CES Day Four: Projectors and One Hot Screen
Yamaha's $10,000 DPX-1 is one of the best looking DLP projectors we have seen in Las Vegas. With a DLP chip 65% larger than that used in most such products, the DPX-1 produces extraordinary brightness and detail. Brightness levels of 1000 ANSI Lumens are possible with a "40% higher" contrast ratio than in previous Yamaha projectors. Special attention has been paid to the ventilation system for the 150-watt lamp, with a resulting decrease in the amount of noise generated. The DPX-1 runs very quietly; inputs include RCA, BNC, S-Video, and DIV (digital video interface). An RS-232 connection allows the projector to be controlled by a computer. The DPX-1 will display a wide variety of formats including NTSC, PAL. SECAM, SDTV (480i, 576i) and HDTV (480p, 720p, and 1080i).
No survey of projectors would be complete without a mention of Vidikron, whose Vision Three CRT projector looks very good here, even in the high ambient lighting of the LVCC. Called a "solid value" by SGHT editor Tom Norton, the $25k projector produces images via three 8-inch CRTs, and can be used as either a front- or rear-projector for 16:9, 4:3, anamorphic and HDTV images up to 310" diagonally—almost 26 feet. The Vision Three's 15° keystone correction means projector position isn't critical. Vidikron is also showing its Epoch D-2200 LCD projector, capable of 300-inch images and a 250:1 contrast ratio.
Stewart Filmscreen Corporation has announced a new high-gain screen called the GrayHawk, available as either a fixed or motorized screen with or without sound perforations. The improved screen is the same price as its predecessor, and is getting plenty of notice for its excellent color, detail, and black level. Runco, JVC, Yamaha, and Soleco are all using the GreyHawk in demonstrations here.
Although digital TV isn't the star of this show, Zenith Electronics Corporation has made a bold move with the announcement that it will market a 27-inch standard-definition television (SDTV) digital model in the second half of 2001, priced under $1,000. At the same time, a 32-inch digital set will appear, expected to sell for slightly more than $1,000. With digital decoder/tuners designed to receive all 18 ATSC video formats, which will be converted to SDTV for display on 4:3 aspect ratio CRTs, the two new digital sets are good indicators that the mass market may be ready for an improvement in picture quality—a necessary development if broadcasters are to create more programs in the format.
"Large HDTVs will always offer consumers the ultimate home theater experience, but widespread DTV deployment will require mass market products at mass market prices," said Zenith v.p. Richard Lewis on Sunday January 7. "For a relatively small price increase over conventional analog TVs, more consumers will soon be able to enjoy many benefits of digital television—snow-free, ghost-free pictures and CD-quality sound," he explained.
One accessory that all home theaters need is an easy-to-use universal remote control. One of the best—and most expensive at nearly $1000—is Philips' Pronto Pro TSU6000. With a color touch screen capable of 256 high-resolution colors, eight MB of memory, IR/RF compatibility, learning capabilities, and a built-in database of codes for more than 500 products, the TSU6000 gives home theater fans an unprecedented degree of control over their systems. "Philips continually listens to consumer input on the Pronto and we've delivered the ultimate intelligent remote control based on their feedback," said Thorsten Koch, senior v.p. of Philips' North American consumer video division. "With its enormous memory capability and color touchscreen, the Pronto Pro is sure to be on the coffee tables of home cinema enthusiasts across the U.S." The Pronto Pro will be available by early summer 2001.
Those who find a full grand a bit steep for a remote control may prefer the scaled-down, and currently available, Pronto TSU2000, which offers many of its larger sibling's features for substantially less money ($399). Both units can be programmed and customized by hooking them to personal computers with Pronto Edit software. Many Pronto hacker sites can be found on the Internet, with shareware for making your remote control do far more than its designers ever expected. The Pronto Pro was selected as a CES 2001 Innovations Award winner, with the highest score in its category, making it a Best of Show honoree.