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LCoS Shoot-Out Hardware and Software


Dr. Raymond M. Soneira

President, DisplayMate Technologies Corp.

Copyright © 1990-2006 by DisplayMate Technologies Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
This article, or any part thereof, may not be copied, reproduced, mirrored, distributed or incorporated
into any other work without the prior written permission of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation


Article Links:  Overview  Part A  Part B  Part C  Part D

LCoS HDTV Manufacturers Sidebar

Shoot-Out Hardware and Software Sidebar

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Digital Signal Distribution:

For the Shoot-Out we had 5 digital signal sources and 6 HDTV displays that needed to be connected together, which is a reasonably complicated configuration. The entire signal distribution system was provided by Gefen Inc, a well established and highly regarded company that has a broad product line of DVI and HDMI interface products for both video and computer applications. All of their video products are HDCP compliant and support signals up through 1080p. Some combinations of DVI and HDMI products don’t always work well together because of subtle compatibility and timing issues. With 5 signal sources and 6 HDTVs there were 30 combinations that had to work together (not counting the Gefen hardware itself). HDCP compliance adds another level of complexity because each connection requires its own unique encryption channel that has to be negotiated separately. I was worried that some of the combinations might not work so I had a complete backup analog distribution system ready just in case. Fortunately, I didn’t need to use it because all of the combinations connected through the Gefen based digital signal distribution system worked flawlessly through the multiple layers of switchers and distribution amplifiers, and in many cases through 5 meter DVI/HDMI cables running 1080p signals. It was an impressive and flawless performance. The heart of the system was Gefen’s 6×2 HDMI Switcher. It has 6 inputs, two outputs and a really handy infrared remote control (that can be programmed into to your Home Theater’s master remote in order to provide automated switching). We also had three Gefen DVI Distribution Amplifiers: a 2×8 for the main system distribution and two 1×4 units for the 720p and 1080p signal feeds. The 2×8 unit could switch between two inputs using a remote control. Our ATSC HD broadcast tuner and D-VHS player were very far away from the Shoot-Out setup so we used Gefen’s HDTV CAT-5 Extender to deliver the 1080i signals over twin 75 foot long CAT-5 cables. Gefen also provided the long DVI and HDMI cables needed to connect the HDTVs to the Distribution Amplifiers – up to 5 meters in length. They all worked flawlessly up through 1080p. All of this equipment is equally suitable for both consumer and professional installations. See www.gefen.com.



Obtaining very accurate photometry and colorimetry for all of the HDTVs was an absolute requirement for a comparative study like the Shoot-Out. A Spectroradiometer was necessary because the light spectra for the HDTVs are sufficiently different that the more common and inexpensive colorimeters would have delivered inaccurate results (see Part I for an explanation). We verified this firsthand when one of the manufacturers brought their own high-end colorimeter to the Shoot-Out. Colorimeters need to be recalibrated for each distinct light source by using a Spectroradiometer. The Konica Minolta Instrument Systems Division loaned us two of their high-end Spectroradiometers, the CS-1000, the same instrument we used in Parts I-IV, and the newly introduced CS-200. The CS-1000 is their flagship 512 channel Spectroradiometer, the new CS-200 is a 40 channel unit that uses a spectral fitting method to match the CIE functions. It's much faster and much less expensive than the CS-1000. In fact, it's a factor of 10 faster so there was a very big time savings with the 5 LCoS HDTVs and CRT monitor. Before using the CS-200 I wanted to compare it directly with the CS-1000, so Konica Minolta generously loaned me both. When I compared readings from the two instruments, the maximum luminance difference was 0.6 percent and the average absolute chromaticity differences were 0.0005 for u' and 0.0002 for v'. The agreement was very impressive and significantly better than the published specifications. This assured me that I could use readings from both of the instruments interchangeably. The user interface on the CS-200 was also really nice and a big time saver as well. Both instruments are highly recommended. See www.konicaminolta-usa.com.


Video Processors:

When I began planning the Shoot-Out I didn’t realize how many video processors were going to be involved. All told there were 8: 5 from Silicon Optix and 3 from DVDO. Two units arrived with prototype Silicon Optix processors for their front-end signal processing (eLCOS and JVC Professional), the Denon DVD-5910 had one Silicon Optix processor for deinterlacing and one DVDO processor for scaling, and then we had two processors from Silicon Optix and two from DVDO to help with the general signal distribution system. In addition to high quality deinterlacing and scaling these processors provide excellent front-end signal processing with lots of special functions and advanced controls for adjusting and tweaking picture quality.


We had 2 DVDO iScan HD+ processors from Anchor Bay Technologies. I selected them based on the great review they received from Widescreen Review Magazine Video Technical Editor Greg Rogers in the February 2005 issue, and they performed really well as expected. One very nice feature of these processors is the regular software upgrades provided by DVDO that enhance the functionality of existing units. One unit was used as a front-end processor and transcoder for the reference CRT studio monitor to convert the distribution DVI signal into analog YPbPr and scale it to 1080i for the monitor. The other was used for a number of functions such as adjusting DVI signal timing and providing control adjustments that were not available on some units. They were very important components in the Shoot-Out. DVDO also supplied some excellent video cables to help connect many of the signal distribution components. See www.dvdo.com.


