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If These Walls Could Talk...Custom-Fiting DVD Presentations

WK Bohannon

July 2001 | After investing time, money, and a good deal of creative energy in preparing and presenting DVD, deciding how and where to best show off your work can be one of the make-or-break decisions in producing a killer presentation.

If you're one of those lucky people who have some freedom in the way you do things, maybe you get to assemble your own equipment, and can tailor things to create exactly the effect you want. Maybe, on the other hand, you are required to show your stuff in a particular boardroom or meeting room, either "upstairs" in the executive suites of your company or across town at the client's or potential customer's site. Regardless of how, when, or where you work, there are many factors to consider in choosing the best equipment to show that snazzy DVD presentation in its best light.

Road Show

A lot of what you do depends upon your audience and the venue. Sometimes, you've got to make do with whatever equipment the client happens to have on hand. At other times, you can bring a bunch of stuff along to make your presentation really fly. Starting simple, if I want to show one of my homemade DVDs, I can use my Mac PowerBook, which has a built-in DVD drive. The PowerBook can output a composite video signal that can be plugged into just about any kind of display device. I could also use the Apple's 15-pin, VESA-style external monitor cable to connect to an RGB computer-compatible projector, plasma, or whatever kind of device I need.

If you're a real video snob and feel that the 400mHz PowerBook doesn't have enough power (I disagree), you can use one of the faster Apple G4s with a dual processor, which are, I admit, pretty neat DVD video creation and playback machines. The only problem with some of the latest Apple G4s is that they sometimes use the Apple Display Connector (ADC), a proprietary video output connector which has a Digital Video Interface-like connector, and an additional power supply for the display device. But you can't connect to any other DVI input and, of course, the only display device that can be powered by that plug is one of Apple's own LCD monitors, such as the good-looking, 22-inch diagonal, wide-format Cinema Display.

Thankfully, my G4 doesn't use the latest ADC. Instead, I have a graphics card that supports two connectors: the industry-standard DVI interface for digital outputs, or the old standby 15-pin VESA analog interface. I have had nothing but success in playing even commercial home theater DVDs on my G4, either through the DVI or with the VESA analog output connected to any of the analog or digital projectors, monitors, or plasmas that come my way. There is one exception: the G4 does not support 5.1-channel Dolby. Poor Apple–if only they would add a 5.1-channel Dolby interface, the fast G4 might become my (and many other desktop DVD developers') DVD playback machine of choice. Perhaps some clever company makes such an add-in PCI card, but I'm not aware of it. In any case, my home office-made presentations don't contain 5.1-channel sound, so the G4's audio shortcomings are never that obvious–especially since I run the G4's stereo-only audio output into a solid-performing Sony AV/CD audio processor connected to an appropriate collection of loudspeakers. However, for those of you producing surround sound DVDs, this could be a crucial factor in choosing a playback setup.

The Inputs and Outputs of Playback

If you require decent 5.1-channel surround sound with your killer DVD presentation, you need to use one of the many home theater or professional DVD players that are widely available for however much you're willing to pay. I can argue about which DVD players are the best, but I start the argument with a machine that has three-wire component video outputs (along with the 5.1-channel Dolby outputs), and I prefer the better units from Sony. I know that you can pay a lot more for a DVD player than what the Sony line costs, but I can't see the difference. Some people can also be satisfied with a DVD player that has a lot less capability, such as those that only output composite or S-video, but, in order to make decent images, that limitation puts more demand on the display device or on an additional video processor. Don't get me wrong; I have projected great-looking DVD presentations using only composite video signals–which I call one-wire signals–but with an additional video processor inserted in between the video output and the display device (depending upon which display I'm using).

There are several great video-processing boxes (from Faroujda, Miranda, and others) that can input just about any kind of video signal (composite, S-video, component, and RGB in three-, four-, or five-wire formats). They can resize, line-double, frame-double, or whatever a video signal needs into whichever signal the display device (projector or plasma) likes the best. However, you can spend more on video processing equipment today than on the display device itself. I've seen video processing boxes that cost $30,000 or more, while a little projector that makes a great impression without any additional circuits costs less than $10,000. And I've also found neat little video processing modules made by several companies, such as Princeton Graphics, that are amazingly cheap and work well, too. It all depends upon the mix of gear and their aggregate capabilities.

