Wow, a lot of comments, don't know where to start.
First, I think if anything, HD shows the quality not of a transfer (sorry, if you don't have access to the original source, you can't determine what a good transfer is), but the quality of film elements used. If the film had a lot of soft shots, even digitally enhancing these (sharpening) isn't going to improve it that much. Not going in with that understanding, I can see where a lot of the films looked disappointing.
After the demo tape, I went in expecting to see movies that looked as sharp as the demo tape. U-571 was about the only one that did (and so did X-Men). But where I *think* I saw the 28.8mbs being used is very little 'film grain' effect. Many movies on HBO to me are either noisy or grainy (not all, just a few) whereas none of the films I watched at WSR looked this way.
I think the demo facility at WSR was part of the problem. I think the differences would have been more notable on the VX1000s vs. the CRT which was on a smaller screen, and farther away (the first row of seats I estimated to be 12 feet away, followed by 3 more rows of crammed in seating). That far away, sure, a DVD will look as good as the HD versions or close to it. I think it was bad scaling up to 840p. They should have left it at 480p for a more "realistic" comparison. And, it should have been on the bigger screen so people could clearly see the differences.
One other idea I had was they should have shown the HD version first, then the DVD version. But on a 78" screen 12-18 feet away, of course the differences will look negligible.
Yes, a new FW will be required for 1080p. Hey, did Joe Kane basically go over his lust for perfection and how the editing systems for every studio and tv station suck, and his will be revolutionary?
No mention of a 35000er, and no roadmap for more movies. They said the plan was 4 movies per month (2 from Fox every month). The JVC rep said other studios were going to join on board perhaps by the end of the year, but none wanted to be first.
I also asked about D-Theater in Japan, and what about all those people that have units now (basically, installed base of all D-VHS according to Japanese JVC rep is 100,000 units). He said there is interest, but., like Panny/Mitsubishi owners here, the japanese will be out of luck and have to replace their units. There are no plans to release unencrypted prerecorded movies.
Ken, most of us were pretty far away from the screen to see the quality differences. that's why I'll be doing a comparison with another member later this week. I know he's watching T-2 at his place and I'll hear his impressions soon enough. It's been a while since I have seen Independence Day, so don't remember what the DVD looked like.
I don't think WSR overhyped it. They probably spent a lot of time comparing to see the differences. I applaud WSR for not only hosting an event like this, but their hospitality. Great people. I think where it fell apart is the upconversion of DVD, the small screen of the CRT, and the seating arrangements. Their Holosonic theater is small (crammed with equipment) and would have been better suited for a smaller # of people. Having said that, the weakness was using the 78" screen and CRT.