using two regular (i.e., 2D) projectors, then check out my series of blogs at the Projector Reviews web site - starting HERE
The news items from February and March 2012 appears below
With the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) having now come and gone (see report from Jan. 2012 below), February is expected to be a slow month for new product announcements.
Sony is starting to ship their new VPL-VW1000ES projector this month. This is the first 'consumer' projector with a native 4K resolution projecting an image that is 4096x2160 pixels. This is a relatively bright projector with a rated 2000 lumens output and initial reports indicate that even after calibration the lumens output when the projector is operated in high lamp mode and with the zoom lens set to maximum (i.e., for the largest image) are close to the rated value. Thus, for 2D video projection this projector can be used with a fairly large screen (e.g., 150 inch), even with screens having modest gain (e.g., 1.0 to 1.3).
Panasonic is reporting a 14% drop in sales for the quarter that ended on Dec. 31, 2011. They are also forecasting a "major net loss" for their overall fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2012. The root of the Panasonic troubles seems to be not only slower sales but also the overall declining prices for consumer electronics which reduces the profit on the individual products.
Although the 2012 CES had very few introductions for new home theater class front projectors, one projector that appears to have been missed by most attending the show was a new model from Viewsonic that uses a hybrid LED/Laser light engine. This new model is not expected to begin shipping until mid-2012 and the official price has not yet been announced (but may have a list price in the $3K to $4K range). It is rated to produce 1200 lumens of output in its brightest mode and has a native full 1080p resolution. The hybrid LED/Laser light source is something new. Previous LED based DLP projectors have used red, blue and green LEDs. For this new hybrid design the green LED is replaced with a blue (or perhaps cyan) laser plus a yellow LED that when their light is mixed produce the green light source. I assume this is being done to produce increased green lumens as compared to simply using a green LED. It also appears that BenQ and Optoma will also be introducing projectors this year with a similar hybrid light engine, therefore this hybrid design may be coming from Texas Instruments, the manufacturer of the DLP chipset used by all of these manufacturers.
The news items from January 2012 appears below
January is the month for the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This year's CES was held 10-13 January and the following new product announcements and news items are from CES.
Both LG and Samsung were showing prototype 55 inch OLED (Organic LED) flat panel HDTVs. OLED has been promoted for a number of years as the technology of the future for HDTVs. It appears to finally be getting closer to reality, but the first generation large screen flat panel HDTVs are expected to be expensive (prices not yet announced, but expected to be substantially more than the current top-of-the-line LCD and Plasma models). OLED promises a number of characteristics that make them superior to both LCD (including so called LED models that use a LED backlight for the LCD display panel) and Plasma HDTVs. The OLED HDTVs promise a superior real world contrast ratio with ultra deep blacks, very thin displays (even flexible displays are possible), and low power consumption. The LG prototype OLED TV has a display that is just 4mm thick (about 1/6 inch) and this is for a 55 inch screen size. However, in the past high production costs and a limited lifetime of the display panels were major obstacles to producing a viable consumer large screen OLED HDTV. It now appears that manufacturers are well on the way to overcoming these issues and within a very few years we may see OLED HDTVs capturing a meaningful market segment. It is not clear when and what price LG and Samsung expect to have production OLED HDTVs similar to the 55 inch prototypes they are showing at CES.
continues as the leading manufacturer of Plasma HDTVs and they are inducing
their next generation of plasma models. From the Panasonic press
release: "The six VIERA Plasma series, VT50, GT50, ST50, UT50,
XT50, U50, feature self illuminating panels with ultimate black levels,
NeoPlasma technologies(VT/GT/ST) providing a black filter with a higher
efficiency panel that generates the best balance of black and white under
brighter environments. The new Louver filter and new high performance panel
result in improved external light shading, improved clarity and improved
light transmittance. The 2012 models employ the NeoPlasma Black 2500 (VT/GT/ST/UT),
a 6,220,800 pixel cells FULL local dimming, 24,576 steps of gradation
technology (VT/GT) (previously only available in professional monitors), a
new custom driver LSI and a fast switching phosphor panel on all of
Panasonic’s 1080p 3D models."
Sony is introducing a new line of Blu-ray Disc players. The top-of-the-line BDP-S790 has a new Digital Cinema 4K upscaler. The "4K" digital cinema standard offers approx. 8 Mpixels images, as compared to approx. 2 Mpixels for regular 1080p HDTVs. The BDP-790 offers 2x scaling in both the vertical and horizontal directions (for 4x the total number of pixels). This is the first Blu-ray Disc player introduced with this 4K scaling capability. However, in order to use this player you will need a display device capable of accepting the 4K video input. The Sony VPL-VW1000 projector (MSRP approx. $25K) offers this capability, but also includes it's own 1080p-to-4K video scaler. Sony's new Blu-ray Players support DLNA, a number of popular video streaming web services as well as Blu-ray 3D playback.
Blu-ray Disc sales topped $2 Billion for the first time in 2011 as this high definition disc format is gradually taking over from DVDs as the preferred consumer disc media. At the same time DVD sales are on the decline.
Panasonic has announced an updated line of Blu-ray Disc players with the BDT320 as their flagship model. Panasonic's BDT320 features a new sleek design that, is just over 1 inch tall. The tray load drive used in prior Panasonic Blu-ray players is replaced with slot load drive allowing users to easily insert discs. Wi-Fi is built into the player allowing as is support for Panasonic's VIERA Connect service, supporting video streaming services including CinemaNow, Hulu Plus, VUDU™, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. The use of VIERA Connect also allows users to turn any HDTV into a Skype™*-enabled TV.
Toshiba is introducing four new Blu-ray Players for 2012. New models BDX3300 and BDX5300 include built-in WiFi while the BDX2300 and BDX4300 are only "WiFi ready". Also the BDX4300 and BDX5300 support Blu-ray 3D.
As far as home theater oriented video projectors are concerned, most of the new models for 2012 were introduced back in September at the CEDIA trade show (see the info below in the Sept. news). However, at CES Sharp introduced a new 3D projector, model XV-Z30000, that uses DLP technology and claims to offer a contrast ratio of 50,000:1 with use of a dynamic iris. It is rated offer 1600 lumens output is brightest mode (but less in an accurate calibrated mode). This new projector replaces the XV-Z17000, which was Sharp's first 3D capable model. Perhaps the biggest omission with that earlier model was a lack of lens shift. The new model appears to address this issue of limited installation options as it is said to have "...the wide range horizontal and vertical lens shift function allows for flexible installation. In addition, with the motorized lens shift function, customers can select their preferable setting position."
It appears that progress is being made toward an industry standard for active 3D glasses using Bluetooth, rather and infrared technology, with the following announcement at CES: "The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) today announced it has reached the first iteration of its active 3D glasses standard using Bluetooth wireless technology. Samsung, among other member companies, is actively working within the Bluetooth SIG to finalize the standard that will give 3D glasses users greater freedom of movement, longer battery life, and increased interoperability with an ever-expanding group of television brands. As the 3D glasses specification makes progress, millions of Bluetooth enabled TVs have already shipped, paving the road to mass adoption of Bluetooth technology in the living room." The SIG organization of made up of several, but certainly not all, of the consumer electronics manufacturers. Their standard for 3D active shutter glasses will be voluntary and not truly universal since some manufacturers (e.g., those not members of SIG) will continue to use other approaches for their glasses.
The news items from November and December 2011 appear below
This update is overdue so there is quite a bit of info related to home theater projectors to report. Much of this has already been reported on my blog at Projector Reviews (link above). There have been many new 3D projectors announced since August and a few are already on dealers shelves and several other will be showing up by the end of 2011. Below are details on some of the more interesting new models.
JVC is replacing their 2011 models with a new line-up that for the two top models bring quite a few exciting new features at the same price as the models they replace. The new DLA-RS55 and DLA-RS65 (and equivalent X70 and X90 models) will retail for just under $8K and $12K respectively and will now feature lens memory and upscaling to 4K resolution (sorry no native 4K input this year) by using what JVC calls e-Shift technology. These projectors use standard 1080p LCoS display chips create what I would call a 4K-lite image by first upscaling each 1080p video video frame to a 4K frame (i.e., actually 2160 x 3840 pixels), then re-samples the image to create to two 1080p sub-frame images with the second one offset by 1/2 pixel horzontal and 1/2 pixel vertical from the first. The projector display the first subframe then shift the image position and displays the 2nd subframe. While not a true native 4K projector this technique provide most of the benefits for displaying upscaled 1080p that one would get with a native 4K projector, but at a much lower cost. JVC has also replaced the current DLA-RS40 with the DLA-45 and similar DLA-X3 with the DLA-X30. The new models carry a retail price of under $3.5K (or $1K less than last year's models). These entry level models lack the e-Shift feature and also the color management system found on the more expensive models. JVC has added a lens memory feature for multiple aspect ratios (first introduced by Panasonic a couple of years ago). These new 3D models are claimed to have improved 3D performance with less cross-talk (for less 3D ghosting) and also improved light output in 3D mode. They have also changed vendors for the JVC branded 3D glasses and the new models are said to offer better performance (and probably a lower price). These new JVC projectors should be available in early to mid December.
Panasonic has begun shipping their new PT-AE7000, which is an LCD based 3D projector. This projector uses a new generation of LCD display chips manufactured by Epson and also used in their new higher-end 3D LCD projectors (see the Epson item below). It is priced among a group of new 3D projectors with street prices in the $3K price range. Panasonic also introduced a new entry-level 2D only 1080p model PT-AR100U ($1999 MSRP). A Panasonic representative confirmed that the now 2-year old PT-AE4000 will continue to be offered as their mid-model of a 3 home theater 1080p projector line-up.
Epson has introduced a new line of 3D projector using their 3LCD technology. The entry-level Home Cinema 3010 is already available (street price of about $1.5K) while the higher performance models including the top models (Home Cinema 5010 and Pro Cinema 6010) should be available by the end of he year. The major technical challenge in using LCD technology for displaying active 3D images, is how to accommodate the response time inherent with this technology. This limitation of LCD technology applies to both flat panel LCD 3D TVs as well as to LCD 3D projectors. Since active 3D systems work by alternately displaying the images intended for the right and left eyes, the display must be able to display the new image frame without retaining any (for very little) traces of the previous image. Liquid crystals cannot instantaneously change between different states (e.g, between transparent and opaque or between light grey and dark grey). If the response time required by the LCD to complete the required transition between is too long then the results will be 3D crosstalk, or ghosting. The approach taken by such manufacturers as Samsung and Sony, for their first generation of LCD flat panel 3D TVs was to refresh the display 240 times per second (240 Hz) with every other frame being a black frame. This was done in an attempt to remove the previous image from the display before the next image was displayed. This also allowed time for the liquid crystal lenses of the active shutter 3D glasses to switch between their clear and opaque states. The approach presents each eye with 60 video frames per second. While this technique reduced to 3D crosstalk to generally acceptable levels for many viewers, the response time for some such LCD 3D TVs (or so-called LED 3D TVs – actually LCD with LED backlight), was still too long to fully eliminate visible 3D crosstalk. The drawback of inserting a black frame between each active video frame is a reduced image brightness since each eye individually is now only seeing every 4th frame (i.e., the other 3 are two black frames plus the video frame intended for the other eye which is being blocked from view by the active shutter glasses). Thus the viewer starts out with a 75% light loss plus the additional light loss in going through the 3D glasses. The net result with such 3D TVs is the overall image brightness, as seen by the viewer, in 3D modes is perhaps only 15% as bright as viewing the same TV for standard 2D video (i.e., without wearing the 3D glasses). It can be noted that Sony’s first generation of LCoS 3D projectors, introduced in late 2010, also used a similar approach of using an overall 240 Hz refresh rate with a black frame inserted between each active video frame. The Epson/Panasonic approach taken for their first generation of LCD projectors, is similar to what is described above for LCD flat panel 3D TVs. However, the refresh rate has been increased to 480 Hz and rather than simply alternating between black frames and active video frames, the Epson/Panasonic approach is to repeat each active video frame 3 times followed by one black frame. Thus the sequence is 3 repeated left active frames, one black frame, 3 repeated right active frames, one black frame, etc. The net effect is that each eye still is only presented with 60 unique active video frames per second with each one being 3 x 1/480 sec. = 1/160 sec. long. Projectors using this approach are displaying the active frames for each eye for 3 out of 8 consecutive 1/480 sec. intervals, or 37.5% of the time, rather than 25% of the time as in the previous example. Thus there will be less light loss than with the previously described approach used by the 240Hz LCD flat panels 3D TVs and certain 240 Hz 3D LCoS projectors. With this Epson/Panasonic approach the real question becomes: do the LCD micro-display chips have a short enough response time to fully transition between left and right sequential active frames during the 1/480 sec. where the black frame is being inserted. Initial reports have been that 3D crosstalk on these new Panasonic and Epson projectors is visible at times as is also the case with LCoS based 3D projectors (and much less so with DLP 3D projectors).
Mitsubishi plans to begin shipping their new HC7800D projector later this year. This is a 1080p DLP projector using a single DMD chip and a color wheel with an effective 6X rate (to minimize the “rainbow effect”). The HC7800D offers frame interpolation in both 2D and 3D modes. Mitsubishi is also releasing a new generation of 3D active shutter glasses to go along with the HD7800D that use a new technology that is said to provide much faster switching times between the glasses opaque and transparent states. This allows the glasses lens to remain transparent for an longer interval which results in more light reaching the viewer’s eyes (thus producing a brighter 3D image). Initial information indicates the 3D image brightest (accounting for both the light output from the projector and the light loss thru the glasses) will be about twice as much as with many of the first generation 1080p 3D projectors. While the HC7800D has a lens shift adjustment, it is of limited range and this projector (like many other DLP models) has a large vertical image offset. As a specific example (based on preliminary information) of what this means, when using a 100 inch diagonal 16×9 screen and for when the projector is ceiling mounted, the projector (lens center) must be located at least approx. 9.5 inches above the top of the screen and at most approx. 22.8 inches. So although this projector does have lens shift, it still provides limited flexibility in mounting location and also means it will not be well suited for use with screens using retro-reflective screen fabrics (e.g., Da-Lite High Power).
BenQ plans to introduce their first 1080p 3D projector, model W7000, later this year. This model appears to be a 3D enabled successor to the popular, and now 2 years old, W6000. Preliminary information is the W7000 will offer 2000 ANSI lumens using a 300 watt lamp, have a 1.5x zoom lens with lens shift that allows the projector to be positioned from 12.5% of screen height below the bottom of the screen up to 12.5% above the top of the screen (and anywhere in between), and provides a 50,000:1 contrast ratio (with use of a dynamic iris). Also the W7000 is expected to offer frame interpolation, for smooth motion. There is no official pricing information on the W7000 but it will probably compete with the other mid-priced ($3K to $3.5K) 3D models from Sony, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, etc.
Sony after introducing the VPL-HW30 in August as their entry level 3D projector, followed that with an announcement in Sept. for their new VPL-VW95ES (MSRP of about $7K) that replaces last year's VPL-VW90ES. This new model is said to provide higher light output in 3D mode than last year's model and with less 3D crosstalk. Sony also introduced their new VPL-VW1000ES 4K (super HD) projector. This was said by Sony to be the first consumer projector with a native 4K resolution (approx. 2K x 4K pixels or 4 times the total pixels of a 1080p image). The list price will be about $25K when this model ships in the first quarter of 2012. The VW1000ES can accept inputs in full 4K resolution and also offers upscaling from 1080p to 4K format. It is specified to have 2000 lumens output.
The news items from Sept. - Oct 2011 appear below
September is a big month for the announcement of new video projectors and other home theater components. The largest European consumer electronics show (IFA in Berlin, Germany) takes place at the very beginning of the month then in the USA the CEDIA trade show follows on 7-10 September in Indianapolis. Updates from the CEDIA Expo are posted below.
For 3D projectors using DLP technology Mitsubitshi was showing their new HC7800 (est. US price $3500) and Acer was showing their first 1080p 3D projector, model 9500BD (estimate price when it comes to the USA is approx. $2500). The Acer model is confirmed to offer lens shift while the Mitsubishi also has a limited range of lens shift. Lens shift makes placement of the projector much easier than having to accommodate a projector with a fixed lens offset, such as is the case with the current Sharp DLP 3D projector model XV-Z17000 (the first 1080p 3D DLP projector) and the new Optoma lower end models HD33 and HD3300.
For LCoS technology based 3D projectors Sony, Epson and JVC are introducing new projectors. Sony calls their LCoS technology SXRD and they have announced their new VPL-VW95ES model, which appears to be replacement for both the 2D-only VW85 and the 3D VW90 models. The new VW95ES features lens memory to accommodate multiple aspect ratios (useful for those people with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio 'scope' screen). This new model is also said to have improved 3D performance with less 3D crosstalk (ghosting) as compared to last year's VW90ES model. JVC will be introducing 5 new models projectors at CEDIA, including a new high resolution 4K model (with approx. 2K by 4K pixel resolution). JVC calls their version of LCoS technology DILA. Some of the new JVC models are rumored to include lens memory. Epson has indicated that the production issues with their first generation of LCoS projectors, called "LCD-Reflective" by Epson, have been resolved and they now expect to be shipping these new models late this year (a one year delay from what was announced at CEDIA last year).
For LCD based 1080p 3D projectors, Epson has introduced 5 new models at the IFA show (and the equivalent USA models are expected to be shown at CEDIA). The top Epson models feature lens memory to accommodate multiple aspect ratio (useful for those people with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio 'scope' screen.
For more detailed information on these and other new projectors introduced/demo'ed at the CEDIA Expo see my Blogs at Projector Reviews that reported directly from the CEDIA Expo - PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3. 2012 UPDATE: Reviews of several of these new projectors is now available at Projector Reviews.
The news items from August 2011 appear below
There is nothing official yet from Epson, but a few small details and well founded rumors have leaked out. The official introduction of their new 3D projector is expected at the IFA trade show in Berlin, Germany and at the CEDIA trade show in Indianapolis, Indiana (USA) both in early September, with the IFA show just a few days earlier than CEDIA. It appears the new Epson 3D projectors (probably a consumer series model and a very similar pro-series model) will use the same Epson manufactured LCD display chips being used by Panasonic in their recently announced PT-AE7000 (to begin shipping in September). The Epson 3D model is expected to have a little higher lumens output than the Panasonic model. Epson had announced plans a year ago to produce a new top-of-the-line series of home theater projectors using a variation of LCoS technology (as being used by JVC and Sony for their projectors) that Epson calls "LCD Reflective." However, Epson ran into production issues in late 2010 that remained unresolved well into 2011 that forced them to delay and eventually cancel production of the planned 2011 projector models based on this technology. It now appears these production issues have been resolved and Epson will be ready to begin shipping their new 2012 line of "LCD Reflective" projectors starting within the next few months. The 2012 version will probably have evolved from what was announced a year ago for the now dead 2011 product line. Stay tuned for a report from CEDIA for what Epson, and the other projector manufacturers, are releasing for their new product lines.
