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  5. Home Entertainment PC: Developers' Stories (4)

Home Entertainment PC: Developers' Stories (4)

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DESKPOWER
The perfect blend of Digital Entertainment & PC power. A 32-inch Widescreen Home Entertainment PC that fulfills your every digital desire. Thanks to an innovative fusion of cutting edge technology, ultra stylish design and ease-of-use, this latest introduction is set to redefine your expectations in home entertainment.

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One of the biggest challenges in developing Home Entertainment PC was to allow the customer to enjoy a large wide-screen with high quality image. This time, we interviewed Mr. Hirosue and Mr. Sasaki who pursued perfection in image quality.

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Noriyuki Sasaki
Engineer, Engineering Department IV
Desktop Products Division
Personal Systems Business Unit

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Yoji Hirosue
Manager, Engineering Department IV
Desktop Products Division
Personal Systems Business Unit

What were the factors for persistence for beauty of images?

Hirosue:

We are in charge of the image technology development. Because the concept of Home Entertainment PC is to be a ‘PC to be enjoyed as a television set’, we are strongly attached to this product. We are especially obsessed with the perfection of image sharpness. In technical terms, it means eliminating after-images. The standards of an LCD TV set always sends an uncomfortable feeling due to the after-images, which are often seen in fast moving images such as baseball or football games, where high-speed ball movements leave streaks behind. This after-image is the biggest drawback of a standard LCD unit. Since our biggest goal for the Home Entertainment PC was to create a product that would not be defeated by conventional LCD television sets, we adopted advanced technologies to reduce after-images and managed to achieve both sharp and clear images.

To explain in detail on how we got the sharp and clear images, first, we shortened the response time of the LCD. Moving images are essentially made up of a series of still images, ‘field” in technical jargon. If the responding speed of LCD is slower than the interval time between still images, the previous still image will remain and overlap on the next, forming an after-image. To avoid this, the response time of LCD needs to be shorter than the interval time between still images. It has also to be within 16.7ms* to be compatible to the television signal. Thus, we implemented a technology called active matrix high-speed response LCD. Thanks to this technology, we significantly reduced the after-images. (*1ms is one thousandth second)

Sasaki:

However, there is another form of after-image that is created by the human eyes. In other words, the previous still image remains not on the LCD but in our eyes. To avoid this illusion, we implemented a technical control in Home Entertainment PC that hides still images by turning off the back light during the drawing time on screen. By doing this, we succeeded in improving images on LCD to match the standards close to CRT. To tell the truth, Home Entertainment PC is the first in the industry to implement this technology into a product.

Conventional technology: The after-image of A is seen on the eyes, because B is directly overwritten on A.

Diagram 1

In addition to processing after-image problems, we have also removed color blurring, showing smooth movements. Furthermore, TV programs are often watched by more than one family member. Therefore, we took this initiative to implement a LCD with wider viewing angles than the conventional ones. Thus, when family members of different sitting heights are watching TV at the same time, all can enjoy beautiful images.

Diagram 2

In addition to processing after-image problems, we have also removed color blurring, showing smooth movements. Furthermore, TV programs are often watched by more than one family member. Therefore, we took this initiative to implement a LCD with wider viewing angles than the conventional ones. Thus, when family members of different sitting heights are watching TV at the same time, all can enjoy beautiful images.

Hirosue:

Other than these technologies, we also considered various factors to make enhance TV images. Judgment of beauty and clarity are often done in an analogue way. However, they are affected not only by technical specifications, but also by the fine tuning (adjustment) of images. After all, a judgment of beauty and clarity is subjective isn’t it? Adjustments of images are not only done from technical aspect, but also from experience and ‘taste of artistic painting’. Our development team members have their individual experience with their home television sets, and are particular about aspects from experience to artistic taste. Hence, at the final stage of the development process, we played DVDs with snow mountain scenery images to teen pop idols; continued watching them for many hours, and carefully checked if the images were of high quality and fulfilled our expectations. On retrospect, it might have looked quite strange in our test laboratory where middle-aged engineers were starring at teen pop idols past midnight.