HDTV: Love and Loathing on the Big Screen

Last month, Brillian announced its 6580iFB 65-inch 1080p rear-projection LCoS television. I have seen it, and it looks gorgeous. Brillian has had a bit of a hard time building headway in the market — their deal to provide Sears with products for last year’s holiday season fell through — but their displays have always been impressive. Their press release for this announcement quotes Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies:

“We conducted a detailed review of the Brillian 6580iFB set and, to state it simply, it performed outstandingly. It’s the best 1080p HDTV at its price point that we’ve ever seen. The combination of image quality, video processing, software control, and overall system design delivered truly exceptional performance in every metric we evaluated.”

Wow, that’s strong stuff, especially since I know Ray personally, and regard him as one of the foremost experts in analyzing image quality in the display industry. In fact, he taught me much of what I know about evaluating computer and entertainment displays.

While I’m impressed by this display, I do have one big gripe about the press release. And it’s not about the inscrutable model name of the display. (“iFB”? What’s that?) Brillian touts the display as a “true six-megapixel light engine.” Now, the display uses three 1,920 by 1,080 LCoS panels — one each for red, green, and blue — and each creates more than 2 million dots. But to my way of thinking, it’s not fair to add the three together to claim 6 million pixels. It takes one dot from each of the three panels to create a single full-color pixel. So Brillian should claim either a 2 megapixel display, or a 6 megasubpixel display.

Let’s not perpetuate the misleading way of pixel counting that already has become standard in the digital camera industry….