Optoma has posted details of their soon to be released 3D ready 1080p DLP projectors on their web site. The official Optoma press release indicates their flagship model is the HD8300 will carry a MSRP of $4499. The first of the 1080p resolution Optoma 3D projectors to be available is the entry-level HD33 which is just now starting to ship with Retail Street Price of $1499. Finally a mid-level model HD3300 will carry a MSRP of $1999. Below is from the Optoma press release for the HD33:
FREMONT, Calif. | August 16, 2011 | Bringing Hi-Def 3D projection to its most affordable price point ever, Optoma, the best-selling DLP projector brand in the Americas, has introduced the HD33, the first full 1080p 3D projector available for less than $1,500. Incorporating several new proprietary technologies and design features, the HD33, with an end-user price of $1,499, is available now through leading brick & mortar and online retailers.
“3D is best done big, and you can’t beat projection for big screen cinema,” said Jon Grodem, Optoma’s senior director of product and marketing, “The HD33 makes 3D available to millions more consumers than ever before, and is a great example of why Optoma has earned a reputation for delivering industry-leading innovation and outstanding quality.”
According to Grodem, the 1800 ANSI lumen HD33 offers more than just full compatibility with all 2D and 3D standards. It incorporates several new proprietary technologies that deliver a truly dynamic cinematic experience. Optoma’s new PureMotion3D frame interpolation processing reduces judder to create smoother video sequences in both 2D and 3D content. PureDepth, a brand-new technology developed by the company, optimizes the projector’s brightness and image configuration, ensuring stunning image quality, again in both 2D and 3D. And a new color processing system provides improved color accuracy, contrast, black levels and shadow details in image sizes ranging from 35 inches to more than 300 inches.
The HD33 has also been developed in parallel with the company’s new 3D-RF glasses, which use RF (radio frequency) technology and have been specifically designed to maximize brightness & contrast while eliminating the line of sight and synchronization issues commonly experienced with systems using infra-red (IR) emitters. The new glasses are fully rechargeable; the emitter is included with the projector, while the glasses will be sold separately.
The HD33 supports all the HDMI 1.4a mandatory 3D formats, including both Side-by-Side and Top & Bottom formats, and more. To further enhance 3D compatibility, Side-by-Side and Top & Bottom formats can be manually enabled to allow other non-HDMI 1.4a compatible devices, such as older set top boxes, Xbox360, or PCs, to display 3D via the VGA or HDMI ports. Accordingly, the HD33 offers two HDMI 1.4a ports, one VGA port, as well as connections for component video, composite video, RS-232, a +12V trigger, and a VESA 3D Port.
3D content can be viewed with RF glasses or DLP Link-based 3D active shutter glasses when used with a 3D-ready player.
Brightness 1800 Lumens
Contrast Ratio 4000:1
Weight 10 lbs.
Available August, 2011
Sony has starting shipping their new VPL-HW30AES 3D projector with packaged 3D emitter and two pairs of 3D glasses. This package retails for $3999 while the projector, by itself (model VPL-HW30ES), is expected to be available for sale next month for $3699. Initial tests with Xpand and Monster 'universal' 3D active shutter glasses indicate that neither are fully compatible with this new Sony projector. The Xpand X103 3D glasses are not able to maintain synchronization with the projector and the MonsterVision Max 3D glass show noticeable crosstalk (i.e., ghosting) with many 3D images. So for the time being only the Sony branded 3D glasses are fully compatible with this new projector. When used with the Sony 3D glasses 3D ghosting is said to be fairly minimal and only noticeable on occasionally scenes. Overall 3D performance of this new entry-level 3D model is said to be better than Sony current flagship model VPH-VW90ES which was introduced last year, but the performance of that much more expensive model is considered superior (e.g, lower black levels and better contrast ratio) in displaying regular 2D video.
3D TV manufacturers Sony, Samsung and Panasonic have joined forces with 3D glasses manufacturer Xpand to develop standards for a new generation of active shutter 3D glasses that will use radio frequencies for transmitting the required synchronization signal from the 3D TV to the glasses, instead of infrared as used for most existing active shutter glasses. The goal is to have a common solution for the 3D glasses that will work with the 3D TVs from all of these three TV manufactures. The first 3D TVs and universal 3D glasses based on these new standard are expected to be available in 2012.
Panasonic has announced and provided a press demonstration of their first 3D projector. Their new model PT-AE7000U (in North America or PT-AT5000E in Europe) carries a MSRP of $3499 in the USA and will be the first 3D projector based on LCD technology. Panasonic is using a new generation of LCD display chips from Epson (a 9th generation series referred to a "D9") that operate a 480 Hz refresh rate. This new 3D ready model carries over the lens memory feature made popular with Panasonics previous generation PT-AE4000 projector. Existing Panasonic 3D active shutter glasses, as used with Panasonic plasma flat panel 3D TVs, will be compatible with the AE7000. The new model offers more light output and improved black levels and a higher contrast ratio as compare to the AE4000, thus providing improved performance for projection of standard 2D video while also adding the ability to display 3D. The new AE7000 is expected to begin shipping in the September time frame.
The news items from July 2011 appear below
As first reported in the June news update (see below), Optoma is preparing to bring three new 3D-ready projectors to market. All three models will use a 1080p DLP light engine and the models HD8300 and HD3300 were reported to support full 1080p resolution for 3D while the preliminary information for the model HD33 was its 3D resolution would " initially" be limited to 720p (although a more recent report indicates that it may in fact support full 1080p resolution in 3D mode from the beginning). Some updates on the estimated pricing and shipping dates are as follows: HD8300 (est. $4500 MSRP with late August availability); HD3300 (est. $2000 MSRP with late August or Sept. availability); HD33 (est. $1700 MSRP with late August or Sept. availability). Pricing information for the HD33 seems most uncertain.
It appears that Mitsubishi will be introducing a new model of 3D front projector, perhaps as early as September. The new model HC7800 is expected to be officially announced at the IFA (Germany) and the CEDIA (USA) consumer electronics trade shows in September 2011. This new model will be DLP based and while the USA retail list price has not yet been confirmed, it is expected to be under $4,000 and most likely somewhere near $3500. In related news Mitsubishi is reported to be dropping their flat panel HDTV product line to focus on DLP rear projection TVs, as well as front projectors.
Back in Sept. 2010 Epson demo'ed prototype units and announced plans to produce a new generation of home theater projectors using "LCD Reflective" technology (essentially a variation of LCoS technology similar to that used by JVC and Sony). Epson had planned to have three models shipping before the end of 2010. However, Epson subsequently ran into problems actually producing these new projectors and after several delays essentially cancelled them. There are now unconfirmed reports that Epson is will be announcing at trade shows this September plans for updated versions of the LCD Reflective models first announced last year. However, in addition ot 2D models using LCD Reflective technology, the 2011/2012 model line-up using this technology may will now also include one or more models that also support 3D. Pricing and availability is not expected to be known until or unless there is an official announcement.
Sony announced in June plans for a new entry-level 3D ready 1080p front projector, model VPL-HW30ES. It appears that dealers may start receiving their first shipments of this new model as early as this month and it will carry a MSRP of $3699 (USA). Meanwhile, it now appears Sony is also preparing a replacement for their first 3D front projector, the premium model VPL-VW90ES, that was first introduced in late 2010. The replacement premium model will be called the VPL-VW95ES and has been reported to be slated for an official announcement in September and to begin shipping in the 4th quarter of 2011 at an as yet unannounced price. Some early reports out of Europe where an engineering model of the new entry-level HW30ES has been seen by reviewers indicates it has perhaps better 3D performance than last year's much more expensive VW90ES model, in terms of 3D crosstalk (ghosting) and 3D image brightness. However, the performance of the HW30ES is said to be noticeably inferior to the VW90ES when it comes to standard 2D performance. The first on-line reviews of a production version of the HW30ES are expected to appear during this month.
Samsung has started a new promotion where they are providing two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses free with their 2011 model 3D TVs. This new promotion runs through August 13, 2011 and the free 3D glasses will be provided by the authorized dealer where the Samsung 3D TV is purchased..
LG Electronics is starting to seriously promote their "Passive 3D" technology for flat panel TVs. The new LG flat panel TVs using this technology use passive (i.e., polarized) 3D glasses rather than the heavier and more expensive liquid crystal 3D shutter "Active" 3D glasses that are used by most other manufacturers of 3D TVs. The passive approach as used by these first generation of LG 3D TVs while having certain potential advantages, has the disadvantage of reducing the displayed resolution for 3D by 50%. LG has released the findings from a consumer study that claims 80% of consumers prefer wearing passive glasses rather than the heavier active shutter 3D glasses.
The news items from June 2011 appear below
Panasonic skipped a year in bringing a new home theater 1080p projector to market as their PT-AE4000 model has been around since 2009. Panasonic has now announced plans to bring to market their next generation model later this year. The new model will offer 3D support but little else is known about this new product. Below is an excerpt from the Panasonic press release:
Panasonic Solutions Company, provider of collaboration, information-sharing and decision-support solutions for government and commercial enterprises, today announced the development of 3D Ready Full HD home theater projector, successor model to its award winning predecessor, the PT-AE4000U. In the PT-AE4000U, Panasonic has inspired the use of 2.35:1 extra wide aspect cinemascope viewing with its Lens Memory Feature. Now it expands the viewing experience to 3D, bringing a whole new level of large screen excitement to movie/sports lovers’ homes.
Panasonic has spearheaded the development and realized end-to-end 3D solutions from professional 3D camcorders for creating 3D content, to 3D authoring and encoding facilities (Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory) to revolutionary 3D VIERA televisions and 3D Blu-ray™ players. The new 3D home theater projector joins the wealth of 3D innovations from Panasonic and will encompass Panasonic originated technologies that enriches the high picture quality and 3D original features that has been fostered by other product lines and developed in collaboration with Panasonic Corporation’s AVC Networks Company’s Emotive Technology Development Center and Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory engineers, who have taken key roles in synthesizing industry standard for 3D.
Panasonic plans to release the new home theater projector for sale during this year and introduce yet another means of enriching the big screen entertainment experience.
Optoma has announced plans to bring three new 3D-ready projectors to market in July and August 2011. All three models will use a 1080p DLP light engine and the models HD8300 and HD3300 will support full 1080p resolution for 3D while the model HD33 will have its 3D resolution initially limited to 720p (although it supports 1080p for regular 2D video sources). Prices have not yet been announced. The more upscale HD8300 model is described by the Optoma press release as:
Optoma's HD8300 features the latest 1080p DarkChip3 DLP technology from Texas Instruments, as well as a 30,000:1 contrast ratio with DynamicBlack, 1300 lumens of brightness, True 10-Bit Full HD processing and 3-Stage Optoma Image processing. Promising over 1.07 billion colors, this projector also has the PureMotion2 processing engine, which boasts super-smooth, judder-free images for a better overall viewing experience
Sony has announced plays to release their 2nd 3D-ready front projector. Sony released their first 3D-ready projector, model VPL-VW90ES, in late 2010. The VW90 is a premium model with a list price of near $10,000 that still remains available. Sony has now announced plans to release a new much lower priced model VPL-HW30ES which will carry a list price of $3699 in the U.S. Although this new model lacks certain features, such as power zoom and power focus, found on the more expensive VW90 and also falls short in certain performance areas, such as dynamic contrast ratio, it does offer a brighter image when projecting 3D images. The companion 3D emitter will sell for $79 and the 3D glasses for $129 each. This new Sony model will compete directly against JVC's entry-level 3D-ready projectors, models DLA-RS40 and the virtually identical DLA-X3. Sony will also market at a higher price (i.e., $3999) a package that includes the projector plus an emitter and two pairs of 3D glasses under the model number VPL-HW30AES. Below is the Sony press release:
SAN DIEGO, June 10, 2011 – Sony Electronics is taking the next step toward bringing the big screen experience to a wider audience with the introduction of the VPL-HW30ES front projector. Incorporating Sony's latest panel technology and dynamic lamp control system, fans of movies, sports and gaming have the opportunity to enjoy unrivalled 2D or 3D entertainment, with stunning images that are nearly three times as bright as Sony's current 3D home projector.
Utilizing Sony's SXRD™ (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) technology, the VPL-HW30ES delivers full high definition video including 3D, using high frame rate 240Hz panel drive projection technology. When viewers don the new active shutter 3D glasses (TDG-PJ1 sold separately), the front projector with the 3D transmitter (TMR-PJ1 sold separately) delivers a crisp and bright image on the screen. Sony's new lamp technology enables 3D display that is brighter and also reduces the cross talk that can diminish the clarity of the projected image.
Part of the Sony's ES line, this projector will be available in the United States through a network of high-end A/V specialists and custom installers. Also available in a bundle with two pairs of 3D glasses and transmitter, is the VPL-HW30AES.
The VPLHW30ES supports a wide variety of 3D formats including frame packing, side-by-side, and top and bottom. Only Sony products offer support this range, so viewers can enjoy the widest variety of 3D including Blu-ray, broadcast and photography. The projector is also equipped with 2D to 3D conversion function to simulate 3D video and pictures using 2D content. It also features two-way RS232 and an IR input for simple and seamless integration with third party automation systems.
"The VPL-HW30ES is part of Sony's strategy to expand 3D for home front projectors," said Charles Speidel, vice president, Sony Electronics' Home Audio and Video Division. "This uses the same SXRD cinematic display technology to enable high resolution, high contrast and faster refresh rates, delivering incredible pictures and full high definition on a big screen, even in 3D. Whether watching movies, sports or playing video games, this projector, offers consumer the ultimate theater experience in their living room."
The new projector offers independent 2D/3D picture modes; users can optimize the display based on content being viewed for cinema, sports, gaming or photo viewing. With Sony's SXRD panel and Advanced Iris 3 technologies, the VPL-HW30ES features dynamic contrast to 70,000:1 while delivering 1,300 lumens output. The VPL-HW30ES also supports HDMI1.4a which not only includes 3D support, but also Deep Color and x.v.Color for natural, vivid reproduction of colors. Sony's video processing which includes Motionflow with Dark Frame Insertion and Mosquito and Block Noise reduction and 24p True Cinema capabilities recreates a sharp film-like image.
Sony's new TDG-PJ 1 3D glasses (sold separately) have a matte black finish inside the frames to optimize viewing of projected images and reduce reflections; are lighter (2.1oz vs. 2.8oz); rechargeable; and offer longer viewing times (30 hours continuous watching on a single 30 minutes charge) when compared to the first generation.
Price and Availability
The VPL-HW30ES, front projector, $3699.99 begins shipping in July 2011 and is available through Sony's network of A/V specialists and custom installers. The TDG-PJ1, active shutter 3D glasses, $129.99 and TMR-PJ1, 3D transmitter, $79.99 are also available at that time.
Panasonic is now shipping all three models of their 2011 line of Blu-ray 3DTM players. These models were first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2011. These new models feature a 2D-to-3D video conversion capability as well as support for several popular network-based video streaming services (such as Netflix). The entry-level model DMP-BDT110 was released back in March and was followed by the release of the mid-level DMP-BDT210 and finally by the May 2011 release of the DMP-BDT310. The DMP-BDT310 ($249 list price) features two HDMI outputs which allows one HDMI 1.4a output to be connected directly to a 3DTV while the second HDMI output can be connected to an older AV receiver that only has HDMI 1.3 inputs.
Several manufacturers of DLP projectors have been offering low cost "3D Ready" models with 720p native resolution for the past couple of years. These designs pre-dated the release of the HDMI 1.4a specification and these projectors were intended to be used with a computer equipped with compatible graphics card and 3D enabled software. Such projectors are not directly compatible with modern 3D video sources such as Blu-ray 3D disc players, cable TV set-top-boxes and satellite receivers/DVRs (e.g., Directv). Optoma has now begun shipping an external 3D converter box, model 3D-XL with a list price of $399, that will work with Optoma and other brands of "3d-ready" DLP front projectors that accept a 720p/120Hz input for the 3D signal (and have no internal processing for the more modern 3D video signal formats required by the HDMI 1.4a specification). This 3D converter box will allow such projectors to be used for displaying 3D from Blu-ray 3D players and other modern 3D video sources. Now both Optoma and Acer are introducing new projector models that have HDMI 1.4a inputs and directly support connection Blu-ray 3D players and other modern 3D video sources, without the need for an external converter box. The Acer model H5360BD is being sold in Europe, but no plans have be announced for sale in North America. Optoma has announced a new Model GT750 that reportedly will sell for $799 when it becomes available in the U.S. later this summer. Optoma says it "Decodes all HDMI 1.4a mandatory 3D format and SBS format commonly used by Blu-ray 3D players, game consoles and set-top boxes." Like all other low cost DLP front projectors (both 2D-only and 3D-ready models) these new models do not offer any lens shift capability and use a lens with a very limited zoom range thus severely restricting where the projector can be located relative to the screen.
The news items from January - May 2011 appear below
Will 2011 turn out to be the year that 3DTV establishes itself as being on the path to become a commercial success? Based on the number of new 3D displays and video sources planned for 2011 introduction by the consumer electronics manufacturers, it is clear that several are "betting their future" on convincing consumers to invest in new 3D ready HDTVs, Blu-ray players, HD camcorders, video games, etc. As when HDTV was first introduced a decade ago there were many published reports during the first couple of years claiming HDTV would never be successful because the price was too high (the prices for a 36 inch HDTV started at near $4000), HD programming was very limited and the vast majority of consumers just didn't really care about the quality of the TV picture. Will 3DTV follow the same evolution and eventual acceptance as did HDTV, or will it fail to gain consumer acceptance and die a slow death? The success or failure of new consumer technologies has, in most cases, took several years to shake out (there are still some people that argue that Blu-ray disc will fail after being available since 2006).. By the end of 2011 we will perhaps be a little closer to having an answer, or at least be in a better position to make a ,more informed prediction. However it may turn out that 2012 or 2013 will be the year when the fate of 3D in the home is decided.
