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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Guess who's back? Back again? Runco's back! Tell a friend

Posted on September 29, 2010 at 4:35 PM

3D’s created a monster, ‘cos nobody wants to see 2D no more they want 3D. 2D’s chopped liver. Well if you want 3D, then this is what I’ll give ya, a little bit of Runco mixed with some big picture. Some eyewear that will calm down your eyes quicker...


OK, enough with the Real Slim Shady. If there was anything I learned at the CEDIA Expo this year it was this: Do NOT attempt to walk to Marta in the morning. Your life truly CAN change in an instance. If I learned another lesson it was that just because it is one continuous run of black carpeting, it doesn’t mean that items at either end of said carpeting are any kind of close. The final thing I learned? You people still haven’t had your 3D Jones scratched. Clearly you have a yearning for 3D that could fuel a million suns. And even though it is nearly impossible to find ANYONE that has actually watched an entire 3D movie – believe me, I’ve asked – TV manufacturers are convinced that you want to sit at home watching the same 5 Blu-ray animated titles over and over. Wearing glasses. And likely alone ‘cause you only have one pair.

And if there was a prevailing theme at this year’s CEDIA is is that the projector manufacturers want to get on board and give you a massive, two-perfectly-spaced-and-stereoscopic-vision-eyed dose of BIG screen 3D. So I scoured the show floor and looked at ALL the 3D projector demos. (You can follow this link to my official post over at Sound + Vision’s Website and enjoy the write-up and see all the pictures from my new Nikon not-quite-an-SLR camera:

I saw all the biggies including JVC, Sony and Sharp. I saw some that were crazy expensive like Wolf Cinema, and SIM2. I saw some from brands that would surprise you like Mitsubishi, LG, Digital Projection, and projectiondesigns. And I will tell you, I’m not super impressed. Especially for products that are going to be $10,000 at the ENTRY level. And, there is NO WAY in the world of all that is good and holy that I would EVER drop $80 – 90 grand on the SIM2 or Wolf models.


Yes, the 3D effect works, and I think it works even better on the big screen because it is way more involving and takes up a far more significant field of view. However, it is still incredibly eye fatiguing to me. Especially any of the active glasses technologies (JVC, Sony, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Digital Projection).  I thought the JVC projector threw up a beautiful 2D image. However I could only watch about 2 minutes of the 3D as I immediately felt the Wrath of Khan Ceti eel starting to burrow in behind my eye balls. Watch two hours worth? No way. With love, 3D projectors, L-O-V-E, love, but fist shoving into my eye.


And then there was the Runco demo.


Now, a few years ago I left the Runco press demo thinking two things. Thing 1: Why, oh WHY didn’t someone on the PR team first ask, then beg, then downright demand that Planar CEO, Gerry Perkel, blouse his giant black shirt that looked like it was at the final stages of Jiffy-Pop level. Thing 2: Does this industry even need Runco anymore? In the past, yes, where projector design was kind of an art form, but today with top-shelf video processing available to everyone, most companies using the same DLP chips and high-end optics, that projectors have gotten so good at the $5 -10k range, that the premium pricing of Runco models to get that last 2-3% was seeming to be unnecessary.


Then I went to CEDIA in 2009 (aka last year) and I sat through the demo where they unveiled the Q projector. With a black level so low (as in absolute) that the entire press corps literally gasped. (I emitted a nervous laugh like when you witness something so unexpected that your brain just gloms onto one emotion and runs with it.)  Utilizing cutting edge LED technology and -- most shokcingly -- coming in at a price point that was like $10,000 *under* the rest of the market at 15 grand. Runco was back, and they were ready to start owning the projector market again.


Cut to this year, and I know that Runco is going to have a 3D solution at CEDIA because A) everyone else does and B) their PR girl, Pippa, told me as much during our 3 hour dinner back in April.

And, damn! Once again, Runco is showing they not only understand this space but that they are setting out to dominate the market. Their 3D demo was by far the most impressive I saw at the show, not just for picture quality, but for complete easiness-on-the-eyes.  Beyond just being a dual-projector, passive glasses system, I think the two things that set the D-73d apart from the others is that Runco is currently the only company to license RealD‘s Processing Package, the *exact* system used for 3D in commercial theaters. Second Runco has formulated its own lens material for the 3D glasses.  And their frames are comfy.


This is a graf from my Daily post wrapping up the Runco press event:

Contrasting with other manufacturer’s active 3D solutions where images flicker on and off at the eye which can degrade the 3D effect and result in eye fatigue and discomfort, Runco is utilizing a passive glasses solution with uniquely Runco design formulated for precise stereo separation called PreciseLight, with clip-on, premium and prescription options available. Jennifer Davis, Runco’s VP of Marketing comments, “This technology is field proven by [parent company] Planar in mission-critical long duty applications – 8 to 10 hour workdays – meaning that there will be no eye fatigue even after extended viewing.”


I can’t compare our 10 minute demo to an entire two-hour film – let alone a 10 hour workday – but the Avatar clipped looked every bit as good as I remember seeing commercially, the glasses were as comfortable as my Revo’s and viewing in a completely darkened room didn’t make my brain feel like the two hemispheres were slowly tearing apart to wage war against each other.


Granted, at $50,000 this will never be considered cheap. (But they do throw in 6 pair of glasses so at least you’ll be able to host a proper party.) And, frankly, I don’t like the 3D effect NEARLY enough to pay a $30,000 premium over the other awesome 3chip projector (LS-10) they demonstrated.  (If it wasn’t for the far higher light output of this dual projector model, I’m not sure that I would even select this over the LS-10 even if they were the same price, but that’s just the 3D hater in me coming out. I'd of course conduct a proper A/B -- or just call up Brent Butterworth -- before making such a rash decision.) But if I were wealthy, and I had an unquenchable thirst for 3Ds, and I wanted a high-performance solution, at this point, the Runco is the only model that I’d consider.

Categories: September 2010, 3D TV, CES/CEDIA

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Reply Kirk Payne
8:02 AM on September 30, 2010 
Is there an issue with "off-angle" viewing with 3D TVs/projectors? If 6 folks are using Runco's glasses do they all have to sit on each others laps to be directly in front of the screen? Not that there's anything wrong with that... :)
Reply John Sciacca
11:16 AM on September 30, 2010 
Hey, Kirk. The viewing angle doesn't seem like it will be really narrow, but then again, I was seated almost dead square to the screen. I want to say that there were like 75 press people in attendance watching a 120-inch diagonal (I'm guessing here...) screen. There were two sections of seating with 5 rows in each section and probably 10 chairs in each row. So some people were definitely seated well off center. Certainly in most viewing rooms, it won't be a problem. Though you might want someone in your lap for, uh, other reasons... Cheers!