Sony Qualia artikkel

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  1. #1
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    Sony Qualia artikkel

    En kar på AVSforum har skrevet en lengre avhandling om den nye hi-end 250.000 kroners Lcos-baserte projektoren fra Sony.

    Artikkel HER.

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    ...jeg er for øvrig enig med en del av kommentatorene på AVSforum ang. kontrast. dvdDoc oppgir at selv om sortnivået er dårligere enn DLP'er, så er det faktiske sortnivået bedre... Det høres jo unektelig merkelig ut. I tillegg vurdere han gammadetaljer og fargegradering som "bedre" sortnivå, som jo også er litt på kanten.

    Støynivå måler han i antall db over "støy i rommet", som jo også er merkelig. Han er meget avvikende i forhold til å oppgi faktisk støy, da relatert til noe sammenlignbart utover "ambient" støy...

    Generelt må en nok teste denne saken selv for å komme til en litt mer nyansert konklusjon. Det smitter nok kanskje litt på "testen" av vedkommende selv har punget ut 250.000 kroner...

    Uansett, paneldybde på 12 bit (samme som HS-20 for øvrig), 1920x1080, visstnok stillegående, 2000:1@1500 AL +++ tilsier et meget spennende potensiale for Sony SXRD lcos teknikk. Spesielt 12 bits paneldybde gir i følge dvdDoc en meget god "film"-aktig dybde, og kan være vel så viktig som optimalt sortnivå. SXRD har i tillegg meget høy fillrate, som også selvsagt er viktig for "film"-looken...

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    Flott link sjef

    Forøvrig enig i at dette med sortnivået virker merkelig...

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    De som jeg har snakket med som har sett den, sier at det fortsatt er mulig å lese avisen i mørkt rom der du sender projectoren ett 0 IRE signal. PS! Jeg sier ikke at dette er en dårlig projector, bare at den ikke har 'inky blacks'. De som er glad i lcd-projectorer og meget store bilder vil nok ønske seg en slik.

    Husk at DOCDVD lever av å selge det dyreste av det dyreste high-end utstlyr, jeg ville tatt slike artikler med en klype salt.

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    De som jeg har snakket med som har sett den, sier at det fortsatt er mulig å lese avisen i mørkt rom der du sender projectoren ett 0 IRE signal.
    Hmm... Det betyr jo da at projektoren sender ut "rimelig mye" lys, selv når det skal være sort. Det hadde jeg ikke trodd etter å ha lest litt av det DOCDVD har skrevet.

    Husk at DOCDVD lever av å selge det dyreste av det dyreste high-end utstlyr, jeg ville tatt slike artikler med en klype salt.
    Ok, fikk ikke med meg at han solgte utstyr.

    En annen ting. Jeff Francis er såvidt jeg vet en CRT "guru".. Han sa jo at bildekvalitet og sortnivå på Qualia var på høyde med de beste crt'ene. Det høres også litt merkelig ut da..

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    ...jeg leste meg også frem, mellom linjene vel å merke, at sortnivået er ankepunktet på denne projektoren. De blander sortnivå og gammadetaljer, og generelt forsøker å bortforklare dårlig sortnivå med økt grad av detaljer, som ofte en en naturlig konsekvens av økning av gamma for å kompansere for manglende sortnivå.

    Dermed bortfaller trolig denne som et reelt alternativt for undertegende iallfall! Uansett er det spennende at LCD/Lcos iallfall er på banen med noe nytt, det hjelper kanskje litt på DLP leiren!

    Jeg vil ha 3-chips DLP med > 4000:1, < 1000 AL og pent design til < 50k nå!

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    "En annen ting. Jeff Francis er såvidt jeg vet en CRT "guru".. Han sa jo at bildekvalitet og sortnivå på Qualia var på høyde med de beste crt'ene. Det høres også litt merkelig ut da.. "


    Joda, men jeg er skeptisk til slike anmeldelser fra selgere. Jeg tror ikke vi hadde lagt så mye i en anmeldelse fra laget av f.eks. HifiKlubben for noen av deres produkter?

    (Og jeg kjenner mange som har vært crt-guruer, som egentelig ikke har vært så veldig opptatt av bilde, men opptatt av det som er det siste og 'hotte', og som sagt det er lenge siden crt var 'hot' og 'in'.)

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    Fra testen in WSR,

    "The Qualia DDE Film mode deinterlacing for 1080i is superb. There was no picture softening with movement and no line twitter when the camera moved vertically over horizontal edges. X-Men looked exceptional on the Qualia with outstanding resolution and brilliant, accurate color. U-571 also exhibited an extremely detailed picture, but the darkest submarine interior scenes appeared hazy when compared to the HD2+ DLP projector."

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    but the darkest submarine interior scenes appeared hazy when compared to the HD2+ DLP projector."
    Da er det ihvertfall bekreftet at HD2+ projektorer har bedre sortnivå. Jeg tror uansett dette er en teknologi vi kan få mye glede av fremover, bare prisene dropper. Qualia er veldig lyssterk, så kanskje man kunne bedret sortnivå ved å anvende et grått lerret?

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    Her er hele testen fra WSR:

    Sony Qualia 004
    SXRD™ High-Definition Video Projector

    By Greg Rogers
    1920 x 1080 Pixel SXRD™ Technology

    The Qualia 004 is the first projector with Sony’s new 1920 x 1080 pixel SXRD™ technology. It displays 1080i HDTV sources in its native resolution without scaling. It produces brilliant, accurate color, and includes 1080i film-mode deinterlacing to render artifact-free high-definition movies. The Qualia 004 ($26,999.99) is offered with a choice of three precision zoom lens options ($2,999.99 each) to accommodate a wide range of home theatre designs.

