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Vidikron Vision One CRT Projector Print E-mail
Monday, 01 November 1999
ImageHome theater has improved significantly in the last few years, due to discrete 5.1 audio, larger screen TV's, laserdisc and DVD. Still, what I love so much more about the `big movie theater' experience is the heightened level of realism delivered by fine grain, 35 millimeter film prints with professionally installed and acoustically treated sound systems.

Despite the number of big dollar, high-end home theater systems I've had the pleasure of viewing over the years, they have always been second best in my mind to the 35 millimeter experience. That is until, I was treated to a Joe Cali demonstration of the Cello Music and Film System featuring Vidikron's top-of-the-line Vision One 9 inch CRT screen projector.

The image from the Vision One with a Faroudja VP 400A quadrupler ($25,000) was life-like and so close to film it pulled me beyond the edge of my seat, right into the picture. Colors were accurate without any blooming or over saturation. Most CRT projection systems deliver a compressed depth of field that results in a flat background with little detail. The Vision One's liquid coupled, 9 inch tubes provide several more layers of grayscale, increasing the total bandwidth for an extended dynamic range of black to white. The remarkable depth of field produced by the Vision One pops every detail. It was a perfect compliment to the remarkable imaging and dynamics of the Cello Music and Film System, very possibly the most resolute and dynamic sound for music and film sound tracks I have ever heard in any theater or mastering studio.

On the DTS Laserdisc of Apollo 13 when the spacecraft lifts off the launching pad, the camera angle is above the ship. I could see "into" the picture, as if it were three dimensional. The ground looked like it was truly several hundred feet below me. When the sequence switches to inside the capsule, the extraordinary resolution and sharpness of the Vision One made it possible to actually read the tiny details on the controls of the cockpit. The chunks of liquid hydrogen flying from the launched craft actually looked like ice, rather than a mass of indistinguishable white objects (as is the case with most lesser video systems). The DTS DVD transfer of Waterworld was another phenomenal theatrical experience. The large battle sequence inside the Atoll was completely engaging, providing an environment I equate only with dedicated 35 millimeter movie theaters. There was no blurring or loss of focus due to the rapid and varied movements. This Vision One system incorporated an active video processor (a quadrupler) to eliminate scan lines, dot crawl and other annoying artifacts indicative of a NTSC video picture. The result is the closest to film quality you can currently get from a video picture.

The advantage of a two piece system (multi-scan projector and screen) such as the Vision One is the ability to have larger screens with shorter viewing distances. It's possible to sit at a distance that is 2 to 4 times the height of the screen when the image is line doubled or quadrupled. The Vision One can be adjusted to create an image size from 90 inches to 310 inches diagonally.

The Vision One provides several types of input connection options. One RGB and one RS 232 port are standard. The standard RGB card accepts video processors such as line doublers or quadruplers. The RS 232 port is a bi-directional communication port that can control all the projectors functions with a computer or a touch screen remote control like a Crestron or AMX system. Additional slots can accept optional VGA/MAC card for playback of computer graphics or a multi-standard decoder for any composite video source.

The projector is pretty much a monster, weighing 195 pounds. However, don't even worry about how you are going to install such a device. Your Vidikron dealer's trained installers will come out to your home and set it up properly. It can be ceiling or floor mounted and the picture can be adjusted to switch between either a 4:3 or 16:9 screen. The installers not only calibrate the projector for optimum performance, they adapt the projector to fit comfortably in your individual environment.

The Vision Series Projectors come in a number of wonderful custom finishes to match your decor. Vidikron, an Italian firm, has used Pininfarina (the industrial design firm used by Ferrari) to design projector cases that are the most sleek in the business. Some of the colors include Ferrari Red, Lamborghini Fly Yellow, gloss black and matt black as to avoid any reflections in a purist, videophile system. Vidikron will have their custom shop match your projector's case to any shade paint you can imagine. If you find you need a special solution to a color matching problem, for example desert taupe Wilson Grand SLAMMs... no problem.

Other unique features of the Vision One Projector includes an auto converge feature that tunes your projector's output into a very well adjusted picture without having your local technician make a visit. Additionally, Vidikron has the endorsement of Academy Award winning director, Martin Scorsese as to their video projectors being the closest facsimile to 35 millimeter film.

At $50,000 (plus $25,000 for the quadrupler and, of course, a suitable sound system) the Vision One isn't going to fit into just anyone's budget. No matter what your budget is you should see a Vidikron Vision One or Two ($30,000 - similar picture without the auto convergence) before you make a video decision, in that they will establish your benchmark. For me, I'll continue to dream of the day when I can duplicate the hyper realism of a movie theater at home. The only difference is now the dream includes the Vidikron Vision One.

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