Lest I forget, let me give a brief summary of the differences among the various video outputs that become inputs to projectors. The most simple, one-wire composite video signal (like the yellow RCA jack on your TV) has everything–brightness and all color on one wire. Obviously, putting everything down one little wire can be confusing, and that means a slight degradation in video quality, especially in the whites. If you don't mind occasional flashes of color where you should have pure white, or less color resolution performance when you're demanding bright colors, then composite video is for you.

If not, the next step up is S-video, which separates the color signal from the brightness signal, thus providing more color resolution, but requiring two wires. Each of those two wires is further separated into a twisted or shielded pair, and that requires the familiar four-wire mini-DIN type of connector. S-video, when it's done right, looks very good running into most projectors or plasmas today, but if you demand even better color resolution, the next step up is component video. Three-wire (three color-coded RCA jacks) component video separates the brightness from the color, and further splits the color into the red and blue channels, thus providing even higher color resolution and fidelity than S-video or composite. I could argue further about how different component video formats compare versus a more computer-like RGB format with separate syncs (5-wire), but really, when it's done right, a good three-wire component signal from a good DVD, shown with a good projector, is hard to beat. In fact, I think that one of the reasons why HDTV has been adopted so slowly is because good DVD looks so good–it's hard to tell the difference. I've seen wonderful HDTV when it's been shot with a good HD camera and then run directly into a projector; and I've seen lousy HDTV that's been made so poorly that it doesn't even compare to a decent off-the-shelf DVD.

Screen Tests

So, the best approach to showing professional DVDs is to combine a decent DVD player with at least a three-wire component video output, along with a good AV audio processor for separating and amplifying the five sound channels for distribution to a set of high-quality, well-placed speakers. Connect that three- wire video signal to a good projector, and you've got a great show.

And I said "decent" DVD player, which really depends upon how picky you are about what the on-screen image looks like. You can pay a little or a lot for a DVD player, and a big part of that depends upon whether it's an interlaced or progressive player. Interlaced means that the lines of video information are woven together like interlocking fingers on two different hands, while progressive means that the lines are output one after another. Most of today's good LCD and DLP projectors (and plasma displays) show their video in a progressive format, and that means that the projector's video processing circuits convert that interlaced video into a progressively scanned scene. Done well, an interlaced DVD player running into a projector with good video processing circuits is very hard to beat. One of the best video monsters on the planet today is Sharp's V10 projector. However, if you don't want to spend that kind of money, check out NEC's smaller–but very crisp–VT series of projector. NEC does a better job for the money than anything else I've seen in its class. In terms of lower cost projectors, Eiki's tiny SM1 does a killer job on video using any kind of input, and it's really cheap.

Of course, if you don't have a good projector with great built-in video processing circuits, I feel sorry for you. More than that, I believe you will need to either pop for more circuits in an external video processing box, or for a better DVD player that can output the progressively scanned signal directly before they are shown and hopefully not too messed up in the process. Some of the older CRT monitors and CRT projectors are in this category–not that I aim to disparage what might be your favorite technology, I just know some of the CRT's limitations. The average CRT projector doesn't do what the average LCD projector does in terms of either video processing circuits or projection clarity. Those CRT projectors need–and really benefit from–an external box that can fill in the gaps, plus do line or frame doubling to spruce up the image. As for line doubling, a CRT works by shooting a tiny stream of electrons at a phosphor. Therefore, the more electrons, the brighter the image; that's what a doubler does. Sure, you say, but those electrons have to be in the right place, right? That's what you pay for in a frame doubler, a lot of processing on the whole image at once to make sure it's done right, while at the same time putting as many electrons in motion as possible. It sounds complicated, and it is. The bottom line for that kind of gear is to try to see it and use it side by side–with and without–to get a feel for the amount of real improvement that the system is making.

While we're on the topic of CRT projection versus LCD or DLP projection, I want to address a few other issues that may also be important. In the past, some people felt that CRTs produced the best video images, while LCD or DLP projectors did a better job on computer graphics. This still might be true today, depending upon exactly what display device we are discussing. CRTs do make absolutely excellent blacks, and that gives any DVD presentation a great contrast ratio. I have measured several of the leading consumer-grade, direct-view CRTs–such as Princeton Graphics' 32-inch HDTV and Sony's 36-inch Wega series–and trust me, you can see 1000-to-1 contrast ratios in those excellent devices. The best LCD or DLP projectors on the market today struggle to break 400-to-1 or so, and on average, make a lot less, however, they do make an image that can be a whole lot bigger than what you can get in any direct-view TV.

