Your home is about to sound a lot like your local movie theater.
That’s the primary message coming out of Dolby Labs in San Francisco.
Dolby is expanding and improving its own Home Theater software technology, bringing surround sound effects to devices that previously couldn’t manage that output. Version 4.0 of the Dolby Home Theater interface allows users to manage surround sound capabilities for everything from AV receivers to Blu-ray players to televisions and game systems. Consumers can also create and save their own preset sound mixes for different rooms, different genres and different devices.
The engineers at Dolby realize that tablets and smart phones are maneuvering to take on an ever larger portion of home entertainment. So, Home Theater and its cousin, Dolby Mobile, now supports more of those devices. While such portable players seemingly lack surround capability even with headphones, Home Theater manipulates audio elements to simulate the surround experience.
Dolby announced that the following computers now come Dolby Home Theater 4.0 ready: the Acer Aspire 8950G, Lenovo ThinkPad X1, Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E220s, E420s and T420s and HP Pavilion dv6, dm4 and dv4. Dolby Home Theater 3.0 is still native to Sony VAIO F, L, LV, J Series, Lenovo Ideapad Y Series, IdeaCentre A700, Toshiba Qosmio X505, Gateway ID 49C and 549C Series, Medion Touch X9613 and Acer Ferrari One 200.
The new Dolby Mobile software package gives consumers a richer audio experience out of the box for movies, videos and music. It’s intended specifically for tablets and smart phones and can connect those devices to larger audio drivers via HDMI.
The current list of mobile devices with Dolby Mobile include LG Arena, Revolution, Optimus , Black, enV Touch, Chocolate Touch, HTC Surround, Inspire, Desire HD. The newest products packed with Dolby Mobile include ZTE Light Tab and Acer ICONIA Tab A500.
Though home consumers can look forward to the Home Theater advances, the conference was built around Dolby’s new 7.1 Surround Sound technology for motion picture theaters. The 7.1 system builds on 5.1 with two additional rear speakers – adding to the previous speaker arrangement in theaters. The emerging 7.1 creates a network of four surround channels and three front channels for movie lovers to soak up while they work on that silo of popcorn.
Dolby also rolled out improvements to its line of 3D movie going tools, including a new projection system and cutting edge glasses. The projector uses a filter wheel and a brighter projection system to enhance theater 3D. It could be an important step forward for Dolby 3D-equipped theaters as a primary complaint for 3D moviegoers is how dark the required polarized glasses make the screen – like watching a movie through sunglasses.
By broadcasting a brighter original image and filtering through a rapidly shuttering filter wheel, Dolby allows more light to make it to the screen and through the glasses.
The glasses themselves also present a problem for many 3D movie fans. Many designs are uncomfortable and unwieldy. So, Dolby introduced new glasses at Surrounded with their co-designer, 3M. The latest 3D spectacles include thinner polarized filters and lighter frames that fit over more than 90% of prescription frames. Dolby even trotted out a new smaller design for children that match the design specs of the grown-up models.
The 3D improvements are theater ready and making their way into international multiplexes currently.