CES 2004/2005 HDTV Home Theater news: LCoS vs LCD, DLP, Plasma - technology review

home theatre: LCoS vs DLP, LCD, Plasma - technology review
LCoS, LCD, DLP, plasma review by Adrian Biffen, Software For Homes Report from CES 2004/2005
'Understanding HDTV - a comparison' 

by Adrian Biffen 
Systems Administrator
AeroHOST Web Systems
Jan 11, 2004
For those of you following my quest for a "top pick" home theatre system, you'll know that in the previous HDTV review article, we covered a lot of the definitions and terminology used in the HDTV home theatre field (definitions also included in the table below for the sake of quick terminology reference).   

  Bulletin: RollerTrol™ Automation Systems is Launched!  
  • We have been busy making and selling roller blinds and projector screens for some time, and we have decided to start selling the components at RollerTrol.com so others can do the same.
  • Take a look at our online store for tubular motors and other associated products - make your own custom shade or screen size that fits your room perfectly! We also have special motor kits that work with x10 automation systems.
  • While you're at it, check out our tubular motors with built-in radio controllers. When used with our multi-channel remotes, you can control the screen AND blackout blinds with a single remote!
  End Bulletin: RollerTrol™ Automation Systems  

This series of articles is designed to help you get through the complicated process of choosing and setting up an HDTV home theater system. It is part of our overall website, which is about the
X10 home automation system that uses the A/C wiring in your home - you don't need to run any wires. (for complementary home automation products such as lighting control and motorized blinds and shades, see our home automation DIY kit article) Here's a brief topic summary of these home theater articles, with direct links:
Article# Topic
1 HDTV Definitions and terminology used in home theatre systems
2 HDTV news from Jan 2005 Las Vegas CES show
3 HDTV remote control consolidation issues
4 DLP projector decision: My reasons for purchasing
5 BenQ DLP 6200 review -projector setup process
6 HTPC: using home theater PC for DVD display
7 DVD software player review: watch DVD on your PC
8 Upsampling DVD player vs HTPC - comparison with Zenith DVB 318
9 Sony HDRHC1 Handycam review: widescreen high definition 1080i camcorder
10 Wireless video sender solves the 'extra tv' problem
11 SED Toshiba-Canon HDTV display review - the flat panel HDTV race heats up!
12 Canon SX 50 Realis LCoS projector review - first 3 chip LCoS projector under $5,000
13 Optoma H78DC3 'DarkChip3' DLP projector review - first 'Dark Chip3' DLP projector under $4,000
14 Xbox 360 review: best buy for game play online? - Windows Media Center Extender
15 Play Station 3 vs Xbox 360 - Sony and Microsoft Compete for gaming market
16 SXRD vs SED vs DLP - Sony raises the HDTV bar with Qualia and Grand Wega series
17 LED DLP light engine from Samsung vs SXRD, SED - 1080p resolution arrives
18 HD DVD vs Blu-ray: We review the new Toshiba HD DVD players (HD-XA1 and HD-A1)
19 H.264 AVC: High Definition advanced codec for movie downloads and HDTV Online


We also mentioned we would be reporting on the CES 2004 show in Las Vegas ... well, it turned out that home theatre was a cornerstone of the show, and there were so many product releases we decided it merited a whole page. Some were calling it "2004 - Year of HDTV". This should keep everybody going until CES 2005! (Editor's Note: See the update from CES 2005 in Las Vegas, and new coverage of the CES 2006 show).

DLP Front Projectors For HDTV Aimed at home Market:
The folks that manufacture front projectors for presentation displays are now targeting home theater users as a legitimate (and desirable) market segment. These projectors can be mounted on a table or ceiling, projecting images on to a 16 x 9 aspect ratio drop-down screen. Some use the latest HD2+ DLP chip from TI. With resolution running at 1280x720, this chip again boosts contrast performance over the HD2. It also features Dark Video Enhancement (DVE), made possible by modifications to the color wheel architecture. This results in a reduction of dithering artifacts that are often visible in the darker areas of a DLP projector's video display. 

