Senior Analyst and Editor
for Insight Media
On a recent trip to the UK, I took the opportunity to visit the high-end home theater providers Meridian Audio Limited, who are located in Cambridgeshire, UK. While the company’s roots are in audio, it is also doing pioneering work in very high-quality video. Meridian’s 10-megapixel projector offers such fine images, you don’t want to leave the showroom!
The Meridian 810 projector is based on a 2400- x 4096-pixel JVC platform, but the calibration that Meridian does sets it apart from the JVC projector. In this process, Meridian first does a 24-hour lamp burn-in to stabilize the light source. Then, it performs a four-hour calibration that creates an image with very high brightness uniformity (<0.1%, we were told) and very accurate gray scale and color gamut.
In addition to the projector calibration, however, Meridian needed a very high-performance scaling engine. For this, it turned to Marvell.
According to Meridian’s director of business development, Roland Morcom, Marvell offered a scaler and image processor that was particularly good with poor-quality sources. And, when scaling to 10 megapixels from DVD or PAL sources, you need a very good processor/scaler. So, the two worked together to develop the new outboard scaler box, which can take content with PAL-level resolution content and scale it to 10 megapixels. As Morcom put it, "that is creating about 97% of the on-screen pixels."
The scaler processor box features four DVI output cables that run to the projector. But since this is more pixels than a quad-FHD display, each scaler engine must provide about 25% more processing than a conventional 1080p image processor. This is where Marvell and Meridian worked together to improve the performance of Marvell’s baseline 1080p processor/scaler.
In the demonstration, a clip from the Jay Leno show was shown first. This was broadcast 1080i content that was scaled to 10 megapixels. It was particularly good in one scene, where you could see through the very fine grill of a microphone to reveal the skin beyond. Next, we saw a new transfer of the 40-year old movie Patton in which film grain had been nearly eliminated. Some will argue whether this is a good or a bad thing. Nevertheless, the image quality was superb, with some scenes having a 3D-like feel to them. The final demo was a special request to see a standard DVD upconvert. For this, a PAL version of Seabiscuit was shown. This demo was definitely a bit softer than the other two, but nonetheless spectacular on the 20-foot-wide screen (brightness optimized for theater-like 14-foot Lamberts). And remember, all of this scaling and processing is being done in real time.
My one complaint was that the motion blur in 24-frame content is still noticeable. Morcom agreed, but he noted that their motion-compensation algorithms are not yet good enough to commercialize. They will be at some point.
The 810 is a superb projector, but at $185K, it is not for everyone. As the saying goes, if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.