Plasmas have been hyped as flat-screen TVs, but, to put it bluntly, they are not. A plasma display is a flat screen, but none of the plasmas on the market today offer the same combination of color and contrast ratio (or brightness) found with a good CRT like Princeton Graphics or Sony's Wega. Some plasmas do offer great contrast and decent brightness, and some make a lot of color, but not all at once and not always in the right places. I think that plasma units from NEC, Panasonic, and Hitachi are among the best. However, even they will admit that their plasma colors leave a lot to be desired. I also like to quantify colors by comparing what the display device makes versus what the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) color standards require. Most video signals have been formatted to work best (provide the most accurate reproduction) with SMPTE-C colors. Most TV sets can make relatively accurate SMPTE-C colors, which is why TV looks so good most of the time.

Unfortunately, other devices, such as plasma screens and some one-chip DLP projectors, do not make SMPTE-C colors. They do their own thing, which is fine, I guess–it is a relatively free country, after all. But those non-standard colors look funny. Most LCD projectors make more highly saturated colors than those required by SMPTE-C, which is better than making less-saturated colors (like a one-chip DLP), and it's also better than a plasma's wild amounts of green. However, an LCD projector's over-saturated color means that you have to turn down the colors to keep from making "pink" faces on [real] people.

DVD presentation systems that work for me must include a DVD player with component or RGB video outputs that have the proper amount of audio processing and signal processing– depending upon your mix of built-in video processing– in either the DVD player or in the display device. The latest large LCD (such as Sanyo, Eiki, Sony, and Barco units) and three-chip DLP projectors (such as NEC's outstanding SX6000DC) are easy to use. They require less external video processing, because they have so much built in.

Like I said before, some of the smaller LCD projectors work fine, too. I know that the home theater video-projection crowd–as exemplified by Runco, Yamaha, Marantz, and others–make decent one-chip DLP units that supposedly have good color saturation; at least, better than what the one-chip "business-graphics" DLP projectors can do. (So far, they have failed to send me one to measure and evaluate, so I'm not in a position to make that call.)

Projectors and signal processing are only part of the picture, however. The room and screen are also key factors when creating the perfect presentation.

Location, Location, Location

I have seen and given presentations on a wide variety of boardroom and conference room systems. One was a rear-screen system (about 100 inches, diagonal) where the projectors were mounted in the wall, behind the screen, and at the end of a relatively low-ceilinged boardroom in a mid-sized multimedia company. The visiting presenter connects his or her computer, audio (stereo-only), and video source (composite-only) to the cables sprouting up from the conference room table, and then sings and dances away while the images run on behind. I liked this system, because the projector adjustments and image size adjustments were fixed, and there was no messing with it. I also disliked it for the same reasons–you couldn't fix or change things. On top of that, as the presenter, I had to stand in front of the image. If I were in charge of that system, I would have added more audio and video processing, better speakers, better projectors (theirs had weak colors and contrast), and somehow arranged things so that the speaker didn't have to stand in front of the presentation. It had a very deer-in-the-headlights feel, but maybe that's what the CEO wanted.

On another occasion, I had a chance to mess around in a major audiovisual company's screening room. That "presentation" room was configured to accommodate a wide variety of recorded media and live presentations. The audiovisual equipment consisted of a rack of equipment at the end of the room, including multiple, many-thousand-lumen projectors, plus a control room holding even more gear. The room was set up for anything you'd want in audiovisual gear, and the screen was at the other end of the room, mounted above a stage that was more than 200 inches, diagonal. I liked the gear and the set-up, except for the fact that in this setup, too, the presenter had to stand on the stage in front of the screen. I like systems that allow the presenter to stand to one side of a podium while the images play out on the screen, or a system where the screen is up high enough so that it doesn't matter. However, this particular company's system was designed more for mini-rock concerts than for show-and-tells.

In the second example, I also didn't like the room itself. I prefer big rooms and big screens to small, claustrophobic settings, as long as I can get to the screen (either by hand-held pointer or laser) if needed. The room was big, but it also had a color and contrast problem. Many times, it is the screening room that ultimately defines what your image looks like. Unless you're showing a dim image in a huge, dark room, the light that reflects off the screen bounces around, hitting the walls, the floors, the ceiling, and anything else in the way. Then it bounces back onto the screen. If the reflections are bright enough (and the image dim enough) those reflections can wipe out the on-screen image contrast. That's why every cinema multiplex on earth uses a variety of rugs and curtains on the walls and ceilings to cut down those contrast-robbing and color-changing reflections. Plus, it is important to understand how dim the average cinema projector was designed to be in order to make a dark moody image in a dark scary room, thus providing the true movie experience.