Here's an example of the release notes from InFocus about their new 480P, 16x9, 854x480 home projector (This unit does not have the HD2+ chip, but the Screenplay 7205 does, MSRP $9,999):

"True home entertainment complete with front projection, once the bastion of the ultra rich, is now available and affordable to any big-screen enthusiast with InFocus' newest DLP high-quality, affordable front projector. InFocus ScreenPlay 4805 HDTV DLP Projector InFocus
® Corporation (Nasdaq:INFS), the worldwide leader in digital projection technology and services, today announced the InFocus ScreenPlay 4805, its newest projector for consumers looking to transform their homes into a palace of entertainment. Now, anyone can watch the latest DVD releases, high-definition broadcasts, biggest sports events, season finales of favorite TV shows and play video games on screens measuring up to twelve feet across, with unmatched image quality. 

Consumers can easily connect all of their home entertainment components because the InFocus ScreenPlay 4805 is compatible with a broad range of entertainment sources such as DVD players, satellite receivers, high-definition broadcasts, TV's, computers and video game consoles. The projector is native 16:9 resolution, meaning the onscreen image doesn't have to be compromised from its intended format, and includes a 2000:1 contrast ratio to deliver the brightest whites and best black scene detail. Unrivaled connectivity includes DVI with HDCP and a 12-volt trigger to raise and lower the screen. "The ScreenPlay 4805 delivers amazing, larger-than-life images at a price consumers can afford so everyone can experience true home entertainment," said Scott Hix, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Americas Business Unit at InFocus." (MSRP is $1400)

Here's the announcement for the BenQ PB 6200 projector (XGA 1024x768) from around the same time (MY CHOICE):


City of Industry, CA - BenQ, a leading manufacturer of DLP based digital projectors, introduced its latest digital projector with the PB6200. The PB6200 is a sturdy, yet lightweight digital projector that is ideal for a variety of professional and personal home theater applications and installations.

The PB6200 utilizes proprietary BenQ video-processing technology to support the latest DLP chipset from Texas Instruments. The new DLP DDR chipsets produce flawless pictures that won't fade or degrade over time, and the optical engine lifetime exceeds 100,000* hours while maintaining the images' original clarity.

"The BenQ PB6200 is an ideal projector for those wanting a powerful and compact projector with XGA resolution capacity," said Jeff Chen, vice president of Digital Media at BenQ America. "The PB6200 delivers the functionality and the performance of an XGA projector, but at a competitive price point. As visual presentations become more sophisticated, the need for an XGA projector becomes greater. The PB6200 offers the features to match the latest software programs, presentation ideas and videos."

The BenQ PB6200
The BenQ PB6200 is an XGA digital projector with a high 2000:1 contrast ratio at 1,700 ANSI lumens. It has a native resolution of 1024 x 768, and can support resolutions from 640 x 350 up to 1280 x 1024 and 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios. The PB6200 has a throw ratio of 60-inches at 6.6-feet and delivers images from 40- to 300-inches. It is compatible with NTSC, PAL, SECAM and NTSC 4.43 video systems, and is HDTV-compatible (480p, 720p and 1080i) with direct YPbPr/component (through VGA port), S-Video and composite video inputs.

The PB6200 integrates BenQ's proprietary Dynamic Color Management System (DCMS) technology and supports 16.7 million color palettes, as well as four-segment color wheels to ensure accurate color reproduction. It features PIP functions and a Digital Keystone correction system for quick and easy set-up. The PB6200 delivers a lamp life of up to 2,000 hours, which can also last up to 3,000 hours under "economy" mode.

All BenQ digital projectors come with the company's product commitment-a free first year "Xpress Xchange" program and a three-year limited warranty.

The BenQ PB6200 has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $1,795 through BenQ's distribution channels.

