Many projector manufacturers offer 2.35:1 (anamorphic) viewing options that provide expensive add-on anamorphic lenses with motorized “lens sleds” that truck the anamorphic lenses into position for 2.35:1 (Cinemascope) viewing, then pull the lenses out of the way for 16:9 (HDTV) viewing. Most of us have seen this sort of system in action and while the results are arguably worth the effort the fact remains that lens + sled solution are, well, a bit complicated and cumbersome.
Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when I checked out the sleek new Dream’E projector from the French firm Dream Vision, which offers a remarkably simple, straightforward, single-lens solution for those who enjoy viewing content in both 2.35:1 and 16:9 aspect ratios.
The Dream’E starts life as a full-featured, high-performance 3-panel LCoS projector that comes complete with a built-in HQV processor and carries an MSRP of $5295. But what really caught my eye was Dream Vision’s cool “Wide System Kit” for the Dream’E, which when purchased with the projector pulls the total MSRP up to a still very reasonable $9595.
A Dream Vision spokesman told me the Wide System Kit had been developed in conjunction with Prism, and here’s what makes that kit so special. Most anamorphic systems (as mentioned above) use the projector’s standard lens for 16:9 viewing, and then use a secondary anamorphic lens in conjunction with a “vertical stretch” mode for 2.35:1 viewing . But with the Dream Vision Wide System Kit in place, you can use just one lens for both aspect ratios.
Here’s how that works: the Dream Vision Wide System Kit provides a permanently installed anamorphic lens that resides in an attractively styled (though slightly “sci-fi”-looking) housing fitted to the front of the projector. No motorized lens sled is used, or needed. The projector’s “native” display format thus becomes 2.35:1, but—and this is the neat part—it can still switch back to 16:9 mode at the push of a button, because it incorporates a software-driven, onboard processor-facilitated “horizontal squeeze” mode. It works like a charm.
To be clear, Dream Vision’s Dream’E is not the only projector ever to offer a “horizontal squeeze” mode. But it does offer one of the more elegant and fully integrated solutions I’ve yet seen—one that lets you switch back and forth between Cinemascope (2.35:1) and HDTV (16:9) aspect ratios on the fly. I encourage you to check it out (it makes sled-driven systems seem so…yesterday).