However, reflections remain an issue in even dim cinema environments. If you put a much brighter projector into a brightly painted or paneled room, you're not going to have an intimate, high contrast movie-like experience at all. In fact, you're not going to have much contrast either, and the on-screen colors will be muted by all the light bouncing back onto the screen from the walls. You need to balance the on-screen brightness with a little room design, along with an understanding of what the overall effect will be.

While we're on the subject of rooms, there's the whole topic of where to put the air conditioning (A/C) vent and/or fans. A lot of building contractors like to put the A/C vents in the middle of the ceiling. But what if the middle of the ceiling is also in the path from the projector to the screen? As soon as the A/C comes on, you and everyone else in the room will see it–on-screen. All that moving cold air will show up as something shimmering or whatever it is that moving air in front of a bright light does. Needless to say, it will distract viewers from the quality of your video encode.

So, if you are developing a room that will ultimately be used for presentations, or are selecting a room from several, choose to locate the A/C vents elsewhere, or else move the projection path out from under them. Again, this is where a good rear-screen setup shines. I've seen rear-screen systems contained in a well-designed room in which the projector's cooling system was separated from the other A/C units (thus preventing the projector's heat from turning on the A/C prematurely) and the projection path. The rear-screen arrangement also allowed for the humans in the audience to have a different and more comfortable temperature setting.

A Fair Hearing

Now that you've assembled the ideal environment to show off the video in your presentation, it's time to give audio some serious thought. That's why getting and using the proper 5.1-channel audio processing gear is so important. Speaker selection and location also need to be considered. If you are creating and demonstrating a DVD project that features 5.1-channel audio, to do it justice, you will clearly need to put some effort into the playback.

I have had the opportunity to play with one screening system that had state-of-the-art gear everywhere except in the room's speaker setup. It wasn't that they didn't get good, expensive speakers. The problem was that, even with all the equipment they had, they couldn't make it so that the separate audio channels could be consistently heard throughout the room. You have to consider the whole sound field and the room, as well as where people will sit when configuring speaker setup–and they didn't. Movie theaters have to solve this problem in a much bigger room. (Witness the little THX demo trailer at the beginning of THX-equipped presentations in a THX-certified room.)

However, the integrator's solution in the poorly designed case was to tie all audio channels together. That way every speaker in the room made the same sound. No matter where you were in the room, the sound was the same. The only problem was that the separate audio channel information was lost–they took a DVD with good 5.1-channel sound, and turned it into one composite audio signal.

It's a wrap...

It is essential to take as much care with the playback of your masterpiece DVD presentation as you do in the creation. Think about all those hours spent scripting, composing, shooting, and editing your work. Don't you want the audience to experience it as completely as possible? I'm sure you do, so ensure that the audience sees and hears the "director's cut" to its full extent in a screening room that enhances the experience, rather than detracts from it. Use the best DVD player you can, and match its output to a good audiovisual processor system, which should be tied to the best speaker system and display device possible. Take care to match the capabilities of each part of the system to each other, the screen, and the screening room. There's a reason George Lucas is so picky about theaters and THX-compliant theater systems–he wants his masterpieces to be enjoyed to the fullest extent, to the extent that he did when creating them–and so should you.

Hearing Double: Will the Future Surround Sound Like 10.2 Surround?

What is it about humans that makes us unendingly try to recreate nature through art? What drives us to attempt the impossible, to take what is real and try to represent it in music, painting, literature, and the like? Then again, artists take reality to other places, too, and that act of creation is no less meaningful. They reinvent nature from a unique perspective and provide an audience with their unique vision of what is real. So when, in film and music, it is proposed that the listener be placed in the midst of sound by employing multiple channels, it would seem that art may have come one step closer to nature. And the artist's canvas will be expanded accordingly to allow for further flights of fancy.

In the creative field of multiple-channel audio–for film or music–there is much debate over the role of surround: Should it be used to represent more accurately what is "real", or rather to enhance the aural experience in a different way? And as 5.1-channel surround becomes commonplace in home and corporate theaters, inventive minds are seeking to expand the definition of surround to include even more channels. But why surround ourselves with sound in the first place? We only have two ears, after all. When we hear, sound does not reach our ears from only one or two directions. Instead, sound is influenced by everything it encounters between its origin and our ears, so it would seem that more channels would allow for more variables and thus a more realistic experience. However, with sound texture as with volume, more is not necessarily better.

