Consumer products are driving the success of the electronics industry. We’re seeing prices fall as production ramps up. Also, HDTV has pushed the demand for set-top boxes, satellite receivers, and HD video players.
HDTV GOES 1080P
Progressive scan, or 1920 by 1080 pixels (1080p), is the top end of the HDTV standard. Now, it’s finally showing up in a wider range of displays as well as in content delivery systems such as Bluray and HD DVD players. However, many HDTVs being sold only manage 720p or 1080i (interleaved).
Sharp’s Aquos LC-46D64U 46-in. LCD HDTV represents the best of the market (Fig. 1). Delivering 1080p quality in a slim-line design that’s 25% thinner than prior versions, it uses Sharp’s proprietary Advanced Super View/Black TFT Panel with multipixel technology. Its Enhanced Picture Contrast Technology delivers a 10,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio as well as a wide 176Âº viewing angle. The screen’s 4-ms response time displays fast-moving video without artifacts.
The HDTV has ATSC, QAM, and NTSC tuners for over-the-air, cable, and satellite support. There are three HDMI v1.3 inputs, two HD inputs, a VGA input, three composite video inputs, and an S-video input. A serial port allows PC remote control. Also, the Aquos’ stunning image quality matches its sleek cabinet. Like most large screens, it can be wall-mounted.
Blu-ray or HD DVD? That is the question. It’s not going to be answered this year, though, or probably next year either. But consumers are finally getting their chance to check out content that matches the performance of their HDTVs.
Samsung’s BD-P1400 Blu-ray player sports an HDMI v1.3 output in addition to the usual DVI, S-video, and component video outputs (Fig. 2). It delivers 1080p video streams with Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD audio. Also, it handles 25-Gbyte Blu-ray disks plus standard DVDs and CDs. The transfer rate is 36 Mbits/s. Upgrades are possible via an Ethernet port.
Now in its third generation, Toshiba’s HD-A35 is the quintessential HD DVD player (Fig. 3). It can deliver 7.1 highbit- rate audio over HDMI along with 1080p Deep Color video. Movies can be shown at 24 frames/s, the rate at which they were filmed. It’s also Webenabled with an Ethernet connection that can be used for upgrades. With the right hardware, the CE-Link HDMI-CEC interface allows movies to be played with a single button click.
While transmitted and diskbased HD content is currently limited, it is growing quickly. HD DVD’s 15-Gbyte capacity isn’t really an issue, since HD content doesn’t fill even one of these disks.
ONE REMOTE TO BIND THEM
Universal remotes aren’t new, but the latest crop is more than just buttons. Pick up Logitech’s Harmony 1000 from its charging station, and you notice the difference between it and conventional TV remote controls (Fig. 4). It can be configured from a PC via USB instead of via lots of button combinations. Also, it can drive infrared devices individually and in combination. Its LCD touchscreen provides the same kind of flexibility as Apple’s iPhone as well.
Check out hands-on reviews of these products in the EiED Online department.