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THX Offer HDTV Certification, First Certified DMR

9/11/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

THX Ltd. plans here at the CEDIA Expo to unveil its first video-display performance standards and certification program, which applies to high-definition display technologies from LCD, plasma, DLP rear- and front-projection, LCoS, SED and laser.

The company also announced that the TiVo Series3 HD Digital Media Recorder is the first digital media recorder (DMR) or digital video recorder (DVR) to meet its newly developed DMR-performance standards.

In HD software, the company said the Lionsgate T2 release in Blu-ray format is the first high-definition disc to meet its newly developed high-definition disc standards.

In recent years, the company has been developing certification regimens for a growing variety of home entertainment products. Most recently, it announced the first certified home theater in a box (HTiB) system, which Onkyo shipped earlier this year. In 2004, THX began certifying home theater rooms. Aside from A/V receivers, home speakers and DVD players, the company also certifies the performance of DVD-Video software and video games. It is also developing standards for Blu-ray and HD DVD players.

For high-definition displays, the THX Certified Display program will certify that a display delivers the sharpest and most detailed images possible, the company said. The THX logo will help suppliers differentiate their products and help consumers simplify their purchasing decision, said Patrick Dunn, display technology director. Certified displays will present all HD and standard-definition content at maximum resolution with the correct color and luminance levels, the company continued.

“Today, consumers are forced to sort through a sea of new technologies, product specs and marketing claims to select an HDTV that best fits their home entertainment needs,” Dunn claimed. “They must evaluate product categories, picture resolution, screen sizes and compatibility with other products — to name just a few. While display manufacturers all claim high quality and performance, most evaluation techniques and benchmarks differ between manufacturers and product categories.”

HD displays are tested by THX for such performance indicators as luminance, contrast, color gamut, gamma, uniformity, maximum resolution, video signal processing, scaling, de-interlacing, and motion/video conversion. THX also evaluates how each display responds to a variety of playback material to minimize sources of motion artifacts, image ghosting, dropped frames and picture noise.

Under the program, THX gets involved at each step of the development process from early design concept, the company said. Displays are sent to THX testing laboratories during the prototype stage.

After initial testing is complete, THX submits reports to the manufacturers with recommendations for modifications. Repeat tests are conducted until the display meets performance requirements.

The time is right for video-display certification, the company said, because of the emergence of HDTV and stable digital-display technologies, In the past, THX opted not to certify the performance of less stable technologies such as CRT projectors because CRT guns quickly drifted out of convergence. That problem doesn't occur with fixed-pixel arrays, the company previously said.

“Developing certification for HD displays represents a natural evolution for THX, and serves as an extension of our work in home theater and DVD mastering,” said Richard Dean, THX technology VP.

For DMRs, the certification criteria are designed to ensure that “visual quality won't be compromised when recording HD and SD content,” THX said. Certified DMRs will “maintain the sharpness and detail found in the original cable or off-air signal.”

Tests check for correct color levels, contrast, and black/white levels in recorded content with picture softening or digital artifacts, the company explained. Testing also includes measurements of frequency response, signal-to-noise ratio, and audio performance. THX also performs subjective evaluations similar to those used in tests of THX-certified DVD software.

The process of certifying HD discs is similar to the DVD certification process, but the standards are different because “we've had to raise the bar for quality since resolution is higher,” a spokesman said.