CEDIA Showcase: Sony Unveils HD-ready LCD Projector

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Although it has still not shipped a set-top DTV decoder, Sony continued to emphasize HDTV-capable video displays for the custom installed market at this weeks Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) show in Indianapolis.

Sony unveiled, a new compact HDTV-ready LCD video projector, a 200-disc DVD/CD megachanger, a multi-room Sony ES A/V receiver, an HDTV-capable flat-panel plasma display.

The highlight of the show was the company's newest LCD projector, model VPL-VW10HT, which will produce a pixel resolution count of up to 1,366x768, meaning it is more than capable of displaying the 720p HDTV format in full native resolution. The 1080i format would be down converted from its 1,080x1920-pixel count.

The projector will deliver brightness levels up to 1000 ANSI lumens in the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Other features include Sony's Digital Reality Creation (DRC) circuitry, which enhances picture resolution by doubling both the horizontal and vertical scan lines. It also adds 3D gamma correction for improved image uniformity, digital noise reduction (DNR) and a new Cinema Black mode that "dynamically increases the black level of a video image," said Jeff Goldstein, Sony Consumer Integrated Systems director.

The projector will ship later this fall at a $6,990 suggested retail price.

Sony's new DVD/CD megachanger incorporates the company's new Disc Explorer 200-disc management system. The feature takes text and graphics information off of each DVD or CD in the changer to create an onscreen menu listing of the titles, complete with "jacket pictures" of the movie or album. Users click on a listing with a DVD Navigator Remote Commander (remote control) to select the disc and begin playing it.

Although Sony has worked with Escient in the past on a similar disc management system for audio CD megachangers, Bill Cubellis, Sony's DVD marketing director, said the new DVP-CX850D uses a Sony developed system for DVD management.

Goldstein said several movie studios, including Columbia Tri-Star Home Video, MGM Home Entertaintainment, New Line Home Video and Sony Music Entertainment have agreed to start encoding DVD titles compatible with the option. Other features include built-in Dolby Digital decoding, Smooth Scan picture scene search function, and jog/shuttle remote. The DVP-CX850D begins shipping this month at an $899 suggested retail price.

Also new was the STR-DA777ES A/V receiver. The unit incorporates dual 32-bit digital signal processing engines "to improve sonic resolution and processing quality," Goldstein explained.

It's dual room capability, allows the receiver to deliver Dolby Digital surround sound in a main home theater room, while simultaneously delivering stereo line output to another room in the house. Total system power is rated at 120 watts across all five channels in surround sound mode. It also includes a Remote Commander remote control, and is scheduled to ship late this year at a $1,500 suggested retail price.

Meanwhile, Goldstein acknowledged that Sony has still not delivered its HDTV set-top box, which has limited his division's ability to sell high-end HDTV home theater systems. Instead of selling the tuner, he said, Sony has been effective at selling the story of "forward compatibility with HDTV" once a truly compelling and finished decoder is possible.

One product that will eventually benefit from a set-top DTV decoder is Sony's HD-capable plasma display panel (PFM-510A1WU). The 42" widescreen monitor measures 6" deep and has a pixel resolution level of 1,024x1,024. It is currently being sold to professional accounts and some home theater specialists at a $17,000 suggested retail price.

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