There will be constant pressure in the emerging digital home for increased performance and it appears 3LCD technology is situated to address those demands by maintaining bright images, enhancing aperture ratios, picture definition and overall image quality.

New Projection Technology Powering the Digital Lifestyle

Tim Wetmore | Hitachi


By Tim Wetmore for Hitachi

There will be constant pressure in the emerging digital home for increased performance and it appears 3LCD technology is situated to address those demands by maintaining bright images, enhancing aperture ratios, picture definition and overall image quality.


As the Digital Lifestyle trend has taken firm hold in the U.S. and abroad, much of the conversation has centered on computers, wireless technologies and portable media devices. Discussion of those seemingly sexy areas of digital technology advancement, interesting as it might be, ignores the most important part of what people do in their Digital Life, that is, watch images.

As it turns out, one of the best recent technologies for projecting images with the brightest picture and most natural colors is a technology that has quietly built up strong momentum without receiving much recognition. That technology is known as 3LCD and is supported by many of the most prestigious companies that offer digital imaging technologies today. Notable projectors from Hitachi America have quietly embraced this unique technology, to provide the industry with the highest quality in home imaging.

And in what may be its biggest advantages for homes and businesses is the combination of performance, light weight, and diminutive size. Larry Moskal, engineering manager at AVI Midwest, says these features combine to provide his customers what they want in a technology: great pictures at a reasonable cost. "3LCD projectors are now the mainstream projector out there," says Moskal. "Brightness is vastly improved over previous projectors and they handle video very well. Also with the 3LCD technology, weight is remarkably low and these projectors are therefore extremely easy to install. In the end, it's a small form factor projector with great brightness at good cost."

WHAT IS IT?

So, what is 3LCD and what are its advantages? The bottom line is that it is a versatile imaging technology that provides a crisp picture for the digital images coming into the home in so many new ways. That's all the customer really cares about, but lets look at how it accomplishes this feat.

3LCD technology uses a series of dichroic mirrors to focus separate light from a high pressure mercury lamp into red/green/blue signals which are in turn focused through three separate LCD, or high-temperature polysilicon (HTPS) panels to provide high levels of light transmission and high color reproducibility. This ensures that all three colors are transmitted constantly, always providing the brightest and sharpest image. The three HTPS panels then refocus their separate colors through a prism that combines them and feeds them through a projection lens for showing on a screen.

Ultimately, this means that the RGB signals can be very carefully controlled and recombined with precision to ensure accurate color reproduction to the single dot level. Further, this means a true expression of intermediate colors, which, in the long run, means a more lifelike reproduction of dark areas and scenes in shadows.

An additional advantage of the 3LCD technology is that there are no problems with color breakup, or what is commonly called the rainbow effect, that is sometimes seen in projection systems. Therefore, no matter the viewing angle or the images being projected, there is superb reproduction of moving images without the breakup.

Products that have come onto the market incorporating this technology have been able to boast improved performance. Two examples are Hitachi's Performa models--the CP-RX60 and CP-RS55 LCD projectors. Both projectors offer 1,500 ANSI Lumens with a low lamp wattage of 165W. The Performa CP-RX60 models list a resolution of 1024 x 768, while the CP-RS55 boasts a resolution of 800 x 600, both in 4:3 aspect ratio. Further indicating the level of engineering that went into design, the new projectors share a low noise figure of 32 dB in whisper mode and weigh only 4.8 pounds.

HOW SUCCESSFUL IS IT?

So, the specs derived from the technology are there for all to see, but with little discussion in the press about the technology specifically, how has it fared in the marketplace?

Apparently, consumers have been embracing it in droves as cumulative shipments of the HTPS panels used in 3LCD projection systems are now well ahead of all competing microdisplay projection technologies combined in total number of engines.

In a statement announcing the milestone, Dr. William Coggshall, president of displays for industry tracking firm Pacific Media Associates noted, "Sales of projection products incorporating 3LCD engines now total approximately 13.6 million units, representing over 40 million HTPS panels."

3LCD technology is enjoying continued growth in projection systems of all types including data projectors for business and the rapidly growing segment of front projectors for home entertainment and projection TVs.

WHERE'S IT GOING?

Critical in the assessment of any technology is not only its track record, but where it's headed in an effort to maintain its lead over other technological developments in the Digital Lifestyle category. Significant developments for 3LCD projection technology this year include the introduction of HTPS panels using an inorganic alignment layer that provides users with improved contrast levels and magnificently real blacks and shadow details optimized for home theater applications. And, most recently, a 3LCD manufacturer has developed a new HTPS panel with XGA (1024 x 768) resolution using a smaller 0.6-type (1.52 cm diagonal) panel that delivers high-resolution images surpassing those achieved by preceding products.

With high definition making inroads everyday, 3LCD can now lay claim to that territory offering true 1080p resolution with the ability to meet the demand for future enhancements. There will be constant pressure in the emerging digital home for increased performance and it appears 3LCD technology is situated to address those demands by maintaining bright images, enhancing aperture ratios, picture definition and overall image quality. And the small form factor as noted by AVI's Moskal cannot be overlooked as the digital home requires the design flexibility inherent in these little digital engines.

For more information on 3LCD technology, please visit www.3LCD.com 

Tim Wetmore is a freelance writer based in New York. He has extensive experience in writing for the AV industry. He can be reached at twetmore@earthlink.net


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