    Description

    The Qualia is without question the most beautiful projector I’ve seen. It weighs 88 pounds, which is massive for a fixed-pixel home theatre projector, but its styling is so sleek you almost expect it to hover and propel itself to the ceiling. In reality, it must be lifted and carried, and the silver frame that completely surrounds the two-section chassis provides convenient “handles.” The lens is protected by a motorized-cover that slides open automatically when the projector is turned on. A large aluminum heat sink with radial fins to cool the projection lamp is encased within a clear plastic housing between the two sections of the chassis. Air enters the front section, passes through two fans and the heat sink fins, and exits from ventilation slots in the curved rear frame.

    An Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display panel on the top cover produces a swirling graphical design as the projector powers up or cools down and provides status information, control settings, and alerts during operation. There is also an illuminated pop-out control panel for use during installation. All of the inputs and outputs are on the bottom of the chassis, which makes it difficult to connect cables when it’s sitting on a table; but this projector is almost certain to be ceiling mounted.

    New Technology

    The Qualia 004 is the first projector with Sony’s new Silicon X-tal (Crystal) Reflective Display (SXRD) technology. It has three 1.78:1 SXRD panels, each with the same 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution as the 1080i and 1080p high-definition video formats. SXRD is a vertically aligned Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) reflective panel technology that provides several advantages over Sony’s transmissive LCD panels. It provides higher resolution (1920 x 1080 versus 1366 x 768), a better fill factor (92 percent versus 50 percent) to minimize the screen door effect, a faster response time (5 mS total rise plus fall time) to reduce blurring, and better contrast.

    A 700-watt Xenon projection lamp provides light that is split by prisms into separate red, green, and blue beams and each reflects off one of the 0.78-inch diagonal SXRD panels. The reflectivity of each pixel is individually controlled to create red, green and blue images. The reflected light is directed by mirrors through a single lens to create a full colored image on the screen. The three-panel design eliminates the need for a color wheel and the potential rainbow color separation artifacts of single-chip DLP projectors.

    Sony specifies the projector’s maximum on-off contrast ratio as 2000:1, although the panel contrast ratio is said to be better than 3000:1. An optical iris with an electrically controlled three-position aperture provides the ability to maximize contrast or picture brightness. Lens quality is also an important factor in the contrast ratio. There are three Carl Zeiss® lenses available in short, medium, and long throw ratios. Each is an all glass lens with multi-AR (anti-reflective) coatings. Sony publishes Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) graphs for each lens at its minimum and maximum zoom position. Each lens provides power focus and power zoom, and easily attaches to the projector via an interchangeable bayonet mounting system without electrical cables.

    The gamma conversion and panel drivers are 12-bit, and the preceding electronic processing is 10 bit. The Xenon projection lamp provides a more uniform spectral content than the UHP (ultra high pressure) mercury lamps used in most projectors.

    Cooling and fan noise are important factors in the design of a projector that dissipates up to 980 watts. Two large fans are mounted in internal air ducts that route air from intake vents on the projector’s main body through an extruded heat sink with large cooling fins, before it is exhausted through vents in the rear frame. The fan noise wasn’t bothersome when I sat a foot from the side of the table-mounted projector.







    Setup

    A 1.78:1 screen should be used to match the projector’s native aspect ratio. Three interchangeable Carl Zeiss projection lenses are available with differing throw ratios. Each lens includes motorized focus, zoom, and vertical lens shift that can be adjusted from the remote control. Horizontal lens shift can also be manually adjusted. The short throw lens provides a lens-to-screen distance of between 10 feet 5 inches and 13 feet 6 inches for a 100-inch diagonal (87 x 49) screen. The zoom range of the medium throw lens is 13 feet 6 inches to 18 feet 9 inches, and the zoom range of the long throw lens is 18 feet 8 inches to 25 feet 5 inches. The first two lenses can be positioned between the top and bottom edge of the screen without using electronic keystone correction, and the long throw lens can be positioned above or below the screen by up to a quarter of the screen height.
    If necessary, the projector can be tilted if it must be located further above or below the screen, but this will cause the image to keystone. Digital Vertical Keystone Correction is provided, but it produces moiré patterns on closely spaced vertical lines, so it should be avoided if possible.

    Connections

    Video and control connectors are located on the bottom panel of the projector (which faces up when ceiling mounted). The analog inputs face one side of the projector, while the digital connections face the other side. There is one composite and one S-video input for standard-definition interlaced signals, and two component video inputs (A and B) that accept a wide variety of signal formats.

    Input A (RCA connectors) accepts standard- and high-definition YPbPr video. Input B (5 BNC jacks) accepts YPbPr or RGB standard- and high-definition video and PC signals with horizontal frequencies of 19 to 72 kHz and vertical frequencies of 48 to 92 Hz. There are 43 preconfigured formats plus 20 user memories for additional formats. The only 1080p format that is accepted is 1080/24PsF. The 1080p 60 Hz format is not accepted.

    Input B has three modes: Computer, Component (YPbPr), and GBR Video. (GBR is an alternative designation for RGB.) The Component mode works with 480i/p, 720p, and 1080i YPbPr signals. The GBR Video mode works with 480i/p, 720p, and 1080i RGB signals with tri-level or bi-level embedded sync. When RGB signals with separate HV sync are used, 480p, 720p, and 1080i signals only work properly with negative HV sync, and 480i signals do not work at all. Some RGB video sources, such as the RCA DTC-100 DirecTV Receiver, provide positive HV sync and they will not work directly with the Qualia. The Computer mode works with a wide variety of PC signal formats and with positive or negative sync polarities.

    There is one HDMI and one DVI-D connector that accepts digital video and digital PC formats. HDCP decryption is provided for digital video sources with copy protection.

