Sunday, November 1, 2009

What's happening in HDTV land?

It has been several months since my last blog entry on the subject of HDTV. Believe it or not, not much has happened. Somethings are on the verge of happening, but we currently have a lot of vapor-ware floating around on the web. For those who do not know, Vapor-ware is any product promised and rumored to be out on the market, which cannot be found anywhere. We cheat a bit, and apply this term to any product which is perpetually promised to be "Out Soon" but which never seems to actually appear on the market.

So let's begin with the products that have actually entered the market and continue from there.

Mitsubishi's WD-82837 and WD-82737

Mitsubishi has upped the ante in the size wars by releasing the WD-82837($3,600-$4400) and the WD-82737 ($3,000-$3,500). As the name implies, both are 82 inch DLP televisions. Both televisions provide you with 3d capabilities.

I was disappointed by the quality of both of these giants. The reason has everything to do with the brightness of the picture. It seems that all Mitsubishi DLPs, regardless of size, are currently powered by a 180 watt light bulb. Does anything strike you wrong about this picture? It should. The larger you scale the picture, the more you will diffuse and disburse a finite quantity of Lumins. Naturally, the larger the screen, the dimmer the image. It is clear to me that 180w is optimal for 65 inches. It is not quite optimal for 73 inches. It is well below optimal for 82 inches.

These are the last of the classic DLP avengers, say most of the critics. After these models, it will be Laser TV forever more from Mitsubishi. It should be noted that Laser TV is the next logical step in DLP technology. The chip used to convert HDMI signals into Laser strokes on the screen remains the Texas Instruments DLP chip. The only element that changes is the light bulb. It disappears and is replaced with low-intensity LED lasers.


Speaking of LaserTV, many of us are sitting around with bated breath waiting for the--supposedly--immanent announcement of the 2nd generation of LaserVue. Details are extremely sketchy, but many of us expect this to be really big. Really big.

There were lots of quality and manufacturing issues in the first edition of LaserVue. Still, when all was said and done, many critics out there praised LaserVue as the highest quality image that could be had at any price, and given any form of technology. In other words, the slam-dunk leader in pure image quality. Many said that when the Pioneer Kuro was still on the market.

Once the quality and manufacturing problems were solved, LaserVue L65-A90 fell from the hoary air of $7,000 to a mere $5000 at several outlets. It works better these days also. Many would-be NDA busters have suggested that the 2nd coming will will be all that and a bag of chips. Improvements in design and manufacturing should up quality even further, while bringing the cost down to something more like an affordable level.

LaserVue still has to fight the fashion war, but I personally would like nothing better that to see Mitsubishi Godzilla press-slam in the faces of all the gay Austrian fashion designers like Bruno out there in HDTV land. Yes, that's right, I am saying that those who buy televisions just because they are 1.2 inches thick are a bunch of gay Austrian fashion designers like Bruno.

Toshiba Cell-TV

Probably the most stunning announcements this year have come from Toshiba. Toshiba is done licking its wounds over HD-DVD. They have introduced Blu-Ray units. Now they are about to use the brain of the PS3 to deliver what could be the greatest single HDTV on the market. If anything has the power to rain on LaserVue's coronation parade, it will be Toshiba Cell-TV.

Essentially Cell-TV boils down to a 55inch LCD screen which is LED lit, and supports a resolution of 3840 X 20160. This doubles the resolution of a 1080p signal on both axes. The result is 400% more resolution. Rather than 2 megapixels, you get 8 megapixels. Anyone who has ever used a digital camera or two will tell you that there is a world of difference between a 2mp and an 8mp picture. 2mp is adequate, not thrilling. 8mp can be professional grade.

Naturally, a chorus of objections rise echoing the question "where will you get an 8mp signal?" That is where the Cell Broadband engine comes into play. The first notion is to take your 1080p and 1080i HDTV signals and upscale them. It will work better with a 1080p Blu-Ray. There is more information encoded in the broader and fatter bitstream Blu-Ray provides.

How well will upscaled Blu-Ray work and how good will it look? According to the bullshit, it works better than upscaling DVDs does. You only need a 400% increase, and you start with a much better signal. DVD requires a 600% upscale, and you must fetch this mag from an inferior encoding technology and a skinnier signal. Those who have seen it declare that it is a gob-smacking, flabbergasting, freak-out experience.

Now for the problems? LCD is still prone to a lot of jutter and motion blur. The Cell Broadband engine cannot help you with this problem. Further, it's going to be both difficult and expensive to manufacture a single panel 55 inches in hypotenuse which contains 8 million LCD pixels. The price is said to be around $11,000.00 USD. Finally, it is scheduled to be only 55 inches in hypotenuse, which is no longer all that impressive a size. I would call it the minimum mandatory HDTV size for the HDTV experience.

It would be much better if this technology were applied to an 82 inch DLP with a 275 watt bulb. Then you would be able to harvest the benefits of 8 mpixel scaling.


Batten down the hatches. I am ready to blow. You'll have to pardon me for talking smack for a few moments here...

What's happening on the OLED front? Absolutely nothing. At least, nothing big. The Zune HD just came out. At a whopping 3,3 inches in size, OLED has proven that it is ready for prime time. Surely it will crush all competitor technologies in the HDTV space.

Yep, 3.3 > 82. Also (272 x 480) > (3840 x2160). Reductio absurdum.

I understand that there will be a 40 inch OLED early in 2012, according to one published report. The price cannot be determined at this time, but they think they can get it down to $11,000. Oh jeeze, that's just fucking great. I guess they are hopping for a lot of inflation and COLAs to make that figure look more attractive. Aren't you just dying to buy a 40inch HDTV for $11,000

Some other blurb mentioned that OLED will become cheaper than LCD by 2016. Really? You don't say? I guess I will postpone my purchases until 2016 then. Your authority means a lot to me.

Honestly folks, I have no idea why we continue to countenance these OLED fools. I do not suffer fools lightly or well. I grow increasingly disgusted with technology gurus who continue to propound that OLED is the thing of the future, and it is coming soon. Fuck you.


A massive number of shots have been fired in the LCD wars. When the dust settled three one model stands at the summit of the tournament: Samsung Luxia 8500. Yep, that's right, there is already an 8500 in the clan. The big difference is that this one is not edge lit by edge LEDs. There are a large number of LEDs in an Array directly behind the LCD panel.

The array of LEDs behind the screen increase the thickness of the Luxia 8500 vis-a-vis the 8000, but this is of no consequence. Only gay fashion designers from Austria--like Bruno--are concerned about the thickness of their HDTVs. If you are concerned about the thickness of your HDTV, you are just plain damn wrong.

The Luxia 8500 is a so-called 240hz, 2ms model. As with all LCD motion-smoothing technology, you have to like the SOAP OPERA EFFECT (SOE), or your won't like the HDTV. I have learned to live with it, but I don't like it.

For some reason I can hardly understand, LCD continues to be the most popular HDTV format. This is in spite of the fact that it is the most expensive technology (inch for inch), not even close to the largest screen format, and far from the most ideal technology for fast-motion sports and action movies. Both plasma and DLP are a hell of a lot better, but the people don't seem to understand this. I myself was conned into buying a Luxia 7000 not long ago. I cannot wait to trade this thing in on a LaserVue 2.0.

Take it from an unhappy camper: LCD is not the best technology for your movies and sports.