We started out with 2 Silicon Optix video processors. They were both Niobe Reference Design prototypes and provided 1080i motion adaptive deinterlacing and rescaling. They use a Realta programmable video digital signal processing chip that can be updated or enhanced with downloadable software. Most HDTVs and video processors currently only offer 480i motion adaptive deinterlacing and then provide some form of line interpolation at 1080i. When I saw the major picture quality improvements from the Niobe 1080i deinterlacing I asked for two additional processors to act as the main 720p and 1080p signal feeds for the HDTVs because I didn’t want differences in signal processing to confuse the LCoS picture quality issues that we were evaluating. These prototypes were already very impressive and will find their way into many branded products. Look for the Realta, HQV, Hollywood Quality Video, and powered by Teranex identifiers. See www.siliconoptix.com and www.hqv.com.


Microsoft Digital Media:

About half of the High Definition program source material shown to the panelists was provided by the video codec group of the Microsoft Windows Digital Media Division. They provided a PC with dual 3.4 GHz Xenon processors running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and loaded with a large selection of movie clips and trailers encoded with Windows Media 9 Series at 720p and 1080p. We also used two Windows Media Video HD segments from Joe Kane’s Digital Video Essentials: Professional Edition (ABC TV’s New York City segment and Restaurant Ambiance). The material was all of very high quality and free of the annoying Mosquito Noise that generally accompanies MPEG. It was the hit of the Shoot-Out and many people commented that the Windows Media HD movie clips looked better on the HDTVs than they did in the movie theaters. See www.wmvhd.com.


D6500 Bias Backlighting:

Carefully controlling the ambient room lighting is very important in order to obtain the darkest possible black-levels and minimize eye fatigue. For front projection it’s best to watch in near total darkness, but for any self-contained display (direct view or rear projection) it’s actually much better to have some special lighting that gently illuminates the wall area behind the screen. That way the light doesn’t hit the screen and spoil the display’s precious black-level. As a bonus, this method also reduces the visibility of the black-level background glow because it activates the eye’s light adaptation mechanism, which reduces the eye’s light sensitivity, so the black-level will appear darker. The constant (bias) glow also reduces eye fatigue by stabilizing the eye’s adaptation response and reducing the degree of iris activity. For the viewing tests portion of the Shoot-Out we used 4 Ideal-Lume D6500 backlights. These are fabulous high quality units specially designed for home theater and studio use. They have special broadband fluorescent bulbs that produce an accurate D6500 light (which I confirmed with the Spectroradiometers). They are manufactured and sold by CinemaQuest Inc. Their website includes lots of great information and other related products. The fixtures start-up instantly, are very quiet, and are painted black. A filter kit allows the light output to be controlled. They are very well made and come with excellent documentation. Every direct view or rear-projection home theater should have one. Highly recommended. See www.cinemaquestinc.com.


DVD Player:

When I asked Widescreen Review Magazine Contributing Editor Stacey Spears for a recommendation on a high-end DVD player for the Shoot-Out I had already read his review of the Denon DVD-5900 in the July 2004 issue, so I wasn’t surprised when he came back with the newly updated Denon DVD-5910. Interestingly, the 5910 has two built-in video processors – a Silicon Optix processor for deinterlacing and a DVDO processor for HD scaling. These are the same processors we used in the signal distribution system and they perform beautifully. The 5910 is Denon’s flagship DVD player and is as close to a perfect player as I have seen, with an incredibly long list of advanced functional capabilities. Although DVDs are only Standard Definition this Denon player made them look their best on the HDTVs. See www.denon.com.


Test Patterns:

In order to do a thorough analysis of the performance and artifacts of the HDTVs I used our own DisplayMate for Windows Multimedia Edition running at 1920×1080 and 1280×720 resolutions on two Windows XP PCs that were connected to the Gefen switcher. One had an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro graphics board and the second an NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT. Both have DVI and Component Video outputs in addition to RGB, S-Video and Composite Video. I also used DisplayMate for Windows Multimedia with Motion Edition running under Windows’98 with a Matrox Millennium G550 graphics board. These DisplayMate products have over 500 proprietary High Definition test patterns, which are all generated real-time from scale free mathematical equations so they run at any resolution and aspect ratio. The incredible variety of artifacts is the reason why so many test patterns are needed, plus there are test patterns for setting up and adjusting all of the user and service controls, and test patterns designed for use with instrumentation, such as the Spectroradiometer measurements that we’ve used throughout this article series. All of our DisplayMate tests were done at the native 1920×1080 and 1280×720 resolutions of each unit. Note that test patterns based on DVDs will miss most of the High Definition display and processing artifacts. See www.displaymate.com.


Article Links

Series Overview

Part A: Introduction to LCoS Technology

Part B: LCoS Color and Gray-Scale Accuracy

Part C: Test Pattern and Jury Panel Evaluations

Part D: Comparison with CRT, LCD, Plasma and DLP


Sidebar: LCoS HDTV Manufacturers

Sidebar: Shoot-Out Hardware and Software


Copyright © 1990-2006 by DisplayMate Technologies Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
This article, or any part thereof, may not be copied, reproduced, mirrored, distributed or incorporated
into any other work without the prior written permission of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation


Copyright © 1990-2006 by DisplayMate® Technologies Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
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