The coolest demo I saw at CEDIA 2007 was a demo I saw at CEDIA 2006. The original demo was at the Planar suite. Dolby now owns the company that was working with Planar, BrightSide Technologies, and the technology shown in these demos has a name—Dolby Vision. The short version is this: Using LEDs, you can dim specific areas of the backlight to go along with what is happening with the video. In other words, you can dim certain areas of the screen, while keeping other areas bright. In the simplest form, picture a split screen with black on one side and white on the other. Local dimming would allow the LEDs on the black side to be off and the LEDs on the white side to be lit. The result is a fantastic, legitimate contrast ratio, along with possible energy savings and a host of other potential benefits. But first, we have to understand the problem before we can talk about this solution.
I have long been a complainer about motion blur with LCDs. It drives me crazy. I have gotten a lot of flack over the years for this, which I really couldn't care less about. (You don't see me making fun of your issues, do you?) I would just like to point this out: Why, if I weren't the only one who hated motion blur with LCDs, would nearly every LCD manufacturer come to market with 120-hertz LCD panels that claim to eliminate motion blur (a problem that they, surprisingly, haven't mentioned before)? Before I rub it in and say, "I told you so," let's look at what causes motion blur, why it may or may not be a big deal, and how a 120-Hz refresh rate can help solve the problem for LCDs.
MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) is a next-generation video codec (coder/decoder) that's about to change the face of digital television—slimming it down, enabling it to move into narrower channels, and probably changing how it looks. I can almost see your eyes glazing over: Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do.
High-definition television has certainly moved along in fits and starts since the first digital-TV stations came on air in 1997. There's been a steadily increasing flow of prime-time programming and movies, a tantalizing season of Monday Night Football, increasing amounts of sports coverage, and numerous PBS documentaries and nature programs. Along the way, there have also been some compelling programs, including the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Masters and U.S. Open tennis, the NCAA Final Four, and three Super Bowls. More than a few prime-time shows have grabbed us by the throat, including NYPD Blue, C.S.I., JAG, Alias, ER, and Law & Order.
This new technology could replace plasma and LCD as the must-have for flat-panel displays.
Plasma and LCD are dead. Well, at least that's what Kodak, Dupont, Universal Display Corporation, and a few others would like you to start thinking. One of the new technologies coming down the HT highway is called Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED), and it could be the future of flat-panel displays. Soon your TV may be able to trace its lineage back to the power light on your VCR.
They're both sexy slim, and can hang on the wall. But in spite of the similar physical profiles these two technologies are very different, and each has its strengths and weaknesses and they're not necessarily the ones the sales guy at the Big Box Store will tell you about.
You know those little plastic plug thingies you put in electrical outlets so that kids don't stick their fingers and such into them? Turns out, they're there for a reason. My parents dutifully put these in all the outlets in our house, and, when I was just past the age where they figured I couldn't possibly be stupid enough to stick anything into an outlet, I found an innocent little piece of copper wire. At this point, you can see where this story is headed. Lacking any polyvinyl chloride polymer to impede my process, and always having an inquisitive mind, I inserted said wire into said outlet. The results were predictable. I believe vaporization was involved. Since then, I've had a healthy (ahem) respect for electricity.
Conspiracy theories are like computer problems—almost everyone has one. From JFK's assassination to the demise of TWA flight 800, it's rare that everyone will accept the simplest explanation as the truth. Consumer electronics has its fair share of conspiracy theories, as well. They may not be as complex as a Louisiana district attorney's triangulated-bullet-trajectory theory, but they exist, nonetheless. What do you expect to happen when a large number of obsessive-compulsive personalities have too much free time and join a chat room?
Computers are everywhere, from our desktops to our phones to our planes, trains, and automobiles. If we look at movies like I, Robot (strictly from a conceptual standpoint, not a why-did-Hollywood-ever-make-this standpoint), there is a possible bleak future ahead of us. I prefer to look at Star Wars, where machines help, even if they can be annoying know-it-alls. Granted it's not our galaxy, but it is a lot more fun to watch than I, Robot (no disrespect to the Fresh Prince).
What better way is there to improve your home theater experience than the addition of a PC? But what should you look for when setting out to buy one?
Big screen TVs ain't what they used to be- and that's a good thing. The CRT rear projection TVs of yesteryear were big. They still aren't flat screens, but digital technologies have shrunk RPTVs from front to back and dropped their weight in half. In addition, while CRT RPTVs die an irrevocable slow death from day one, digital RPTVs are lamp-based. When the lamp burns out, you buy a new one for a few hundred bucks and your TV is as good as new.