    There are an unusual number of computer ports including RS-232C and USB 1.1 jacks, and an Ethernet network connector. There is also a Control-S jack that can be used with other Sony equipment, or optionally directly wired to the infrared (IR) remote control. Finally, there is a 12V Trigger output to control a screen, which is active whenever the projector is on.

    DVI Compatibility

    The Qualia follows the DVI standards, but there are many home theatre source components that deviate from the standards in predictable ways. I ran into two problems while using the Qualia with the 1080i DVI output of the discontinued Samsung SIR-T165 HDTV Receiver. The SIR-T165 is still a key component because it’s the vital link to establish an all-digital video path to view D-VHD® D-Theater™ movies on the Qualia. The JVC D-VHS D-Theater VCRs and the Marantz D-Theater VCR connect to the SIR-T165 over a FireWire® (IEEE 1394) digital video interface, and then the 1080i DVI output of the SIR-T165 connects to the Qualia.

    The first problem was an image shift of 2.3 percent to the right, leaving about a 2-inch vertical band of disassociated video (wrapped around from the end of the previous video line) on the left side of an 85-inch screen. The cause of the problem was the timing of the embedded H-sync within the DVI digital video. According to the DVI standard the H-sync should be time aligned with the center of the analog tri-level sync (rising edge), but instead it was time aligned with the leading (falling) edge of the tri-level sync. Most projectors avoid this incompatibility by using a different DVI signal to correctly position the active video regardless of the embedded H-sync position. After I diagnosed the cause of the problem, I contacted Samsung technical support. Fortunately, they had released a firmware upgrade to the SIR-T165 in June 2003 that places the H-sync at the standard position, and even allows it to be moved in pixel increments for compatibility with other displays. I installed the firmware upgrade and it worked properly with the Qualia at the new H-sync default position.

    The DVI standard also specifies that the embedded sync should be positive for 1080i and 720p, but the SIR-T165 DVI sync is negative. Most projectors function equally well with either sync polarity, but the Qualia intermittently (perhaps 15 percent of the time) had difficulty locking onto the negative sync. In that state, it randomly and frequently shifted the video lines horizontally by one pixel, creating a noisy image with ragged vertical and diagonal edges. (The problem was independent of DVI cable type or length.) Fortunately, each time the projector input was changed to DVI the Qualia either locked onto the negative sync or didn’t. So when the problem occurred I was able to repeatedly switch inputs until it went away. Then it would remain in that state until the input was changed again.

    I was able to reproduce both of the DVI compatibility problems using an AccuPel HDG-3000 HD/SD/DVI Calibration Generator, which has selectable DVI embedded sync polarity and positioning. The Qualia always worked properly when the generator was set to produce standard sync polarity and positioning. I hope Sony will provide a more forgiving DVI implementation in the future, but for now you should be aware of these requirements when selecting DVI sources for the Qualia.

    The Qualia doesn’t provide separate menu selections for DVI-Video and DVI-PC levels. Although DVI-Video levels should be standard for home theatre sources, you may easily end up with DVD players and set-top boxes that provide different DVI levels. In that case you will need to calibrate separate User settings to match both DVI levels. The Brightness control must be lower and the Contrast control higher for DVI-video signals that have black at digital code 16 and 100 IRE at code 235, rather than 0 and 255 respectively for DVI-PC signals. The Qualia default Brightness setting (50) was incorrect for both DVI-Video and DVI-PC levels, so you may also need a third User setting for analog signal sources.

    Controls

    The remote control may win a design award for its style and elegant appearance, but it won’t win any awards for functionality. It is a thin, slender design almost 11 inches in length. The surface of each button includes nomenclature that is automatically illuminated by a motion sensor whenever the remote is lifted. The Sony name is etched in the clear plastic at the top of the remote and it too is illuminated. Unfortunately, the remote didn’t provide a sufficiently strong IR signal to consistently bounce off the screen. It can be hard-wired to the projector during installation and setup, but that isn’t desirable in normal use. Otherwise, the only reliable way to use the remote control is to stand in front or behind the projector and aim it at one of the IR sensors. That is obviously not acceptable in normal home theatre use.

    A set of four new AAA batteries lasted about a week during my busiest evaluation period before they would no longer illuminate the buttons, and without illumination the buttons can’t be read at all. However, I expect the batteries will last considerably longer in normal use.

    Menu Functions

    The on-screen menu consists of a window with a column of six menu icons along the left edge. When an icon is highlighted a list of menu functions appears in the window. Some functions provide a value to set, while others open a submenu.

    The first menu includes Picture Mode and Adjust Picture settings. The Adjust Picture settings include Contrast, Brightness, Color, Hue, Sharpness, Black Level Adjust, Gamma Correction (four settings), Color Temp (three settings), I/P (Deinterlacing) Mode, and Cinema Black Pro (Iris and Lamp Power settings). I always used the minimum position of the Sharpness control, which is a neutral setting that did not add edge outlining or ringing. The Black Level Adjust includes Low, High, and Off settings, but none of the settings corresponded to the standard 7.5 IRE black level setup. The Adjust Picture menu includes Horizontal Size and Horizontal/Vertical Position for most of the analog video signal formats, plus Dot Phase for PC signals.

    There are six selectable Picture Modes that each store a complete set of the Adjust Picture settings. The Dynamic, Standard, and Cinema modes are preset to factory defaults, but they can be overridden by the user, and later reset to the factory defaults if desired.

    The second menu includes Wide Mode and Auto Wide Setting. The Wide Modes include a choice of five aspect ratio modes: Full, Normal, Wide Zoom, Zoom, and Subtitle. Three pages in the manual are devoted to explaining how the Auto Wide Setting mode functions. I preferred to manually set the aspect ratio, so I selected the Auto Wide Off mode.