The competition is heating up on home theatre front projectors; here's an excerpt from the Optoma press release:

The Optoma EzPro 757 is the first fully loaded single-chip Double Data Rate Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology from Texas Instruments micro portable projector with 2,300 lumens, 2000:1 contrast ratio, fully HDTV compatible video and near-silent operation, while weighing only 6.6 pounds. Equally at home in the boardroom or on the road, the EzPro 757 performs like a much larger projector, yet its small size and light weight mean you can take it anywhere. Pixelworks deinterlacing and scaling technologies provide excellent film reproduction and smooth onscreen images. The 2000:1 contrast ratio is twice that of a typical professional movie theater. This technology contains a new-generation TI DLP chip, so-called DDR technology (Double Data Rate). The miniature mirrors on the chip turn at a higher speed than do conventional DLP chips, creating a higher quality picture. MSRP: $2,395.00

New DVD format re HDTV:
One of the key developments is the announcement of a new blue laser DVD technology that will allow HDTV movies to be stored on disk. Increasing the data capacity of DVD players is important because a current DVD can hold about 2 hours of standard definition (480p) on a 4.8 Gigabyte disk, but if you want a full HDTV picture (1080i) you'll need a disk capable of holding about 50 GB of data. A current DVD of 4.8 Gig can hold only 20 minutes of HDTV picture content.

Toshiba Corporation announced development of a prototype high-definition DVD player that can play high-definition DVD discs and current DVDs. The player features a single-lens optical head mechanism that integrates both red and blue laser diodes, assuring support for both the next-generation "HD DVD-ROM" format (version 0.9) recently approved by the DVD Forum and backward compatibility with today's DVD ROM discs. The new player points the way to a commercial product that will allow fans of DVD to enjoy the richer image quality of HD DVD while protecting their current investment in DVD software libraries.

LCOS Technology is Alive and Doing Well:
Toshiba introduced their Cinema Series 57XLX82 57-inch projection TV at CES 04 Toshiba's Cinema Series 57XLX82 57-inch projection TV and won "Best of Innovations" in its category. Toshiba expects that this product will allow home theatre to cross the line into a true cinematic realm. The digital display screen will project images more than two times the resolution of other machines, while the speakers underneath the screen include separate tweeters and woofers for 3D sound. The screen is 57-inches wide and only 18-inches deep, so this unit can be considered a real space saver. The price? It's retailing for $8,999, which is less than other smaller sized flat screen TVs, such as LCD and Plasma.

Many think LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) televisions represent the future of TV. LCOS technology uses liquid crystals to avoid any light from being blocked out, Philips 44PL9773 Single Panel LCOS 44-inch Wide Screen system allowing the digital image to be displayed directly from source to output. Colors are brighter and images sharper than ever before.

Philips debuted their 44PL9773 Single Panel LCOS 44-inch Wide Screen system at CES and won the "Best of Innovation" award. The set features PixelPlus and Digital Natural Motion technology that allows for a sharp, more fluid picture. Compact and sleek, the set will fit nicely into any modern decor. Like most of the newer HDTVs, it doesn't weigh much and the depth of set is fairly slim, allowing it to easily fit in your media room.

JVC was notably absent from CES 04 display floor (although they had a dealer display at the MGM Grand) - but that wasn't because they have nothing to offer. In fact, their D-iLA technology may just be the best out there. Consider their new 65" LCOS screen, the 57HLX82. It is an HD-ready rear-projection TV that has a 65-inch screen. With a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $8999, the picture on this set is excellent, and the digital image scaling technology converts all sources to 1080i. The picture is enhanced by 75Mhz high definition edge correction circuitry, a 3-D Y/C digital comb filter, and selectable scan velocity modulation. The colors are full and rich, whether you are viewing the content at the D6500K setting or adjusted to the presets for standard content, theater, dynamic action, or video games. They also have produced the world's first digital wide-screen consumer camcorder to shoot video in HDTV format.

NTE (Near The Eye) 3D Glasses:
The further development of NTE devices promises to be a an interesting story, that's for sure. Why buy a big screen if a pair of glasses will do it for you? Here's an excerpt from the Sensio/Xilinx press release:

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today, Sensio and Xilinx, Inc. announced a collaboration that resulted in the breakthrough 3D video processing technology, SENSIO 3D, winner of the CES 2003 Product Innovation Award. NTE Near The Eye 3D glasses Sensio credits Xilinx and its programmable chip technology with enabling the creative design and economic viability of its SENSIO 3D Video Processing system. The SENSIO system transforms conventional home theater into a 3D stereoscopic movie experience that rivals the best theme park experiences, using Xilinx low cost Spartan programmable chips as its central processing capability. The Sensio system recently featured as the cover story in Home Theatre magazine. Sensio has met with major motion picture studios like MGM, IMAX, Dreamworks, LightSorm Entertainment and TroubleMaker Studios in efforts to build up a library of 3D movies under SENSIO 3D DVD.


