Inching Ever Closer to the Third Dimension

I’ve been saying for a while now that I’d like to update my home theater to 3-D capability sometime in the near future, but actually integrating it into my theater room will be a challenge. I have no space for a large new TV (my primary HD display is a projector), and the 3-D projector offerings up to now haven’t quite satisfied my requirements. Now, new product announcements from JVC and OPPO Digital are making it very difficult to put this off much longer.

First, there’s the matter of the projector. Early 3-D home theater projectors (and by “early,” I mean more than a couple months ago) were extremely large and expensive beasts that used a form of 3-D with polarized light. While the polarized light means that you can wear the cheaper, lightweight passive 3-D glasses with them, it also requires a special silver screen (which makes regular 2-D content look like garbage). That just wasn’t an option for me.

Recently, Sony announced a very appealing 3-D projector that uses the more sensible frame sequential format and active shutter glasses. This model looks great on a lot of levels, except one. Like all Sony models (and, to be fair, most home theater projectors today), it has a dynamic contrast feature that constantly adjusts brightness up and down to achieve high contrast ratio numbers. I’m just not a fan of that, no matter how well implemented.

I currently have a JVC D-ILA projector with high native contrast that doesn’t require any dynamic adjustments. Once I got used to that, there’s just no going back. What I’ve been patiently holding out for is JVC to make a new model pretty much exactly like my existing projector, but with 3-D.

Well now, look at that, JVC has just gone and announced six new 3-D projectors, most of which meet or exceed the specs of my current unit.

Next comes the matter of a 3-D capable Blu-ray player. At first, I had expected that the latest firmware update that enabled 3-D capability on the PS3 would solve my needs. Unfortunately, word has been circulating that the PS3 can’t process lossless audio on 3-D discs, and defaults down to standard Dolby Digital or DTS instead. That just sucks.

I’ve been using an OPPO BDP-83 as my reference player. So, again, like with the projector situation, I was hoping that the company would make a new model just like my old one but with a 3-D upgrade. And hey, what do you know, that just happened too. Audioholics recently got an advance peek at the upcoming OPPO BDP-93 Blu-ray player, which carries over everything great about the BDP-83 and adds 3-D. This one will even offer Netflix streaming and other network options from more partners to be announced (perhaps Amazon and/or VUDU?). It even has two HDMI outputs, so that I can route lossless audio to my older HDMI 1.3 receiver (that I have no intention of replacing) while sending video directly to the projector separately. This really looks like it may be the perfect Blu-ray player. I literally can’t think of anything more that I could want from it.

So it seems that everything is finally lining up in my favor. My only outstanding questions are:

Will I be able to use my existing screen with the 3-D projector? While the frame sequential 3-D projectors don’t require a silver screen like the polarized models do, it’s been suggested that they may work best with a high gain screen to counter the loss of brightness common to 3-D. I’d rather not replace my screen if I don’t have to. The majority of my viewing will of course continue to be standard 2-D video, and a high gain screen wouldn’t be optimal for that in my small room.

How much (if at all), will 3-D interfere with Constant Image Height viewing? I use a video processor and anamorphic lens for CIH now. The video processor is an HDMI 1.3 model that won’t process 3-D, so I’ll have to bypass that for 3-D content. Unfortunately, it appears that these new projectors will not apply the necessary vertical stretch for use with an anamorphic lens to 3-D video. I’m still waiting for more details to come out about this, but it looks like I’ll have to figure out some workarounds, at least when it’s time to watch 3-D movies.

Still, I’m optimistic. This might just work out after all.

2 comments

  1. I wonder if the 3D on the PS3 not processing lossless audio is a bug in the firmware that Sony will fix. The newer PS3s bitstream Lossless audio, so maybe the reports are on the older models that decode internally. Still, I cannot see why Sony would remove this feature (that being said, it would not be the first time that Sony REMOVED features in a firmware update). I imagine that a bug fix is on the way, as Sony would not want to loose market share to the competition.

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