PROJECTOR REVIEWS

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Shane Buettner Posted: May 04, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $7,995 At A Glance: State-of-the-art blacks and contrast • Reference-quality 2D and 3D performance • Painful setup and calibration to achieve best performance

The Agony and the Ecstasy

JVC’s projectors have been fixtures in HT’s Top Picks in recent years. This year, the anticipation of getting our hands on JVC’s newest projectors was even more acute. Not only has the line been completely redesigned for the first time in a couple of years, this is JVC’s first series of 3D projectors. The $7,995 DLA-X7 reviewed here is the middle child, between the $4,495 DLA-X3 (reviewed by Kris Deering on page 58) and the $11,995 flagship DLA-X9, which is essentially a DLA-X7 with hand-picked parts and 3D paraphernalia—two pair of active shutter glasses and a 3D sync transmitter—included. The DLA-X7 is THX approved for 2D and 3D. It carries over virtually all of the significant features from last year’s JVC models, while adding 3D capability. If you don’t believe I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this projector, check with JVC. Their corporate communications guru suffered an incessant onslaught of phone and voicemail messages through the holidays until the DLA-X7 was safely on my doorstep.

Kris Deering Posted: May 03, 2011 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $4,495 At A Glance: Reference-quality 2D and 3D projection • Amazing value • Could be brighter

Value to the Third Dimension

It’s no secret that we’ve become huge fans of JVC’s string of D-ILA projectors. Ever since the DLA-HD1 hit the market years ago, JVC has been a big player on the projector scene, with industry-leading native contrast and exceptional HD picture quality.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 28, 2011 0 comments
Price: $29,995 At A Glance: Outstanding resolution and color • Bright—even on a 10-foot screen • Black level and contrast well short of cutting edge

DLP Hangs Tough

Digital Light Processing (DLP) may have jump-started the whole digital display revolution in the late 1990s, but to the consumer, the technology might look like it’s fallen on hard times. Only one major HDTV manufacturer—Mitsubishi—now makes DLP rear projectors. And since DLP is a projection technology, there are no DLP sets that can project an image across a distance of 2 inches or less to compete with today’s popular flat panels.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 25, 2011 4 comments
Price: $6995 At a Glance: Gorgeous color • Exquisite detail • Excellent shadow detail • So-so blacks • Exceptional video processing • Stellar optics

Digital Projection International (DPI) might not be a familiar projector company to many home-theater enthusiasts—at least, not as familiar as Epson, JVC, Optoma, and Sony. But commercial users know the name well, because DPI has been supplying high-end, high-priced DLP projectors for broadcast, theatrical, simulation, medical, education, and corporate applications since 1997. In fact, DPI was Texas Instruments' first DLP partner and the original innovator of the 3-chip DLP projector.

Over the last few years, DPI has been directing more of its efforts toward home-theater applications and now offers seven series of products for that market. The most affordable home-theater model is the M-Vision Cine 230, a single-chip design that offers many of the same features found in the company's more expensive offerings for less than $7000.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 25, 2011 8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $6995 At a Glance: Gorgeous color • Exquisite detail • Excellent shadow detail • So-so blacks • Exceptional video processing • Stellar optics

Digital Projection International (DPI) might not be a familiar projector company to many home-theater enthusiasts—at least, not as familiar as Epson, JVC, Optoma, and Sony. But commercial users know the name well, because DPI has been supplying high-end, high-priced DLP projectors for broadcast, theatrical, simulation, medical, education, and corporate applications since 1997. In fact, DPI was Texas Instruments' first DLP partner and the original innovator of the 3-chip DLP projector.

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Kris Deering Posted: Mar 03, 2011 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,199 At A Glance: Class-leading features • Anamorphic lens compatibility • Incredible value

Still Defining Value

It’s truly amazing the kinds of values you can find in home theater today. When I first got into this hobby in the mid-’90s, most frontprojection systems were bulky and expensive. But with projectors like the Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 9700 UB, consumers can have truly outstanding front projection for the cost of a higher-end flat-panel HDTV, something that was unheard of even a few years ago. And the value isn’t the only thing to get excited about. Epson includes some very cool features in this gem, including THX certification, anamorphic lens compatibility, and a host of video processing features.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 11, 2010 0 comments
Price: $6,995 (optional Schneider Optics lens: $7,995) At A Glance: Big, bright, punchy image • Black level and shadow detail compete with the best • Excessively wide color gamut

Broaden Your Horizons

If you’ve investigated the subject of constant-height projection, you know that it can be a complicated, slightly intimidating business. We covered the ground rather thoroughly in “Beating the Black Bars” (HT, October 2008). Constant-height display generally involves placing a so-called anamorphic lens in front of a projector’s native lens when viewing true widescreen films—that is, films with an aspect ratio of around 2.35:1 (often called scope films). Such a setup also employs a 2.35:1 screen. For material with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 or less, the lens is normally moved out of the way and the image is projected onto the 2.35:1 screen with black bars on each side. This is sometimes called windowboxing.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 13, 2010 0 comments
3D Digital Cinema Comes Home

