D-BOX Technologies Inc.
2172 de la Province, Longueuil, Quebec
J4G 1R7, Canada
Toll free (Canada/US Only): 1-888-442-3269 ext: 225
You may have noticed recently that some Blu-ray DVDs make reference that they are D-BOX Motion enhanced. If you are unfamiliar with D-BOX, then this review may prove to be rather enlightening as I examine this cutting edge technology and how it impacts the home theater experience.
What is D-BOX? The D-BOX Motion Code™ System is a Motion simulator system currently available for consumer purchase that adds the next level to the home theater experience beyond traditional audio and visual. D-BOX adds the elements of motion and vibration to movies through Motion Actuators that are attached to the viewer’s seating area. These Motion Actuators are fed a signal by a Motion Controller that is in-synch with the on-screen action of the movie.
Types of available D-BOX equipment. D-BOX offers several models of seating with all of the necessary Motion equipment already built-in, or add-on platforms are also available that can be attached to your favorite chair/loveseat/sofa (SRP-230 and SRP-530). For this review, I will be examining the SRP-230 universal platform in combination with D-BOX’s stand-alone Motion Controller.
Assembly and installation of the universal platform. Professional installation of the SRP-230 universal platform is available from an authorized D-BOX installer. This is a nice option if you are not particularly handy or do not have an extra set of hands available to help with the installation. I opted for the self-installation method, and along with the assistance of a friend, we successfully assembled and attached the SRP-230 platform to my sofa over the course of a three to four hour period. The directions included in the packaging were fairly clear and understandable. The most difficult portion of the installation process for me was securing the frame of the SRP-230 universal platform to the underside of my sofa. As my sofa has some tapering in the width along its base, the pre-drilled holes for attaching the SRP-230 platform frame did not line up particularly well. Some jockeying was necessary, but I was eventually able to adequately fasten the frame to the sofa. Suffice it to say, depending on your individual furniture pieces, some installation applications may be easier than others.
Installation of stand-alone Motion Controller. The installation of the stand-alone Motion Controller is much easier. The Motion Controller works in conjunction with your existing DVD player in a loop fashion. The optical or coaxial digital-out signal from your DVD player is sent to the corresponding optical or coaxial digital-in of the D-BOX Motion Controller. The optical or coaxial digital-out signal from the D-BOX Motion Controller is then sent to your A/V receiver. In essence, the D-BOX Motion Controller extracts the information it needs from the DVD before passing through the audio signal to the A/V receiver to be decoded in its normal fashion. Additional connections for the D-BOX Motion Controller include a CAT-5 wire to the Motion Actuators, a power cord, and an optional internet connection to take advantage of Motion Code downloads for additional movie titles. Once both the platform and Motion Controller are installed, all that remains is to insert a D-BOX compatible DVD into your DVD player and press play.
How does the system work? The SRP-230 universal platform has four direct drive Actuators that are aligned under the four corners of your sofa/loveseat/chair. The Actuators are capable of producing 2Gs of acceleration and lifting up to 250 pounds each (1,000 pounds in total for the four Actuators). A control cable runs from the Motion Controller to the SRP-230 universal platform carrying the digital information that was extracted from the DVD in your DVD player. This digital information tells the Actuators when, and to what degree, to engage in order to synchronize its motion and vibration to what is happening on-screen with the movie.
How well does D-BOX perform? I watched three DVD movies for this review, “The Guardian” (Blu-ray), “The Bourne Ultimatum” (standard), and “The 6th Day” (Blu-ray), all three of which have had D-BOX Motion Code written for them. The first movie I watched was “The Guardian” (a movie about Coast Guard rescue swimmers) and accordingly it has several scenes that take place in rough ocean waters. D-BOX generated both side-to-side, and up-and-down, motion to simulate being caught in the treacherous waves. The motion was continuous, smooth, and not at all violent or jerky. I truly felt like I was bobbing up and down in the water, waiting to be rescued. The second movie that I viewed was “The Bourne Ultimatum” (a movie about a spy with amnesia who is trying to uncover his true identity). There is a great deal of action in this movie, including hand-to-hand combat scenes and car chases. The motion created by D-BOX for the fight between the main character, Bourne, and a hired assassin, made the scene quite realistic as I felt as though I was experiencing each punch, kick and body blow happening on-screen. Similarly with the car chase and ensuing crashes, I felt like I was riding in the passenger seat of the vehicle as it swerved into the turns and was jolted by the impact from the other vehicles. The third movie that I watched was “The 6th Day” (a movie about a helicopter pilot who, after being cloned without his knowledge, battles to recapture his identity and life). While there were plenty of great motion and vibration scenes in this movie, one in particular stood out for me. The main character attempts a helicopter escape in which the helicopter needs to quickly climb in flight in order to avoid crashing into a building. D-BOX generated some real G-Force here and made me feel very much a part of this climatic action scene. Overall, D-BOX performed extremely well and it made my viewing experience for these three movies much more realistic and enjoyable.
D-BOX compatible DVD titles. D-BOX does not require a special type of standard or Blu-ray DVD be used, rather the same big-studio DVDs that you already own, or can purchase from the typical retail or on-line store, will work just fine. Some Blu-ray DVDs have D-BOX Motion Code directly embedded on the DVD itself (i.e. “The 6th Day”, “National Treasure 2”, “Die Hard 4”), but the majority of Motion Codes for Blu-ray and standard DVDs is available from D-Box’s Motion Code library which is stored in the Motion Controller. The Motion Controller automatically downloads the Motion Code from its hard drive for the movie titles when a DVD is played. That being said, not every Blu-ray or standard DVD has D-BOX Motion Code currently programmed for it. Presently, there are a total of over 800 standard and Blu-ray DVD titles that are D-BOX compatible. The list of compatible titles is available on D-BOX’s website and new titles are continually being added (which in turn can be downloaded to the Motion Controller via an internet connection). In the event that a movie that does not have Motion Code written for it is played through the D-BOX Motion Controller, no motion will be created, however, the D-BOX will still produce Vibration from the movie’s bass soundtrack (much in the same way that bass shakers and tactile transducers operate).
Conclusion. I am an early-adopter when it comes to electronics and relish the opportunity to discover a new technology to share with people before it gains mainstream consumer acceptance. For that reason, I am excited about the wonderful qualities that Blu-ray DVD brings to home theater. And just as Blu-ray DVD elevates video and audio capability to the next level in home theater, I believe that D-BOX adds yet another level of excitement with its elements of motion and vibration. While the starting price for a D-BOX Motion Code™ system (approximately $3,500.00) is more than an entry-level Blu-ray player, the cost is not prohibitive and actually quite reasonable given this is state-of-the-art technology. The ability to feel and experience the action that is taking place on-screen in a movie cannot be underestimated. I believe that D-BOX has achieved the perfect balance of motion and vibration as its effects are strong enough to be felt, yet never too powerful to distract attention from the movie itself. Having signed licensing agreements with several high-profile home entertainment studios (including Disney, Fox, Sony and Lionsgate), D-BOX appears to be much more than a niche technology. Be fairly warned, once you experience what D-BOX brings to much home theater, you will no longer want to go back to watching a movie without it. Audio and visual alone will lack this extra dimension that helps draw you deeper into the movie experience than ever before.
– Calvin Harding Jr.