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Today’s Show:

Home Theater of the Future

We’ve been doing this show for going on six years. During that period we’ve seen the Home Theater world go through a lot of changes. Technologies have been announced and have either  completely failed or never lived up to their potential. We’re looking at you SED, HD DVD, and MoCA. To be fair MoCA is the closest to being a reality but its taking a long time.

For today’s show we are going to take a look at what the future of Home Theater was back in 2005 and see how its panned out and then we’ll talk about what we’d like to see five years from now.

Future of Home Theater circa 2005:

Laser Video Projectors – These are video projectors that modulate a laser beam in order to project a raster-based image. While not a reality yet there are laser based DLPs from Mitsubishi. This technology is still a future technology in 2010.

HDTV everywhere – This is pretty much a reality today, at least in the US. Satellite and cable companies used to send out press releases when they added new channels. Today we seldom get these. Many systems are giving HD service away. Finally, when commercials are in HD its safe to say HDTV is more or less everywhere.

Enhanced Interactive Television – We are seeing this with Yahoo widgets and the forthcoming Google TV. Many TVs are now connected to the Internet and soon most of them will have this option.

Holographic Front Projection – We really haven’t seen any Holographic Projection yet. This is still a future technology in 2010.

Carbon Nanotube Displays – The dream of bendable screens has many applications from advertising to wallpaper thick screens that can cover walls and make projectors obsolete. We’re still waiting on the future for this.

XBOX 360 – We’d like to add PS3 and Wii to this and say that its here today. For many their gaming consoles are more than a box to play games on. With Netflix, Movie Rentals, and Media Streaming our gaming consoles are Media Centers that anchor our home theaters.

SED Displays – RIP

IP Everything – Think about how many devices in your home have IP connections. TVs, Receivers, Set Top Boxes, Music Players, and the list goes on. Safe to say the future is here.

DTS-HD and Dolby Digital Plus – While these were futuristic technologies in 2005 they have been improved upon with Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio. Check!

HD-DVD and or Blu-ray high definition DVD’s – HD DVD RIP, Blu Ray pretty much everywhere. Check!

Future of Home Theater circa 2010:

So back in 2005 someone created this list and just five years later six of the ten are a reality, one has no chance of making it to the market and were still waiting for three. Now let’s look at where we see Home Theater going in the next 5 to ten years:

Convergence – One box to do everything. Why not make a box that is your receiver, tuner (ATSC and Cable Card), Blue Ray Player, Video Server, and Game Console. Essentially we are talking about building a HTPC with receiver/amplifier built in. Sure if it goes out your in the dark but think how simple it would be to connect one box and be done.

Wireless Home Theater – If you can’t have one box to do everything why not connect them wirelessly. It would need to be as simple as placing the components next to each other and putting them into a discovery mode. The units would find each other and auto detect capabilities. This would extend to speakers as well. You may have to designate the channel but other than that you just plug in power.

Interoperability/Control – This ties into the previous point. We’d like to see interoperability between components of all manufacturers. We’re not talking just connecting a Samsung Blu Ray player to a Yamaha receiver and watching a movie but more about having the components identify themselves and their capabilities. In our world the remote would auto configure and create basic macros based on what type of components you have.

Want to watch a Blu Ray? Just hit Watch a Blu Ray and the receiver would switch to the appropriate inputs and turn on the Blu Ray player. In this case the Remote is dumb. It doesn’t need to know the commands to send. The receiver stores all the commands. The remote just sends what button was pressed and allows the receiver to determine what to do.  This way you can add a new remote and all the macros and commands are added to it by the receiver. Go one step further, since everything is IP based your smartphones and mp3 players can act as a remote as well.

Cloud – The cloud will be big in the future. It may be a private cloud where your content is stored on your own server or a public one where your content is stored in a digital locker. Either way if you have an Internet connection you will have access to your content. In our vision you will be able to sync between multiple locations, devices and even your automobile.

Once LTE networks get rolled out it will be feasible to have reliable access to music, videos, and personal media anytime, anywhere. Imagine buying a CD and ripping it to your car jukebox. The ripped music complete with id3 tags will sync via your 4G connection to your connected devices including your HTPC or A/V Receiver. If you don’t have a good connection on the road it syncs when you pull into your driveway via WIFI.

OLED TV – This ties in with Nanotube technology from the 2005 list. While we feel that OLED may never make it as a traditional TV technology it does have a shot for large format use. Perhaps this technology may make front projection obsolete.

Automation – This is technology that’s already here. So why is it on the list? Our vision is that, like the remote control, it becomes dead simple to integrate. You add devices and the system recognizes them. Simple macros pertaining to rooms are automatically generated, others, like activity based macros, are created in a turbo tax style question and answer mechanism. This eliminates the need for any real programming skills and makes it possible for anyone to create a sophisticated automation system.

Ultra High Definition – Well this is just the next progression of HD. Who wouldn’t want higher resolution? This UHD content may come from satellite, Internet, or disc based delivery systems before its available over the air. TVs that support will come well in advance of content. Look for an upconverting Blu Ray player from Oppo right after UHD TVs become common.

3D – Its no secret that we are not big fans of 3D. Actually, we’re not the only ones. The biggest issue we have is that you need expensive glasses to enjoy 3D and that experience requires a large screen to fully appreciate. In our vision we’re talking about 3D that doesn’t require glasses and the experience is the same regardless of where you are sitting. This may be the forerunner for Holographic projection.

That’s our list. Chime in and comment on what you think the future of Home Theater is. We’ll talk about it on a follow up to this show.


Download Episode #446

Posted by The HT Guys, October 7, 2010 11:54 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.