DreamVision Dream'E front projector Page 2

PERFORMANCE

In 16:9 mode with my regular screen, the Dream'E delivered a competitive picture for its price range. The color rendition, in particular, impressed me. Straightforward productions such as the stoner comedy Pineapple Express let the Dream'E throw its best images. Its accurate rendition of flesh tones lent the picture a realistic, filmlike look, and its top-quality video processing precluded any noise, jaggies, or other artifacts.

The DreamVision achieves reasonably deep black levels, although not quite as deep as I've seen with some other, slightly more expensive projectors. On dark, intense visual extravaganzas like the Blu-ray Disc of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, I noticed the picture had a bit less punch and contrast than I'm used to seeing, although never to the point where it had that washed-out look of some budget LCD projectors.

The Dream'E really strutted its stuff when I switched to a 2.35:1 screen, hit the Cinemascope mode, and tweaked the black and white levels to compensate for the larger screen and the lens. The projector's 200-watt bulb had plenty enough oomph to illuminate the wider screen, although a contrast reduction introduced by the lens exacerbated the black-level issue.

When you see what a 2.35:1 setup can do, though, minor technical matters fall by the wayside. Rather than take up part of my listening-room wall, the screen stretched almost all the way across it. The visuals on Hellboy II almost seemed to wrap around me, and the overall experience was more immersive than 16:9 could ever be. Next to a 2.35:1 setup, conventional 16:9 screens seem like nothing more than big TVs.

My time spent with DreamVision's fixed-lens 2.35:1 rig taught me that it has advantages over the moving-lens systems. For example, in 2.35:1 mode, the top and bottom of the picture (where the black bars appear on a regular 16:9 screen) get cut off - and so do the top and bottom of the disc menu. That means you often have to change the display's aspect ratio when navigating menus. With DreamVision's fixed-lens system, this takes about 2 seconds - just jab the remote's Aspect button to switch to

Converted 16:9 mode. With a motorized sled, it takes several seconds to change the aspect ratio and several more to change it back. With the Dream'E, you don't need to do separate calibrations for the projector with and without the lens, which my experience with the UH480 suggests is necessary for moving-lens systems.

I noticed some horizontal resolution loss in the Converted 16:9 mode, but only when watching non-2.35:1 high-definition movies or TV programs - especially 1080i or 1080p sources. And there was no resolution loss with standard-def DVDs.

BOTTOM LINE

Once you've seen a 2.35:1 projection system, a regular 16:9 rig will forever seem inadequate. Switching to 2.35:1 is the most dramatic upgrade you can make to your home theater - and DreamVision's Dream'E and Wide System kit provide one of the simplest ways to stretch your image to theatrical proportions.

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