*  *  *  *  *

Stay tuned as we add to this article series - more to come soon!

Do you have an ever growing collection of remotes? Do you have to pick up 2 or 3,just to change from watching TV to watching a DVD? Then check out the third article in this series about using a universal remote control ...

For the sake of clarity, here are some acronym and terminology definitions relating to the various display technologies, used in the other table below to compare the various screen types:
TLA Three Letter Acronym
HDTV High Definition Television. The highest quality video picture available in Digital TV. In the U.S., the 1080i and 720p resolution formats in a 16:9 aspect ratio are the two acceptable HDTV formats. Regular NTSC analog TV is 480i.
HTPC Home Theater Personal Computer. The use of a PC as a processing and source control platform for a home theater system.
RPTV Rear Projection TV. The type of home theater screen system where the image is projected onto the back of the screen. Can be DLP, LCD, CRT projection technology.
Lumens An ANSI Lumen is a measurement of light radiation or brightness. A 3,000 Lumen projector creates a brighter picture than a 2,000 Lumen unit. The ANSI prefix is a standards designation (American National Standards Institute).
Nits Plasma and LCD manufacturers use this term to define the brightness of their screens. Another term for Nits is Candelas per square meter (Cd/m2). One nit = 0.2919 foot-lambert. Nits includes an area definition, unlike lumens, so you can't simply divide by Watts to establish a Nits/watt spec.
480i 720p 1080p resolution measurement in lines, p for "progressive scan", i for "interlaced scan". Conventional TV (e.g. 480i) is interlaced whereby the screen is scanned twice by alternate lines that are interleaved (interlaced), whereas HDTV (e.g. 720p) can scan all lines sequentially (consecutively or progressively).
DVI HDCP Digital Visual Interface technology with High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. Developed by Intel Corporation, HDCP is a specification to protect digital entertainment content through the DVI interface. The HDCP specification provides a transparent method for transmitting and receiving digital entertainment content to DVI-compliant digital displays. Some products, such as set-top boxes and DVD burners will require this connector. Even if you have a HDTV set-top box, if it lacks the DVI, your signal may be degraded.
HDMI High Definition Multimedia Interface. Like DVI, HDMI is another digital interface, and from what we saw at CES 2005, it may become the universal standard. Developed by Sony, Hitachi, Thomson (RCA), Philips, Matsushita (Panasonic), Toshiba and Silicon Image, the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) has emerged as the connection standard for HDTV and the consumer electronics market. HDMI is the first digital interface to combine uncompressed high-definition video, multi-channel audio and intelligent format and command data in a single digital interface.
SACD Super Audio CD uses a new recording technology called Direct Stream Digital. DSD records a one bit digital signal at a sample rate of 2.8 million times per second, 64 times higher than conventional CD's. 
NTSC Existing color TV standard developed in the U.S. in 1953 by the National Television System Committee. NTSC vertical line resolution is 525 lines/frame and the vertical frequency is 60Hz. The NTSC frame rate is 29.97 frames/sec.
CRT Cathode Ray Tube - venerable old style picture tube
PDP Plasma Display Panel, plasma is a physics term for an electrically charged gas
LCD Liquid Crystal Display, same as laptop screens
TFT Thin Film Technology, a type of LCD
DLP Digital Light Processor, a reflective light switch chip developed by TI. Has a very fast response time - no motion lag
TI Texas Instruments Corp., original manufacturer of DMD's and DLP's
DMD Digital Micro-mirror Device - chip for DLP technology by TI
DNIe Digital Natural Image enhancement - chip for optimizing video picture quality, by Samsung (used in their DLP units)
LCoS Liquid Crystal on Silicon, reflective light switch
SXRD projection Silicon X-tal Reflective Display: Sony's incarnation of LCoS technology. Sharp picture, no pixelation, very high resolution, reflective system won't burn out picture element, "no moving parts" design usually incorporates 3 imaging chips for primary colors, instead of color wheel.
SED Surface conduction Electron emitter Display by Toshiba/Canon
FED Field Emission Display: New technology from Sony
OLED Organic Light Emitting Diode display: new technology from Seiko-Epson
D-iLA Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier, LCoS chip developed by JVC
QXGA high screen resolution of 2048 x 1536, attained by D-iLA chip
DCDi Directional Correlation Deinterlacing (a de-interlacing method to eliminate jagged edges (jaggies) along diagonal lines caused by interpolation, developed by Faroudja corp. An important feature to look for, this Emmy® award winning technology was once only available in products costing $20,000 or more, and is now available in numerous products costing well below $2,000
aspect ratio ratio of screen width to height. An aspect ratio of 4:3 is conventional TV and 16:9 is HDTV (and film)
3-2 pulldown a method of film-to-video conversion
twitter and judder   terms describing film conversion related artifacts
anamorphic lens   a special lens that compresses the pixels of a 4:3 screen into a 16:9 format, and allows a projector to use the full brightness of the display, without black bars above and below the image. Must normally be removed for regular 4:3 viewing.
SDE  Screen Door Effect is a term used to refer to the visible pixel structure on a screen.
YADR! Yet Another Dang Remote! A common exclamation heard from people who just bought their third or fourth home audio/video component. And then there are further unmentionable expletives when you find out a component isn't supported, or it's just too complicated to program everything in?? Maybe it's time to read about our experience in the remote control review article.

