Pioneer Announces Kuro Projector

April 26, 2008


That’s right, Pioneer announced a projector at the High End show in Munich Germany, one that will proudly wear the Kuro badge to boot but all isn’t as it would appear on the surface. The Kuro KRF-9000FD projector features LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) display technology, a 30,000:1 contrast ratio and will no doubt do justice to the black level we’ve come to expect from Kuro products.

In addition the KRF-9000FD sports a 2x motorized zoom lens, lens shift with 80% vertical/34% horizontal motorized adjustments, and the ability to display 1920×1080 pixel progressive video at sizes up to 14.5’ by 8’. Other options include 2 HDMI ports, one each for component, composite and S-Video cables, and a RS-232C jack.

But once we delve a little deeper under the hood, wait a minute who am I kidding, anyone looking at the picture can see it’s a rebadged JVC RS2 or DLA-HD100. I guess we shouldn’t be all that surprised that Pioneer would build on JVC’s already impressive work with their projectors. On the other hand however it does come off a bit odd that a company with one of the hottest prestige labels in flat-panels would use someone else’s chassis to leverage that same brand power with a projector

Listen, there’s no real harm in Pioneer using JVC’s innards to power their new Kuro projectors. In all honesty it does make sense, why re-invent the wheel if a perfectly round and reliable wheel is laying there on the shelf beckoning you to use it. Pioneer’s new Kuro projector will be available in Europe by May, for about $12,000. No launch date for the US has been announced. Via: Lots of places.

Posted by Philip Stamps | Filed Under Home Theater Projectors | Leave a Comment 

Netflix: Pass the Grey Poupon, er Blu-ray

April 21, 2008


Well, this one kind of caught me off guard, apparently Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in a conference call said that since Blu-ray discs are more expensive to purchase versus standard definition DVD’s, the company will start charging more for accounts that rent Blu-ray discs.

Netflix did at one time offer both HD DVD and Blu-ray discs at no additional charge but since the format war ended, Netflix all but stopped offering the HD DVD’s back in February. Hastings seems to think that high-def users are more accustomed to paying more for their content, so charging extra is not that big of a deal.

On the other hand, I say effectively increasing the price of renting Blu-ray will do little to foster the kind of growth the format needs to become mainstream, perhaps that’s not really on Hastings to-do list. Oh well, my Netflix queue has been a barren wasteland of late anyway, maybe it’s time to take a breather and put my account on hold. Heck, I might cancel it altogether if these price increases are substantial.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | Filed Under Blockbuster & Netflix, Blu-ray | 8 Comments 

Over 70 Million Connected Homes by 2012

April 19, 2008


I still get a kick out of responding “the internet” when asked what’s the next big thing in home theater? Of course I go on to say there are always several “big things” on the horizon at any given time (3D and lossless downloads come to mind) but more and more advanced interactivity and alternative content streams are the areas I see generating the most buzz with manufacturers and consumers alike.

Of course advanced interactivity and IP based content streams require internet connectivity, which is why for years now I’ve been telling anyone that would listen to pull an extra CAT5 to their home theater equipment. It looks like I’m not the only one stressing the importance of the connected living room/theater; according to research done by Parks Associates (January 08) the installed base of residential gateways (performed by third parties) could grow to well over 70 million by 2012.

The surprising part of this was the fact the 70 million number was for third party installations (Geek Squad, Fire Dog, Comcast etc.) and doesn’t account for self installs. We could be at or over the 70 million mark right now with the combination of service provider deployed and self installations. You can bet your last nickel the alternative distribution content providers are watching these numbers very, very closely.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | Filed Under Media Servers | 6 Comments 

XStreamHD – Digital Content Delivery with a Twist

April 16, 2008

This is one of those posts that got shoved off to the back burner and eventually fell off the stove altogether, I’m ashamed but it’s still not too late to finish dinner.

This one goes all the way back to CES (yeah I know January was only three months ago) and a little announcement that flew under the radar of many, from a start-up called XStreamHD.

XStreamHDWhatTheHeck you say? Yeah, I have to admit the name didn’t exactly grab me by the throat the first time either. However, now that I know what it is, what it’s called makes more sense.

