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Illuminating the Ideal Home Viewing Environment

[Publisher's Note:  The following article is provided to ISF Forum readers by G. Alan Brown, the founder of CinemaQuest Inc. and creator of Ideal-Lume, the sole source for reference standard lighting products used in professional and home viewing environments throughout the world. Alan is one of the world's most knowledgeable, passionate and eloquent advocates for display industry standards and imaging excellence. We're pleased to be able to provide Alan with a platform to explain why your home viewing environment matters and what you can do to make it work better for you.

You can read more about Alan and his background here.]

There’s no doubt about it – consumers are becoming ever more demanding about television picture quality. This relatively new phenomenon is largely being driven by the fact that consumers have begun to move en masse to HDTV. As a result they’re suddenly spending anywhere from three to 10 times (or more) what they would have paid half a decade ago on a box-standard, replacement-level color television.

And, as a result, consumer expectations have been irreversibly raised.

While it appears that even casual viewers understand that HDTV technology is at the heart of the picture quality improvement all those extra TV dollars are delivering, there’s also an apparent realization that while the display may be the biggest and most obvious piece of the picture quality equation, it is most definitely not the only consideration.

This is probably most apparent in the explosion in demand for HDTV programming – whether it be over-the-air broadcasts, cable or satellite program delivery, or via new packaged media, such as Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. There’s also rapidly growing interest by consumers in professional video calibration services, as well as the use of high-end cables and interconnects, video scalers and processors, and power management and conditioning solutions.

All in the quest for even better picture quality.

The Missing Link: The Viewing Environment

Given all that, there’s still one fundamental ingredient in the picture quality recipe that is the least-recognized, the least-understood, and without question, the most consistently overlooked element – the viewing environment. Despite a traditional indifference to viewing environment requirements, they have a direct and weighty impact on the picture quality that an HDTV can deliver to viewers.

Perhaps the best way to bring the mystery of the ideal home viewing environment into clearer focus is to gain an appreciation for the importance these factors are given by film industry and television professionals.