Every so often I run into something which sparks my interest and causes me to lose sleep overnight, simply because I have to figure out what works and what doesnít. Ever since we wrote our Home Theatre projectors article Iíve been consistently trying to upgrade both the audio and video quality of my home theatre setup. Not that it really needed upgrading; itís just a matter of making the most out of it, maximizing the potential so to speak. Whilst doing that Iíve also been keeping a close eye on what makes perfect sense to invest in and what doesnít. One of the things Iíve noticed is that someone is more likely to settle for lesser quality audio than lesser quality video. If you switch from composite, to S-video, to component output on a DVD player and see the improvement in image quality thereís no going back. If you however have a speaker setup lacking a little bass thatís easily forgiven if the overall sound reproduction draws you into the movie enough.
Fig 1. InFocus' ScreenPlay 4800, an entry level home theatre projector with Faroudja DCDi technology.
With current display technology, such as CRT, DLP and RPTV, improvements to the video playback are usually very noticeable and worthwhile. In our recent article we already touched upon it, cables and screens do matter. Weíre currently preparing a follow-up article which will look at projectors with a higher price tag, up to about $5000. In this category youíll find more than the usual composite connector and here it really pays off to look at the source and distribution of the video material. A recent survey showed that about 6-million US citizens have a HDTV set at home, with the ability to output 480p, 720p or 1080i respectively. If youíve never seen the difference between a standard interlaced NTSC TV signal and one at 720p youíll be amazed at the clarity, contrast and resolution of the HDTV image. So weíll also be looking at the ability of these projectors to deal with digital signals at HDTV resolutions and the requirements to enjoy HDTV and HD quality DVD playback in your home theatre.