Just about all of the major TV manufacturers announced new 3D-ready flat panel HDTVs at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in January. For LCD based 3D-ready HDTVs (including the so called LED models, which are still LCD displays but are using a LED backlight), the manufactures are splitting into to camps for how they are implementing 3D. Virtually all of the LCD 3D-ready TVs sold in 2010 use the technique of alternately displaying the right then the left images of the stereo pair that make up the 3D image. The viewer is required to wear 3D "active shutter" eyeglasses with liquid crystal shutters that alternate between clear (more or less) and opaque synchronized with the TV's sequential display of the right and left images. Thus each eye is seeing the image on the TV screen followed by black (i.e., no image when the lens of the glasses become opaque), then followed by the next image, etc. The biggest negative to this approach to 3D is the relative high price for these "active shutter" liquid crystal 3D glasses. Such glasses from the manufacturer of the TV typically carry a retail price in the $150 price range with discounted street prices still over $100. Some off-brand aftermarket 3D active shutter 3D glasses compatible with certain brands of 3DTVs can be found for approx. $60 from online dealers. Certain manufacturers are introducing 2011 model LCD 3DTVs that replace the active shutter 3D glasses with low cost passive polarized glasses with the right and left lens have a different orientation for their polarization. Compatible 3D-ready TVs contain within their screen a polarizing filter that alternates the orientation of the polarization for every other pixel. With this approach each eye sees only one half of the pixels on the display with both eyes simultaneously viewing the displayed video (i.e., not alternating as with the active shutter 3D approach previously described above). This passive approach has the potential advantage of providing a brighter image with less chance of image flicker, but each eye will be viewing an image with only one half the resolution of the display. Thus with a standard 1920 x 1080 pixel display (i.e., Full HD 1080p) the viewer will see a half resolution 3D image. Visio has started selling such a LCD/LED 3D ready HDTV and both Vizio and LG have announced plans to introduce several models and screen sizes using passive 3D during 2011. LG has announced plans to go one step further and produce a 3D-ready LCD HDTV that uses a so called 4K panel, with twice the horizontal pixel count as a standard 1080p (ie., 2K) display. This approach allows the use of low cost passive 3D polarized glasses while providing no loss of resolution. No prices were announced for the 4K resolution model(s), but they will certainly to be significantly more expensive to produce.
For home theaters that use front projectors and projection screens, the most interesting new models for 2011 are 3D-ready being introduced by several manufacturers. JVC starting shipping their 2011 models at the end of 2010 and as of this update these models are still in very short supply. JVC uses LCoS technology (under the JVC trade name D-ILA) and as for the past several years their projectors continue to provide the lowest native black level and highest native dynamic contrast ratio of any front projectors. JVC offers two virtually identical product lines under their professional products and consumer products divisions. These new full HD resolution 1080p 3D-ready models start with their entry model DLA-X3 and virtually identical DLA-RS-40 and continue up through the X7/RS-50 and X9/RS-60 models. These latter 4 models are THX certified for 2D and 3D video (the first projectors to be so certified). Prices start at under $4500 and go to nearly $12,000 (retail, but street prices are frequently lower). JVC also sells active shutter 3D glasses (retail price $179 each) for use with their projectors.
Sony has introduced their first 3D-ready home theater projector, model VPL-VW90 using their version of LCoS technology (under Sony's trade name SXRD). The VW90 offers full HD 1080p resolution and uses an dynamic iris to improve the dynamic contrast of the projected image. This model carries a retail price of just under $10,000 and Sony offers compatible active shutter 3D glasses.
Mitsubishi has announced their first 3D-ready home theater projector, model HC9000D. This model is based on LCoS technology (using SXRD display chips sourced from Sony) and offers full HD 1080p resolution. The pricing has not yet been announced but the retail price is expected to be in the $5000 to $7000 range.
Sharp has announced their first 3D-ready home theater projector, model XV-Z17000. This is the first full HD 1080p 3D-ready projector using DLP technology. This model uses a single DMD chip (the digital micro-mirror display chip used within all DLP projectors) and a rotating color wheel, as do most consumer oriented 2D DLP projectors. As with the JVC, Sony, and Mitsubishi projectors described about the Sharp XV-17000 alternately displays the right and left images and the viewer wear active shutter 3D glasses. The estimated price for this new Sharp model is $5000.
The news items from August - December 2010 appear below
The big home theater related event for September is the CEDIA trade show, held this year in Atlanta, GA. This is where many consumer electronics manufacturers introduce their new home theater oriented front projectors, projection screens and other home theater related products. This year's show saw several front projectors introduced with 3D capability, but also quite a few manufacturers indicated their first 3D models will not be coming until 2011. The following is a summary of some of the more interesting introductions at this year's CEDIA show.
For those existing owners of 720p DLP front projectors that were sold as being "3D Ready" (but are not compatible with any 3D video source other than specially equipped PCs), Optoma is introducing a 3D adapter box that provides two HDMI 1.4a inputs that will accept 3D video from most of the new 3D sources including Blu-ray 3D players, Playstation 3, Directv HD DVRs/receivers that have been upgraded for 3D, and cable HD DVRs/set-top-boxes that have been upgraded for 3D. The Optoma model 3D-XL adapter then converts these 1080p, 1080i and 720p 3D inputs into a 720p/120 Hz output where the right and left images as displayed sequentially. More info is HERE (Optoma web site for the European version).
JVC has introduced a new line of 3D ready front projectors using their DILA (LCoS) display technology. Prices start at under $4495 with the 3D glasses ($179 each) and 3D emitter ($99) sold separately. JVC sells their projectors thru two different distribution channels and uses different model numbers for what are otherwise identical projectors. All of the new 3D models are rated at 1300 lumens of light output and display at a 120Hz refresh rate. Their least expensive 3D models are the RS20 and the identical DLA-X3 which have a claimed 50,000:1 native contrast rating.. The more expensive models RS40 and DLA-X5 ($7995) provide an increased 70,000:1 native contrast as well as a full color management system (CMS), that is lacking on the entry level models. The top-of-the-line models RS60 and DLA-X7 ($11,995) provide an industry leading 100,000:1 native contrast ratio (2 pairs of shutter glasses and the emitter are included with the DLA-X7). JVC also introduced a new 2D only entry-level projector, model HD250 at $2995 (MSRP), making this the least expensive JVC DILA 1080p home cinema projector to date.
Epson introduced evolutionary replacements for last year's line of LCD projectors as well as a new higher-end "Reflective LCD" (i.e., essentially LCoS technology) projectors. The new "3LCD Reflective" projectors includes model Home Cinema 21000 ($3300 estimated MSRP) that has a claimed 500,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, comes in a white case and has a 2-year warranty. The model Pro Cinema 31000 ($4500 estimated MSRP) comes in a black case, includes a spare lamp, a ceiling mount and has a 3-year warranty, but is essentially the same projector as the 21000. The top-of-the-line Pro Cinema 61000 ($7000 estimated MSRP) has a claimed 1,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, network capability and otherwise is similar to the 31000. Dynamic contrast claims are based on use the projector's dynamic iris while the more useful native contrast ratio of these projectors is estimated to be in the range of 25,000:1, based on a published measurement of a prototype unit. Although these models are equipped with HDMI 1.4 inputs they are not claimed to be 3D capable (Epson indicates 3D models are coming in 2011). The new generation of Epson LCD projectors were also introduced in the Home Cinema product line with the Home Cinema 8350 ($1299 estimated MSRP) replacing the 8100, the Home Cinema 8700UB (($2199 estimated MSRP) replacing the 8500UB. Epson also introduced replacement models in their Pro Cinema product line with the Pro Cinema 9350 replacing the 9100 and the Pro Cinema 9700UB replacing the 9500.
Sony introduced their first 3D projector, model VPS-WV90ES, that uses SXRD (LCoS) display technology operating at 240 Hz refresh rate. Estimated listg price is $10,000.
Sharp introduced a 1080p DLP based 3D projector XV-Z17000. With an estimated MSRP of under $5000 it was one of he more affordable 1080p 3D projectors introduced at CEDIA and the only single chip DLP 1080p 3D projector from a major manufacturer.
LG has shown a prototype of their dual light engine, SXRD based, 3D projector (model CF3D) at CES in January 2010. The final product was being demo'ed at CEDIA and an estimated price of $15,000. This projector essentially contains two LCoS based projectors in one case and uses polarized light to separate the right and left video images. Viewer then ware eyeglasses with polarized lens, rather than the more expensive LCD shutter glasses that are required for 3D viewing with the vast majority of other consumer 3D projection and direct-view displays.
In other (non-CEDIA) news, Sony has now released a firmware update (version 3.50) for the Playstation 3 that adds support for 3D output from Blu-ray 3D discs.
The news items from August 2010 appear below
Projection screen manufacturer Vutec is introducing a line of 3D compatible projection screens at the CEDIA trade show (Sept. 2010). Video 3D projectors that use polarized light to separate the right and left images require projection screens that are able to preserve the polarization of the light. Traditionally with this "passive" (i.e, requiring viewers to wear passive glasses with polarized lens) technique for projecting 3D video a 'Silver" screen surface has been used, but such screens have issues and limitations when used for projection of normal 2D video. "Active" 3D technology sequentially alternates the right and left images projected onto the screen and the viewers wear active LCD shutter glasses for viewing the 3D video. Most conventional projection screens are compatible with active 3D projection systems. Info on the Vutec screens suitable for "Passive" and for "Active" 3D projection is HERE.
With the CEDIA trade showing coming in late Sept. 2010 we expect to see many new video projectors, projection screens, and flat panel displays being announced that support 3D. As of today there are no consumer front projectors available for purchase that directly support the current 3D standards for 3DTV. However, that is expected to change within the next couple of months as projectors sporting HDMI 1.4a compatible inputs and either passive (i.e., polarized) or active (i.e,, frame sequential, alternating right/left images) start to become available. Manufacturers expected to be show 3D projectors at CEDIA include JVC, Mitsubishi, Sony, LG and Epson (all using LCoS display technology). Although the DLP projector manufacturers have be silent on their 3D plans for HDMI 1.4a equpped 1080p front projectors, it is anticipated that there will be several manufacturers introducing 1080p DLP 3D front projectors at CEDIA.
Sony is expected to release a firmware update for the PS3 in Sept. 2010 to enable Blu-ray 3D support (3D game support was already enabled by a June 2010 firmware update)
The news items from June/July 2010 appear below
After more than a year of use by Beta (cutting edge) testers, Directv has officially rolled out their "Whole-Home DVR" service. This service costs customers an additional $3 per month and allows recent model Directv DVRs to be networked together such that any program recorded on any of the DVRs can be accessed and viewed on any TV connected to any compatible Directv DVR or receiver (i.e., those DVRs and receiver models capable to running the Multi-Room Viewing, or MRV, client software). For HD models of DVRs, HR20 and later HD-DVRs are compatible and for HD receivers model H21 and later are compatible. While the compatible DVRs and receivers can be connected via a home local area network, if you already have your home wired with at least 100 Mbps Ethernet, Directv also has a networking solution that provides the networking over the existing coax cable that carries the satellite signals into your DVRs and receivers. More information is HERE on the Directv web site.
The major consumer electronics manufacturers are pushing hard to bring 3D HDTVs and video sources to the marketplace in 2010, the one thing still missing is actual sources for 3D video content. Of the few Blu-ray 3D disc announced for release in 2010, most are being distributed only in combination with the purchase of a specific manufacturer's Blu-ray 3D player. The latest title announced that will only have such limited availability is the 3D version of Avatar (2009) which will only available (late this year for the holiday season) with the purchase of a Panasonic Blu-ray 3D player. Likewise, it appears likely that the Blu-ray 3D version of Alice in Wonderland (2010) will only be available with the purchase of a Sony 3D Blu-ray player (Alice in 3D is scheduled for release for the late 2010 holiday season),. As it now stands it appears that 2011 will be year for the more general release of Blu-ray 3D movie titles. However, another 3D source is coming next month (see news item below)
Directv is set to launch their first 3D channels in July. The Directv HD-DVRs models HR21, HR22 and HR24 will be receiving a firmware update during June that will make them compatible with the new generation of 3D HDTVs. However, the hardware used in the older HR20 model is not upgradeable to provide a HDMI output that is compatible with 3D HDTVs. Directv is using the side-by-side 3D format, as defined in the HDMI 1.4a specification. This format provides only one half of the normal HDTV horizontal resolution, but with full vertical resolution (i.e., 960h x 1080v rather than full 1920h x 1080v). The 3D channels to be offered in July are: ESPN World Cup starting on July 11th on channel 106, N3D on Channel 103, Pay-Per-View Channel and an On-Demand channel. Directv has tested their equipment and confirmed compatibility with the new Samsung (LCD and Plasma 3D models), Panasonic (Plasma 3D models) and also the Mitsubishi DLP 3D rear projection HDTVs when used in combination with the new Mitsubishi 3D adapter.
Directv's new satellite (called Directv 12) is now operational and as a result of the additional capacity it brings, new HD channels are being added. If fact in mid-May Directv added: Travel Channel HD (ch. 277), WGN HD (ch. 307), MSNBC HD (ch. 356), Hallmark Movie Channel (ch. 560), and ESPNU HD (ch. 614). More HD channels are coming over the next few months.
The news items from May 2010 appear below
Samsung is expanding their 3D LCD TV lineup this month by adding a new 46" model (LN46C750), with a list price of $1699. This is Samsung's least expensive 3D TV to date and is about one half the price of their existing 55" model. As with the larger model they also offer package deal when you purchase the 3D TV along with their 3D Starter Kit model SSG-P2100T that includes 2 pairs of shutter glasses and Blu-ray 3D movie disc) and the Samsung model BD-C6900 Blu-ray 3D player.
Denon is introducing their first "3D Ready" Blu-ray Disc players. Their new model DBP-1611UD carries a list price of $399 and will support Blu-ray 3D playback once a promised firmware update is released in the latter half of 2010. This entry-level Denon model features support for not only playing Blu-ray Discs and DVDs but also DVD-audio and SACD discs thus qualifying this as a "universal" disc player. Denon has also released a more expensive Blu-ray "3D Ready" universal player model DBP-2011UDCI. that carries a list price of $799. These models also support internet connectivity that supports video steaming from Netflix and YouTube. The DBP-1611UD will begin shipping to dealers in June and the DBP-2011UDCI will begin shipping in August.
Panasonic is starting to ship their new VieraTM VT25 series of 3D plasma TVs. Some dealers will be receiving the 50 inch model ($2,599 MSRP) by May 1st while the 54 inch ($2,999 MSRP) and 58 inch ($3,399 MSRP) models should also be available by the end of May. Finally these will be joined by a 65 inch model ($4,299 MSRP) in June. The Panasonic web site is HERE.
The news items from April 2010 appear below
Samsung is now shipping both LCD and Plasma 3D enabled HDTVs while Panasonic has a Plasma model. However, supplies are very short and actually finding dealers with units in stock can be difficult.
Mitsubishi continues to offer DLP rear projection TVs in screen sizes up to 83 inches that are "3D ready". These current "Mitsubishi 3D ready" models do not directly accept the 3D signal input in the recently standardized formats (via the HDMI version 1.4a standard - see info below). However, Mitsubishi has promised to release an external adapter (model 3DC-1000) box in June, with an estimated price of $100, that will convert the various standard 3D signals being used with Blu-ray 3D, Satellite and Cable TV providers, into the so-called "1080p checkerboard" signal format required by these 3D-ready DLP rear projection TVs. Mitsubishi will also offer a "3D Starter Pack" (price not announced but probably under $500) that includes the 3D adapter, two pairs of shutter glasses, an infrared emitter (to transmit the sync. signal to the 3D glasses) and a Disney showcase Blu-ray 3D disc. It has also been verified that the new Panasonic Blu-ray 3D players have a user setting to output the 3D signal in a compatible checkerboard format that is compatible with the Mitsubishi, and presumably the similar Samsung, 3D-ready 1080p DLP rear projection TVs. The Samsung Blu-ray 3D may also support a compatible checkerboard output mode, but this hasn't yet been confirmed
From a published interview in Widescreen Review magazine, representatives from JVC have confirmed their company is planning to release a consumer 3D projector later this year. It is expected to be using DILA (LCoS) technology and projecting 3D using alternating right/left images and must be used with LCD shutter glasses.
From the very limited number of existing LCD and Plasma 3D HDTVs it appears that the LCD models have issues with visible crosstalk, or ghosting, between the right and left image streams. This observation is limited to the production Samsung LCD model and the demo Sony LCD model being displayed at Sony Style stores (the first Sony production units are expected in June 2010). Now Sharp has announced they will be producing a 3D LCD HDTV that effectively overcomes the crosstalk issue of other LCD 3D TVs. HERE is their press release. It looks like the first of this new generation of 3D LCD TVs from Sharp will make it to North American dealers in late 2010.
Two of the big reasons to hold off jumping onto the 3D bandwagon this year are price and the lack of 3D material to actually view. The current 3D TVs tend to be based on top-of-the-line models and over the next year 3D capability will likely start to appear in mid-priced models. As for Blu-ray 3D discs to be offered this year, there are very few that have been announced to be generally available. Samsung, Panasonic and Sony all have deals with movie studios to offer a few specific movie titles in exclusive promotions with their brand of Blu-ray players. Thus if you, for example, purchase a Panasonic Blu-ray player you would not be able to obtain the Blu-ray 3D movies that are offered with the Samsung and Sony players. So far there are less than 10 Blu-ray 3D titles announced that will be generally offered for sale this year and are not limited to exclusive promo deals with the Blu-ray player manufacturers. Other sources of 3D (but with lower resolution video) are Directv and some Cable TV companies. A few sports and pay-programs are expected to be offered through these sources during 2010 starting in the June.
The following item is a extracted from a "Basic 3D Video FAQs" that I have started on the AVS Forum (HERE)
Frame Packing - (Blu-ray 3D required format)
- full 1080p resolution for each right/left images with refresh rates of 23.98/24 Hz.
- full 720p resolution for each right/left images with refresh rates of 59.94/60 Hz. or 50 Hz*Side-by-Side - (example use - satellite or cable 3D broadcast)Note: Frame Packing essentially places two full resolution HD images into one "super sized" frame for transmission across HDMI. When used for 1080p, the right and left images are placed one above the other into a "super sized" frame that is 2205 pixels vertical by 1920 pixels horizontal with a 45 x 1920 pixel active blanking area separating the two images. More information is HERE)
- half horizontal resolution 1080i (i.e., 960h x 1080v pixels) for each right/left image with refresh rates of 59.94/60 Hz or 50 Hz*.
Top-and-Bottom - (example use - satellite or cable 3D broadcast)
- half vertical resolution 1080p (1920h x 540v pixels) for each right/left images with refresh rates of 23.98/24 Hz.
- half vertical resolution 720p (1280h x 360v pixels) for each right/left image with refresh rates of 59.94/60 Hz or 50 Hz*.
* NOTE: All 3D displays conforming to the HDMI 1.4a spec. must support 23.98/24 Hz refresh rates where listed above. However, displays are only required to support either 50 Hz. (e.g., Europe) or 59.94/60 Hz refresh rates (e.g., North America).