    The third menu is Set Settings and it includes Input B Signal Selection (Computer, Component [YPbPr], or Video GBR), DVI Signal Selection (Computer or Video GBR), Color System (Auto, NTSC, PAL, SECAM, NTSC4.43, PAL-M, PAL-N), Source Direct (On/Off), Color Space (Wide/Normal), Power Saving, Illumination, and Information Panel. If Source Direct is on, 1080i and 1080p 24sf signals bypass some controls including Gamma Correction. When Power Saving is set to “On,” the projector goes into a power saving mode after 10 minutes without a signal. The Illumination setting turns the Sony Logo on the top of the projector on or off. The Information panel setting turns the information panel display on top of the projector on or off.

    The fourth menu is Menu Setting and it includes Status (OSD status messages on/off), Language (13 choices), Menu Position (top left, bottom left, center, top right, or bottom right), and Menu Color (black/white).

    The fifth menu is the Install Setting menu. It includes V Keystone, Image Flip (Off, HV, H, V), Background (black/blue), Test Pattern (on/off), Lens Control (on/off), Direct Power On (on/off), and High Altitude Mode (on/off). Lens Control enables or disables the lens focus, zoom, and vertical shift adjustments. The Test Pattern mode enables or disables an internal test pattern while making Lens Control adjustments. The Direct Power On mode enables the projector to be turned on and off by just connecting or disconnecting the AC power line.

    The final menu is actually an Information list that includes the video signal parameters (format, horizontal and vertical frequencies), lamp and projector hours, and Ethernet settings.

    Gamma

    There are four selectable gamma modes: Gamma Off, Gamma 1, Gamma 2, and Gamma 3. These produced gamma values of 1.97, 1.86, 2.10, and 2.26 respectively. Each mode produced a constant gamma value over the range from 10 to 100 IRE.

    The video signal gamma standard is 0.45, therefore a display gamma of 2.2 is required to produce a system gamma of 1.0. But a system gamma of 1.1 to 1.2 is generally advantageous when viewing a picture with a dark surround. That requires a display gamma of 2.45 to 2.67. I normally prefer a display gamma of about 2.5. However, when the black level is slightly elevated, it can be better to lower the gamma a little to reduce the loss of shadow detail. Gamma 3 (2.26) was appropriate for this projector.

    A Windows PC software program (Image Director 2) is provided on CD-ROM that allows a user to create new gamma curves and store them in the projector’s Gamma 1, 2, and 3 memories using the USB 1.1 or RS-232C interface.

    Aspect Ratio Modes

    The Qualia has a total of five aspect ratio modes, but they aren’t selectable for high-definition or computer signals. The Full (1.78:1) mode is for displaying HDTV (720p/1080i) and 1.78:1 (anamorphic) DVDs. The Normal mode places a 4:3 (1.33:1) image in the center of the 16:9 (1.78:1) screen with black sidebars. The Wide Zoom mode expands full frame 1.33:1 pictures to fill the width of the screen while compressing the top and bottom of the picture to keep the center of the picture area in proportion. The Zoom mode is used to display 1.33:1 letterboxed pictures. Images are expanded by the same ratio in the vertical and horizontal directions to fill the width of the screen. The Subtitle mode compresses the subtitle area vertically.

    The vertical position of the image can be adjusted in the Zoom and Subtitle modes. The height of the subtitle area can be adjusted in the Subtitle mode.

    Contrast And Brightness

    The Qualia includes a three-position remote controlled iris. As the iris aperture is reduced the contrast ratio is improved at the expense of overall brightness. The three iris modes are Iris Off, Iris 1, and Iris 2. The Iris Off mode produces the most brightness and the Iris 2 mode produces the best contrast ratio.

    The Qualia also has a Low Lamp power mode to reduce the light output of the projection lamp. In the Low Lamp mode, the peak brightness and the black level are reduced by the same percentage, so there is no significant affect on contrast ratio. However, as long as the peak brightness remains adequate, the lower black level provides a more satisfactory picture in dark scenes.

    The Lamp and Iris modes make it possible to switch from higher brightness for viewing in a moderately lit room, to lower brightness with a much better black level for critical viewing in a dark home theatre environment. The fan noise is also noticeably less in the Low Lamp mode and the lamp life should be longer. In the High Lamp mode, the fan noise measured only 52 dB, C-weighted at 12 inches from the rear (exhaust side) of the projector. The noise level dropped below the 50 dB sensitivity of my sound level meter in the Low Lamp mode.

    The projector provides warning messages when the remaining lamp life is less than 50 hours, less than 15 hours, and at end of life. Then the projector shuts down until the lamp is replaced by an authorized Sony service technician. The lamp replacement cost is $3,000. According to Sony Product Marketing Manager Sean McBride, the expected lamp life is up to 2200 hours, and one free replacement lamp will be provided if it fails within the first three years. The projector is also covered by a three-year warranty.

    Gray Scale

    An AccuPel HDG-3000 Calibration generator (www.accupel.com) was used to generate test patterns for measuring contrast ratio, gray scale, and color accuracy. The optimum black level (Brightness control) was set with a PLUGE pattern. Gray scale was calibrated with the Contrast control set to the projector’s default value (80).

    The Qualia has three preset (High, Medium, and Low) and three User color temperatures. The 70 IRE color temperature measured 7083K, 5603K, and 5238K for the High, Medium, and Low modes respectively. In the High mode, the gray scale measured 7000K +837/-132K from 20-100 IRE, and 8215K at 10 IRE. The dE (delta-E) gray scale deviation from the D65 (x = 0.3127, y = 0.329) white reference target varied from 5 to 21 over the 10-100 IRE brightness range.

