Darbee first announced the next generation of its popular image-enhancement processor at CES last January, but now it's about ready to ship some time in the fourth quarter of 2014. The DVP-5100CIE (Custom Install Edition) offers the same processing as the original DVP-5000 Darblet in a rack-mountable housing with all connections on the rear panel, making it much easier to install. It also provides a USB port for field upgradability.
But perhaps the most important new feature is what Darbee calls PhaseHD technology, which assures bulletproof HDMI handshaking. Even better, it allows HDMI cable lengths up to 150 feet! The demo in Darbee's booth included an Oppo BDP-103 connected to a DVP-5100CIE with a 30-meter HDMI cable and another 6-foot HDMI cable from the processor to a Samsung 50" LED-LCD UHDTV; the image was rock solid with no sign of any HDMI problems, such as sparklies, which can appear if the cable is too long.
Like its predecessor, the DVP-5100CIE works on signals up to 1080p (not UHD), so the TV was doing the upscaling. The processor was set to 90%, and a vertical line swept back and forth across the screen with the processing engaged on one side of the line; this allowed viewers to compare the processed and unprocessed image. As I've come to expect from Darbee, the improvement in detail and depth was obvious, though perhaps a bit overdone; I generally set my Darblet at 50% or so.
In another part of the booth, an Oppo BDP-105D (with integrated Darbee processing) was playing footage from the Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark Second Edition Blu-ray on a Sony UHDTV; the TV's X-Reality Engine image-enhancement feature enabled. Again, a vertical line swept back and forth across the screen with Darbee processing active on one side of the line. The difference between the two images was not as dramatic in some cases, but obvious in others, such as sandy ground, flowers, and water. According to the company rep I spoke with, the Darbee circuit does not process parts of the image that don't need it, which is why it can work hand in hand with other processors.
The DVP-5100CIE will ship in the fourth quarter of this year for a list price of $499, and I'm sure it will find a home in many home theaters.
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