Because there is a multitude of ways to interpret and hear sound, it seems natural that the way in which it is expressed should also vary. As such, the evolution of surround sound has been a complex process, with new approaches cropping up over the years to enhance audiences' listening experiences, first in the theater and then in the home. The origins of multi-channel sound can be traced back to the "Flight of the Bumblebee" segment of the 1940 movie Fantasia. In the 1970s, the audio community was abuzz about quadrophonic sound, which was nothing more than dual-stereo. In 1987, we saw the standardization of 5.1-channel surround sound, which reigned quite comfortably as the surround king for over a decade.

Then, in 1998, Dolby Digital and Lucasfilm's THX teamed up to release an updated surround format, Dolby EX (or THX 6.1 mode), which adds a surround center channel to the normal complement of left, right, center, surround left, surround right, and low frequency effect (LFE, or subwoofer) channels. Currently, the theatrical or home surround array is divided between surround left and surround right. In an EX system, all the loudspeakers along the rear become surround center. Surround EX (not to be confused with 6.1-discrete surround) adds a monaural surround back channel to the usual complement of five full-range plus one bandwidth-limited channels of a 5.1 system. This is achieved by matrix-encoding the surround back (SB) channel into the two existing discrete surround channels, surround left (SL) and surround right (SR). A decode matrix then extracts the channel upon playback via an SR + SL = SB sum–similar to the way a Pro Logic system extracts a center channel. Brent Butterworth, Dolby's director of consumer technology marketing, says Dolby Digital Surround EX enhances both commercial theaters and consumer systems. According to Butterworth, "The extra surround is definitely an improvement people can hear, and it lets movie sound engineers create some exciting new surround effects. Listen to the scenes of ghosts circling the room in The Haunting and you'll be sold on Surround EX."

DTS also released a matrix 6.1 format, DTS ES. It is not a unique surround format and, in fact, applies to Digital Theater Sounds EX adapter, which is used in conjunction with Dolby's EX technology. Last year, however, DTS introduced DTS ES 6.1 Discrete, yet another distinct format that delivers six discrete channels of full-range information plus an LFE channel. DTS ES can support a full discrete surround back channel, which means that it is truly independent from those of the left and surround right channels.

David DelGrosso, vice president of marketing at DTS Entertainment, says that 6.1 discrete is a logical next step from 5.1 for titles and listening environments for which the extra channel is particularly advantageous, but likely not one that will inspire the next widespread migration to higher-definition sound. "At DTS, we fully expect the 5.1 trend to continue to soar over the next ten years, from 10 million households to more than 40 million users. At the same time, ES 6.1 discrete surround will slowly evolve as an exciting upgrade that supports the 20 to 30 titles per year that offer an extra back channel in the audio mix." AIX Media co-founder Mark Waldrep doesn't think that 6.1 will change the surround soundscape much either. According to Waldrep, "The addition of a single speaker in the rear, as in the EX/ES model, is not enough of a leap to warrant making it a big deal."

But the latest, greatest, biggest bully in town is 10.2 surround. For those of us struggling to navigate the maze of speakers painstakingly calibrated and positioned in our viewing rooms, the thought of adding five more speakers and an additional sub to the mix gives us pause (as it should, in order to avoid bruising one's shin on said sub). And what mad technological artiste came up with this? Tomlinson Holman, of THX (Tomlinson Holman's eXperimant) fame, introduced 10.2-surround sound about two years ago, though to date little 10.2 gear has been introduced.

The 10.2 surround sound layout consists of 14 fully aligned, discrete channels placed in strategic locations around the viewer. What will make this new format desirable, according to Holman, are pair-wise mixing limitations, spectator subjectivity, and heightened realism. Surround formats are still mixed using intensity stereophony. Those who mix for 5.1 remark on its pair-wise distortion (or nulls) between the left, right, and surround channels. The phantom image drops several dB beside and behind the listener. Thus, the need for more channels to fill in the blanks.