    I calibrated the color temperature to produce a gray scale that measured 6500K +136/-123K from 20-100 IRE, and 6223K at 10 IRE. The dE deviation was 0-3 from 20-100 IRE and 5 at 10 IRE.

    Black Level And Contrast Ratio

    The best contrast ratio is produced in the Iris 2 mode. With the gray scale calibrated to D65 as described above, the projector produced about 234 lumens at 100 IRE in the Low Lamp/Iris 2 mode, which is equivalent to 10.7 foot-Lamberts (fL) from my 85.3- x 48-inch, 1.3 gain screen. The on-off contrast ratio measured 1456, which produced a black level of 0.0073 fL.

    I was satisfied with 10.7 fL (measured after the lamp had about 200 hours of use), but that is slightly below the 12.0 fL SMPTE recommendation for digital cinema. To obtain a slightly brighter picture without increasing the black level, the Contrast control could be increased above the calibrated default value (80). The gray scale color temperature will roll off as the Contrast control is increased, but the 100 IRE white peaks were not fully clipped even at the maximum (100) Contrast setting. When I increased the Contrast setting to produce 12.1 fL, the color temperature at 100 IRE dropped from 6377K (dE = 2) to 6265K (dE = 4), which would still be acceptable to me. Using that Contrast setting the on-off contrast ratio is 1650:1. At the maximum contrast setting the 100 IRE color temperature rolled off to 6147K (dE = 6), and the projector produced about 16.1 fL for a contrast ratio of 2190:1. That exceeds Sony’s 2000:1 specification but with more gray scale deviation than I would use.

    The High Lamp mode increases luminance by about 50 percent, producing 16.4 fL from my screen in the Iris 2 mode (Contrast= 80). You can use the High Lamp mode to drive a larger screen, or reserve it for when the lamp loses brightness as it ages. A lamp may lose 40 to 50 percent of its brightness over its life.

    The projector produced 18.7 fL in the Iris1/Low Lamp mode (28.2 fL in the Iris1/High Lamp mode) with an on-off contrast ratio of 1037. It produced 28.5 fL in the Iris Off/Low Lamp mode (42.47 fL in the Iris Off/High Power mode) with an on-off contrast ratio of 919. For non-critical viewing of sports in moderate room lighting, you can increase the Contrast control to maximum and use the Iris Off/High Lamp mode. That produced 1350 lumens, which is equivalent to 61.7 fL from my screen.

    The on/off contrast ratio is crucial for LCD and DLP projectors because it specifies the absolute blackest level in dark scenes when a projection system is set up to produce the desired peak-white brightness in bright scenes. A small increase in the absolute black level severely reduces shadow detail discrimination in predominantly dark images. But now that the absolute black level is tolerable in many fixed-pixel projectors, it is also important to consider intra-field image contrast. Intra-field contrast is a measure of the ability to see contrast differences when there are bright objects in a scene. The displayable contrast ratio is then much lower because light from the bright objects will be scattered over the image obscuring darker objects. The light scattering occurs within the lens and the optical system of the projector, but it may also occur within your theatre as light reflects around the room and back onto the screen.

    I use a modified “ANSI” contrast ratio as a figure-of-merit to characterize intra-field contrast performance. My modified “ANSI” method is designed to minimize the influence of room reflections and other variables that would affect measurement accuracy. The modified “ANSI” contrast ratio of the Qualia measured 247:1, which is significantly less than the HD2+ DLP projectors previously measured (which ranged from 604 to 728).

    White Field Uniformity

    Brightness uniformity on a white-field test pattern in the highest contrast mode (Iris 2) varied by 8 percent or less at the sides, top, or bottom of the screen, 12 percent in the medium contrast mode (Iris 1), and 15 percent in the lowest contrast mode (Iris Off). The color temperature uniformity varied by 375K in Iris 2, 400K in Iris 1, and 514K in Iris Off mode. The color temperature was redder on the left side of the screen than in the center, by about 320K to 450K depending on the contrast mode.
    Panel convergence and the lack of chromatic aberration in the lens were exceptional. There was less color fringing at the sides and corners of the screen than I had seen on any fixed-pixel projector.

    Color Accuracy

    The Qualia provides a choice of two color spaces: Wide and Normal. The Wide color space is the result of the projector’s native primary colors, which are significantly more saturated than the standard high-definition primaries. The Normal color space is a result of creating pseudo primaries (by mixing the native primaries) to more closely match the Rec. 709 (HDTV) primaries.

    The Wide color space measurements are shown in CIE x,y and CIE u’v’ diagrams relative to the Rec. 709 colorimetry. The CIE u’,v’ diagram, which provides a more perceptually uniform presentation of color space, shows that the Line of Purples from red to blue appear significantly more saturated than they should. This produces strikingly vivid and deep colors, which can look quite exciting, but not necessarily realistic. Flesh tones often look unnaturally red.

    The Normal (default) color space, shown in a CIE u’v’ diagram, provides much more accurate color rendering. Notice that the primary and complementary colors are very close to the standard colors, which produce accurate saturation and hues throughout the entire color gamut. Flesh tones look extremely natural. A CIE u’v’ diagram for analog YPbPr signals isn’t shown because it is virtually a clone of the DVI RGB diagram. That indicates that there are negligible gain errors in the analog-to-digital video conversion path, and that the high-definition YPbPr to RGB color decoding matrix is virtually perfect.

    The Normal color space CIE u’v’ diagram for the 480i YPbPr signals shows that the Line of Purples is slightly outside the standard color gamut because the Rec. 601 red and blue primaries are less saturated than the high-definition primaries. This gives DVDs slightly more vivid reds and purples than intended, but flesh tones generally looked very natural, and I seldom needed to reduce the Color saturation control, unless the DVD transfer itself was over-saturated.

