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HP: colours 'jump off the screen'

HP: colours 'jump off the screen'

Hewlett-Packard is planning to deploy a new colour display technology it says can display one billion colours, making them far more vibrant and real, across its product lines.

The technology was developed by HP and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and is intended to ensure that colours used in movies are consistent throughout the production process and even in printing.

HP says that the technology improves upon today's widely used displays, which offer 24-bit colour making 16.7 million colours available per pixel; HP plans to raise the colour display to 30-bit, which can offer 1 billion colours per pixel. The product is called the HP Dreamcolour display, and it follows a two-year collaboration between the computer maker and the animation studio.

The display was announced Tuesday at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas.

HP is using display technology that incorporates a graphics card from ATI, the company acquired last year by Advance Micro Devices that supports 30-bit colour displays. It also incorporates a new LED backlight technology in its LCD screen that makes blacks blacker and whites whiter, said Jeff Wood, director of product marketing for HP.

Wood claims that viewers will "see red like you have never seen before; blues and greens that just jump off the screen."

HP's product won't be ready until later this summer, and while it has been initially targeted for workstations, its display technology "can be used on any myriad of systems today," said Wood. He said plans call for making this display technology available across a range of consumer and business products.

HP isn't widely showing its technology, and Chris Chinnock, president of research firm Insight Media, is among those waiting to see it. But he said the 30-bit shouldn't really increase the colour gamut of a display or the black levels of the display.

What 30-bit should do is give much better gradation between those levels, said Chinnock. In very subtle changes of colour, such as a sky displayed on an LCD television, "you will see these bands across the sky - discrete steps in the shades of blue, and that's because 24-bit is not quite enough bit depth to cover all this fine gradations of colour." But with 30-bit colour "you can basically smooth that all it, you won't see that banding, that contouring, they call it.

"It will make the displays much more accurate in being able to display colours and gray-scale properly," said Chinnock. Whether the colours look more vibrant and saturated will depend more on the backlight technology HP uses, he said.

Most source media, photos and graphics, are intended for 24-bit displays, meaning the new technology must extrapolate to create a 30-bit image. While it would be better if source media moved up to the more detailed colour display, Chinnock doesn't see that happening anytime soon. Even so, there will be benefits with using 30-bit displays.


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