The following table provides a quick comparison of the display types; "pixelation" refers to the ability to see individual picture elements (pixels) at normal viewing distances (note that all the types below can contribute to the YADR index). Please note that these products are being constantly improved and not all manufacturer's models may be subject to the disadvantages listed below:

CRT conventional
picture tube
Cathode Ray Tube: very sharp and bright, high contrast ratio, good picture view from side, low cost, handles regular analog NTSC channels well, no moving parts heavy and bulky, limited in size to about 36", picture can fade 
CRT projection
low cost, large screens possible, no moving parts heavy and bulky, limited viewing angles, visible raster lines, mis-convergence can be a problem, picture can fade over time 
LCD flat screen panel Liquid Crystal Display: bright, sharp picture, light and compact, can hang on wall, solid state, no moving parts picture can fade over time
LCD projection fairly bright, large screens possible, sharp picture, no moving parts display can fade due to heat damage to organic compounds that some manufacturers use in the LCD, projector bulb can fail
PDP Plasma flat screen panel Plasma Display Panel: bright picture, light and compact, can hang on wall, wide viewing angle, no moving parts, handles fast motion really well expensive, some pixelation, display can burn out.
DLP projection Digital Light Processor: bright, sharp picture, high contrast, no  pixelation, reflective system won't burn out picture element, very fast response time - no motion lag. possible visual "rainbow" artifacts on single chip versions caused by spinning color wheel, projector bulb can fail
LCoS projection Liquid Crystal on Silicon: bright, sharp picture, no pixelation, very high resolution, reflective system won't burn out picture element, "no moving parts" design usually incorporates 3 imaging chips for primary colors, instead of color wheel. projector bulb can fail
SXRD projection Silicon X-tal Reflective Display: Sony's incarnation of LCoS technology. Sharp picture, no pixelation, very high resolution, reflective system won't burn out picture element, "no moving parts" design usually incorporates 3 imaging chips for primary colors, instead of color wheel. projector bulb can fail
SED panel display Surface conduction Electron emitter Display: very bright picture, very high resolution, can hang on wall, very high contrast ratio, can be viewed from any angle, no moving parts, handles fast motion really well expensive at first, not available yet
FED panel display Field Emission Display: New technology from Sony, properties are similar to SED expensive at first, not available yet
OLED panel display Organic Light Emitting Diode display: new technology from Seiko-Epson expensive at first, not available yet

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