    1080i Pixel Perfection

    This was the first time I was able to send a 1080i test pattern to a fixed-pixel front projector and obtain a “pixel perfect” image. Well, nearly “pixel perfect.” To be precise, each 1080i pixel from an AccuPel HDG-3000 Calibration Generator was mapped to exactly one pixel on screen, except for two lines of video that were blank at the bottom of the frame. That slight anomaly was consistent for analog YPbPr or RGB signals, and digital DVI signals. It is possible to use the vertical position control to center the frame for the analog signals so that one line is blanked at the top and one at the bottom.

    It was astonishing to finally see each single-pixel black and white line in the AccuPel 1080i Multiburst pattern—a full 1920 pixels per picture width resolution—displayed with full amplitude and contrast using the digital DVI signals. The Qualia’s internal deinterlacing converted these motionless 1080i multiburst signals to 1080p without any loss of horizontal resolution. Furthermore, the same lines were displayed with nearly full amplitude using the analog signals. (A slight loss of amplitude can always be expected in the analog signal path because of some frequency response roll-off in the analog circuits or the sampling stage in the analog-to-digital converter.)

    It should be noted that it is more difficult to produce a “pixel perfect” image from an interlaced signal than from a progressive signal. Unlike a progressive format, such as 720p, the interlaced fields must be “perfectly” deinterlaced to create a progressive signal to drive the display panels. That is only possible for motionless images, or images that are generated from progressive frames, such as film. In both cases the appropriate interlaced fields must be merged to produce a progressive frame. The Qualia’s internal 1080i deinterlacing correctly determines that the test patterns are motionless and merges the interlaced fields with no loss of vertical or horizontal resolution. This is evident because there is no edge smearing or outlining around the vertical or horizontal lines in the AccuPel Sharpness pattern. Each line is displayed with exactly the correct pixel thickness or width.

    Deinterlacing

    The Qualia includes several deinterlacing modes for interlaced sources. Most importantly the DDE Film mode provides inverse-telecine deinterlacing for 1080i and 480i video from film sources, and automatically switches to motion-adaptive deinterlacing for original interlaced video sources.

    There are also two other deinterlacing modes, DRC Progressive and DRC High Density, which are available only for standard-definition interlaced sources. DRC™ is a Sony acronym for Digital Reality Creation™. Both of these modes are intended for deinterlacing original interlaced video, and apparently differ in the granularity of the pixel processing. Both modes include a DRC Palette, which is a 2-D graph that permits the user to independently adjust the “Reality” and “Clarity” of the image. “Reality” adjusts the level of horizontal and vertical edge enhancement that is added to the image, while the “Clarity” adjustment appears to add digital noise reduction and also softens the edge enhancement added by the “Reality” control. Both DRC modes add significant bright edge outlining artifacts to both horizontal and vertical edges, and the DRC High Density modes adds additional dark outlining artifacts. Increasing the “Reality” control increases the outlining artifacts. I avoided both of these modes and always used the DDE Film mode.

    The DDE Film mode’s inverse-telecine deinterlacing locks onto the 2-3 field-pulldown cadence that results from transferring 24 frame-per-second film to 60 field-per-second interlaced video. It then merges the appropriate video fields that originated from the same film frames. This is the ideal method to produce progressive video from film sources. It eliminates interlaced line twitter and avoids vertical interpolation in the deinterlacing process, which would soften the video image. The DDE Film mode worked without introducing any noticeable deinterlacing artifacts on the DVD and D-Theater movies that I viewed.

    As I’ve said many times in these pages there is no ideal algorithm for deinterlacing original interlaced video sources. The best consumer algorithms are based on motion-adaptive processing, but there is always a tradeoff of line twitter and jaggies (static or moving stair-steps on edges) versus a loss of image resolution. I evaluated the Qualia DDE Film mode, which automatically switches to motion-adaptive deinterlacing for original interlaced sources, using the difficult segments of the Video Essentials’ “Montage Of Images.” It did particularly well avoiding line twitter with most vertical movement and also eliminating the jaggies on the bobbing frozen branch. It produced some jaggies on the rippling American flag, and there was flickering and line wobble in the buildings and trees during the zoom-out of the city.

    The motion-adaptive deinterlacing worked extremely well on broadcast video and sports. Basketball provides one of the most formidable deinterlacing challenges as the camera pans across diagonal lines and logos on the court. In this case, there were minimal jaggies and almost no line wobble. While the camera was moving the image was no softer than the best motion-adaptive algorithms and when it stopped moving the image was extremely clear.

    Scaling And Overscan

    All signals other than 1080i (or 1080p24sf) must be scaled to the native 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution of the projector. The horizontal size and the horizontal and vertical positioning can be adjusted for 720p and 480p signals from Inputs A and B. The vertical overscan at the top and bottom of the screen can be centered, but it can’t be reduced. So I adjusted the controls for equal overscan on each edge, which provides optimum geometry, i.e. squares are square and not just rectangular. There are no size or position controls for the DVI input, so the overscan cannot be adjusted for digital video signals.

    The overscan for 720p analog YPbPr or RGB (and 720p DVI) signals was a substantial 4 percent on each edge. The 720p analog signal scaling was good, with about 2 native pixels of moderately bright edge outlining around horizontal and vertical lines with the Sharpness control turned off. The Multi-burst pattern also looked good with modest aliasing in the top burst.

    I discovered that the DVI Computer mode and the Input B Computer mode also accepted 720p signals but scaled the signals quite differently. The 720p signals were scaled to fill the screen with zero overscan. The scaling quality was now excellent with less visible edge outlining and no aliasing in the top burst of the Multi-burst pattern. The only significant tradeoff when using the Computer mode is the lack of a Color control (the Tint or Sharpness controls are also missing, but you won’t miss them).

