Big Picture Big Sound

Can a Projector with no HDMI input (only component video) Still Do HDTV?

By Chris Boylan


Dear Big Picture Big Sound:

I have a great video projector, the NEC LT 260 set up in my home theater. I only use it for watching DVDs. It is capable of projecting 1080px but it is three years old and only has component inputs. I'd like to buy blu-ray or HD DVD deck but none of them have the HD coming thru the components outputs. Is there a solution here?


-"Film King"


Dear Mr. King,

Well I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Blu-Ray disc and HD-DVD players absolutely can (and do) output high definition resolution video via component video outputs. At least for now. HDMI or DVI is not a requirement to watch the next generation formats in high definition.

At some point in the future, it's possible that the studios can start taking advantage of the ICT (Image Constraint Token) which is available in both Blu-Ray Disc and HD-DVD. But no titles released to date have this feature enabled. With the ICT flag enabled, the output of these players (playing ICT-limited movie titles) would be stepped down to 480p output (the same as standard DVD) over the analog component video outputs. At that time, you'd only get high definition output via HDMI or DVI connections, which are HDCP-compliant.

But until then you can absolutely enjoy HD movies in HD resolution on your projector with a Blu-Ray disc or HD-DVD player. For your specific projector, you'll need a 15-pin VGA to 3-RCA plug adapter (such as the NEC part number ADP-CV1) in order to pass the component video output from the player to the projector.

The bad news is that, although your NEC LT260 projector does qualify as "high definition-ready," it does not support 1080p resolution. The native resolution of its DMD (the DLP chip itself) is 1024x768 pixels. It does accept 1080i and 720p inputs, and it scales these high definition inputs to its native 1024x768 pixel resolution.

I'm sure it's a fine-looking projector that will really look its best with a true high definition source (HD-DVD or Blu-Ray), with the player's output set to 1080i or 720p. But if the Image Constraint Token does come into play at some point in the future, then it would be worthwhile to upgrade the projector at that time to one that supports 1080p HDMI inputs, possibly even one that has a 1080p native resolution. The prices of true 1080p projectors are coming down quickly.



Keep those cards and letters coming! if you have a question for one of our home theater experts, shoot us an e-mail to "Ask The Expert." We'll select among these for future installments in this column. Due to the volume of requests we receive, we cannot reply to each question personally.

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