The news items from March 2010 appear below
The first 3D HDTVs and Blu-ray Disc players are schedule to starting showing up a electronics dealers across the USA this month. For example 900 Best Buys stores are schedule to have 3D displays set up by March 21st and both Panasonic and Samsung will be supplying 3D flat panel HDTVs (Panasonic will have a 50 inch plasma model and Samsung with have LCD models) along with Blu-ray Discs players and some demo 3D HD videos. Samsung will add to their 3D HDTV offering when they begin sales of a 50 inch plasma 3D HDTV in early April. Other than offering one 3D movie title as part of a starter package from Samsung or Panasonic, the general release of the initial 3D movie titles on Blu-ray Disc are still a few months away. The initial 3D HDTV models are similar to previous top-of-the-line 2D models from these manufacturers but the new 3D models will carry a small premium over the price of the nearest equivalent 2D model. Panasonic is including one pair of 3D glasses with their 3D plasma HDTV models (additional glasses $150 each) while Samsung is selling ($350 MSRP) a 3D starter package that includes two pairs of 3D glasses plus one Blu-ray 3D movie disc.
The HDMI organization has released (March 4th) the new HDMI specification version 1.4a that includes the additional video signal formats intended to accommodate a wide range of likely future 3D source devices. 3D HDTVs compliant with this new standard are required to be compatible with all of the "mandatory" 3D signal formats defined by this new specification while compliant 3D sources (e.g., Blu-ray 3D player, 3D capable HD satellite receiver or HD cable box, etc.) need only support the output of one of the mandatory formats. The 3D signal formats defined by the new HDMI specification are independent of how a given 3D capable HDTV actually displays the 3D image. Therefore, the 3D HDTV must accept any of the specified 3D signals then apply video processing as necessary to make it compatible with how that HDTV displays the 3D image. Thus, the burden is placed on the 3D HDTV to provide the compatibility to support the various types of 3D source devices that are likely to come to market over the next several years. No previous generation of HDTVs are compatible with this new HDMI standard and it is not even clear at this point if the first generation 3D HDTVs, that are just now being released, will actually support all of the mandatory 3D signal formats or will support just a subset.
The news items from February 2010 appear below
Quickly following on last month's big announcements at the International Consumer Electronics Show for planned 3D products and services in 2010, Sony is releasing a new line of Blu-ray Disc players that can be upgraded for 3D (via a mid-2010 planned firmware update). The first of the new Sony Blu-ray 3D ready models BDP-S570, BDP-S470 and BDP-S370 players are expected to begin reaching dealers this month with prices for the entry-level BDP-S370 starting at under $180. The Blu-ray Disc players that are included in the Sony Home Theater Systems, model BDV-E770W and BDV-E570 are also Blu-ray 3D ready with a planned mid-year firmware update required to enable the new 3D capabilities. Sony has previously announced there will be firmware update that will add 3D capabilities to existing Playstation 3 consoles. For more info on 3D see the January 2010 update below.
Panasonic has shown a new Blu-ray Disc player, model BMP-BDT900-K, with 3D capability that it plans to start selling in Japan in April. No specific release date was provided for when an equivalent model will go on sale in North America or Europe.
The news items from January 2010 appear below
The 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held 7-10 January 2010 in Las Vegas. Some of the most interesting new home theater related products introduced at CES are posted below.
The hot new capability featured at CES 2010 was the introduction of a new generation of 3D (3 Dimension) enabled Blu-ray Disc players, 3D movies on Blu-ray Discs and 3D enabled HDTVs. This interest was heightened by the late 2009 release of the movie Avatar as well as a steady stream of animated feature films in 3D appearing at local cinemas. Below are few quick facts about this new generation of 3D enabled consumer electronics:
Questions - How is the 3D effect created?\
Answer - Separate images are displayed intended for viewing by the right and left eyes. In a movie theater the right and left images typically are projected with different polarization of the light and the audience must wear glasses with polarized lens to allow the correct stream of images to reach the intended eye.
Question - What's different with this 3D technology as compared to previously consumer 3D solutions that used glasses with colored lens?
Answer - Anaglyph images viewed with glasses using colored lens first became popular to the 1950's and is an inexpensive method to display 3D content with existing TV and video sources. However, it produces poor results when trying to view video in color and is subject to "crosstalk" between the images intended for the right an left eyes. The new 3D technology being introduced for home theater in 2010 is expected to provide results on a par with what you will see in your local digital cinema with feature films such as Avatar. Depending on the type of display used, there are two different technologies that may be used to separate he images intended for the right and left eyes:
(1) Sequential imaging will alternate the right and left images on the HDTV's screen with each the right and left image stream displaying (at least) 60 images per seconds (i.e., 120 per second total for both the right and left image streams). The viewer must wear special LCD shutter glasses that will allow only the images intended for the specific eye to the visible to that eye.
(2) The light from the display (e.g., projector) will be polarized different for the right vs. left images and the viewer will wear simple glasses with polarized lens.
With either of these alternative technologies, the full color content of the original video program remains unaltered, however the displayed image will appear to not be as bright as when viewing standard 2D television program on that same HDTV.
Question - Can I use my current HDTV for displaying the new 3D movies?
Answer - Generally you will need a new generation of HDTV display that has additional features required to support 3D. The only current HDTVs that may be compatible with the new 3D technology are recent models of DLP rear projection HDTVs manufactured by Mitsubishi and Samsung. Even with these existing "3D ready" models that manufacturer will need to offer a 3D enabled Blu-ray Disc player with a compatible interface, or an adapter, for use with these specific HDTV models.
Question - Can I use my current Blu-ray Disc (BD) player to play future 3D movies released on Blu-ray?
Answer - The only existing Blu-ray Disc player expected to upgradable to support 3D is the Sony Playstation 3 (Sony has announced a planned upgrade to the PS3's firmware). Existing stand-alone BD players will play back the new 3D discs as standard 2D titles. Thus movies released as 3D titles on Blu-ray will be backward compatible with existing players, but a new player will be required to output the video in 3D. Several consumer electronics manufacturers are expected to introduce 3D enabled Blu-ray Disc players in 2010.
Question - When will 3D enabled HDTV displays and Blu-ray Disc plays become available"
Answer - The final specification of the 3D version for Blu-ray Discs was just completed in December 2009. The first of the new generation of 3D enabled Blu-ray Disc players and compatible HDTVs (flat panel and projectors) are expected to be making their way to dealers by mid-year 2010. However, you can expect to see one or more manufacturer time their big roll-out of 3D enabled Blu-ray Disc players and HD displays to the release of the movie Avatar on Blu-ray in 3D in late 2010 (a 2D version of Avatar is expected to be released on Blu-ray earlier in 2010 with the 3D version later in the year).
Directv, with support from Panasonic, will be offering 3 channels in 3D starting in June 2010. This will include a pay-per-view movie/event channel, a Directv On Demand channel and a free 3D demo channel. Current Directv HD receivers and DVRs be be upgraded via a firmware update to support the new 3D channels.
ESPN has announced plans for a 3D sports channel starting with World Cup soccer matches in June 2010 and the Discovery Channel has announced plans for a new 3D channel starting in 2011.
Mitsubishi has issued a press release just in advance of CES 2010 that provides information on their plans to allow use of their existing 3D ready DLP rear projection HDTVs (first introduced in 2007) with the new generation of 3D enabled Blu-ray Disc players planned for introduction in 2010. From the press release: Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc. (MDEA) will showcase the flexibility and versatility of its 3D-ready TV products by displaying 3D content delivered by various video sources, including Blu-Ray players at CES 2010 in the “Experience 3D Tech Zone”. MDEA has also announced a new 3D adapter which will provide Mitsubishi 3D-ready Home Theater TV owners with an easy and affordable solution to display 3D from a 3D Blu-Ray player. The Mitsubishi 3DC-1000 3D adapter will be available in late spring of 2010. . . . . ."As a pioneer in the 3D television market, Mitsubishi is bridging the gap for consumers to experience this break-through technology,” said Frank DeMartin, vice president of marketing, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America. “3D is definitely a large screen experience, and Mitsubishi offers the most models and largest screen sizes of 3D-ready TVs available today, including one of the world’s largest mass produced 3D-ready TV at 82 inches.”
For 2009 California based Vizio was the largest selling brand of flat panel HDTVs in the USA. Vizio is introducing at CES 2010 a new top-of-the-line 72 inch model (model number SVTPPTO720SV) in their new XVT Pro series that will feature LED backlighting with 480 zone local diming for improving the contrast of the displayed video, a 480 Hz refresh rate and support for 3D (the 3D glasses will be sold separately). Another notable feature of this model (also with the smaller 47 and 55 inch 3D models in this series) is they have not only 5 HDMI inputs but also have a wireless HDMI input capability supporting full 1080p resolution (remote HDMI wireless transceiver box sold separately) as well as WiFi support for internet connectivity. Bluetooth will be used to wirelessly connect the TV to the 3D glasses for sending the signal that is necessary to keep the LCD shutter 3D glasses in sync with the display's alternating right and left image stream. This new 72 inch model will have a street price of just under $3500 when this model become available in August 2010.
LG Electronics has indicated plans to introduce their first 3D ready LCD flat panel HDTVs in May 2010. The first 3D models released in the USA will be under the InfiniaTM LE9500 series in 47 in. and 55 in. sizes. This will be part of LG's top-of-the-line series of LCD flat panel HDTVs that use LED backlighting. Although specific prices were not announced, it was suggested that the new 3D models are expected to sell for $200 to $300 more than equivalent top-of-the-line 2D models
LG Electronics has also announced their first 3D front projector, model CF3D, that will use LCoS imaging technology, using 0.61 inch SXRD display chips sourced from Sony. It will include a "dual engine" that is assumed to mean separate display chips for each the right and left images (rather than alternating the display of the right and left images with a single display engine). In this case the new LG projector will probably be using polarized light as the means to separate the right and left images for display thus allowing the audience to use less expensive glasses with polarized lens, rather the more complex active LCD shutter glasses.
Toshiba has announced 3 new Blu-ray Disc (BD) players for release during 2010, including the top-of-the-line model BDX3000 that includes 3D support along with support for web streaming media services (e.g., Netfilix, Vudu, CinemaNow, etc.). While the price was not announced for the BDX3000, new non-3D models BDX2500 ($200 MSRP) and BDX2700 ($250 MSRP) were also announced that support web streaming capability, onboard decoding for the lossless audio formats (i.e., Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA) and 7.1 channel analog audio outputs.
Toshiba also introduced a new line of LCD flat panel HDTVs that incorporates a 'Cell" proessor, the same as used in the Sony Playstation 3. These are referred to a "Cell TV" by Toshiba. In this case the cell processor will be used on convert 2D source video material in real-time into 3D for display. The Cell TVs will be available in screen sizes from 46 to 65 inches later in 2010.
Sony has updated their Sonystyle web site (HERE) to promote their planned 2010 introduction of 3D HDTVs and Blu-ray Disc players. Sony is also supporting the planned roll out of the 3D ESPN and Discovery channels. Sony plans to initially offer LCD flat panel 3D HDTVs with LED backlighting in screen sizes of 52 in. and 60 in.. Both models will come with two pairs of LCD shutter glasses for viewing 3D.
Panasonic will be offering during 2010 the next generation of their V-series of Viera plasma flat panel HDTVs with 3D capability, when used with 3D shutter glasses, in screen sizes of 50, 54, 58 and 65 inches . Panasonic will also offer a 3D enabled Blu-ray Disc player. Panasonic has a new web site (HERE) for information on their 3D plans.
has indicated that about one third of the 2010 line-up of LCD flat
panel HDTVs that feature LED backlighting will include 3D capability.
The display panel on the new Samsung's top-of-the-line 9000 series of 3D
capable LCD HDTVs is a mere 0.3 inches thick.. Samsung also plans to introduce 3D
enabled plasma flat panel HDTVs as well
as a 3D enabled Blu-ray Disc player model BD-C6900.
The news items from November/December 2009 appear below
This is the month that holiday shopping begins and in the United States "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving which falls on November 27th this year) normally has the lowest sale prices of the season. Due to the poor economy this year several stores are now advertising they are having "Black Friday" like sales every week, but the most widespread and greatest bargains will probably still be found on the true Black Friday. Below are some examples of the already announced, or leaked, Black Friday bargains that may be of interest to Home Theater enthusiasts:
- Sony BDP-S360 Blu-ray Disc player for $149.99 at Best Buy and at Sears
- Sony BDP-S360 Blu-ray Disc player with $20 gift card for $149.99 at Target
- Samsung BD-P4600 Blu-ray Disc player for $279.99 at Best Buy
- Insignia NS-BRDVD3 Blu-ray Disc player for $99.99 at Best Buy
- Samsung HT-BD2360 Home Theater in a Box system with 5.1 speaker surround system with integrated AV receiver/Blu-ray Disc player for $397.99 at Sears
- Sony STR-DH800 7.1 channel AV Receiver (770 watts) for $279.99 at Best Buy
- Panasonic TC-P50U1 Viera 50" 1080p Plasma HDTV plus a Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-ray Disc Player for $999.98 at Best Buy
- Samsung LN32B530P7F 32" 1080p LCD HDTV for $497.99 at Best Buy
- Westinghouse 32" 720p LCD HDTV for $246.00 at Target
- Panasonic PC-P42C1 42" 720p Plasma HDTV for $549.99 at K-Mart
The news items from September/October 2009 appear below
As reported earlier this year, work in underway to update the standards for both Blu-ray Discs and for HDMI (i.e., the digital interface connecting the Blu-ray Disc player to the HD display) to add support for 3D. It now appears that the first consumer Blu-ray Disc players, compatible HDTV displays and required accessories (i.e., LCD shutter glasses) will likely make it to the retail marketplace in late 2010. HERE is a link to a good overview, provided by Panasonic, of plans for Blu-ray Disc delivered 3D video.
The 2009 Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) annual Expo runs from 9-13 Sept. in Atlanta, GA. This is an annual event where most of the electronics manufacturers introduce their new video projectors and other equipment for high-end home theaters. This year the trend for HD front projectors is new lower priced entry-level 1080p models, starting at prices just under $1000, and evolutionary improvements in more expensive models. Pre-show announcements from several manufacturers indicate the following new 1080p models are being introduced at the CEDIA Expo
Benq is introducing a new model W6000 replacing last years W5000. This is Benq's entry-level 1080p DLP projector
Epson is introducing a new model Powerlite Home Cinema 8500UB and the Pro-Cinema 9500UB with a claimed on/off contrast ratio of 200,000 to 1. These new LCD projectors are an evolution of last year's models 6500UB and Pro-Cinema 7500UB respectively. The new 8500UB and 9500UB are said to have an improved frame insertion function and a "super resolution" feature.
JVC is introducing several new models using DILA (LCoS) technology. Their new consumer series includes models DLA-HD550, DLA-HD950 and DLA-HD990 and the nearly identical pro-sumer models include DLA-RS15, DLA-RS25 and DLA-RS35. For the past couple of years the JVC DILA projectors have stood out for having high native contrast ratios without relying on a dynamic iris or inflated advertising claims to produce high numbers. Also JVC is one of the very few manufacturers to advertise realatistic numbers for contrast ratio and light output (lumens). The real world images produced by the JVC DILA projectors are generally considered have the best contrast and shadow details of any sub-$20,000 projector. Even the entry-level models (HD550 and RS15) can be expected to produce a very good image while the higher-end models have even better contrast ratio along with a full color management system to allow for calibration for more accurate colors.
Mitsubishi is introducing new models of DLP and LCD based 1080p projectors. Their model HC6800 is an LCD based 1080p model that replaces last year's HC6500 and is spec'ed with a maximum light output of 1500 lumens and a on/off contrast ratio of 30,000 to 1. Mtisubishi's entry-level model HC-3800 is a DLP based 1080p projector that carries a list price of just $1495. This entry model features a 1.5x zoom lens and a 5000 hour lamp life (in eco mode).
Optoma, along with Vivitek, takes the prize for the least expensive 1080p projectors for the coming model year with their new HD20. This entry-level projector carries a list price of just under $1000 but does have limited features in order to get the price down.
Panasonic is introducing the PT-AE4000 as replacement for last year's PT-AE3000. The new model includes a number of refinements over the previous model.
Sony is introducing a new entry-level model VPL-HW15 1080p projector ($2999) using SXRD (i.e., LCoS) technology. This model replaces last year's VPL-HW10. Sony is also introducing higher-end SXRD model VPL-VW85 ($7999). Both models offer evolutionary enhancements over last year's models.
Vivitek is introducing a $999 entry-level model H1080FD projector using DLP technology. This model along with the Optoma HD20 are the first 1080p projectors to break the $1000 price barrier.
The news items from August 2009 appear below
Sony is set to become the first manufacturer to offer Blu-ray Disc (BD) mega-changers. Two models are planned for introduction over the next few months. Both models will hold 400 discs and support BD Profile 2 (i.e., BD-Live) and other internet enabled features (requires high-speed network connection). Both models support all of the BD allowed audio formats, including the lossless Dolby and DTS formats, with on-board decoding to allow for LPCM as well as bitstream output. First up is a high-end model in Sony's ES product line. The BDP-CX700ES will retail for $1899 when it goes on sale later this month. It will use Gracenote's VideoID and MusicID online services to retrieve information above the selected disc. The ES model includes 7.,1 channel analog audio outputs as well as the digital output. Sony will subsequently release a lower price non-ES model BDP-CX960 in the Oct./Nov. time frame. This $799 (estimated) model will have many of the same basic capabilities as the more expensive ES model but Sony's information indicates that only the ES model will include 7.1 channel analog audio outputs as well a number of other extras and the higher build quality normally associated with their ES product line. The BDP-CX960 is shown below:
Some people had predicted that the first sub-$100 Blu-ray Disc player will appear on store shelves during the late 2009 holiday shopping season. That prediction has come true early in some parts of the USA as some Walmarts are now selling in a Magnavox BD player (manufactured by Funai Corp.) for $98. However the Walmart price varies between $98 and $168 depending on the specific store location. We can expect to see more widespread availability of sub-$100 BD players during the holiday shopping season.
A year ago there were perhaps a handful of different HD media players available to US consumers. Recently there has been an explosion announcements/introductions of relatively low cost HD media players being sold under many brand names. This recently wave appears to have begun with the late 2008 introduction of the model WD TV by hard drive manufacturer Western Digital. This model frequently is seen on sale in the $100 price range and must be combined on one (or two) external USB hard disk drives and it capable of playing a wide range of media files up to 1080p HD video. It also plays audio, standard definition video and digital photo files. It provides a HDMI output for connecting to a HDTV. While the WD TV does not include any built-in network connectivity, many of the more recently introduced, or announced, media players included Ethernet ports (WiFi optional on some models) and some include support for web streaming video and audio services. Some of the other low cost media servers are models from: Egreat USA, Popcorn Hour, Xtreamer, MediaGate, Asus.