    The scaling for standard-definition analog signals is about the same as for DVI signals. Edge outlining increased to about 4 to 5 native pixels, around 480p horizontal and vertical lines and 480i vertical lines. The outlining was about 3 to 4 pixels above and below 480i horizontal lines, and not as bright as 480p. Although slightly disappointing, I much preferred the 480i scaling for standard definition sources. I used analog 480i interlaced signals for viewing movies from DVD players.

    The DVI overscan was 3 percent top and bottom, and 5 percent at the sides for 480i and 480p signals. The overscan for analog 480i sources is not adjustable and it varied between 3 to 4 percent at the top and bottom of the screen and 4.5 to 5 percent at the sides, which seems rather excessive. As before, there was limited control over the analog 480p overscan, and I initially adjusted it for 3.5 percent at each edge.

    The DVI 480i and 480p multiburst patterns looked excellent. The analog 480i Multi-burst pattern was also free of noise and visible aliasing (in the DDE Film deinterlacing mode), but the analog 480p pattern revealed phase noise using YPbPr signals from a DVD player or the AccuPel generator. The noise occurred at both the default setting and my adjusted setting of the horizontal size control. Adjusting the horizontal size for slightly less horizontal overscan eliminated the noise. The slight geometry error would have been a good tradeoff to eliminate the noise had I wanted to use analog 480p YPbPr signals.

    The S-video chroma bandwidth is just fair. AVIA PRO’s polyphasic chroma sweeps show that the response falls off rapidly above 1.0 MHz and is negligible at 1.5 MHz. Avoid the S-video input, and use YPbPr signals from a DVD player or a set-top box for standard-definition video.

    DVD Movies

    I spent several weeks viewing standard-definition and high-definition sources on the Qualia, but I also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make direct A/B comparisons with a state-of-the-art, single-chip HD2+ DLP projector. I set up a Sharp XV-Z12000 HD2+ DLP projector so that I could rapidly switch back and forth between viewing the Qualia and the DLP projector on the same screen with either YPbPr or DVI signals.

    It turned out that A/B comparisons, which were done late in the evaluation period, were almost unnecessary. It was clear from the beginning of my Qualia viewing that its higher pixel resolution produced a DVD image that was both slightly sharper and noticeably smoother than I had seen on other fixed-pixel projectors. It may seem contradictory that an image can be both sharper and smoother at the same time, but a higher pixel density allows horizontal and vertical edge transitions to occur over a smaller spatial increment when scaling to the projector’s native resolution, which improves the perception of image sharpness. At the same time, smaller pixels produce smaller jaggies (stair-steps) on diagonal edges, which makes the image appear smoother.

    The sharpness and clarity of the Columbia Tri-Star Superbit™ version of The Fifth Element has never looked better on any projector. The thin lines on the graph paper in the first scene are exceptionally fine, as is every strand of hair on the character’s heads. Yet at the same time the highly detailed images have a smoother look that is closer to their appearance on a CRT projector than a 720p DLP projector. The color is also superb—vivid and accurate, with natural skin tones.

    The troublesome haystacks and foliage in the opening shots of Star Trek: Insurrection were also better delineated than I had previously seen. In addition, the Qualia images appear less pixelized because there is no screen door effect on the 1920 x 1080 pixel display. Nor is there any dithering, which is still visible on some DLP projectors.

    Modern blockbuster films are not the only movies that benefit from the Qualia’s native resolution. The stellar DVD transfer of the 1951 sci-fi classic The Day The Earth Stood Still is amazingly detailed on the Qualia. The meeting between Michael Rennie and Sam Jaffe is a highlight in the story, and the jackets that both men are wearing provide a good example of the exceptional image resolution. The correct gamma is particularly important to black and white films, and the Gamma3 setting is well matched to the film and the Qualia’s black level.

    The detail in The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring is also excellent, but the glorious color is even more impressive. Landscapes are deeply saturated yet flesh tones remain perfect. The subtle variations of green in the cornfield are especially luscious. The exuberantly saturated colors of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me are as brilliant as usual, but subtle differences between colors are still easily discernable, and flesh tones are not overly saturated as they are on many projectors.

    The exceptionally fine pixel structure doesn’t exacerbate the appearance of MPEG artifacts or film grain. The detail is excellent throughout Austin Powers, and the MPEG artifacts on Austin’s blue coat during the London street scene are less noticeable than on 720p projectors. Nor is the considerable film grain in Minority Report or Back To The Future over-emphasized by the Qualia.

    I did notice a fixed pattern of faint vertical bands that occurred at regular intervals about an inch or so apart across my screen. The pattern was so subtle that it could only reliably be seen with gray scale test patterns in the 25 to 50 IRE range. However, I noticed it on several movies when the camera panned a semi-uniform surface or background. The fixed bands would subtly modulate the intensity of features on the moving background. The effect was noticeable in several scenes of Mulholland Dr. including the swirling clouds of dust and smoke after the car crash.

    The color temperature varies just enough over the entirety of the screen to be noticeable in the snowy landscapes of Fargo and A Simple Plan. Slight color variations can also be observed in widescreen black and white films such as Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, which I projected in its original 1.85 U.S. theatrical release aspect ratio.

    Exceptional resolution and color accuracy are the Qualia’s strongest qualities. But despite the impressive detail, DVD images often appeared less three-dimensional to me. When Leeloo begins to leap from the ledge in The Fifth Element, I don’t perceive the image depth that is normally so impressive on an HD2+ DLP projector. The perception of depth is the result of a complex interaction of resolution and intra-field contrast. The Qualia contrast and black level are on par with HD2 DLP technology—with about half the contrast ratio and twice the black level brightness of HD2+ DLP projectors. For DVD image depth, the difference in contrast ratio apparently dominates the more subtle difference in resolution.