But getting back to what it is, XStreamHD is a rather unique content distribution system with some nice accoutrements (picture this guy and say accoutrements again and try not to laugh). Ok seriously though, yes it’s a “digital download” service but not the kind you might be expecting. XStreamHD utilizes the internet for some of its functionality but that’s not where the content comes from.

XStreamHD is a HD media server that receives its content via satellite but we’re not just talking about any old content here, supposedly XStream has semi-formal agreements from the studios to offer HD content ahead of or directly with disc based release dates. XStream might even be able to offer some completely unique content, or content packages that can’t be seen elsewhere.
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Posted by Bryan Greenway | Filed Under HDTV Programming | 2 Comments 

PS3 Finally Getting DTS-HD Master Audio Decoding

April 10, 2008

While it’s not available yet, next week (on tax day no less) the 15th of April to be exact; PS3 owners will finally be able to utilize the DTS-HD MA audio tracks on their Blu-ray discs:

“DTS-HD Master Audio is noted for its pure, high-quality bit-for-bit sound. DTS-HD Master Audio has the capacity to deliver audio at a variable rate of 24.5Mbps on a Blu-ray disc.

DTS-HD Master Audio also offers 7.1 audio channels at 96k sampling frequency/24 bit depths. More than 100 Blu-ray movies and concert videos featuring premium DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are said to be currently available.”

This is great news for PS3 owners but one word of caution, while the player will indeed be able to internally decode DTS-HD Master Audio, hardware limitations preclude the PS3 from sending the master audio as a bit-stream to newer receivers capable of deciding it internally.

I know that might be a bit confusing but just think of it in terms of where the decoding is being done, in the case of the PS3 the next-generation audio codec’s are decoded internally and sent out as multi-channel PCM. Other (stand-alone) players down-the-line might be able to transmit the bit-stream intact all the way to the receiver, what if any real-world benefit that might bring is debatable however.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | Filed Under Blu-ray | 16 Comments 

Mitsubishi Dates Launch for Laser TV

April 7, 2008

mits laser tvThis May will mark the month a new consumer display technology hits the market and along with it a slew of “frickin’ laser” jokes. Branded as LaserVue, (I can feel a laser joke bubbling up as we speak) the displays obviously have Mitsubishi’s executives very excited.

Max Wasinger, senior vice president of Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America stated: “We are the first in the world to debut LaserVue technology. We are just finishing up two days of dealer meetings and LaserVue TV will absolutely be the future of TV; it’s a true dimensional experience.”

Mitsubishi’s director of product development, David Naranjo expanded with: “LaserVue will offer the viewer twice the amount of color than other displays on the market today. The reds are so vivid, they have to be seen to be believed. When we did our average consumer comparison testing one of the comment’s I heard was, “Oh my god, the color is so pure.” Also with our commitment to energy savings, LaserVue displays will use half the power of other comparable displays with the same screen sizes on the market today; we really are comparing apples to apples.”

There are some big claims in those statements and not having seen one of the laser displays (well, at least I don’t remember seeing one at CEDIA last year) its hard for me to quantify them. It’s my understanding that the laser apparatus itself is in large part responsible for the purer colors and clarity. We’ll see, rather, hopefully I’ll see sometime in May.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | Filed Under Display Technology | Leave a Comment 

Battlestar Galactica Season Four – Is it Ten Yet?

April 4, 2008

Battlestar Galactica

I’m not sure about you but as far as I’m concerned the biggest home theater related story of the day, has to be tonight’s premiere of season four of Battlestar Galactica on Sci-Fi HD at 10pm Eastern. I have to admit I was late to the Battlestar Galactica party (just like Firefly…) but I couldn’t be more hooked now if I tried.

The Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan has a great write up that includes some quotes from executive producer Ronald D. Moore: “There are some relationships that will be torn asunder,” said Moore, who’s directing an episode for the first time this season. “There will be some things that will be fundamentally broken over the course of the season. We’re going to lose certain characters; some things are not going to be repaired. There’s a sense of finality about it,” he said.

As many of you know this is the last season of BSG and if you haven’t started watching or gotten fully caught up yet, I recommend DVR’ing it before watching the new episodes. That’s not to say you wouldn’t enjoy it but there are some character subtleties that might be missed otherwise. Geesh, is it 10 yet?