The news items from June/July 2009 appear below
Say Bye-Bye to analog broadcast TV in the USA. This update coincides with the cutoff of full power analog TV broadcasts in the USA (see link above for the Digital TV Transition). This cutoff date has been extended several times from the original 2006 date, most recently from Feb. to June 2009, but it has finally happened. News reports claim there are still millions of households in the US that are unprepared for the digital transition and I find this to be as expected since there are many people that weren't expected to take any action until their over-the-air TV reception totally disappeared
Rear projection TVs (RPTVs) first became popular in the 1980's with virtually all of the major TV manufacturers offering models. At first RPTVs were virtually the only option for the typical consumer wanting a large screen TV with a screen sizes of 50 inches, 60 inches or more. Until early this decade all RPTVs used three projection CRTs (one each for red, blue and green colors) and required large and heavy cabinets. Starting earlier this decade microchip electronic display technology started displacing projection CRTs and by 2005 RPTVs using DLP, LCD and LCoS micro-display technology had all but replaced projection CRTs. Along with this transition came smaller and less heavy cabinets with screen sizes up to 70+ inches in cabinets weighting less than 150 pounds and with a cabinet depth measuring 18 inches or less. However, over the past 4 years flat panel LCD and plasma TVs have been falling in price and the available screen sizes have been getting larger. Also the 'sex appeal' of a flat panel HDTV also attracted customers. As a result the major consumer electronics manufacturers have one-by-one dropped production of RPTV with JVC, Sony and Toshiba stopping production since 1997 and at the start of 2009 there were only two major manufacturers remaining, with both Samsung and Mitsubishi manufacturing DLP RPTVs. Of those two Samsung has recently stopped production of RPTVs leaving only Mitsubishi in the RPTV business. Some retailers may still have some Samsung RPTVs in stock, but when the current inventory is gone only Mitsubishi RPTVs will remain (and who knows for how long).
The news items from May 2009 appear below
A few HD video front projectors intended for home theater use include support to allow the use of an external anamorphic lens for the projection of ultra-widescreen images with an aspect ratios of 2.35 : 1 to 2.40 : 1. This is intended for use when projecting movies in CinemascopeTM format and when using a ultra-widescreen format projection screen. Many movies on Blu-ray Disc are available in this untra-widescreen format (typically those movies that used this format when shown in theaters). Now Philips (at least in the UK) has plans to introduce a flat panel LCD HDTV that uses the ultra-widescreen format. This is the first direct-view HDTV designed specifically for displaying ultra-widescreen movies. Philips calls this new format "Cinema 21:9" and it will initially be offered in screen sizes up to 56 inches. Click HERE for more information.
Sony has now started shipping the first of their 2009 models of Blu-ray Disc (BD) players. The new entry-level model BDP-S360 replaces last year's model BDP-S350 and carries the same MSRP of $299. The new model adds the ability to decode all of the audio formats and output them via HDMI as multichannel Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM) as well as in bitstream mode. Last year's model could not provide the decoding and LPCM output for the lossless DTS HD Master Audio tracks found on some BD movies. Some retailers still have inventory of last year's model in stock and you may find some sales this month to clear out the old inventory to make room for the new model. Sony's higher-end models will be coming out over the next couple of months.
Paramount has become the 2nd Hollywood studio to license Macrovision's BD+ digital copy protection for use on their Blu-ray Disc releases. This follows Fox adding BD+ to their releases. BD+ adds an additional layer of digital copy protection that the studios hope will reduce disc piracy. However, at least one software company (i.e, Slysoft) is already selling a software product that breaks BD copy protection, including BD+, although that company must provide frequent updates to their software to react to the latest BD titles released with BD+.
Several consumer electronics manufacturers have been talking about HDTVs and video sources for 3D content. In fact, starting in 2008 some DLP rear projection HDTVs from Samsung and Mitsubishi were already 3D ready However there has been no industry standards for 3D sources nor the required 3D glasses the viewer would need to wear. Recently an activity has been initiated to create industry standards thru sponsorship of the Consumer Electronics Association. The first meeting of the new standards group will be held this month to begin work on creating the standard for the stereoscopic 3D glasses. Also the Blu-ray Disc Association (i.e., the consortium of manufacturers that develops and licenses BD technology) is considering extensions to the BD standards to support 3D content.
The news items from April 2009 appear below
Directv is getting closer to offering a new Multi-Room Viewing (MRV) feature with their HD Digital Video Recorders (HD-DVRs). The current generation of HD-DVRs (models HR20, HR21, HR22) were upgraded several months ago, via a national firmware release, to allow them to act a networked media server. When these updated HD-DVRs are connected into a home Ethernet local area network (LAN), PC client software (still in Beta version) is available from Directv (download Directv2PC) that allows the PC to access and play the video files stored on any of the HD-DVRs that are on the same network. Before downloading and installing the Direct2PC software you will need to review the FAQs Page to be certain your PC is compatible with this software. Recently Directv has released beta software that adds client software to the HD-DVRs. This software is an early beta release that does have some issues and limitations and it is only being offered for the purpose of testing, and will not be automatically downloaded to Directv customers. However, its release even in early beta form, is a very positive sign that there will be a forthcoming national release, perhaps in the second half of 2009, to fully add MRV features to the Directv HD-DVRs. Also MRV client beta software has been released for testing with the Directv H21 HD receiver (not a DVR) that allows it to access programs recorded on HD-DVRs on the same network. MRV is a very attractive feature to Directv customers that have there HD-DVR connected into a home LAN as it will allow any program recorded on any of the HD-DVRs to be played on any of the other networked HD-DVRs or appropriate HD receiver..
Mitsubishi has announced their 2009 line-up of rear projection TVs (RPTVs). Mitsubishi and Samsung are the last two major manufacturers of RPTVs and both company's products are based on the DLP technology from Texas Instruments. The new Mitsubishi models all provide support for future 3D content and provide a 120 Hz display mode, instead the 60 Hz mode that is standard with previously RPTVs. Also included are models with a large 82 inch screen size (diagonal), which is 10 inches more than the previous largest screen RPTVs offer by any major manufacturer. The screen sizes being offered range from 60 inches up to the new 82 inch model and retail prices range from $1499 to $4999..
As reported last month the Panasonic 2008 models of their Blu-ray Disc (BD) players have been sold out at most dealers since the beginning of 2009 and the production of the new replacement models had been delayed. As of the beginning of April the new entry-level Panasonic DMP-BD60K ($299 MSRP that is replacing the BD35) is becoming available at several dealers and the more full-featured DMP-BD80 should be available within a few weeks.
It now looks like Sony's new entry-level BD player, model BDP-S360 ($299 MSRP and replacing the BDP-S350 model), will be released during the first half of May 2009 while their new more full featured model BDP-S560 will be released in July 2009.
It looks like the previously announced 2nd quarter 2009 introduction of the new Vizio BD player model VBR-100 has been delayed until at least the 3rd quarter of 2009.
There has been a recent drop in the street price for both LCD and plasma flat panel HDTVs. The better brands of 1080p plasma HDTVs (e.g., Panasonic, Samsung and especially the soon be be discontinued Pioneer Kuro models) do produce a picture overall that is better than the best LCD HDTVs, but LCD is outselling plasma models. Hopefully the three remaining manufacturers (i.e., Panasonic, LG and Samsung) will continue to support the development and production of plasma HDTVs.
The news items from March 2009 appear below
The US Congress and the President have approved additional funding for the Digital TV (DTV) transition $40 converter box coupon program. Earlier funding had run out in early January 2009 and with additional funding now approved the $40 coupons are starting to be mailed out again. Two coupons are available to each household and each can be used toward the purchase of a digital TV converter box to allow reception of DTV over-the-air broadcasts and display using an existing analog TV. DTV converter boxes typically sell for $50 to $60 each at retailers such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy. See the link above for the Government web site for the Digital TV transition.
Both Panasonic and Sony are introducing new models of Blu-ray Disc (BD) players. In the case of Panasonic delays in getting the new models into production and higher than expected sales of last year's models during the late 2008 holiday shopping season has resulted in the undesirable situation where the inventory of last year's models (i.e., DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55) were sold out by most dealers in January and there will be gap of a few months until the new 2009 models will begin shipping to dealers in April. Some dealers that do have a few of the 2008 models still available are demanding above list price due to the very limited number of units still available. While the Sony 2008 models are generally still available, Sony has announced their new 2009 line up of BD players. The new BDP-S360 will replace the BDP-S350 while the new BDP-S560 will replace the BDP-S550. The new models will be available by mid-2009 for $300 (BDP-S360) and $350 (BDP-S560). Based on the Sony press release, it appears that new models have features similar to the 2008 models they replace. However the BDP-S360 now includes internal decoding of DTS HD-MA audio which as missing on the similar 2008 model and the BDP-S560 adds a Wi-Fi internet connection capability and support for DLNA multimedia home networking to the capabilities of last year's otherwise similar model.. Sony is also offering two models of home theater systems (models BDV-E300 and BDV-E500W) that include integrated BD players. From the Sony press release:
The models are BD-Live capable and support the latest advanced audio codecs including 7.1 channel Dolby® TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus, DTS®-HD High Resolution Audio, and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding as well as bit-stream.
The BDV-E500W features integrated S-AIR wireless audio capabilities. Sony's S-AIR technology transmits audio up to 164 feet from the main system to wireless rear speakers for simple surround sound (signal and sound quality may vary) or up to 10 individual S-AIR AirStation audio devices (sold separately) throughout the home. The BDV-E300 model is S-AIR ready so users can add optional modules, also sold separately.
Both systems include Sony's Digital Media Port, which adds control and connectivity options for music playback through various accessories, including a cradle for iPod® players which is packaged with each system, or an optional Network Walkman™ cradle, a PC client device, and a Bluetooth® adapter (each sold separately).
The models include an easy set-up DVD, eliminating any confusion during the set up process. Also, Sony's BRAVIA® Sync™ technology simplifies every day operation with one-button command of compatible home theater components through HDMI.
The models also feature Sony's Xross Media Bar (XMB™) graphic user interface for easy menu navigation, Precision Drive technology, Precision Cinema Upscaling technology, and a USB port allowing users to add their external flash memory for BD-Live features. The units ship with an easy set-up DVD for step-by-step instruction on initial set up process.
The BDV-E300 and BDV-E500W ship in June for about $600 and $800, respectively.
The other manufacturers of BD player are also rolling out their 2009 models over the next several months. All of the 2009 models support as a minimum BD Profile 1.1 (Bonus-ViewTM) features and most also support BD Profile 2.0 (BD-LiveTM) internet enabled features. Below is a summary of some of the new 2009 models of BD players (prices shown are estimates of the list price) scheduled for release by mid-2009:
Samsung .BD-P1600 ($299) and BD-P3600 ( $399) both are now available (released in Feb. 2009) and both support BD-LiveTM
Magnavox NB530MGX ($200) is now available and supports Bonus-ViewTM but not BD-LiveTM
Pioneer BDP-120 ($299), BDP-320 ($399) and BDP-23F Elite ($599) to be released in April 2009 and all support BD-LiveTM.
Panasonic DMP-BD60 ($299), DMP-BD80 ($425) and DMP-BD70V ($349 - combo BD and VHS tape unit) and DMP-B15 ($799 - portable BD player) to be released starting in May 2009 and all support BD-LiveTM.
Sony BDP-S360 ($299) and BDP-560 ($399) to be released by mid-2009 and both support BD-LiveTM.
Vizio VBR-100 ($199) to be released 2nd quarter 2009 and it supports BD-LiveTM.
Oppo BDP-83 ($499) to be released in 2nd quarter 2009 and it supports BD-LiveTM
Philips BDP3000, BDP5000 and BDP7300 with the BDP7300 scheduled to be released in March 2009 (prices not available) and the other models in the 2nd quarter of 2009. All new Philips models will support BD-LiveTM.
The news items from February 2009 appear below
The US Congress, with encouragement from the President has passed legislation to extend the Feb. 17, 2009 cutoff date for analog TV broadcasts in the US until June 12, 2009. Also included in the bill was additional funding for the $40 digital TV converter box coupons. However, TV broadcaster are not forced to continue analog broadcasts until the revised cutoff date and approximate one third have now gone ahead and cutoff their analog broadcasts as of Feb. 18th. In some locations all of the major network broadcasters have now cut off their analog broadcasts while in other areas, including most major cities, most of the network broadcasters have agreed to wait until the new June 12th date to cut off their analog broadcasts.
Pioneer has decided to end their TV production business. Their premium Kuro Elite line of plasma HDTVs have been considered by many to the be very best flat panel HDTVs available. However, Pioneer had been losing money on their HDTV business for at least the past couple of years and decided to cease production. Once inventories are sold out there will be no Pioneer HDTVs.
Vizio has announced they will discontinue marketing of plasma HDTV and solely focus on LCD models. Vizio's decision along with Pioneer's exit from the HDTV market leaves only Panasonic, Samsung and LG Electronics as major manufacturers of plasma HDTVs.
The news items from January 2009 appear below
The 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held 8-11 January 2009 in Las Vegas and a sampling of the most interesting new home theater related products introduced at CES is presented below.
Blu-ray Disc (BD) Players
The general trends for new BD players introduced at CES include more features for entry-level models, players from 2nd tier manufacturers are driving down prices, more web-enable players that support "BD-Live", and players integrated into "home-theater-in-a-box" systems.
Pioneer has released details of three new Blu-ray Disc (BD) players. Up until now Pioneer had placed their BD players as premium models, but the new models announced includes a mainstream sub-$300 model BDP-120 as well as sub-$400 model BDP-320. Pioneer also announced a new model BDP-23F ($600) in Pioneer's premium Elite series. The new Elite model includes "Kuro LinkTM" that allows the BD player to be connected to a Pioneer 9G (9th generation) Kuro plasma display and will then allow the player and display to communication to provide optimum video adjustments and the ability to control both the display and player from the same remote. Also when connected to one of the new Pioneer higher-end AV receivers will also provide improved audio performance by removing any jitter (i.e., digital timing errors) associated with the digital audio, including the lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio formats found on many Blu-ray titles..
Vizio, best known as a supplier of flat panel HDTVs with good performance at modest prices, is introducing their first Blu-ray Disc (BD) player. Their new VBR100 will carry a list price of $199 and will support the BD profile 2.0 features, also known as BD-Live. This new model is expected to begin shipping in April 2009. Unlike existing entry-level BD players, this new low cost Vizio model includes internal decoding for the lossless audio formats and provides surround analog outputs, as well as the more common bitstream audio output via HDMI to allow decoding to be performed by an external AV receiver. Models with similar features from the better known vendors up until now have carried list prices that start in the $400 price range.
Memorex also introduced a $200 BD player that supports Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) as well as decoding of the advanced BD lossless audio formats. Unlike the new Vizio BD player the Memorex MVBD-2520 does not include analog audio outputs
Samsung is one of a few companies that introduced new 'home-theater-in-a-box" (HTIB) systems that includes a Blu-ray Disc (BD) players. Introduced by Samsung was their model HT-BD7200. This HTIB system is only a 2.1 channel system ( two speakers plus a subwoofer, rather than the more common 5.1 HTIB systems) and includes an integrated receiver/BD player that support all of the BD advanced audio formats as well as the BD-Live web enabled features. This HTIB also supports streaming video from Netflix. The price was not announced this system is expected to be shipping by mid-2009.
LG Electronics introduced a 5.1 channel a home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) system, model LHB979, that has an integrated Blu-ray Disc player and includes wireless rear surround speakers. This combination should be of interest to many consumers that don't want to, or are unable to, run wires for rear speakers. This HTIB system support internet enabled video streaming from Netflix, CinemaNow and YouTube and should be available in May 2009. The price was not announced.
Sharp also include a HTIB system that includes a BD player. Their new BD-MPC series are 5.1 channel systems that includes a BD Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) player and includes 5 speakers plus a subwoofer and a total of 720 watts of amplifier power. The model BD-MP30 has a plastic cabinet with a black finish and the virtually identical feature-wise BD-MP40 has uses wood cabinets with a black finish. Both models are expected in the 2nd quarter of 2009 at a list price in the $800 range.
Philips announced three new models of BD players (that are now being manufactured and distribed by Funai under the Philips name). The model BDP3010 is the entry level model that support BD Profile 1.1 (Bonus View) features while the step-up models BDP5010 ($249) and BDP7310 ($299) support the BD Profile 2 (BD-Live) features (although only the BDP7310 will include BD-Live out-of-the-box, while the BDP5010 will require a promised future firmware upgrade). These new Philips branded models will be available in the April/May 2009 timeframe.
LG Electronics introduced a step-up model BD390 BD player that supports BD Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) features with built-in WiFi and 1GB of internal memory. This model support streaming video via the internet from Netflix and includes decoding for all of the advanced BD audio formats in include 7.1 channel analog audio outputs. The price is expected to be in the $400 price range when this model begins shipping in June 2009.
Panasonic introduced new models DMP-BD60 and DMP-BD80 Blu-ray Disc (BD) players that both support BD Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) web enabled features and support for the advanced lossless audio formats. These new models include a new feature called "Viera Cast" for internet enabled multimedia content including Amazon Video on Demand (but not Netflix). The step-up model DMP-BD80 supports decoding of the advanced audio formats with 7.1 channel analog outputs, as well as HDMI, while the DMP-BD60 only outputs the advanced audio via HDMI.
Panasonic was displaying a portable Blu-ray Disc player with a built-in 8.9" LCD video display. The model DMP-B15 offers 3 hours of playing time from it rechargeable battery and has an HDMI output so that it can be connected to a home HDTV. Price and availability were not available.
Panasonic also introduced a combination Blu-ray Disc and VHS player with their model DMP-BD70V. This model includes a BD Profile 2.0 (BD-Live) BD player as well as a VHS player. The pricing and availability are not available.
LCD Flat Panel HDTVs
The general trends for new LCD flat panel HDTVs introduced at CES include use of LED backlighting and 240Hz technology for top-of-the-line models.
LG Electronics introduced a new LH55 series of LCD HDTVs that include screen sizes of 37", 42", 47" and 55" models. These models (e.g., 37LH55) use a 240 Hz refresh rate, for reduced motion blur, and also use LED "scanning backlight" technology to improve the image contrast. These now LH55 model are expected to begin shipping in March and the prices were not announced.
LG also inducted a new LH85 LCD HDTV series with 47" and 55" models (e.g., 55LH85) that feature wireless delivery of 1080p video from an remote transmitter box. These models feature a 120 Hz. refresh rate and will be available in May 2009.
The Japanese company Funai is now licensing the use of the brand name Philips from 2009 products. A new Philips branded series 7000 LCD HDTVs was introduced that CES that feature 120 Hz. refresh rate, 1080p resolution and will be offered in screen sizes of 32" to 52". Prices and availability date were not released.
