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Depending upon one's loyalty "your side" is winning the high definition DVD race, but it's still a horse race to everyone else.

What is making headway is 1080p-the golden hope of the 80s and 90s has arrived, though not without controversy over its necessity.

Many of you in the professional ranks will say, "Why do we need this 1080p when most people are viewing a display that is 720p native? Besides, you may well argue, no one can see the difference in resolutions between 720p and 1080i and p without sitting far closer to the screen then is typical or having a screen much larger (at the same viewing distance) than what is now being purchased?"

This year I had a little windfall and thus a budget was formed which provided for some HD acquisitions and home remodeling. I decided to outfit all of the living spaces in my house with HD (finally getting rid of all NTSC). For my bedroom I chose a 34" tube type HD set. For another area of the house I installed an XBR SXRD 1080p 60 inch rear projector. The 34" is pretty bulky, but cost only $1100 and for bedroom viewing produced a terrific image, though hardly the big screen experience. The sitting room was able to accommodate the larger 60" Sony SXRD. This is a 1080p set that does a great job of de-interlacing most of the content and we sit on a couch that is 9 feet from the screen. It is absolutely awesome with a high def DVD source or a PS3 game machine.

But the big investment made this year was on a dedicated home theater. Now that MAKES a huge difference in the viewing experience. This is no longer TV, but T H E A T E R! I again chose a 1080p projector - the Sony VPL-VW 50 (Pearl) - which is quite well suited for the 12 X 17 foot dedicated space. I have three rows of seating with each row elevated by 4 inches. The screen is 104 inches wide. Now, at 9 to 10 feet viewing distance you see every defect in the source, the transmission path, and, if any, in the projector or screen (which I made). You can easily detect the difference between 720p and 1080i or p.

Of course, the only source we have today for 1080p is Blu Ray or HD DVD. I can tell you that when the film-to-DVD transfer is on the money you have one amazing WOW home experience with either of those formats. Lights out everyone, sit back and be blown away. That is the 1080p experience, which is not quite the same as with 720p, and certainly not with the 480p. I must add in all fairness to your existing DVD collection and your devotion to 720p produced sports that you may have a very good experience with those lower resolutions on a big screen but the big WOW is still eluding you. If we are home theater people we are not going to settle for second best in performance nor, frankly, in content. We want the best production values we can get to tantalize our human ocular and aural senses. If you produce a program that fits the world as it is today (720 dominant) you may have devalued your product in the world that will be existing tomorrow (1080p). I thought a big screen home theater with 1080p was for the other guy. But I now think it is for every guy and the cost for making this happen is dropping like the proverbial stone.

The street price for a projector that just a few years ago cost $10,000 is now under $4000 and rumor has it that we will see perfectly working 1080p bright projection system under $2000 - the price millions are paying today for plasmas and LCDs that offer a fraction of the experience which a big screen delivers. As far as dedicated rooms (so you can control
light) is concerned ... .well, all the homes among those we count as most influential people will find the space and are doing so at record numbers right now. The day of low cost front projection is at hand and with it comes the 1080p that you can SEE. (see
http://www.carltonbale.com/2006/11/1080p-does-matter/)

Don't produce in anything less than 1080p or your "masterpiece" may well perish like figs in the sun.

Posted by Dale Cripps, April 19, 2007 8:51 PM

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About Dale Cripps

Dale Cripps is a professional journalist who has focused two thirds of his career on the subject of high-definition television. Upon completing his education in business and service in the military he formed Cripps and Associates, South Pasadena, California, in 1964, which operated as a market-development company for aerospace services. In 1983 he turned to television and began what has become a 20 year campaign to pioneer HDTV. For fifteen of those years he published the well-regarded HDTV Newsletter (an international monthly written for television professionals). During much of this same time he also served as the HDTV-Technical Editor for "Widescreen Review Magazine." On November 16, 1998 he launched the Internet distributed HDTV Magazine, which remains the only consumer publication devoted exclusively to high-definition television. In April of 2002 he co-founded with Tedson Meyers of Coudert Bros, the High-definition Television Association of America, which is presently based in Washington DC. Cripps is the president of this organization. Mr. Cripps is a charter member of the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers and honored by that organization with the DTV Press Leadership Award of 2002. He makes his home in Oregon.