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Shift to Digital DVD
Projectors go HD

Shift to digital DVD recorders

When analogue broadcasting shuts down in favour of digital in the not too distant future, itíll not only be tube TV sets that become redundant but most of DVD recorders.

Grant Shaw, Panasonicís visual products product manager, says most people havenít really thought about the fact that DVD recorders are geared to work with an analogue tuner and wonít be able to record digital content.

"Thereís lot of confusion in the market and itís too much for mum and dad buyers to keep up with all the talk about high definition, full HD, Freeview and TiVo. Even those in the industry are having difficulty," he says.

To date there are only two fully digital DVD recorders in the market, Panasonicís DMR-BW850 Blu-ray Disc Recorder, which records onto dual layer Blu-Ray disks and a 500Gb hard drive (est $2000), and the DMR-XW350 High Definition DVD Recorder with a 250Gb drive.

Both recorders have twin HD tuners and SD memory card slots and can record 5:1 channel surround sound and sub-titles.

Projectors go HD

Despite all fuss over big screen TVs, plasma versus LCD and HD formats, the home projector market has found its own momentum and is looking positively innovative.

New generation projectors are now small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, can be integrated into cellphones, cameras or laptops, and at the home entertainment end of the market are now delivering high definition (HD) output.

According to research firm Insight Media, worldwide sales of projectors are at $US3 billion this year compared with $US27 million in 2007. This is being driven by growth in portability and a whole new market where projection capability is being added to a multimedia players, cameras and phones.

Thereíll continue to be strong demand for portable projectors that enable content sharing through connecting with mobile storage devices but increasingly e-book readers, PDAs, GPS and mobile TV units will come with projection as well as miniSD card slots and USB, wifi and Bluetooth connections for easier sharing.

The portable projector line will continue to be enhanced as it matures and while resolution, brightness and projection size may be an issue with smaller inbuilt units, considerable effort, including improved LED lights and high-pixel chips, is being made to improve the output.

Epson expects the market for HD projectors to grow 10 percent a year, driven by the strong growth in HD content on television, sales of Blu-Ray players and disks, and games for the major consoles that are geared for on 3-4 metre screens.

Epson has pulled out all the technology stops to fine tune its projectors to better render every tone and ensure smooth movement in fast action scenes. It even examines blurring and boundary effects in lower resolution images to create a sharper HD effect, even from standard definition sources.

Its 3LCD HD projectors use colour light output technology to deliver crisp high contrast ratio images that are more natural and therefore easier on the eyes. They feature HDMI ports plus standard connections to plug into a notebook, HD/DVD player or TV receiver.

The top of the range EH-TW4500 ($6400) delivers a dramatic increase in contrast ratio producing deeper, richer tones (200,000:1) while the entry level HD 1080p projector, the EH-TW3500 ($4500), has doubled the contrast ratio to 36,000:1, giving the best possible reproduction for the latest games and movies on a supersized screen.

Meanwhile its EH-DM3 ($1600) home theatre projector is being marketed as an easy to set up, portable home theatre system in a box, with integrated DVD player and surround sound speakers. The automated ambient light sensor and keystone image correction means itís geared for indoor and outdoor use.

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