Test Report: Dreamvision Starlight LCoS Projector

Lots of companies make cars. Lots of companies make video projectors. But when you look under the hood of either product, you’ll realize that not many companies make engines — i.e., the piston engines that power cars and the light engines that power projectors. That still leaves plenty of things to do like add a body, decide which features should accompany the engine, and sometimes tweak the engine to better suit individual needs.

DreamVision’s new Starlight2 is a perfect example. Beneath the Starlight2’s beautiful exterior — the creation of French industrial designer Antoine Beon — lies the awesome power of a JVC-built LCoS projection engine. To this chassis, DreamVision offers a critically important option: a Schneider anamorphic lens on a fixed mount, a combination that DreamVision apparently considers ideal for this projector.

An anamorphic lens like the Schneider stretches the picture out to fill a CinemaScope-style 2.35:1 projection screen, creating a cinematic effect that makes ordinary 1.85:1 or 1.78:1 (16:9) projection rigs seem like nothing more than big TVs. At $7,995 for lens and mount, the Schneider is about twice the price of lower-cost options from companies like Panamorph, so I was curious to see whether the Schneider offered higher quality for the higher price.

One downside to a fixed-lens arrangement compared with moving-lens rigs is that vertical resolution of 2.35:1 images is reduced, but it’s less expensive to buy and easier to control. Furthermore, the projector needs to be calibrated only once because the lens always remains in place. (A projector equipped with a moving lens must use two calibration memories — one to optimize the picture for when the lens is in place and another for when the lens isn’t in use.)

DreamVision says it has designed the chassis to minimize fan noise. It also offers your choice of a black or white enclosure, and the option of custom colors at extra cost. Estimated life of the UHP lamp is 3,000 hours, well above the 2,000-hour norm. Otherwise, the Starlight2’s feature package is fairly standard for a midprice projector circa 2010. Highlights include a 120-Hz frame rate with Crystal Motion processing to eliminate judder (stuttering onscreen motion sometimes seen with material originally shot on fi lm); two HDMI inputs; and motorized zoom, lens shift, and focus.