Samsung was the first mainstream manufacturer to offer LCD flat panel HDTV using LED backlights. For 2009 they are both expanding their offerings that use zone based LED backlighting as well as introducing a new series that continues to use standard CFL backlighting. The new LN-B750 series uses CFL black lights in a thin cabinet of approx. 1" depth with screen sizes of 40", 46" and 52". This new models will support 240 Hz. refresh rate and built-in Ethernet for web connectivity (an optional WiFi adapter is also available) for supporting streaming multimedia from sites such as Flikr, Yahoo, YouTube and Showtime. The new models should be available by mid-2009. The pricing was not announced. For their LED backlit LCD HDTVs Samsung announced a new series LN-B6000 of LCD HDTVs that feature a 120 Hz. refresh rate, a slim 1" thick cabinet and built-in Ethernet support. These models use edge-lit LED lighting in order to allow for the thin cabinet, instead of the zone LED lighting use in some other Samsung models. The zone LED lighting provides improved image contrast by selectively dimming darker areas of the screen, but requires deeper cabinets. The LN-B6000 models will be offered in screen sizes of 40", 46" and 55". Samsung also offers a step-up LN-B7000 series that uses the LED edge-lit lighting as does their new LN-B8000 series. The LN-B8000 series supports a 240 Hz. refresh rate and is offered in screen sizes of 46" and 55". Pricing was not released for the new Samsung models. All of these new models are expected to released by mid-2009.
Sony introduced a new series of 1080p entry-level LCD flat panel HDTVs. The new KDL-S4100 series is being offered in screen sizes of 32", 40", 46" and 52". These models operate with a 60 Hz. refresh rates rather than the 120 Hz. refresh rate used in Sony's step-up KDL-V5100 series. Both of these series offer 3 HDMI inputs, a PC input and support for an optional add-on for Bravia Internet Video Link (for streaming video). Sony also announced higher-end Z series and XBR9 series LCD HDTVs. The Z-series offers a 240 Hz. refresh rate in screen sizes of 40" , 46" and 52" while the XBR9 series offers 120 Hz. refresh rate in its smallest (32") model and 240 Hz. refresh rate in its 40", 46" and 52" models.
Toshiba introduced their first LCD HDTV that use LED backlights. Their SV670 series will be offered in screen sizes of 46" and 55" and will be available in May 2009 and will use a 240 Hz. refresh rate. Prices were not announced. Toshiba also introduced a Regza SV645 series of LCD HDTVs in screen sizes of 40" 46" and 52" that offer a 120 Hz. refresh rate with conventional backlighting.
Vizio is getting on the 240 Hz. refresh rate bandwagon with the new SVT series of LCD HDTV in screen sizes of 42" and 47" at list prices of $1099 and $1399 respectively. Vizio will use a "scanning backlight" LED technology for these models (the same as used by LG). These new models will be available in mid-2009. Vizio also introduced a new top-of-the-line 55" model VF551SVT that features LED backlighting and with a 120 Hz. refresh rate and local (i.e., zone) dimming for improved image contrast. It also has an integrated soundbar that simulates surround sound. This new model will sell for retail for $1999
The general trends for new Plasma HDTVs introduced at CES include more thinner cases, more models with THX Display Certification and internet connectivity.
Panasonic, the largest manufacturer of Plasma HDTV, has expanded the number of models that include THX Display Certification to include some lower priced models (as compared to those 2008 models that included this feature). The new G10 series come in 42", 46", 50" and 54" screen sizes and will begin shipping in the March thru May timeframe. These will carry model numbers such a PC-P42G10, TC-P46G10, etc. The THX Display Certification indicates that these models have met a set of performance standards and have the required capabilities established by THX to insure that video is displayed at high quality in terms of color accuracy, high contrast ratio, correct color gamut, etc. Panasonic also offers THX Display Certification on their more expensive V10 series of plasma HDTVs which add compatibility with 1080p/24 sources (such as from Blu-ray Disc). The Panasonic plasma HDTV flagship is their Z1 series which features a thin (approx. 1") cabinet and 600 Hz. technology. Their new TC-P54Z1 (54" screen) is expected to ship in mid-2009 at a premium price (not announced).
LG Electronics inducted a new PS80 series of plasma HDTVs in sizes of 50" and 60" (e.g., model 60PS80) that feature THX display certification and streaming video via the internet from Netflix, YouTube and other internet content (e.g., stock tickers, weather reports, etc.).
Samsung introduced their new PN-B550 series of plasma HDTVs that are said to reduce power consumption by nearly 50% as compared to typical plasma displays. Models with screen sizes of 50", 58" and 63" will be offered with cabinets that are just approx. 1" thick. They support a 1080p/24p mode and 600 Hz. processing (for ultra low motion blur on the video). These new models should be available by mid-2009. Prices were not announced. Samsung also introduced a new higher-end plasma line with their PN-B850 series that come in cabinets approx. 1 inch thick. These will feature internet connectivity for access multimedia content from sources including Flickr, Yahoo, YouTube and Showtime. This series comes in 50" and 58" screen sizes and will be available by mid-2009. Pricing was not available.
Rear Projection HDTV
The general trend is that as flat panel HDTV have become available in larger sizes and a lower prices, rear projection TVs (RPTVs) have become less attractive to many consumers. Many vendors including Sony and Toshiba have already dropped out of the RPTV market over the past 2 years leaving Samsung and Mitsubishi as the remaining major suppliers. However at screen sizes of 60" and larger RPTVs can offer the best value by delivering a high quality full 1080p image at a very reasonable price. Top of the line models are dropping the use of projection bulbs in favor or LED or lasers for the light source. These solid state light sources offer substantially longer life than the 2,000 to 5,000 that is typical for must projection bulbs and don't dim over their lifetimes as do bulbs.
Perhaps the biggest news from CES is that Samsung is not planning to introduce new RPTV DLP models in 2009. The models they introduced in 2008 will remain available. Mitsubishi has their own annual line show and did not show their 2009 product line at CES.
The general trends for new front projectors is improved performance and capability at generally lower prices. Also the 720p models generally have dropped to $1000 price range while 1080p models state at approx. $2000. As for what's "just around the corner" for front projectors it seems that LEDs replacing bulbs and support for 3D are the two most likely future technology upgrades, but not yet ready for primetime for home theater projectors. CES does not tend to be the major trade show for the introduction of new front projectors.
Several of the major manufacturers of front projectors intended for home theater use began shipping their new 1080p models at the end of 2008 and were displaying these already available models at CES. These included JVC models RS10 and RS20 using their DILA (LCoS) technology and Epson models 6500UB and 7500UB using the latest generation of LCD technology. Panasonic also introduced their new LCD based AE3000 in late 2008 and Mitsubishi introduced their LCD based models HC6500 and HC7000 in late 2008. These models represent the current state of the art for LCoS and LCD based front projector for use in home theaters.
Sharp has re-entered the home theater front projector market with their XV-Z15000 DLP projector. This new $3000 (list price) model uses a new 0.65" 1080p DMD from Texas Instruments and is said to have a dynamic contrast ration of 30,000:1. It uses a 6-segments color wheels operating a 6X speed and has a 1080p/24 film mode. It has 2 HDMI inputs (version 1.3).
Optoma introduced new models 806 and 8000 which appear to be an evolution from last year's 1080p DLP models. They are spec'ed 8,000:1 and 10,000:1 contrast ratios respectively and are spec'ed to produce 2000 and 2200 lumens (uncalibrated). Their new model 8200 appears to be a fully new product and is spec'ed with a contrast ratio of 20,000:1 and with lower fan noise than current Optoma models. For the first time in a 1080p projector from Optoma, the 8200 will have a lens shift adjustment making more versatile as a home theater projector. This model is rated as having a 1300 lumen light output. Pricing is not available.
Home Theater Audio Equipment
The general trends for home theater related audio equipment/systems introduced at CES include increased support decoding the advanced lossless audio formats offered on Blu-ray Disc (i.e., Dolby TruHD and DTS HD Master Audio) and new models of speakers for use with flat panel HDTVs.
See the section above on Blu-ray Disc for highlights of Home-Theater-In-a Box (HTIB) systems that were introduced that included a Blu-ray Disc player.
Polk Audio has expanded their speaker lineup intended for use with flat panel HDTVs with the new "SoundBar SDA Instant Home Theater" that includes 31.75" long sound bar speaker for mounting below the flat panel HDTV plus a wireless subwoofer. The system includes a total of 260 watts of amplification built into the speaker cabinets. This system is available this month (i.e., January 2009) for a list price of $550.
Pioneer introduced a new model VSX-819H AV receiver intended to be attractive to the mainstream consumer market. This model features 3 HDMI inputs, decoding for all of the advanced lossless Blu-ray Disc audio formats and carries a list price of just $300. A step-up model VSX-919H ($400 list) was also announced that adds the ability to upscale analog video inputs for output via HDMI.
Dish Network introduced a new HD-DVR model 922 that combines "Slingbox" capability with a HD-DVR. Slingbox has until now only be sold as a standalone, add-on produce that allows streaming of video from your video sources to a PC via a high-speed internet connection. The new unit from Dish Network allows the TV that is directly connected to the unit to be showing one program while a second remotely located viewer can be viewing a different program.
The news items from November/December 2008 appear below
The holiday shopping season is predicted to be slower this year due to the poor global economy. As a result there may be good buys and manufacturers and dealers attempt to move inventory by reducing prices. The traditional kickoff of the Christmas shopping season in the USA is the Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday. This so called 'Black Friday' also is a big day of sales at many retailers. This year 'Black Friday' falls on November 28th. and the sale information is becoming available from some retailers. There are several web sites, such as BlackFriday.info, that post the Black Friday ads early. The best home theater related Black Friday deal we have seen so far, as of this update, is the Sony Blu-ray Disc player (model BDP-S350) at Sears and K-mart.
National retailer Circuit City has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is closing 155 of its 721 stores. Circuit City is the 2nd largest consumer electronics retailer in the USA and has been having financial problems for the past couple of years.
Beyond the one day Black Friday sales, Blu-ray Disc (BD) player prices are dropping with discontinued models from first tier manufacturers being cleared out for under $200 and some current models from second tier manufacturers also having recently dropped to just below $200 (street price). The Wall Street Journal had a recent article on the price cuts on BD players.
The new generation of home theater front projectors are now coming out. Panasonic's PT-AE3000 is now available for a street price of approx. $2500 and new models from Epson and JVC are expected to begin shipping at the end of November.
It is reported that Panasonic is purchasing electronics manufacturer Sanyo. We can expect to see more consolidation of consumer electronics companies as the poor economic conditions continue.
"Sony Insider" is reporting that Digital Entertainment Group and a number of movie studios have kicked off a $25M advertising campaign to promote Blu-ray Disc during the holiday season. This includes putting up "Tru Blu" displays at retailers to provide movies on Blu-ray Disc.
If you are interested in a new flat panel HDTV for Christmas, you are not alone. Even with the gobal economic troubles, sales of flat panel HDTVs are expected to remain strong, but perhaps not show the holiday sales growth seen the past couple of years. While LCD flat panel HDTVs as a market segment still outsell plasma HDTVs, recent price drops, especially for 42" and 50" plasma HDTVs, is expected to increase the market share for plasmas in this size range. The better plasmas, from such manufacturers as Pioneer, Panasonic and Samsung, do produce higher quality images than do the best LCD HDTVs.
The news items from September/October 2008 appear below
Our "HD Disc" page has been changed to a Blu-ray Disc (BD) page. The Blu-ray Disc page has been updated to list current and soon-to-be-released models of BD players (click button on left to go to the new Blu-ray Disc page).
The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) is holding their annual Expo (trade show) in Denver in early September. The CEDIA Expo is second only to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES is held in January each year) in terms of home video related product introductions. Furthermore, there are frequently more home theater front projectors introduced and demo'ed at the CEDIA Expo than at CES. It appears that many companies start selling their new models in the September to November timeframe and by the time of the CEDIA Expo they have have production models to announce and demonstrate. This year's CEDIA Expo included the following new front projector introductions:
Sony - two new front projectors were introduced. A new model VPL-HW10 carries a list price of $3500 and replaces the VPL-VW40 as Sony's entry level 1080p SXRD (i.e., LCoS technology) projector. This new model (now shipping) includes a user convergence adjustment, as offered on last year's VW60, but missing on the VW40) as well as a power zoom lens, increased light output and improved contrast ratio (i.e., claimed to be 30,000:1 with use of a dynamic iris), as compared to the model VPL-VW40 that it replaces. Sony also introduced a higher end model VPL-VW70 that carries a retail price of $8,000. It has a claimed contrast ratio of 60,000:1 (with use of dynamic iris) and support for use of an optional external anamorphic lens (for use with a 2.35:1 wide aspect screen).
Epson - announced three new models of LCD 1080p front projectors. Their new top of the line model 7500UB (called the TW5000 outside North America) replaces the well regarded Cinema 1080UB projector and is claimed to have improved contrast ratio (claimed to be 75,000:1 with use of a dynamic iris), support for use on an optional external anamorphic lens (for use with a 2.35: wide aspect screen), and a 120Hz image refresh mode. This new model is expected to carry a street price similar to the model it replaces (in the $3,000 to $3500 range and the Pro version for about $1,000 more). A new mid-level model TW3800 has a claimed 20,000:1 contrast ratio (with use of a dynamic iris) and includes the necessary controls to allow for professional image calibration. The entry-level model TW3000 has a similar specification to the mid-level model but lacks the professional image calibration feature.
Mitsubishi - only recently began sales of a new entry-level model HC5500 (retail price $2500) and at CEDIA Expo introduced two higher-end models to their 1080p LCD projector line. The high-end model HC7000 (retail price $4,000) claims a contrast ratio of 70,000:1 (with use of a dynamic iris) and like other models from Mitsubishi has exceptionally low noise levels. The HC6500 (retail price $3,000) is the new mid-level model replacing last year's HC6000, with features similar to the current HC5500 but with a wider zoom range on the power zoom lens. Mitsubishi also introduced a new super high brightness projector designed for commercial applications or very high-end home theaters that use very large screens. The model HC8000 (retail price $15,000) has a claimed light output of 5,000 lumens (as compared to 600 to 1,500 lumens that is typical for most consumer home theater front projectors)
Panasonic - introduced a new top-of-the-line model as a replacement for their popular PT-AE2000. The new PT-AE3000 is a 1080p LCD projector that includes the ability to store zoom, focus and lens offset values to directly support a 2.35:1 widescreen display mode as well as conventional 1.78:1 (i.e., 16 x 9 ratio) display mode. This permits use a wide aspect screen without the requirement for an external anamorphic lens. This new model also support 120 Hz image refresh with the ability to insert interpolated video frames to provide smooth video motion. It has a claimed contrast ratio of 60,000:1 (with the use of a dynamic iris). This new model is expected to carry a retail price of around $3500 when it goes on sale in October.
JVC - introduced new models to their popular 1080p DILA (LCoS technology) projector lineup. The new JVC HD350 (and the similar RS10) and HD750 (and the similar RS20) projectors bring improvements over the current JVC models. The most significant improvements over the current generation of JVC projectors appear to be an improved lens design and for the high-end HD750 a color management system to allow professional calibration for accurate colors. Unlike the above described projectors from other manufacturers, JVC does not rely on the use of a dynamic iris to achieve good black levels and an excellent contrast ratio. Also unlike most other manufactures JVC projectors usually actually deliver (or come close to) the rated light output and contrast ratio when properly calibrated to a the standard 6500oK color temperature. JVC rates the native contrast ratio of the HD350 at 15,000:1 and the HD750 at 30,000:1 (same as last year's models RS1x and RS2 respectively).
DLP Projectors - Very few new DLP models were introduced but the big news was a 1080p DLP projector shown by Delta Electronics that used an LED light source rather than a projection bulb, as used by all other front projectors. Samsung has been selling rear projection HDTVs for the past 2 years with LED-based DLP light engines, but it appears that Delta may be the first to bring this technology to front projectors. The LED light engine both eliminates the need for a color wheel, as used with all other single chip DLP front projectors, and also eliminates the need for bulb replacements, as LEDs are expected to last the life of the projector. Price and availability information was not immediately available.
Mitsubishi also demonstrated at CEDIA their laser light engine based DLP rear projection HDTV. The 65" Laservue will carry a retail price of $6999 when it ships to select dealers in late September. A 73" version of the Laservue is expected to begin shipping later in 2008. The Mitsubishi Laservue series use solid state red, blue and green lasers diodes to replace the bulb and color wheel in conventional DLP projectors. Samsung began shipping, about 2 years ago, DLP rear projection HDTVs that replaced the bulb and color wheel with red, blue and green LEDs and although the Mitsubishi approach (i.e., using laser diodes) may have some potential advantages in terms of overall light output and thinner cabinet designs, it is not clear if consumers will be ready to accept the substantially higher initial prices for laser vs. LED rear projectors.
Blu-ray Disc (BD) player prices are fall fast this month. Sony's new model BDP-S350 is scheduled to drop to $299 late in September and the street price for some of the Funai manufactured BD players (i.e., Funai makes BD players branded as Magnavox, Sylvania, Philips and Insignia) have recently dropped to as low as $229. Price reductions on BD players from other manufacturers can be expected.
The news items from August 2008 appear below
Only weeks after Panasonic's new BMP-BD50 Blu-ray Disc Player became available (see June 2008 news below), plans for a replacement model DMP-BD55 have come forward. It appears the biggest difference feature-wise will be the new model will have 7.1 channel analog outputs, as compared to the 5.1 channel analog outputs on the BD55. Panasonic is also introducing a new entry-level model BMP-35 that replaces the model BMP-30.
Up until now the only sources for 1080p HD video have been Blu-ray Discs, HD-DVDs and some consumer HD camcorders. Both Directv and Dish Network have recently announced plans to offer pay-per-view content (e.g., movies) in 1080p format. Since the HD satellite receivers and DVRs in widespread use by their customers do not support anything above 1080i, a new generation of HD receivers (and HD-DVRs) will be required.
Directv has begun shipping a new HD-DVR, model HR22. Like the HR21 this new model will not include a turner for over-the-air broadcast TV ATSC (digital TV) reception, but will accept an optional add-on HD tuner box. The new HR22 has a 500 GB hard disk drive capable of storing up to 100 hours of HD video (as compared to the 320 GB drive in the still available HR21 and 250 GB in the older HR20). Directv leases, rather than sells HD receivers and HD-DVRs, the new HR22 goes for an up-front lease price of $199 and the up-front lease price on the still available HR21 has been reduced to $169. The new HR22 can probably be upgraded to support 1080p output via a future firmware update from Directv.
