The Sony VPL-VW12HT is the latest version of Sony's flagship consumer LCD projector. In appearance it's a twin of its pre-decessor, the VPL-VW11HT (reviewed in the July/August 2002 Guide). Its 16:9 LCD panels have the same specifications. It will accept all of the most common source resolutions—480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i component or RGB—and scale them to the panels' 1366x768 native resolution. The user can select any of the most common aspect ratios: widescreen (anamorphic or letterbox), 4:3, and several others, including two that pass the source through without scaling. There are six programmable video memories to store different setups, including picture adjustments, color temperature, and aspect ratio.
No one imagined two years ago that the cost of acquiring a high quality 1080p projector would drop to the levels many of them sell for today—levels, it could be argued, that were driven by Sony's own extremely competitive pricing, especially on the $5K VPL-VW50 "Pearl.".
When it was introduced at the 2006 CEDIA Expo, Sony's VPL-VW50 redefined the entire front-projector price structure. Of course, a few other manufacturers were ready with their own new projector announcements at that show, but the VW50—which came to be widely known as the "Pearl" after the company's code name for the project—generated the most buzz.
2D Performance 3D Performance Features Ergonomics Value
Price: $3,500 At A Glance: Plasma-quality blacks • Near flawless color • Bright, vivid 3D
All LCD HDTVs require some form of backlighting. The LCD panel’s pixels modulate the light and provide filtered color, but without backlighting to shine through the panel, you’d have no picture. Recently, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have replaced the fluorescent backlights used in older flat-screen LCD sets. LCDs aren’t perfect in blocking light (which is why so many early models had poor black levels), but if you can shut off or dim the LEDs on demand, the LCDs’ light-blocking chores become far more efficient. And LEDs can do this; they can be shut off and turned back on almost instantaneously in reaction to the signal coming in.
This year, as last, Sony held its annual line show at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas. While it is intended primarily for dealers—which explains the introduction of everything from televisions to digital voice recorders, computers, cameras, cell phones, and alarm clocks (in short, everything you'll see featured in Sony movies later this year)—the press was brought in to have the first look.
With all the fuss about the great images on HDTVs, particularly from Blu-ray, it’s easy to forget that sound is half the experience—maybe even more. Blu-ray offers more than just great video. By making use of its generous data-storage capacity and new ways to encode audio, it offers an audio experience that’s a significant step beyond the digital movie sound formats we’ve lived with. In fact, it’s arguably equivalent to the sound the engineers and filmmakers heard during the mastering session.
The new Speaker Box 5 from Project (the turntable people) sounded ridiculously dynamic for such a tiny feller. Distributed by Sumiko, they will sell for $400/pair in a variety of colors, such as this fire engine red. The electronics shown here are not included!
Loudspeakers may not be the hardest things in the world to shop for (cars win by a landslide), but the search hasn't gotten any easier in the past few years, as the decline in dealers offering serious demonstration facilities (particularly the big-box, warehouse stores) has reduced the opportunities for an ears-on audition.
Speakers are available in a bewildering variety of styles, sizes, and technologies. On the technical side, the vast majority are conventional box designs using one or more drivers—most commonly a single cone woofer for the bass and midrange, a single dome tweeter for the treble, and a crossover network to divide and route the appropriate frequencies to each. The speaker cabinet, or box, which can be either a sealed or ported design, is not merely a cosmetic touch; it is a key element in the design. Without a properly designed cabinet, even the best conventional woofer would simply flap in its own breeze and produce little or no bass.
You're got two displays; perhaps a plasma on the wall for day-to-day viewing and a projection screen that drops down in front of it for serious movie watching. Or you want to feed HDMI video to a small screen on your equipment rack as a monitor. Or…whatever. Up to now, it's been difficult to find an affordable device that will split an HDMI source in two. There are a number of such products on the market from companies like Gefen, Key Digital, and PureLink, but they tend to be expensive solutions to a relatively basic problem, often providing more flexibility than you need.