CES 2006: Part Seven

The talk of the town this year was 1080p. I mean this quite literally, and as I walked round the halls, I could hear this being said by exhibitors and punters alike. But better than talking about it, was seeing it.

You can already buy 1080p TV sets, but in fact these are not ‘True’ 1080p. I discovered that the chips inside are actually only 960 x 1080 resolution, rather than 1,920 x 1080 and that almost no sets can actually accept a true 1080p signal. Texas Instruments, makes of the chips inside DLP projectors, announced its true 1,920 x 1080 chip at last year's CES, and at this year's show it was actually demoing a true HD 1080p front projection unit with 1080p content.


Seeing it in action, it was really very impressive indeed and a noticeable step-up from 720p. However, I wanted to go see if the actual manufacturers had 1080p projectors on show. The first projector manufacturer I came across was Optoma, purveyors of fine high-end home cinema projectors and the popular ThemeScene range. Sure enough it had a true 1,920 x 1080 projector on show, in the guise of the HD81. A step up from its HD79, its native 720p projector, the HD81 empolys Texas instruments’ DarkChip 3 DMD chipset with its 'Brilliant Color' technology designed to enhance brightness and colours. Inside there’s a 7-segment colour wheel and 10-bit per channel colour processing and a maximum contrast ratio of 6000:1.

Fortunately, I can attest to the fact that all these numbers add up to a very fine, deeply rich movie like picture (forgive the slightly blurry picture of the Chronicles of Narnia trailer in full 1080p). The demo room really did feel like it was a small but high-quality cinema. I can’t think of any better use for a garage; certainly better than just putting a car in it. The only problem might be the $10,000 price, especially with the ridiculous way prices seem to translate over to the UK. But what’s great is that true 1080p is here and that it surely won’t be too long until it seeps down into more affordable products.

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