DreamVision Dream’E SXRD Projector
Anamorphic 4 Less
You may not have heard of French projector maker DreamVision, but I sure have. Whenever I’ve seen its projectors at trade shows, I’ve always been impressed by their stylish cabinets, high performance, and high prices.
So I was very surprised at CES 2009 to find that the company was unveiling a relatively budget-priced projector called the Dream’E. Perhaps even more surprising, it’s based on SXRD technology, which is Sony’s version of LCOS. This is the first non-Sony SXRD projector I know of, but DreamVision assured me that it’s not simply a rebranded Sony. DreamVision designed it from the ground up.
The biggest surprise of all was the projector’s anamorphic option. This adds a secondary lens and electronic processing to display 2.35:1 movies on a 2.35:1 screen without the hated black bars above and below the image. This capability normally costs big bucks, but the Dream’E with an anamorphic lens kit lists for less than $10,000. Clearly, I had to see this puppy for myself.
The Dream’E’s curvaceous chassis is available in white, black, and a variety of high-gloss colors. Its center-mounted lens is easier to align with the screen than the off-center lenses that many other projectors use. All of the lens adjustments are manual, including horizontal and vertical shift, zoom, and focus. Electronic keystone correction is available, but I strongly recommend against using it if at all possible since it can reduce image resolution and lead to ugly artifacts.
Of course, the highlight of the Dream’E is its anamorphic capability. You can purchase the projector with or without the so-called Wide System kit, which includes a Panamorph prismatic lens and a mounting bracket that places it in front of the main lens. Unlike many anamorphic lens systems, this one does not use a motorized sled that moves it in and out of the light path. Once it’s mounted, it stays in place.
When the Dream’E displays a 2.35:1 movie, the Cinemascope aspect-ratio mode scales the image vertically while the lens stretches the image horizontally to fill a 2.35:1 screen. To watch 16:9 or 4:3 material in its proper aspect ratio, the Converted 16:9 mode scales the image horizontally, which leaves pillarbox bars on the sides.
The projector also includes a 12-volt trigger output that you can use to activate a screen-masking system for different aspect ratios. According to DreamVision, a Schneider Optics anamorphic lens on a motorized sled is also available as an optional $13,995 Theatre System Kit. A second 12-volt trigger output can activate the sled.
Speaking of the internal processor, it’s an HQV Reon-VX. It provides digital and mosquito noise reduction, among other things. But, oddly, there are no NR controls in the menu system. It also automatically detects film- or video-based content and offers what DreamVision touts as an advanced color management system (CMS), which I’ll have more to say about shortly.
Other noteworthy features include a choice of RGB or Y/Pb/Pr color space for HDMI signals, as well as an Auto setting. Plus, you can set the HDMI level for PC, Video, or Auto. It also has a Black Level setting (0 or 7.5 IRE), and you can turn Overscan on or off. The projector can accept 1080p/24, which it displays at 60 hertz, and you can tweak the alignment of the red and blue imaging panels horizontally and vertically to help minimize color-alignment errors.
The projector’s Blue Only mode is a rare and welcome feature. It turns off the red and green colors, which makes it easier to accurately set the Color and Tint controls than it is when you use those funky blue filters that come with most setup discs.
One feature that’s missing—although I don’t miss it at all—is a dynamic iris. I normally find that dynamic irises make too much noise and/or pump the light levels in an obvious and distracting way. Apparently, DreamVision agrees, so it designed a new light engine that it claims will achieve a native peak contrast ratio of 15,000:1. As you can see in HT Labs Measures, I didn’t measure even a tenth of that, but it was good enough for the human eye in a dark room.
The remote is dead simple, just the way I like ’em. It’s fully illuminated and not universal, and it has dedicated input-selection buttons—well, almost. The single HDMI button toggles between the two HDMI inputs, but all the other input buttons select their respective inputs directly. Likewise, each picture mode has its own dedicated selection button.