PROJECTOR REVIEWS

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Peter Putman Posted: Nov 16, 2003 0 comments

During a panel discussion at the recent Home Entertainment 2003 show in San Francisco, a few of the panelists (including me) indicated that, despite all the new flat-screen imaging technologies found in front projectors, rear-projection TVs, and plasma and LCD monitors, our preference was still for images created by CRTs. A manufacturer's representative on the panel retorted that CRTs were fine in their day, but that his company was in the business of providing the nearest thing to a theater experience in the home—and CRTs just don't cut the mustard anymore.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 10, 2003 Published: Nov 01, 2003 0 comments
The PT-L300U is the little projector that could.

Some of the most affordable front projectors are coming from the pro divisions of well-known companies. Want to pay around $2,000 for an LCD projector? Consider the Panasonic PT-L300U. It hails from the Presentation Systems Group of the Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Company, but don't let that deter you. This projector is fully home-theater-worthy. Judging from the happy-android family pictured on the cover of the instruction manual (as opposed to happy-android executives), that must be intentional.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 03, 2003 0 comments

It's easy to visualize the operation of a CRT projector: three tubes, each operating much as the picture tube in the TV on your kitchen counter, flashing overlapping red, green, and blue analog images onto the screen. If you have a good model in top operating condition, and if you or your installer have slaved over its setup, you'll see an incredible picture—one that, on a home-size screen (not so large as to accentuate a CRT's main limitation of light output), is still as good as home video gets.

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Peter Putman Posted: Oct 13, 2003 0 comments

Reviewing Optoma's H56 DLP front projector has been an issue of karma for me. The H56 has crossed my path several times in the past two months, the first time at the 2003 Consumer Electronics Show, where news of its debut was lost in a sea of PR from other companies. At the time, I paid it little attention.

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Sep 09, 2003 Published: Aug 01, 2003 0 comments
This projector's so bright, you've gotta wear shades.

18.1 foot-lamberts. This light output would be impressive for any front projector. What makes it amazing is that I measured 18.1 ft-L on a 7.5-foot-wide (100-inch-diagonal) Grayhawk screen with a 0.9 gain. If you were to use this projector on a 6-foot-wide (82.5-inch-diagonal) Studiotek 130 screen (which has a gain of +1.3), you'd get an almost-blinding 48.6 ft-L. With that kind of light output, you'd be able to use a screen larger than 12 feet wide (165 inches diagonally) and still have a bright, watchable image. And that's in the low-power mode.

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Kevin Miller Posted: Jul 14, 2003 Published: Jul 15, 2003 0 comments
One giant leap closer to CRT.

Marantz's VP-12S2, the company's top-of-the-line one-chip DLP projector, has a native resolution of 1,280:720 and utilizes the latest Texas Instruments HD2 Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) chip. This new chip offers a significant increase in contrast ratio and black-level performance over last year's VP-12S1 model. The VP-12S2's video processing also incorporates Faroudja's proprietary DCDi deinterlacing for video-based sources and 3:2 pulldown for film-based material. In fact, Marantz uses the full Faroudja chipset, which includes the video decoder, the video enhancer, the 2D comb filter, and DCDi. The latest Marantz DLP offering is definitely one of the top performers in its category.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 12, 2003 0 comments

To a videophile who cut his or her teeth on CRT units, a 7-pound video projector that is no larger than a fat dictionary and can be mounted inconspicuously on a ceiling or table is hard to believe. It can even be stored out of sight and set up again, when needed, in minutes. How good can it be?

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Steven Stone Posted: Jun 29, 2003 0 comments

A year ago, Texas Instruments' new HD2 chip for DLP projectors, with a native resolution of 1280x720, was little more than a promise. Today you can hardly walk into a home-theater dealer without being hit in the eye by a DLP projector based on the HD2. It's just too bad that most HD2-equipped projectors cost more than $12,000.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 17, 2003 0 comments

The CRT is a relatively stable, mature technology, but the new digital projection systems, particularly Texas Instruments' Digital Light Processing (DLP), are moving targets. Last year, DLP really came into its own for home theater with the introduction of TI's HD1 Digital Micromirror Device (DMD). Not only did the HD1 have a true 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio with 1280x720 resolution, but DLP projectors based upon it were significantly better than earlier designs, particularly in the depth of their blacks.

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Peter Putman Posted: May 14, 2003 0 comments

The struggle to displace CRT front projectors from their lofty perch continues in the home-theater world. Cathode-ray tubes still produce the most lifelike images, with wide gray scales and excellent contrast, but they require a fair amount of setup, calibration, and periodic maintenance to keep looking their best.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 19, 2003 0 comments

The Sony VPL-VW12HT is the latest version of Sony's flagship consumer LCD projector. In appearance it's a twin of its pre-decessor, the VPL-VW11HT (reviewed in the July/August 2002 <I>Guide</I>). Its 16:9 LCD panels have the same specifications. It will accept all of the most common source resolutions&mdash;480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i component or RGB&mdash;and scale them to the panels' 1366x768 native resolution. The user can select any of the most common aspect ratios: widescreen (anamorphic or letterbox), 4:3, and several others, including two that pass the source through without scaling. There are six programmable video memories to store different setups, including picture adjustments, color temperature, and aspect ratio.

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Mike Wood Posted: Feb 11, 2003 Published: Feb 12, 2003 0 comments
The upright gets upgraded to a grand.

You'd think there would've been a flood of entry-level DLP projectors since PLUS came out with their HE-3100 last year (see our review in the December 2001 issue). PLUS has even dropped the original Piano's price to $2,700. Usually, this would entice or force others to do likewise. There have been some new entries in the sub-$10,000 price range, but few projectors have reached below $5,000 (except for projectors aimed at the business market). This makes PLUS's step-up model, the $3,299 Piano Avanti HE-3200, even more interesting.

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Steven Stone Posted: Feb 08, 2003 0 comments

For such a tiny projector, the new Plus Piano Avanti HE-3200 has an absurdly long name. The HE-3200 is the next step up the Plus line from the Piano HE-3100, which I reviewed in the December 2001 Guide. For an additional $600, you get more features, greater setup flexibility, and maybe even a better picture.

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Peter Putman Posted: Feb 01, 2003 0 comments

When it comes to selling front projectors into the home-theater market, JVC has always gone its own way. When other manufacturers were jumping into Digital Light Processing (DLP) and high-temperature polysilicon LCD, JVC introduced the direct-drive image light amplifier (D-ILA)&mdash;basically, a liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCoS) imaging device. When others were adopting short-arc metal-halide and vapor lamps, JVC opted for xenon arc lamps to improve white balance.

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Peter Putman Posted: Jan 22, 2003 0 comments

Epson's entrance into the home-theater projector arena has long been anticipated. For years, Epson has had the best color-management system of any maker of LCD projectors, and their ability to tame the uneven spectral output of short-arc metal-halide lamps has been impressive.

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