Tell me you’ve never imagined what you’d do first if you won the lottery. Even if you never play and you know you have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than winning $10 million or (it’s a dream, isn’t it, so why go small potatoes?) even $100 million. Sure, if you take it all at once rather than in $5 million drabs over 20 years, that will drop to $50 million out of the gate. After Uncle Sam gets his cut, you’re down to $25 million. There goes your chance to buy the Seattle Seahawks.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Aug 15, 2010 0 comments
Price: $14,995 At A Glance: Superb color performance • Potential for zero-drift performance over time • Detail and contrast strong, but not state of the art • Expensive

Solid-State Front Projection

Digital projection is finally digital. Yes, we’ve been looking at projected images made of discrete pixels created by digital imaging chips for the last decade or so. But in one essential aspect, digital projection has remained in the analog domain. The lamps that drive light through these projectors and onto our screens have been 100-percent analog. Even when they’re new, the performance of these lamps can adversely affect color fidelity, gamma, and gray-scale tracking. They also determine the overall light output the projector is capable of. As the lamp ages, virtually all of these critical aspects of performance drift somewhat. In the better designs, the change is mostly benign. But there’s no denying that any lamp-driven projector’s light output drops over time, and multi-hundred-dollar lamp replacements every 2,000 hours or so are a fact of life. Until now.

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Shane Buettner Posted: May 25, 2010 0 comments
Price: $15,000 At A Glance: LEDs promise longevity, consistent performance • Excellent color • Good contrast mitigated by unrefined dynamic contrast performance

Get the LED In

The last few years have been a golden age for digital front projection in home theater applications. Today’s best projectors offer an absolutely stellar combination of price, convenience, essential features, and most importantly, performance. In virtually all of these respects, today’s digital projectors shatter any expectations we had a few years ago. But there is a rub. Digital projection as we’ve known it has been driven by analog lamps for illumination. These lamps, which generally cost $300 to $500 each, age and need to be replaced every couple of thousand hours. If you insist on the very best performanceyou may need to replace them even sooner. In addition to dropping light output, aging lamps also affect a projector’s color performance, gammaand gray-scale tracking. Inother words, the lamp-driven projector you buy today isn’t the same projector you’ll have after several hundred hours without a touch-up calibration.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Apr 26, 2010 0 comments
Price: $6,995 At A Glance: Extraordinary out-of-box performance • Exceptional blacks and contrast • Very strong value proposition

Dynamic Images From Runco

Runco is one of the names that the home theater industry is built on. That’s not hyperbole; neither home theater nor Home Theater would be here today without the vision of men like Sam Runco. He helped design the products that created the custom install channel, and he championed front-projection home cinema. A few years ago, Planar bought Runco, and while Sam is no longer there, the Planar PD8150 we reviewed in June 2008 signaled that we could look forward to innovative new front-projection designs under the Planar and Runco banners.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Mar 29, 2010 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $15,995 (with zoom lens; $16,995 with fixed lens) At A Glance: No lamp replacement • Superb color and detail • Excellent video processing • Real-world blacks could be deeper

LED Comes on Strong

Ever since I first heard about front projectors with LED light sources, the idea has intrigued me. Before RPTVs imploded, a few LED-illuminated models were available. Now, front projectors that use this technology have begun to appear.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 22, 2010 0 comments
Price: $8,000 At A Glance: Superior black level and shadow detail • Accurate color • Brightness to spare

Setting the Bar Higher

Since the launch of JVC’s DLA-RS1 projector more than three years ago, consumers have anticipated each of the company’s new DLA designs. In some respects, such as resolution and brightness, JVC’s projectors have run neck and neck with their competition. However, they haven’t broken new ground. But with regard to producing inky black levels, without the help of a dynamic iris, they arguably have no equals.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 08, 2010 0 comments
Price: $3,000 At A Glance: Deep blacks • Accurate color • Superb image depth

Sony’s new BRAVIA VPL-HW15 is a reworking of last year’s VPL-HW10. At a modest $3,000 (modest as projectors go, that is), the VPL-HW15 offers a useful lineup of features and a picture that I didn’t expect at this price. With exceptional color, barely short of state-of-the-art blacks, and vivid, almost 3-D images on the best program material, it…. OK, I’m in danger of giving away the store up front. Read more to get the details.

Description
The VPL-HW15’s gently curved top echoes the look of Sony’s higher-end VPL-VW85, while the lens that recesses into a sculpted front panel does not. The controls and inputs are located on the side.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 08, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,295 At A Glance: Excellent video processing • Stunning resolution • Poor shadow detail

While Mitsubishi might have a larger footprint in your memory with its big-screen TVs and flat panels, the company is focused on front projection. In fact, its Website shows 26 projector models, including four home theater designs.

Mitsubishi projectors are not your father’s Mitsubishi, and by that I mean video displays, not cars. Its projectors are marketed by the company’s Presentation Products division, which is separate from the division that sells flat-panel and rear-projection TVs.

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