TMH 10.2 allows further encompassing of the sound field around the audience by adding z-axis (height speakers), a width set, a set of dipole surrounds, a discrete center back, and an extra sub. Though, based on 5.1's requiring six speakers, one would guess that 10.2 would require 12 speakers–this is not the case. The TMH spec accounts for an additional set of dipoles slightly above the rears for the left and right surrounds, so a complete TMH 10.2 system actually employs 12 individual speakers. According to Holman, the additional height and width speakers are placed in the front because of a psychoacoustic principle called Minimum Audible Angle (MAA). Holman's theory suggests that, psychoacoustically, humans have one degree more resources available in the front areas of their listening space than in the rear, hence the forward placement of the sound field. But why go beyond 5.1, not to mention 6.1? Waldrep, who has experienced as many as 200 speakers in a small space and is, generally speaking, a fan of more speakers to enhance the listening experiences, is quick to sing 10.2's praises. As one of the lucky listeners invited to Holman's 10.2 demo at CES, Waldrep said, "Tom's demonstration was incredible and compelling because it added the dimension of depth and height."

It would seem at first glance that the 10.2 listener is destined for a listening experience that places him or her in the center of one big speaker. But Holman purports that simply evenly spacing a series of speakers along the circumference of a 360-degree circle with the listener at the center would not faithfully create as fully immersive a soundfield as one might imagine. This is due to the difference in the way humans hear sounds coming from in front as opposed to those coming from behind. Thus, Holman spent extensive time and effort in planning the layout, and assures that a fully enveloping and non-localized soundfield would be created in a full 360 degrees, but weighted more heavily toward the "front" of the circle. It seems likely that arrangement of the speakers, as with 5.1, will likely be a controversial issue in the evolution of 10.2 surround as well.

Of surround sound's future, DelGrosso says DTS is confident about 5.1's continued dominance. He says, "As far as 10.2 is concerned, we can always continue to chase new opportunities, but as a wise man once advised me, 'Sometimes it's recommended to ride the horse in the direction that it's pointed.'"

There is no doubt that 5.1 surround is headed in the right direction and that DVD is along for the ride. However, as multi-channel sound soars from the elaborate buzz of Fantasia's "Flight of the Bumblebee" to the richly reverberating wingflap of Herbie Hancock's latest 10.2 remix of "Butterfly", it is equally certain that artists will continue to push the boundaries of surround in an ever-expanding creative universe.

–Michelle Manafy

Companies Mentioned in This Article

Apple Computer, Inc.
One Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014; 888/295-0648, 408/996-1010; Fax 800/505-0171; http://www.apple.com

Barco Projection Systems, Inc.
3240 Town Point Drive, Kennesaw, GA 30144; 770/218-3200; Fax 770/218-3250; http://www.barco.com

Eiki International, Inc.
26794 Vista Terrace Drive, Lake Forest, CA 92630; 800/322-3454; Fax 800/457-3454; http://www.eiki.com

Faroujda Laboratories, Inc.
750 Palomar Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086; 408/735-1492; Fax 408/735-8571; http://www.faroudja.com

440 Medinah Road; Roselle, IL 60172; 630/307-3100; Fax 630/307-2687; http://www.marantz.com

Miranda Technologies, Inc.
2323 Halpern Rd.; Ville Saint-Laurent, QC Canada H4S 1S3; 800/224-7882; 514/333-1772; Fax 514/333-9828; http://www.miranda.com

NEC Technologies, Inc.
1250 N. Arlington Heights Road, Itasca, IL 60143; 800/632-4636, 630/467-4567; Fax 630/467-4558; http://www.nectech.com

Princeton Graphics Systems
2801 South Yale Street, Santa Ana, CA 92704; 714/751-8405; Fax 714/751-5736; http://www.princetongraphics.com

2463 Tripaldi Way, Hayward, CA 94545; 510/293-9153; Fax 510/293-0201; http://www.runco.com

Sharp Electronics Corporation
Sharp Plaza, Mahwah, NJ 07430; 201/529-8425; Fax 201/529-8425; http://www.sharp-usa.com

Sony Electronics, Inc.
3300 Zanker Road, San Jose, CA 95134; 408/955-5068; Fax 408/955-5340; http://www.sel.sony.com

WK Bohannon (manxrsrch@aol.com), founder of Manx Research, an independent evaluator of projection and display systems, has more than 25 years of experience in high-tech industries in areas from nuclear spectroscopy to high-energy laser systems and artificial intelligence. He worked as chief scientist for Display Products at Proxima Corporation from 1989 to 1994, and lived through the birth of today's small electronic presentations systems.

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