A popular New England electronics chain used to run a classic newspaper ad promoting their home “stereo” department. The ad pictured a guy in a plaid jacket, checkered pants, polka-dot shirt and a striped tie, with the caption, “Your Hi-Fi system should go together better than this guy’s suit.” (Coincidentally, the “guy” became a longtime friend of mine).
That retailer is gone, but the message is still clear: The value of a custom integrator is in matching components together so the end result is more than just a pile of good stuff – it’s a pile of good stuff that actually works well together.
This is often a result that eludes the DIYer … and all too frequently the integrator as well.
So I was intrigued at CEDIA Expo 2015 by Display Development, which presented a very-high-end video projection system that is both pre-packaged and highly customizable for the application.
DD pairs the best video projectors with unique architectural, mechanical and thermal-management systems that enable integrators to sell and install in-wall/in-ceiling products that work flawlessly, and look fantastic.
Before we get to the DD “package,” let’s start with the end result of Display Development’s demo at CEDIA:
There is a lot of eye-popping video “stuff” out there. What left an impression on me here was how completely engulfing DD’s video experience was, as you quickly lost touch with any sense of “equipment” and got completely sucked into the program material. Sorry if this is a cliché, but if you’ve had the experience you understand, because you STOP paying attention to black levels, picture detail, yada yada, yada, and just get immersed in the on-screen material.
What’s in a Display Development System?
Okay, so what does Display Development do? First of all, their hardware partner for projectors is Barco Residential, which was developed exclusively for the CEDIA channel – not a bad start.
On top of that, DD supplies its own processors, mounting mechanisms, mirror systems and custom cooling systems.
What’s different is that all of their 2K and 4K systems include working with both the dealer and the client to provide design-based solutions, including coming out to the job site to manage/execute the installation. Yes, the experts at DD actually come to the client's home to facilitate the best possible set-up.
Their systems make use of any or all of the following:
- Properly calibrated projectors and video processors with proprietary set-up tools
- A variety of lens choices
- Architectural integration utilizing in-wall or in-ceiling projector installation. (Hint: There’s no smoke, but there are some very high-tech mirrors!)
- Motorization – service lifts and/or moving panels to hide the system into the architecture.
What impressed me most about Display Development’s approach is the utilization of recessed designs. The top end of their offerings are not small projectors, so it’s easy to see why they sometimes need to be hidden.
Attacking this challenge with mirror systems so the projector can be entirely in a ceiling, behind a soffit or in a wall is a really cool approach. And, speaking of cool (I know, terrible segue), they incorporate fully engineered cooling systems with smart thermostatically controlled fans exhausting through wide-diameter ducting, which connects directly to the projector chassis with a custom 3D-printed adapter for every installation. Yikes!
All of these design services take into account the client’s objectives for any given space, for example, if it is meant to be a dedicated theater or a multi-purpose room like a living room.
The process includes an analysis of the lighting conditions so that the final system/installation is custom-made for the space.
Ultimately, the client gets a system/environment with:
- No distracting fan noise
- Long projector life through proper cooling design
- No hot exhaust from the projector, which could otherwise heat up a room
- No bulky equipment or “projectors-on-a-pole” to mess with the décor
Again, it’s important to remember that Display Development will work with architects and interior designers to produce the “room result” mentioned earlier. That’s because such elements as lighting design and control, wall-color and furniture placement can seriously affect the entertainment experience
So this is all about a pretty intensive business approach to high-end projection systems. I haven’t gotten deep into the weeds on video performance analysis – we all know it’s pretty spectacular – but the holistic approach is really something quite different, and the services look like something dealers would be wise to get involved with.
Is it expensive? Every system is a one-off so, you bet! These days, that’s a good thing!
About that 4K Barco 6P Laser Projector
At its CEDIA demo, Display Development showed its Reference Laser 2 system ($390,000), based on Barco’s DP4K-22L laser cinema projector – specifically, a dual-RGB (6P) laser configuration allowing for “perfect” full video fidelity (2D and 3D) RGB laser illumination for each eye.
From my research, it appears that this product is the only one on the market with RGB lasers integrated into the projector, rather than outboard units with fiber cables.
This architecture allows the product to bypass certain safety regulations regarding laser-equipped products, such as locking the equipment room, employing certified laser operators on-site, and establishing ocular hazard zones.
So, imagine there’s a player on the vendor side of the high-end video projection category that transcends just selling a great piece of equipment, but supplies projectors as part of a synergistically designed video system with options for innovative custom installation solutions, all of which allow for hiding the projector yet making it more reliable. H-m-m-m!
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