I recently posted about the Philips Cinema 21:9 TV, which is the first (and currently only) HDTV designed in a wider aspect ratio to support Constant Image Height display. Now, a company from Norway has done that one better by announcing at CEDIA the world’s first native 2.35:1 projector. This has certainly gotten my attention. Not yet known at this point: Will it be sold in the U.S., and for how much?
Some of you may be asking, “Hasn’t Josh been moaning about Constant Image Height in his HD Advisor column for years now? How is this the first 2.35:1 projector?” Indeed, I’ve been running a CIH system in my own home theater for a number of years. However, as I explained in my tutorial on the subject, there has never actually been a native 2.35:1 projector until this point. Before now, Constant Image Height projection has been achieved through two possible methods, both of which start with a standard 16:9 projector. You can simply zoom the image up to fill a 2.35:1 screen, and let the black letterbox bars spill off the screen; or you can place an expensive anamorphic lens in front of the projector and electronically scale the image (usually through an external video processor component) to correct the picture geometry. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. I’m a lens user, myself.
Apparently, a third option has just entered the fray. In news from the CEDIA Expo in Atlanta, a company called ProjectionDesign has announced a new projector it calls the “SuperWide 235.” The model utilizes a new DLP chip specially developed by Texas Instruments with a native resolution of 2538×1080, for a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. No zooming or additional optics are required.
I’m intrigued by this, but at the same time feel a little let down. I used to be a big DLP supporter, back in the days when the format offered clear contrast ratio advantages over the LCD alternatives available at the time. However, LCD has made big strides to even the playing field in the years since, while DLP has seemingly only taken baby steps forward. Also, since upgrading to a JVC D-ILA unit with native contrast that blows both LCD and DLP out of the water, I really can’t foresee myself ever going back.
The press announcement from CEDIA doesn’t specify what contrast performance this SuperWide 235 projector is expected to achieve. A non-committal statement in the release claims, “All lenses use special aspherical glass elements and enhanced, low-dispersion glass for increased contrast, improved color saturation, and above all, excellent sharpness, producing unsurpassed image clarity and incredible detail.” Sounds like typical marketing hype to me.
From the looks of it, this is also going to be a standard 2-D model. While I fully expect the majority of my viewing for the foreseeable future to remain primarily 2-D, I’d have a hard time justifying the purchase of an expensive new piece of home theater gear that doesn’t offer 3-D.
Still, if nothing else, this new projector should finally bring some more notice to the Constant Image Height niche. With luck, that will spur more manufacturers to develop similar products in the near future.