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Zooming In: 2011 CES, the Unusual and the Innovative

February 11, 2011 By Bob McKay
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I have untold thousands of color slides at home, all in slide trays (straight European ones) and all unseen for several years. German slide-projector company Carl Braun was working on a multi-mag projector that, instead of throwing images onto a screen, digitizes them for display on a monitor or HDTV set. It seems that they sold the idea to Enna who in turn passed it on to Reflecta, who now sells it as the Reflecta DigitDia 5000 + SilverFast Ai 6.6 IT-8 in Germany for a measly (!) 1259 Euros, or only $1,700. You can find simpler but far cheaper digitizers at, especially a new 9MB model with stack feeder that is alas not yet on their website. You only need to digitize to 2MB for current HDTV sets and monitors, but the next-gen HDTV sets will be four times as sharp, so 9MB will fit nicely.

Which brings us to the subject of 3D HDTV viewing, perhaps the biggest event at CES. By definition, every current HDTV 3D system depends on having each of our eyes seeing the image from a different viewpoint, and they do this by making us don special glasses. Every time I do so, the image dims considerably. Silly question: why can’t such TV sets have a “double brightness” mode to offset the light loss the glasses impose (at least the LED ones)? Anyway I’m still enthralled by my new 1080p LED edge-lit 46-inch HDTV in 2D. I hooked up a spare set of computer speakers I had (two mid-range and one woofer) and the sound improved noticeably at zero marginal cost. The SD card slot in my Blu-ray player does a great job at moving my digicam images onto the big screen.

Nostalgia buffs will have noticed that Lady Gaga is now the promotional face of Polaroid and that The Impossible Project has resurrected Polaroid films, while their spin-off ZINK has a new tiny printer for 3x4-inch prints from digital sources. You might remember that Polaroid instant cameras feed light into the front of the print, thus requiring one mirror and hence allowing for small form factors. In an attempt to bypass Polaroid patents, Kodak (years ago) fed their lightpath into the back of the print, thus necessitating either two mirrors or none at all, and cameras with a larger form factor. Fujifilm uses the Kodak logic, and thus its instant cameras have a different “look” to Polaroid’s.

Here endeth the sermon.



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