On the lighter side, as long as I mentioned Screen Innovations – disclosure: On the previous page, I referred to our new digs as our Intersteller HQ. I pretty much stole that from Screen Innovations where when you call in you are greeted by a dynamic welcome to “Screen Innovations Galactic Headquarters.” Personally, “Galactic” works/sounds better than Interstellar, but I don’t want to steal SI’s thunder.
Speaking of Screen Innovations, I did stop by there briefly to chat, they are big not only on screens but also on motorized shades. Along with other screens, they were showing the Solo Pro. In the image just below you are seeing the Solo Pro working with the Epson L500.
Digital Projection was a brief stop, one to reacquaint me with the couple of marketing folks I have met there over the years. To date, I’ve never managed to talk them into letting me review some of their pretty high end and very high-end projectors (they are definitely a high-end company with most of their line well above $10K, and more than a few over $50K. I only briefly entered their large area. I did not sit in on any high-quality movie demos. But the meet went well, and I’m looking forward to our first Digital Projection review. They do commercial and home, so going forward we will be reviewing projectors from both categories.
Sony Projectors Were Next
I knew ahead of time that there would be no new models (not surprising as most home theater projectors are now on a 2-year replacement cycle). That started a few years ago, before that, most projectors were replaced by manufacturers just about every year.
But, I also knew Sony was upgrading two models: Their true top of the line but now rather old VPL-VW5000ES – a $60,000 5000 lumen native 4K unit - a rather a magnificent projector, but it did need an update. The other is the VPL-VW885ES – which was launched in the last cycle.
They are now both upgraded to improve several aspects, but in particular, better black levels thanks to using the laser engine to double as a dynamic iris, and an improvement to the focus adding the Digital Focus Optimizer that was first used with their VPL-VW995ES introduced last year. Hard to argue with sharper focus, and deeper black level performance. (good job Sony). I got a look in their black box theater, but I can’t make a good, real assessment, in a different room than mine, with different content. Still, the VW995ES offered truly impressive black levels, which the VW885ES and VW5000ES should now match. Good news existing owners, older units are upgradable!
I mentioned shopping for audio gear above. I plan to blog about my efforts to find some great speakers, and more, without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that the first projector I ever sold, over 40 years ago, was an original Advent TV (projector). I sold those when I was selling some very high-end audio, at various stores in Phila, Delaware, California, and Reading PA. Back in the mid-70’s in a couple of those stores, I could have sold you a $50K stereo back when 911S Porches were $6995!
I will listen to a lot of gear and report back in a couple of months when both rooms are finished.
Kaleidescape Movie Servers
I mentioned Kaleidescape before. I stopped by their booth. Their high-end movie servers have been around serving movies in high-end home theaters/viewing rooms for, I think at least 15 years. Originally the base unit, if I recall was about $50K or more. Great news, they now have two models – the base model the Kaleidescape starts at only $5500 (“only” because compared to $50K, $5500 is a massively more affordable solution – a veritable bargain). You download high-quality 4K content (less compressed than 4K Blu-ray UHD discs, and of course full HDR and P3 color. That base model (with 6 terabytes) will store about 100 4K movies, and there’s an option to go with 12 Terabytes for twice as many movies.
The Kaleidescape Strato S Movie Player gets hooked up to one system. If you want the capabilities in more than one room, you need their $3500 add-on unit (no storage), the Strata C, for an additional room. (The units have to be hard-wired to each other.) Now you have a two-room system.
Note, this isn’t Netflix, Prime etc., in that it is not streaming. Today’s streaming services use a lot more compression than, say, 4K discs, which use more than the Kaleidescape. The picture quality this device provides is a cut (or two) above. The bandwidth needed to immediately stream, thanks to the limited compression, is not practical. Download the movies and then watch! There also isn’t enough WiFi bandwidth in people’s homes, to wirelessly move the content to the satellite Strata C, thus the hard wiring requirement.
Kaleidescape has a more expensive model, call it their flagship: The Terra Movie Server, which can support multiple Strata C satellite units, and is available with 24 or 48 Terabytes.
I’m excited, Kaleidescape will be sending me a Strata S unit for review. (outstanding) I hope it comes loaded with lots of great flicks.
JVC - The New LX-NZ3
– Last year JVC rolled out multiple native 4K projectors using LCoS chipsets. We recently reviewed the middle of that line, the DLA-NX7, a rather awesome projector with great black levels. This year, JVC added a second DLP projector to their lineup, one priced under $4000, and – get this, it uses an LED light engine, that can use the fast dimming of LED to essentially emulate a dynamic iris if I got that all right, from talking with the JVC team.
The JVC LX-NZ3 is a 3000 lumen 4K UHD pixel shifter, with 3000 lumens, and has a surprising amount of vertical and horizontal lens shift for a mid-priced DLP projector. The lens is a 1.6:1 zoom. The lens shift, and the zoom range, as it turns out are similar to the BenQ HT5050 (reviewed this past summer), which is another 4K UHD pixel shifting DLP. The NZ38 was demoed in the usual blacked surfaced room (except for one opening), so pretty dark. It looked pretty impressive, but, as always hard to judge at a show, in a special room on content that I don’t use for evaluation.
I’m hoping for one of these JVCs to review. These NZ3's are not available yet, and neither are review units.