Bespoke Big-Screen Saint John NB
Saint John, NB
September 21, 2007 By David Birch-Jones
Discerning gentlemen know that while it is possible to find a high-quality, well-fitting suit at upscale men's stores, only a tailor-made garment that is specifically created for each individual has the perfect combination of style, comfort, and fit. Bespoke tailors from London's Savile Row to Milan and Rome exemplify craftsmanship and personalization, creating custom-made clothing with qualities that could never be obtained via mass production.
For high-performance video, America has its own bespoke manufacturer: Runco International . It began in the early 1980s by customizing existing CRT projector designs for the burgeoning home theater market. These days Runco and its sister company Vidikron are virtually synonymous with the very best high-definition video projectors and LCD and plasma flat-panel displays. I recently joined a number of Vidikron dealers from around the country who were wrapping up a weeklong series of product training sessions, culminating with the Vision Model 150 LightAmp projector, a powerhouse model that defines the present state of the art in home theater front projection.
The company builds the Model 150 around a reference three-chip 1080p DLP projection platform originally designed for large venues such as movie theaters. Vidikron assembles the finished product using its own cabinetry and ancillary electronics, including an outboard video processor and scaler, along with one of three lenses (for various throw distances). You also have the option of fixed or motorized anamorphic lenses for cinema-style 2.35:1 widescreen presentation . The company calls the fixed lens option CineWide, and the motorized lens option CineWide with AutoScope.
The 150 is truly a powerhouse—it features a 1.2-kilowatt xenon lamp, with four or five times the light output of conventional front projectors. Xenon lamps are superior to the more common mercury lamp types in two significant ways. First, they're powered by DC, which means there is only one arc beam spot (as opposed to two beam spots with AC-powered arc lamps). That allows for more precise light collimation through the multiple prisms within the three-chip DLP optical assembly. Second, xenon lamps produce a purer white, which improves color accuracy.
The projector's prodigious brightness provides the ability to illuminate really big screens—Vidikron recommends a 20-foot maximum width, but the projector is rated to handle a 30-foot-wide screen. In addition, you can extend the bulb's life and gain more consistent performance by using the lower output mode; as the lamp ages, the projector will continuously adjust itself to assure consistent performance throughout the lamp's lifespan.
That brightness also allows the projector to put up a watchable picture in high ambient daytime lighting. I was surprised to hear from the visiting dealers that a number of their clients are forgoing a dedicated, light-controlled home theater, inste...