Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED Projector

Key Features
$15,995 digitalprojection.com
• LED illumination rated at 60,000 hours life
• 1080p resolution
• 1.2x zoom lens (others available)
• Vertical and horizontal lens shift
• Accepts 1080p/24 input signals
• Inputs: (2) HDMI, VGA, (2) component-video (one RCA, one BNC), composite-video, S-video; RS-232C, 3.5mm IR input, (2) 3.5mm 12-volt trigger outputs
• Dimensions + Weight 8 x 175?8 x 17 in; 20 lb (without lens)

Projection enthusiasts will remember January 2010 as the month of their emancipation — the moment when, at long last, they were freed from the expense of regular maintenance on their projectors. As I write this, numerous companies have begun shipping the first LED-based DLP models designed for home theater use. In place of a UHP lamp, these projectors use LEDs rated to last between 20,000 and 100,000 hours, compared with 2,000 to 3,000 hours for most UHP lamps. The only maintenance an LED projector should need is occasional cleaning of its cooling-fan filter.

The first LED projector to splash its light on my screen is the Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED, a relatively compact unit from a company known for large-venue professional projectors. Like other members of LED projection’s first generation, the Cine LED commands a premium price. But DP promises you’ll get 60,000 hours from those LEDs, which means you can run the Cine LED 8 hours a day for more than 20 years.

UHP lamps start to dim and shift color noticeably after about 1,000 hours, necessitating frequent readjustment of the projector’s picture controls. LEDs, however, are said to maintain consistent performance through most of their lifespan. Because LED projectors designed for home theater use employ separate red, green, and blue LEDs, they don’t need the rotating color wheel that lamp-driven single-chip DLP projectors have — and as a result, they don’t produce those projectors’ annoying color fringing.

LEDs also hold the potential for better contrast and deeper blacks. While UHP lamps can be dimmed only partially, LEDs can be dimmed to any level from full on to full off — and they can make the change in a fraction of a second. That means their brightness can be adjusted on a frame-by-frame basis to optimize contrast. This is the same principle as the auto-iris functions found in many projectors, but because it works faster, it has the potential to lessen or eliminate the “pumping” effect that we see with some auto-iris features. The Cine LED includes this feature under the name Dynamic Black.

LEDs also produce more intense color saturation than UHP lamps do, so they can deliver a broader range (or gamut) of colors. However, these extra colors lie outside the range of what’s available in current HDTV productions — so unless the manufacturer employs some technology to make use of that extra color (and thus enhance the color in an artificial way), this capability yields little benefit for now. The Cine LED looks and works like an ordinary home theater projector. It comes with a fairly simple remote control and has a complete set of controls on the back. Digital Projection also offers a wide selection of lens options for the MVision Cine LED to suit all sorts of installations.

SETUP

From an installation standpoint, the Cine LED offers all the luxury of a Motel 6. Focus and zoom are manual, and you need a metric Allen wrench to adjust horizontal and vertical lens shift. But just as a Motel 6 feels the same as the Ritz- Carlton once you’re asleep, the Cine LED’s lens adjustments pose no problems once set. The zoom range is limited compared with many other projectors, but if your installer mounts the projector correctly, this won’t cause problems.

Otherwise, the Cine LED sets up just like any other projector. At the 6,500-K color temperature setting, it’s factory-calibrated to near perfection. Even the brightness and contrast controls barely needed adjustment; the Cine LED seems like it’s calibrated specifically for the Stewart StudioTek 100 screen I use and the dark environment of my home theater.

I’d been led to believe that the first generation of LED projectors wouldn’t be able to match the brightness of lamp-based models. This prediction proved accurate in the case of the Cine LED, which on my 80-inch-wide screen maxed out at 16.2 footlamberts after calibration. That’s low for a projector in this price range, but bright enough for a modestly sized screen like mine in an environment with well-controlled lighting.

I’d also been led to believe that LED would eliminate the long warm-up and cool-down that UHP lamps require. Instant gratification was dashed, though, as I waited 40 seconds for the Cine LED to show a picture after I hit the Power button. But when I powered down, the picture went black and the fan stopped in about 1 second.

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