Sony has only been shipping the new BDP-S350 Blu-ray Disc (BD) player for a few weeks and plans are already in place to drop the retail price from $399 to $299 effective in late September. This should drive the price of the second tier brand BD players, already priced as low as $279, down to under $250 and potentially to below $200 by later this year.
Sony has introduced a replacement for the current 40GB version of the Playstation 3 (PS3) that is essentially the same console, but with an 80GB hard drive (.model CECHK01) This now makes two different versions of the PS3, each with an 80GB hard drive, that are currently being sold. The higher-end version comes bundled with the video game "Metal Gear Solid 4" and retails for $499. This more expensive model has backward compatibility for playing PS2 games, will play Super Audio CDs (SACDs), includes 4 USB ports and a built-in media card reader, while the new lower cost model ($399 retail), like the 40GB model it replaces, lacks PS2 game support, cannot play SACDs, has only 2 USB ports and does not read media cards. However, as far as playing BDs, DVD, CD or PS3 games, there is no difference between the capability of these models. Sony also released information indicating plans for a 160GB model later this year (assumed to be a replacement for the current higher-end 80GB model).
If you are a new PS3 owner, or are considering purchasing a PS3 for playing Blu-ray Discs, a new PS3 FAQ thread is now available (HERE) on the AVS forum.
The news items from July 2008 appear below
Wireless home distribution of HD video could be in your future. A consortium of consumer electronics companies, that includes the likes of Sony, Samsung, Sharp, and Hitachi, are developing a new wireless communications system for the distribution of audio and video (A/V) in the home. This new technology is called WHDI (Wireless High Definition Interface) and its goal is allow any WHDI equipped HDTV in the home to access any WHDI equipped A/V source within that home. WHDI operates in the 5 GHz frequency band. Wireless networking supplies Belkin and Motorola are also supporting the development of WHDI.
It appears there is price war among consumer electronics manufacturers for 1080p front projectors. It was only just over two years ago that the first consumer 1080p projectors came to market and less than one year ago that their street prices for entry-level models dropped to the $3000 price range. Examples of such new low-cost models are those from Mitsubishi (model HC5500 using LCD technology) and BenQ (model W5000 using DLP technology) that are being sold at street prices in the $2200 to $2500 range. Unlike the first sub-$3000 1080p front projectors, these new models are full featured projectors and produce very detailed 1080p images with good contrast ratio and don't give up very much in performance to substantially higher priced models, including those from the same manufacturers. Sony's current entry level 1080p front projector (using LCoS technology) is their model VW40 that typically carries a street price of $2800 to $3000. Sony is reportedly preparing a lower priced model VPL-HW10 (estimated to carry a list price of $2500) that will use the same LCoS imaging technology used in Sony's higher priced front projectors (VW40, VW60, etc.).
Sony's new entry-level Blu-ray Disc (BD) player, model BDP-S350 is just starting to become available and should become widely available during August. This is a replacement for last year's model BDP-S300. The new model will sell for under $400 and supports bitsteaming of all of the audio formats allowed by the BD standard. This player is being shipped as a BD Profile 1.1 player and will plans to release a firmware update later this year that will bring the player up to Profile 2.0. This fall Sony plans to release a more expensive model BDP-S550 that adds internal decoding for all of the BD audio formats and add analog audio outputs to all use with older audio/video receivers that cannot accept and decode audio provided via an HDMI connection.
The news items from June 2008 appear below
According to a news article in the Chinese language Economic Daily News, Microsoft has contracted with a subsidiary of Asustek (based in Taiwan) to assemble a new version of the Xbox 360 that is equipped with a Blu-ray Disc drive (ROM). If correct this would be a reversal of pubic statements by MS officials this spring that a BD equipped version of the Xbox 360 was not in the works.
Directv has announced plans to move many of their sports channels to different channel numbers. Here is the Directv announcement listing the old and new channel assignments.
Panasonic's next generation Blu-ray Disc (BD) player, model DMP-BD50, should begin shipping to dealers by the end of June (6/17/08 Update: now delayed until late July/early August). This $599 unit is the first shipping stand-alone BD player that supports BD profile 2.0 (the PS3 game console also supports BD profile 2.0 features for playing discs). This new Panasonic model includes both internal decoding and bitstream audio output for all of the BD allowed audio formats, including the lossless HD audio formats.
Some industry observers had predicted we would see sale prices for entry-level BD players leading up to Christmas 2008 breaking the $200 barrier. Walmart has come through (almost) about 6 months ahead of that schedule. Walmart is having a Father's Day sale from June 8-15 with the offer of a $100 gift card with the purchase of any Blu-ray Disc player. With the recently released Magnavox NB500MG9 player now available at Walmart for just under $300 that means that the net cost of the player (assuming you have $100 of other items you want from Walmart) is at the sub-$200 level. For the event Walmart has also dropped the price on a select group of BD movies to $15 each.
Denon has announced plans for a lower cost BD player to join their existing two models that were released earlier this year. The new model DVD-1800BP is a Profile 1.1 player that will retail for $749. The Denon press release indicates the new model is "offering consumers extraordinary video quality and audio excellence at a more affordable price point, the DVD-1800BD features HDMI 1.3a with Deep Color and Bonus View support, full bitstream output of Dolby and DTS-HD audio formats, as well as 1080p scaling from SD DVDs and 2-channel analog audio output. The Denon DVD-1800BD is scheduled for availability in October 2008."
Network is dropping Voom HD channels to make room for more HD versions of
popular cable/satellite national channels. More information on the
planned new HD channel additions is HERE.
The news items from May 2008 appear below
The first of the Funai manufactured Blu-ray Disc (BD) players are showing up at US retailers this month. Funai is a Japanese company with factories in China and is the largest manufacturer of DVD players, supplying more that one half of those sold in the North America in recent years. They will be supplying BD players to be sold under various brand names, such as Magnavox, Sylvania, Emerson, Insignia, Philips (possibly), etc. These BD players support BD Profile 1.1 features and provide bitstream output via HDMI for the advanced audio formats. Funai may supply different feature sets for BD players to be sold under different brand names. These Funai supplied BD players are expected to carry a street price in the $288 to $399 price range. The first low-end model to appear is the Magnavox NB500MG9 that is now being carried by Walmart for under $300 and the feature-wise identical Sylvania NB500SY9 is expected to available around the end of May at a somewhat higher price.
Panasonic had early this year announced plans to release their much anticipated model DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Disc (BD) player this month. However, at the beginning of May there were some unofficial indications that the introduction will be delayed until July. A May introduction would have made this new model the first stand-alone BD player to support the BD Profile 2.0 features. But the delay may open the door for another manufacture to become the first to bring a Profile 2.0 stand-alone BD player to the marketplace. Note the Sony Playstation 3 became the first device to support BD Profile 2 in April (via a firmware update), but it is not considered a stand-alone player.
As reported in April (below), Samsung appears to be on track to begin shipments of their next generation BD Player in June. Their BD-P1500 replaces the BD-P1400 and supports BD Profile 1.1 features. This model does include an Ethernet connection to allow for firmware updates via the web. This is good since this unit will require a future firmware update to enable support for certain of the advanced audio formats. Also a future firmware update may allow this model to be updated to support BD Profile 2.0.
The next trend in flat panel HDTVs is for really thin cabinets. Several companies making LCD and Plasma HDTVs have announced and/or demo'ed planned new models with ultra-thin cabinets. The first of the new thin HDTVs should start appearing at retailers this summer. Among the latest to announce such models are Sharp with their new X-series of LCD HDTV with screen sizes of 37, 42 and 46 inches. Their cabinets are a mere 3.44 cm thick (about 1.35 inches). Hitachi has announced several LCD HDTV models in their UT-series with screen sizes of 32 to 47 inches with cabinets 1.5 inches thick. LG has announced their 'Scarlet' series of thin LCD HDTVs that are 4.5 cm thick (1.77 inches). Panasonic back in January 2008 announced/demo'ed a new line of 1 inch thick Plasma HDTVs.
Paramount Pictures, and associated studio DreamWorks, were high profile players in the Blu-ray Disc (BD) vs. HD-DVD format war. Initially Paramount/DreamWorks supported and released titles in both formats. Then in mid-2007 they accepted incentives from Toshiba to drop support for BD and release future movies exclusively on HD-DVD. However, with the Feb. 2008 demise of the HD-DVD format they had to regroup and have now announced their first group of movies to be released in 2008 on BD. The new titles on BD should start appearing on May 20th. These new releases for May 2008 include "Face/Off", "Next" and "Bee Movie". "The Spiderwick Chronicles" BD release is scheduled for June.
The results of a recent study conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates in Feb. 2008 indicates that just over one forth of US households now have a least one HDTV. However, only 70% of those HDTV owners have their HDTVs connected to an actual HD video source. Also the study provides some evidence that the upcoming summer Olympics may drive the next buying surge in HDTVs.
The news items from April 2008 appear below
Samsung has announced plans to release a next generation Blu-ray Disc (BD) player, model BD-P1500, in June 2008 that will replace their current model BD-P1400 BD player. The existing model is a "BD Profile 1.0" player while the new BD-P1500 will ship as a Profile 1.1 player that can be upgradable to become a Profile 2.0 (i.e, supporting 'BD Live' features) with a firmware updated planned for later in 2008. The new unit includes an Ethernet port that will be used with the future firmware update to support the web-enabled interactive capabilities required for the extra features on BD software titles that include BD Live features.
There are rumors that Yamaha plans for June 2008 release of their first BD player. They will probably be obtaining their BD player from another supplier, possibly Panasonic. No details are available.
Sony Consumer Electronics (SCE) and DTS have announced that there will be a new firmware update (i.e., version 2.30) for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) released on April 15th that will add decoding for the lossless audio format DTS HD-Master Audio as well as for DTS HD-High Resolution audio. The PS3 will decode these audio formats and output the uncompressed audio using Linear PCM via the PS3's HDMI (as is already being done for the lossless Dolby TrueHD audio). The DTS press release is HERE. With this update the PS3 will support all of the audio formats allowed by the Blu-ray Disc specification and with last month's firmware update (version 2.20) having added support for Blu-ray Disc Profile 2.0 (see March news item below), the PS3 will be the most advanced Blu-ray disc player available. Also being included in this month's PS3 firmware update is support for new capabilities being added by Sony to the PS3 Store (PS3 access requires a high-speed internet connection) and potentially support for 1080i-to-1080p conversion for Blu-ray Disc titles recorded in 1080i.
Mitsubishi recently held their 2008 product line show where they announced some further details for their first DLP based Rear Projection TVs (RPTVs) to use a laser light engine instead of a conventional projection bulb. While Samsung has offered several models over the past two years using LED light engines, the Mitsubishi "LaserVue", when released to dealers in the 3rd quarter of 2008, will be the first RPTVs to use a laser light source. The LaserVue line of RPTVs will use the latest generation of DLP 1080p display devices from Texas Instruments. Frank DeMartin, Vice President - Marketing, at Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, said "Mitsubishi has created a new category in television with laser technology and now we are creating an exciting new brand, LaserVue, which we believe consumers come to equate with the industry's best performing televisions."
Philips, the Netherlands based electronics giant, has announced plans to halt the manufacturer of TVs for the north American market. However, the Philips brand will continue to be used for TVs manufactured by Funai (of Japan) under license for use of the Philips brand name. Funai already supplies TVs and other consumer electronics that is being sold under many brand names including the Philips owned Magnavox and Sylvania brands.
New labeling requirements for digital TVs (DTVs) and related products took effected on March 31st. The FCC mandated changes require labels on DTVs to inform purchasers that the device either includes, or does not include a digital TV tuner capable of receiving digital over-the-air broadcasts. Without such a tuners such DTVs will not be able to receive over-the-air TV after the cutoff of analog TV service in the USA next year (i.e., after Feb. 17, 2009).
New Onkyo AV receivers to be arriving this month. Last year Onkyo was the first manufacturer to make available to consumers Audio/Video Receivers (AVRs) supporting HDMI ver. 1.3 inputs and decoding of the advance lossless audio formats offered on some Blu-ray Discs (and also HD-DVD). Following last year's pattern of introducing the lower-end AVRs first then followed by the higher-end, more feature laden models, Onkyo is schedule to begin shipping a new model TX-SR606 as a replacement for last year's popular TX-SR605. While having a similar feature set as the model it replaces, the new model will feature more HDMI inputs (4 vs. 2) and is expected to initially sell for around $500. The new model is also reported to be using new audio decoder chip which eliminates an issue with last year's model in decoding the DTS HD-Master Audio found on some discs (i.e., eliminating the loud clicks heard when playing some Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD titles).
Microsoft has denied rumors they are working on an add-on Blu-ray Disc for use with XBox 360 game consoles. After the February 2008 decision of Toshiba to halt manufacturer of HD-DVD players, Microsoft dropped the add-on HD-DVD drive for the XBox 360 and rumors soon followed that Microsoft would offer a BD add-on, but that now appears not to be the case.
The news items from March 2008 appear below
On March 24th the Sony PlayStation 3 (i.e., PS3) became the first Blu-ray Disc (BD) playback device to support BD Profile 2 features. That evening (in the US) Sony release a firmware update, version 2.20, that added the "BD-Live" capability called for in BD Profile 2 standard. The main feature added with BD Profile 2.0 is support for Web enabled interactive features. The firmware update also added several other features including "resume play" for DVDs and BDs, improved capability for playback of Windows Media Video and DivX files, "mosquito noise reduction" for playback of DVDs, and use of a Playstation Portable (PSP) as a remote for the PS3. The new firmware update, version 2.20, can directly be downloaded to the PS3 using the update feature of the PS3 if the unit is directly connected to the internet (via either WiFi or ethernet) or the update can be downloaded to the user's PC from the Sony website and installed on the PS3 using a USB flash memory stick. The update procedure for PS3's connected to the internet is described HERE. The procedure is described HERE for manually downloading the update to your PC then using USB flash drive to update your PS3. Finally a link for manually downloading the new PS3 firmware version 2.20 file is provided HERE.
Panasonic has started releasing their new 2008 line of plasma HDTVs. The new models feature improved contrast ratio and longer panel life bringing them close to the industry leading performance of Pioneer Kuro line of plasmas. The first of the new 1080p native resolution models are in the TH-nnPZ80U and the TH-nnPZ85U series which correspond to last year's TH-nnPZ70U and TH-nnPZ75U series. The nn above represents the screen size (e.g., TH-50PZ80U is a 50 inch model). The Panasonic web site is HERE.
In a Feb. 29th press release Paramount and Deamworks studios announced they will immediately halt releasing movies on HD-DVD. They don't expect to begin releasing movies on Blu-ray Disc until sometime in the summer of this year. With this announcement all major studios have now announced plans to halt production of HD-DVDs thus ensuring a quick death to that HD format. This opens the path for increased consumer acceptance of Blu-ray Disc as the clear winner of the format war.
For the past couple of years, Sony has been a co-owner along with Samsung of a factory manufacturing LCD panels in Korea for use in Sony and Samsung HDTVs. Now Sony is teaming up with Sharp to build LCD panels at a Sharp operated manufacturing facility near Osaka, Japan. Although Sony is competitors with both Sharp and Samsung in the LCD HDTV market, such teaming arrangements is perhaps necessary to be able to compete against the low cost LCD HDTVs being manufactured in China.
For 6 months in 2007 the top selling brand of flat panel TVs in the USA was Vizio. Vizio is a California company that has their TVs built by Asian suppliers, such as LG Electronics. However for the forth quarter of 2007, Vizio slipped to 3rd place in sales behind Samsung and Sony.
Reuters first reported that Pioneer will stop manufacturing their own 42" plasma TV panels and would instead buy their 42" plasma panels from rival Panasonic. A subsequent Reuters article indicated that Pioneer would be outsourcing all of their plasma panels from Panasonic. They may be making this move because of the overall declining prices of flat panel HDTVs that is be driven in large measure by low cost LCD HDTVs coming from China. Pioneer has the most advanced plasma panels and it's unclear if they will license their plasma technology to Panasonic for the production of plasma panels to be supplied Pioneer.
The news items from February 2008 appear below
There have been very recent reports of shortages of Blu-ray Disc (BD) players at retailers in some parts of the U.S. It appears that the recent demise of the HD-DVD format (see news item below) has spurred some consumers that were waiting on the sidelines for a clear winner to the "format war" to now go ahead and buy a BD player. This has also increased demand for BD players just at a time that several manufacturers are ending production of their current models as they prepare new BD models for introduction over the next few months. As a result there will likely be less discounting of BD players until the supply increases, which may not happen until the new models are in full production and make their way to retailers.
Sony will be introducing two new Blu-ray Disc (BD) players starting mid-2008. Both new models will support the BD Profile 2.0 standard with internet connectivity for interactive features to be include on some BD software titles. The new Sony model BDP-S350 (estimated street price $349) replaces the current BDP-S300 (a profile 1.0 player) and adds support for bitstream output of all of the BD advanced audio formats via the HDMI output along with the Profile 2.0 features. However, it will ship mid-year as a Profile 1.1 player and will require a subsequent firmware update to add the Profile 2.0 web-based features. The more expensive new model BDP-S550 (estimated street price $449) adds internal decoding for all of the BD audio formats with output in LPCM format via the HDMI output or analog audio output. This latter model will ship later in 2008 with the Profile 2.0 features from the start. Both new models are said to have faster disc load times than the current Sony stand-alone BD players. For more info on the BD Profiles see our HD Disc page - click the HD-Disc button to the left
Sony has temporarily stopped shipping the 80GB version of the Playstation 3. This $499 model came packaged with the game "Motorstorm". Sony is expected to begin shipping within the next month or two a replacement for the 80GB model that will include new game controllers and a new game. So for now only the 40GB version of the PS3 is being shipped from Sony, although some retailers may still have a few of the 80GB PS3's available for sale.
End of the HD Optical Disc Format War - On Feb. 19th Toshiba Corp. President Atsutoshi Nishida said in announcing that his company would halt the manufacture of HD-DVD players that he wanted to avoid confusion among consumers. Since Toshiba was the primary developer of the HD-DVD technology and currently the only manufacturer of dedicated HD-DVD players (both LG and Samsung manufacturer dual format players and some others buy relabeled players from Toshiba) this will effectively mark the end of the HD format war between the competing formats (i.e., HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc). Universal also announced on Feb. 19th. that they will now focus on releasing movies on Blu-ray Disc. Announcements of support for the Blu-ray Disc format can be expected shortly from Paramount and Dreamworks, the only other major studios that had been releasing HD content exclusively on HD-DVD. The following recent news items, from before the official announcement from Toshiba, had also pointed toward a rapid conclusion to the HD format war:
Netflix, the online video disc rental company, has announced they will not be adding any additional HD-DVD titles to their rental library, thus focusing solely on Blu-ray Disc as the high definition media for the future.
Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer, has announced they will be promoting Blu-ray Disc as the HD media for the future and decreasing their shelf space for HD-DVD related software and hardware.
Walmart, the nations largest retailer overall, reported plans to drop HD-DVD players and software (movies) in favor of Blu-ray Disc players and software.
As reported in early January, Warner Brothers announced plans to drop releases on HD-DVD and after May 2008 only release new HD titles on Blu-ray Disc. That leaves Universal, Paramount and Dreamworks as the only major motion picture studios releasing movies exclusively on HD-DVD. Universal's agreement with the HD-DVD organization for exclusive support to that format has now expired and while a Universal spokesman has indicated they have no plans to drop their support for HD-DVD, it possible (and perhaps likely) that Universal will begin releasing on Blu-ray Disc later this year, even if they continue to release titles on HD-DVD. The Paramount/Dreamworks agreement with the HD-DVD organization included a clause that lets them end the exclusive release provisions if Universal decides to end their HD-DVD exclusive position. Thus by the end of 2008 the marketplace could very well see all major motion picture studios releasing on Blu-ray Disc leading toward a end to the format war.
The final satellite in Directv's new generation of satellites is scheduled for launch in March 2008. Once this satellite is operational, perhaps in May 2008, Directv will begin adding additional local HD market areas and have the total system capacity for 150 national HD channels (they are currently offering 80+ national HD channels).
We are now just one year away from completing the "digital transition" of broadcast TV in the United States. The broadcast of analog TV is scheduled to end on Feb. 18, 2009 and after that TV's with only analog tuners will not be able to receive any over-the-air broadcast television through a connected TV antenna. By the end of this month major U.S. electronics retailers (e.g. Best Buy, Circuit City, Radio Shack, Sears, etc.) will be stocking converter boxes that when connected to a TV antenna will receive the digital over-the-air broadcasts and convert the received audio and video to a standard analog format that can be received by existing analog TVs. These converter boxes will carry a retail price of approx. $60. For at least the next several years, analog TVs will still be able to receive TV programming when connected to cable TV or to a satellite receiver without the use of an additional converter box. The federal Government, thanks to actions by the US Congress a couple of years ago, is offering financial help to owners of analog-only TVs that rely on over-the-air reception. Starting Jan. 1, 2007 a US resident can request up to two coupons that will each provide a $40 credit to the purchase of a digital converter box capable receiving the new digital over-the-air broadcast and converting them to an analog output compatible with existing analog TVs. These coupons for the digital TV converter boxes can be requested online at www.dtv2009.gov or by calling 1-888-388-2009.
The news items from January 2008 appear below
Jan. 4, Warner Brothers studio announced they will be dropping support for
HD-DVD format at the end of May 2008 and after that date will release HD
content exclusively on Blu-ray Disc. Currently Warner Brothers
releases HD content on both formats and according to statements by Berry
Meyer (Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros.) and Kevin Tsujihara (president
Warner Bros. home entertainment group) "Warner Bros.' move to
exclusively release in the Blu-ray disc format is a strategic decision
focused on the long term and the most direct way to give consumers what they
want," said Meyer. "The window of opportunity for high-definition
DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger. We believe that
exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass
market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most
importantly, consumers." There has been a subsequent
report published in the Financial Times, and widely quoted on the internet,
that when Paramount Pictures accepted the offer (reported to have been worth
$150M) from the HD-DVD group (lead by Toshiba) to drop releasing movies on
Blu-ray and go HD-DVD exclusive, there was a clause that the 18-month
agreement could be terminated by Paramount early if Warner Brothers
were to drop support for HD-DVD. In response to the Financial Times
article a spokesman for Paramount responded that they currently have no
plans to drop support for HD-DVD, but the statement did not specifically
address if their agreement does or does not have the clause raised by the
Financial Times article.
At the end of 2007 Sony announced they will discontinue production of rear projection TVs (RPTVs) in Feburary 2008. After discontinuing production of CRT RPTVs several years ago Sony had focused on LCD based RPTVs for their entry level products and their well regarded LCoS (i.e., SXDR) technology for their more expensive product lines. The markets share for RPTVs has been shrinking as flat panel TVs (i.e., LCD and Plasma) have both become available in larger sizes and as their prices have dropped. However most experts agree that the better quality RPTVs produce a superior image as compared to the best of the flat panel displays especially in the terms of their ability to correctly display blacks and to show image detail in dark scenes (i.e, in technical terms - having lower black levels and better contrast ratio). Sony's announcement indicated they will focus their resources on LCD and Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technologies to address the consumer flat panel TV market. Large screen OLED based flat panel HDTVs are still a few years away, but many experts believe OLED will eventually replace LCD and Plasma as the preferred technology for flat panel displays.
2008 International Consumer Electronics Show - Report
The 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the biggest electronics show of the year, starts Monday, January 7th in Las Vegas. We will post several updates during the week of the CES that will include information on the most interesting audio and video products planned for 2008. As a preview, we expect to see several announcement and demos of HDTV products that support wireless connectivity. This will include flat panel HDTVs that can be wall mounted with only a electrical outlet needed at the wall and the video and audio delivered from an external box via a wireless connection. We also expect Mitsubishi, and perhaps other manufacturers, to demonstrate DLP rear projection HDTVs using lasers as the light source. Panasonic is expected to demonstrate a giant 150 inch plasma flat panel HDTV (but it's an engineering statement, not a consumer product). We can also expect to see announcements and demos of new Blu-ray Disc (BD) players that conform to Profile 1.1 standards and some announcements of BD players planned for later in 2008 that will conform to Profile 2.0 standards (for more info on the BD Profiles see our HD Disc page - click the HD-Disc button to the left). Certainly there will a lot of talk on the floor of CES and in the hotel bars of the just announced decision of Warner Brothers to abandon distribution (after May 2008) of their movies on HD-DVD and only release on Blu-ray Disc (see news item above). Many industry observers are already proclaiming BD the winner in the HD format war and the HD-DVD group cancelled a planned press conference at the kickoff of CES to give them time to regroup after the Warner Bros. announcement.
Quite a few manufacturers plan to offer products to support the wireless distribution of audio and video. Below hare highlights for some of the wireless AV products introduced at CES2008.
Neosonik introduced a wireless surround sound distribution solution at includes a AV Controller, which is connected to the source devices, and receiver/amplifier units that connected to each speaker. You will need to have AC power available near each speaker location to power the receiver/amp box.
Westinghouse displayed a LCD flat panel HDTVs with allows an HD source to have a wireless connection to the TV.
LG announced an LCD display with 802.11n WiFi capability for connection to AV sources.
Sharp announced LCD displays with "AquosNet" WiFi to provide internet connectivity as well as to the user's media sources.
For those needing a wireless solution for getting video to their existing HDTV, Belkin, the networking and computer accessory manufacturer, introduced their new "FlyWire" system (pictured below) that transmits audio (A/V) and video from up to 6 inputs sources to your HDTV display. This system accept up to 1080p resolution HD via any of the 3 HDMI inputs and can transmit the A/V to you display located across the room. The US version is expected to also include two HD component video inputs and one S-Video input.
Blu-ray and HD-DVD Disc Players
While Toshiba was expected to announce their next generation of HD-DVD players at CES 2008, the decision by Warner Brothers to drop support for HD-DVD just before the beginning of CES resulted in an uncertain future for the HD-DVD format and Toshiba did not display new HD-DVD player models. The HD-DVD group cancelled a planned press conference and Toshiba at their own press conference was clearly concerned about the loss of the support from WB.
Funai Corp. (the largest manufacturer of DVD players sold in the US under many different brand names) has released details of their first Blu-ray Disc (BD) player (pictured below). The Funai NB500 series BD player will carry a list price of under $300 and will begin selling during the 2nd quarter of 2008 and will be on display at CES. This is a Profile 1.1 BD player. You can also expect to see Funai manufactured BD players being sold under various other brands, such as Magnavox and Emerson. The Funai press release is available here.
Panasonic displayed a new model DMP-BD50 BD player that supports the BD Profile 2.0 features. Compared to Profile 1.1 BD players this adds internet connectivity in support of new web enabled features on future discs and also includes the player's persistent memory to 1 GB. This may be the first standalone BD player conforming to Profile 2.0 that makes it onto dealer's shelves (in the April/May 2008 timeframe). The DMP-BD50 also has the most comprehensive audio capabilities to date with support for all of the audio formats allowing on BD and with the ability, via HDMI, to either send bitstream audio or to have the player internally decode the audio and output it as linear PCM. The player can also internally decode the audio and output it via 7.1 channel analog thus providing full compatibility with both the latest and older surround sound AV receivers. The price was not announced, but will probably be in the $600 range.
Samsung introduced a new model BD-P1500 BD player, as a successor to their current BD-P1400. This new model will be available in May 2007 and will retail for $399. It will feature support for BD Profile 1.1, bitstream output via HDMI for the advanced Dolby and DTS audio formats. Samsung also announced their second generation dual format (Blu-ray and HD-DVD) player, model BD-P5500 that will replace their recently introduced first generation model. Although the official line from Samsung is that the new model will be available mid-year some Samsung representatives are admitting unofficially that given the Warner Brothers withdrawal of support for HD-DVD plans for the future production of dual format players may need to be reconsidered.
Philips introduced a new model BDP7200 BD player that features support for BD Profile 1.1 and will be available in April 2008 with a list price of $349.
Marantz announced their first BD player, model BD8002, with a MSRP of $2,099 that will be released in the 2nd quarter of 2008. This model will support all of the advanced audio formats and a 10-bit Silicon Optix Realta chipset for video processing, includding upscaling of std. definition DVDs.
Sony Announced a BD ROM drive for use in PCs that will retail for under $200. The model BDU-X10S is expected to be available in Feb. 2008 and will come with a copy of CyberLink PowerDVD BD Edition for playing movies BD or DVD on PCs equipped with Windows XP or Vista operating system.
Sony announced plans to upgrade the PlayStation 3 (PS3) firmware to provide support for BD Profile 2.0 that includes the "BD Live" internet enabled interactive enhancements. Also in off-line discussions with representatives from DTS, they confirmed they are working with Sony on developing an update for the PS3 to add support for decoding of the DTS HD-Master Audio advanced audio format. No specific schedule was announced for the PS3 firmware updates that would enable these additional functions.
Flat Panel HDTVs
Samsung introduced three new lines of plasma HDTVs for 2008. The lowest priced 720p resolution plasma line includes HDTVs with sizes of 42" (model PN42A450P) and 50" (model PN50A459P) and include support for 3D display with the additional of option shutter glass (expected to cost around $150). These new 720p plasmas HDTV should be available in March 2008. The more expensive 1080p resolution 2008 plasma HDTV lines from Samsung do not include the 3D feature. The entry level 1080p plasma line includes HDTVs with sizes of 50" (model PN50A550P) and 58" (model PN50A550P) and will be available in March 2008. The more expensive 1080p plasma line is being offered in sizes of 50" (model PN50A750T), 58" (model PN58A750T) and 63" (model PN63A750T) and should be available at dealers in April 2008. Prices were not announced.
Samsung also introduced their 2008 line of LCD HDTV. The models announced appear to be evolutionary from their 2007 models with minor technical improvements and an improved user interface. As with their 2007 models, their top 2008 LCD HDTVs have 120 Hz refresh rates with 4 msec response time and come in 40" (model LN40A750A), 46" (model LN46A750A)and 52" (model LN52A750A) sizes. One step down is the LNxxA650A series that are essentially the same TVs minus user media support provided via a USB port and internal memory for storing you digital photos, MPEG video clips, etc.
For the last half of 2007 Vizio was the largest selling brand of flat panel HDTVs in the USA (i.e., for total plasma and LCD sales). For 2008 Vizio is introducing a new 50" and a new 60" plasma with improved video processing. These new models VP504F and VP605F featture the highly rated HQV video processor to provide state of the art scaling of standard definition video sources. The 60" model provides full 1080p resolution and will list for very reasonable $2899. The 50" model will list for $1699.
Toshiba introduced five new series of LCD flat panel HDTVs that include 20 different models. The entry level AV500 line features 6 new 720p resolution models with screen sizes ranging from 19" to 37". The Regza CV510 product line is a step-up 720p resolution product line with screen sizes of 32" and 37". The Regza RV530 product line are the entry-level full 1080p resolution LCD HDTVs and are being offered in 5 different screen sizes ranging from 32" to 52". The step-up Regza XV540 line includes 3 models with 1080p resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate with screen sizes ranging from 42" to 52". Finally the top-of-the-line Cinema Series Regza XF550 series features 1080p resolution, 120hz refresh rate and a super narrow bezel, just 0.9 inches wide, and a very narrow "SoundStrip 2" speaker system to provide an overall package whose front is almost all screen. All of the new Toshiba LCD HDTV are expected to become available in the Feb./March 2008 timeframe.
Pioneer demonstrated a engineering model of a new 1080p plasma HDTV design that is not likely to make it into production before 2009. This advancement in plasma technology provides the ability to fully turn off pixels as needed to totally eliminate any light output in order to optimally reproduce blacks within the video image. Pioneer claims this improved plasma technology is able to produce an infinite contrast ratio.
the largest manufacturer of plasma TV, displayed the world's largest plasma
TV. This 150 inch monster is an engineering prototype with 2000 by
4000 pixel resolution, but don't expect
to see it for sale at you local big box electronics store. They also
displayed a ultra-thin prototype 50" plasma with a thickness of less
than 1 inch (24.7mm to be exact). Panasonic
also announced their 2008 line up of
plasma HDTVs. From the Panasonic press
VIERA 2008 full HD Plasma series introduces a new screen size - a 46-inch
class display, complimenting the Panasonic Plasma family of televisions,
further strengthening Panasonic’s award winning Plasma line-up, which also
includes televisions in the 42-inch class, 50-inch class and 58-inch class
size. This year Panasonic ‘s VIERA Plasma 1080p series feature a new panel
with increased contrast ratio and an improved anti-reflective screen, a Game
Mode, VIERA Link™, increased luminous efficiency, lead
free panels and 100,000 hours to half brightness. Completing the 2008 Plasma
HD line-up are two 720p Plasmas in 42-inch class and 50-inch class screen
sizes. The entire VIERA line of HDTVs features a new aesthetic look."
Sony introduced the first commercial TV using Organic LED (OLED) technology that will be sold in the US. This emerging technology is currently only used in very small displays, such as on mobile phones, and the Sony 11" is the first OLED TV. However it can only be expected to find a very limited market at the high price of $2500. OLED displays are ultra thin and produce a high quaility video image with ultra high contrast ratio. Sony was also displaying a 27" OLED display that was an engineering prototype. While OLED may very well have a bright future for large screen HDTVs, it is expected to be several years before they can be manufactured at costs competitive with LCD and plasma flat panel TVs.
Westinghouse introduced two new series of LCD flat panel HDTVs at CES. Both the VK and the TX series offer full 1080p resolution. The VK series include 4 models with screen sizes of 42" and 47" and retail prices of $1,099 to $1,499. The higher-end TX series offer 3 models with screen sizes of 42" to 52" and ranging in price from $1,199 to $2,499. The TX models and one of the VK models include 4 HDMI inputs while the remaining VK models offer the more common 2 HDMI inputs. These new models will be available in March 2008.
Canon introduced two interesting HD camcorders at CES. Their new model HF10 ($1099 MSRP) includes both built-in 16 GB of flash memory and a slot for a SDHC removable flash card. While the 16 GB of internal flash memory is only one half (or less) the capacity of many of the current hard drive based HD camcorders, it should offer higher reliability and removable SDHC memory cards can be used to further increase the recording capacity. Current hard drive based HD camcorders encode video using the AVCHD codec and are limited to a recorded resolution of 1080 x 1440 pixels even though many have image sensors with the full 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution. The new Canon HF10 is said to overcome this limitation and the recorded video is at the full 1080 x 1920 resolution (i.e., full 1080i or 1080p resolution). This new model from Canon supports recording at 1080i as well as at 1080p/30 (i.e., 1080 x 1920 resolution, progressive scan at 30 frames per second). The HF10's features include a 12x optical zoom, a 3.3 Mpixel image sensor, a 2.7 inch LCD display and Canon's "SuperRange" optical image stabilization. Canon also introduced a somewhat stripped down version of HF10 with their new model HF100 (pictured below) that eliminates the built-in flash memory and uses only the removable CFHC memory cards for storage. The HF100 will retail for $899. These new HD camcorders should be available at Canon dealers in April 2008.
Video Front Projectors
Samsung has introduced a new high-end 1080p front projector with their model SP-A800B ($6996 MSRP). This DLP based projector is claimed by Samsung to have exception color and image quality and features a native dynamic contrast ratio of 10,000:1. This model was engineered with the assistance of Joe Kane, the well regarded expert on professional display calibration. This model accepts input resolutions up to 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 from sources such as Blu-ray Disc players and uses a low noise cooling fan. This model comes with a 3 year warranty.
LG introduced their first home theater front projector. Their model AF115 appears to be at least in part based on a Sony design as it is spec'ed to be using SXRD 1080p display devices (i.e,, made by Sony). It is using the HQV Realta video processor and is rated at producing 1300 lumens of light output and a contrast ratio of 30,000:1 with the dynamic iris engages.
Rear Projection TV
Although during 2007 Sony and Toshiba announced plans to withdraw from the rear projection TV (RPTV) market, Samsung (the largest manufacturer of RPTVs) has introduced two new DLP RPTVs using LED light engines at CES 2008. Both new models will use LED light engines with a rated life of 30,000 hours (rather than much shorter life bulbs) and will feature full 1080p resolution and a native 10,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. The new HL61A750A matches last year's largest Samsung DLP projector that used a LED light engine and their new model HL67A750A, with a 67" screen size, becomes the largest DLP RPTV to date to use a LED light engine. Both models feature four HDMI ver. 1.3 inputs and will support display of 3D videos with the use of optional LCD shutter glasses (approx. $150 extra). Prices not announced and both models should be available by mid-2008.
Mitsubishi had their 65" laser light engine DLP prototype RPTV on display. Many experts feel that solid state lasers will supercede both bulbs and LED as the light source for both RPTVs and for front projectors as well. Mitsubishi had first shown a laser DLP RPTV prototype more than a year ago and at that time has indicated a production unit would be available at the end of 2007. Clearly they didn't make that schedule and the new prototype on display at CES2008 was not accompanied with much specific information on when it will be available but a spokesperson did indicate sometime in 2008. The cabinet is thin, for a 65" RPTV, at just under 10 inches. This set will be 3D capable with the addition of shutter glasses. Pricing has not been set yet for the production version, but a Mitsubishi representative hinted that it may be premium priced compared to standard DLP RPTVs.
END OF CES 2008 REPORT
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