Posted by Bryan Greenway | Filed Under HDTV Programming | 4 Comments 

Render Reality – 3D Home Theater Renderings

April 3, 2008

Render Reality

A week ago (wow time flies) I mentioned some of the fine folks that had helped with the site’s overhaul, one of them is Joe Schrand of Render Reality. Joe’s handiwork now graces the top of every page at Home Theater Blog but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Joe’s abilities.

I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Why would anyone want or need a rendering of a custom home theater you ask? Renderings allow you to see the design before the final build, preventing costly mistakes. It’s also (and I learned this first hand) a heck of a lot easier to talk about the design and exchange feedback with others when imagination is removed from the equation. Instead of describing things at length you can just point to the image and say, “I like that”.

Renderings also offer something above and beyond what two dimensional drawings can offer; the ability to see things from several angles which can again come in very handy in multi-tiered and or intricately designed theaters. Render Reality can even deliver a QuickTime “movie” of your theater that allows you to pan around to any direction in the theater. I’m told it’s not uncommon for customers to significantly change their theater designs after seeing them fully rendered, something to keep in mind versus not having a rendering at all.

Render Reality works with individuals or businesses on single or repeat projects. One of the things that really impressed me was the level of one-on-one service Joe provided. I might not be able to verbalize it perfectly but Joe’s questions, answers and ideas actually made my own vision of what I wanted better. Or in other words Joe’s final product was actually better than what I had envisioned. So clearly he has a knack for pulling out the right bits and pieces even when the client may not fully realize they’re delivering them.
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Posted by Bryan Greenway | Filed Under Home Theater Design | 6 Comments 

1080p on the Cheap From InFocus

April 2, 2008

InFocus x10It’s my understanding that this is not an April fool’s joke but the timing still has me nervous. Anyway, it would appear as if InFocus is preparing to launch a new low-cost 1080p DLP projector named the X10 (yeah the name was the other thing that made me suspicious).

The single-chip DLP projector is housed in the now familiar IN82/83 shell and sports a 7-segment, D65K (6500K) color wheel, a maximum contrast ratio of 7500:1 with the IRIS engaged (2500:1 with the Iris disabled) and is capable of 1200 Max ANSI lumens at full brightness or 960 max ANSI lumens in whisper mode. The projector is also fitted with the usual assortment of InFocus connectivity options which include: HDMI 1.3 with DeepColor support, M1-DA input, component video input and a RS-232 control port.

If true this could quickly go to the top of my shortlist of must-see projectors, I’ve been in the market for a new projector for well, I guess almost two years now. Here’s the best part the MSRP is rumored at $2299. Yep that’s the third thing that made me suspicious, you know I specifically stayed away from any product announcements yesterday for this very reason, if this is a joke I’m going to go kick a can. Stay tuned.

Posted by Philip Stamps | Filed Under Home Theater Projectors | 4 Comments 

Home Theater Seating: Enough’s Enough

April 1, 2008

Don’t let the post title fool you, I’m not advocating that we should all sit on the floor. I simply mean we’ve got to reign in our unrealistic ideas of how many home theater recliners we can cram into a room. Posts like this are tough because there are so many variables and assumptions that go along with them, but I’ll try to keep it as room and chair model un-specific as possible.

This has been cropping up more and more lately and I assume these questions and concerns aren’t limited to my little corner of the world. What I’m seeing is a tendency to try and pack as many home theater recliners into the room as possible, a few examples might be in order. By the way I never name names here, my goal isn’t to embarrass anyone.

Recently a client came in asking about two rows of three seats in his “19′ long” room. He picked out some seats and I did some quick measurements and I told him yes, I think we can accommodate two rows of chairs into the room. I asked, “How wide was the room again? “(remember he started with the length only) 12’ wide he said. “Sir these chairs are three and a half feet wide each,” I replied. “Unless you have some really skinny family member’s I suggest we look at some other chairs.”

Yeah we were left with a whopping foot and a half to get to the back row or a claustrophobic 9″ to squeeze along the wall on each side to reach the recliners. Hardly what I’d describe as relaxing evening in the home theater. Listen, this was a smart guy. He does something for a living that requires more education than I could ever dream of completing, but he just wasn’t able to visualize what this 2×3 seating would look like in his modestly sized room.

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Posted by Bryan Greenway | Filed Under Home Theater Design | 10 Comments 

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