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Mitsubishi Evolves 3D DLP Technology

Rye, N.Y. — The Barclays PGA Tournament at the Westchester Country Club, here, was the setting for Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, a key event sponsor, to unveil the next evolution in consumer-level 3DTV coming to 1080p DLP HDTVs next year.

David Naranjo, MDEA A/V products division product development director, brought the company’s new 73-inch 1080p DLP rear-projection set to the tournament site to show samples of 3D mastered content on the large screen.

Unlike a 2D to 3D conversion system the company presented at its April line show and at the E3 video game show, the new system uses specially produced or mastered 3D images to create dynamic effects for viewers wearing special “stereoscopic” eye glasses.

Naranjo said the technology produces a dynamic immersive viewing experience through the combination of the mastered stereoscopic 3D content and 1080p DLP rear-projection sets, which make images appear closer than lesser display technologies.

“This, we believe, is the next evolution in the immersive experience of TV. At Mitsubishi we are all about big-screen TV, we are all about thin frame — more screen, less space — and clearly we believe this technology is going to drive big-screen TV and DLP technology,” Naranjo said. “The 3D leverages an inherent part of the DLP set, which is a 120Hz engine. It delivers 60 frames for each eye.”

“We believe this will revive the DLP category,” he continued, “and for the price per inch, there is no better value than DLP.”

Naranjo said Mitsubishi is working with a variety of technology partners in developing a range of 3D viewing options, from the 2D to 3D conversion technology it demonstrated earlier in the year for DLP and LCD TV sets to the new “stereoscopic” system that was developed in part by RealD.

Special glasses worn by viewers shutter images stereoscopically, “and unlike polarized lenses they do not cause eye strain and headaches, which is what most people complain about with red/green glasses,” Naranjo said.

RealD has already delivered 3D systems across the country to over 300 Regal Cinema DLP movie theaters, which have shown 3D re-mastered movies including “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Meet The Robinsons.” In October, they will also present the new Angelina Jolie movie “Beowulf.”

“There is nothing else today that exists on this level of maturity,” Naranjo said of the system. “You could run this content off of a PC, off of optical disc players and off of live broadcasts carried by cable and satellite TV. So, there are many different ways to bring this content to the television.”

He said Mitsubishi plans to bring source devices to market next year that will accept the 3D content.

However, the most dramatic 3D effects were seen in live produced events, including NFL games that present images that create the illusion that the viewer is on field.

“We are looking to have live broadcast 3D events soon,” Naranjo said. “NFL games have been produced in 3D already, the NBA playoffs were shot in 3D back in April, and other events have included surfing and X Games events,” he said “A lot of producers and studios are telling us that this is so compelling to them that they want to move very quickly on it. Also, you can imagine the kind of traction this would give advertising.”

Going forward, he said, the NBA playoffs will be shot in 3D again next year, and several sports franchises are looking at filming in 3D.

“Events are shot using a two-camera system. There is an added cost to production, but everyone recognizes that there is a significant added benefit to doing this,” said Naranjo.

He said Mitsubishi continues to work with other partners in adapting 3D playback for other display technologies, including the laser-based rear-projection system the company will unveil at International CES 2008.

Speaking of The Barclays PGA event, Naranjo said Mitsubishi is supplying each event on the PGA tour this year with 11 specially developed LED scoreboards from the company’s professional display unit in Georgia. The scoreboards show HD video clips of key scenes, and provide a comprehensive report of event leaders, key action taking place at holes all over the course, golfer bios, standings and point status for the $10 million FedEx prize to be awarded to the overall point leaders at the end of the season.

Information is supplied via the PGA’s ShotLinks system that uses a team of over 350 volunteers and high-tech computer, GPS and communications tools to present data with a 95 percent accuracy average.

Naranjo said that in addition to receiving major branding exposure on the scoreboards and signs around each event, Mitsubishi is advertising its HDTVs on event telecasts.

According to MRI research, Naranjo said, 45 percent of PGA audiences are more likely to buy an HDTV than any other sport.

To tie retailers with the sponsorship, Mitsubishi is running a promotion in retail stores that awards Callaway golf equipment for the purchase of select Mitsubishi products.

Consumers who purchase a Mitsubishi 73-inch DLP TV during the promotion period (Aug. 24 through Sept. 17) will receive a Big Bertha 460 driver. Those who purchase a 65-inch Mitsubishi set will get an X460 driver and anyone who purchases other Mitsubishi sets will get an Odyssey White Hot XG two-ball putter.

“This promotion was developed to leverage our PGA sponsorship to increase shelf share and increase the velocity of sell-through for us,” Naranjo said. “What we are doing is creating a pull strategy. You have consumers coming in to ask for certain brands of products as opposed to us pushing the technology on them, we will have consumers coming in saying, ‘I want this as opposed to this.’ We believe that in itself will increase shelf share because retailers want to carry the products that people are asking for.”

Retailers will be given in-store promotional signage and leaflets explaining the giveaway for TV “toppers.”

Meanwhile, the company will showcase its new “Ultra Thin Frame” LCD TV line and thin-frame DLPs at the upcoming CEDIA Expo, Naranjo said.

The LCD lines include currently available 60Hz models and 120Hz models that ship this month in the 40-, 46- and 52-inch screen sizes.

The 120Hz models will be carried at Best Buy and Circuit City stores, Naranjo said, and other 120Hz models will be distributed through A/V specialty stores.