    The Gamma3 setting was well matched to the Qualia’s black level and provided a good balance between shadow detail visibility and adequate darkness to portray convincing night scenes in Back To The Future and American Graffiti. There were also no contouring artifacts (discrete brightness steps in patterns like a topological map) in any of the dark scenes. But the higher absolute black level and lower intra-field contrast cast a haze over some images that were unveiled by the HD2+ DLP projector. A good example is the scene in Back To The Future when the farmer stands in the doorway holding a bright lantern over his family as the DeLorean’s turn signal flashes on and off.

    Manhattan is my favorite Woody Allen film, and its opening montage provides a good study of the Qualia’s resolution and contrast performance. The exceptional detail of the beautiful black and white cinematography demonstrates the superior image clarity of the Qualia, but it also reveals reduced depth compared to the HD2+ DLP projectors. Then as Woody and Michael Murphy walk along the street after leaving Elaine's, the better contrast and lower black level of the HD2+ technology produces a darker, less hazy image.

    HDTV

    HDTV has become a large portion of my elective viewing. I watch over-the-air network broadcasts, satellite channels, and D-Theater movies. Inevitably, high-definition DVDs will also replace the current DVD format. Most of those sources are, or will be in the 1080i or 1080p format, which matches the Qualia’s native resolution.

    It seems that every April I review a significant new projector when CBS presents its high-definition broadcast of The Masters from the magnificent Augusta National Golf Club. This year, I thank Sony for providing the first opportunity to see the beauty of this historical venue in the full 1080i resolution. Picture clarity was outstanding, not only because of the Qualia’s higher pixel count, but also because its excellent 1080i video-source deinterlacing produced minimal line twitter and jaggies. That was particularly evident when a high-definition camera would inadvertently pan across the lettering on the on-site leaderboard. I could read the scores as clearly as if I was standing beside the 18th green.

    NBC’s Las Vegas provides some the best video quality of any prime-time HDTV series. The aerial shots of The Strip are stunning with spectacular resolution and brilliant color on the Qualia. The exterior shots by the swimming pool are breathtaking, and the casino interior is bathed in vivid color and extraordinary detail. The Qualia displayed a significant improvement in image sharpness and picture definition when compared to a 720p projector. While the HD2+ DLP projector produced slightly better image depth, the perceived difference was much less than it had been when viewing DVDs. This again demonstrates that the perception of image depth is a complex function of resolution and contrast. In the case of HDTV image depth, the superior resolution of the Qualia nearly overcomes its disadvantage in contrast. More importantly, its better resolution outweighed image depth in my assessment of overall picture quality for most HDTV programming.

    The Qualia’s superior resolution is equally evident when watching The Tonight Show With Jay Leno on NBC. Every item on the set from the microphone screens to the lettering on the coffee mugs is clearer than it is on a 720p projector. The patterns in the guest’s attire and the intricate designs of their jewelry are better defined. Even the top strings on the guitars of the musical acts are more visible. There is very little line twitter, and jaggies are smaller on the Qualia than on a 720p projector, which makes the picture sharper. It’s mildly disconcerting that the motionless images on the Qualia are so sharp that it is more apparent that the picture softens from interpolation during movement. This suggests that even better 1080i motion-adaptive deinterlacing algorithms will be required to conceal the motion transitions on 1080p native projectors.

    There was much less of a difference in image resolution between the Qualia and the 720p projector when viewing D-Theater movies, although it was slightly more noticeable when using DVI digital signals than analog YPbPr signals. Both the Qualia and the Sharp DLP projector have 1080i inverse-telecine deinterlacing for film sources. The difference in resolution would have been much more pronounced when using any other 720p projector without 1080i film-mode deinterlacing. The Qualia DDE Film mode deinterlacing is superb. There was no picture softening with movement and no line twitter when the camera moved vertically over horizontal edges. X-Men looked exceptional on the Qualia with outstanding resolution and brilliant, accurate color. U-571 also exhibited an extremely detailed picture, but the darkest submarine interior scenes appeared hazy when compared to the HD2+ DLP projector.

    Network HDTV tends to be slightly over-saturated, while most high-definition movies are not. It is quite valuable that the Qualia provides a Color control for DVI (GBR Video mode) and analog RGB sources, which most other projectors don’t.

    SXRD Or DLP?

    While doing this review I’ve frequently been asked whether I prefer the Qualia or the Sharp HD2+ DLP projector. There are numerous issues to consider. DLP technology gets the nod for better white field uniformity, but the SXRD spatial color uniformity is better than most CRT front projectors. DLP rainbows and eye fatigue still bother some viewers despite the latest color wheels. The Qualia is free of spatial and temporal dithering, which remains a minor issue in some HD2+ projectors. But the slight vertical banding in the Qualia preproduction unit is a concern until it is shown to be negligible in production units.

    In the final analysis, I prefer the better black level, contrast, and image depth of the HD2+ DLP projector for DVD movies, but for HDTV I prefer the Qualia’s remarkable resolution, especially when viewing network programming. It will be interesting to see which comes first, a 1920 x 1080 DLP projector, or an SXRD projector with a 3000:1 contrast ratio.

    Summary

    The Qualia 004 is Sony’s first projector with its new three-panel SXRD technology. It displays 1080i HDTV sources in its native 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution without scaling. It includes 480i and 1080i film-mode deinterlacing for artifact-free movies and motion-adaptive deinterlacing, to maximize the quality of interlaced-video sources. The Qualia 004 has brilliant and accurate color, and it provides the best image resolution currently available for home theatre.

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