Top TV/Video Picks in 2021 (So Far) Page 2


LG HU810PW 4K Laser DLP Projector: $2,999

LG’s HU810PW breaks ground as the first ceiling-mount projector to offer the sort of smart features we’ve come to expect from today’s TVs. The laser-lit DLP projector uses pixel shifting technology to deliver 4K resolution and provides ready access to Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Peacock, YouTube, Showtime, Starz, and other streaming apps via a wired or Wi-Fi connection, courtesy of the same webOS 5.0 interface found in LG's flat-panel TVs. The projector also comes with LG’s Magic Remote, which lets you control the projector using voice commands or by pointing at (and clicking on) a cursor on the screen.

Smart TV tricks aside, the projector is equipped with an eARC-enabled HDMI 2.1 port for routing audio (including Dolby Atmos) from the projector to an outboard receiver or processor and is spec'd to cover 97 percent of the DCI-P3 color space in addition to supporting the HDR10 and Hybrid Log Gamma high-dynamic-range (HDR) formats. It also features a Dynamic Tone Mapping mode that adjusts HDR images on a frame-by-frame basis and offers a series of white-balance adjustments you don’t usually find on a projector.

No question, this is probably the most feature-laden ceiling mount projector in existence but it’s also a strong performer. Reviewer Al Griffin was particularly impressed with the detail and contrast conveyed in the opening scenes of the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey on Ultra HD Blu-ray, the rich color in the Amazon Prime series ZeroZeroZero, and the projector’s HDR prowess in the mostly monochrome 2018 Chinese film Shadow: There was a “wide range of creamy gray tones in scenes that take place in the king of Pei's court, and I didn't note any color tinting that wasn't originally part of the movie's post-production special effects. Blacks looked consistently solid, and image highlights also had a satisfying level of punch.” In the final analysis, LG’s HU810PW delivers impressive all-around performance and a bevy of unique features at a reasonable price.

Ample brightness and good contrast
Flexible zoom and lens shift range
Built-in streaming apps
Requires calibration for best performance
Smart features may be overkill for some

Full Review Here (posted 5/26/21)


EPV Screens DarkStar UST 2 Efinity Projection Screen: $2,799 (as tested)

It’s taken a few years but ultra-short-throw (UST) projectors that throw a massive image when placed only inches from the wall have become well established with the likes of Samsung, LG, and Epson now offering UST models. Sure, you could project the image on a bare wall but why would you? The result will be far from ideal for all sorts of reasons, which brings us to EPV’s DarkStar UST 2 Efinity — a video projection screen designed specifically for use with this new class of projectors.

The Efinity is an affordable ambient-light-rejecting (ALR) screen designed expressly for use with a UST projector. In short, a special optical coating on the surface of the screen filters out most of the light emanating from above the screen while reflecting light coming from below where the projector sits; the screen also has a special black layer that absorbs light to increase contrast and color saturation. Using Epson’s Top Pick-designated LS500 projector, resident video expert/S&V editor Al Griffin put a 9-foot-wide (123-inch diagonal) screen with a thin fixed-edge frame only 0.4 inches thick to the test. He was not disappointed.

With years of experience judging video quality, Griffin was impressed with both the “floating TV” look he was able to achieve and the screen’s ability to render rich, detailed images with movies and sports — even when the room’s overhead lights were left on. “The IMAX-shot scenes in Tenet on Ultra HD Blu-ray were incredibly immersive as they filled up the full 16:9 aspect ratio screen. This is how you do IMAX at home! As I watched a sequence where The Protagonist fights travelers from the future in the time-turnstile, details like the pinstripes of his suit were clearly rendered amidst all the motion and chaos, and black levels were for the most part solid.” If you like the idea of achieving a vivid, theater-like presentation without having to turn off all of the lights in the room, EPV’s DarkStar UST 2 Efinity screen can help get you there.

Highly immersive image from 123-inch screen
Easy assembly
Five-year warranty
Very good value
Requires high-brightness projector for best performance

Full Review Here (posted 8/11/21)

Stewart Filmscreen Harmony G2 Acoustically Transparent Screen: $3,242 (as tested)

Stewart Filmscreen has been crafting movie-theater screens at its facility in California since the Golden Age of Hollywood so it knows a thing or two about making high-performance video screens. The company is, of course, also well versed in the art of making “acoustically transparent” (AT) screens designed to pass sound from the speakers located behind the screen in every commercial movie theater — and a growing number of home theaters. The company’s new Harmony G2 screen is made of a proprietary woven fabric specifically designed to enhance audio fidelity without compromising image quality, particularly brightness, color accuracy, and white-field uniformity.

Professional video calibrator Michael Hamilton evaluated an 8 x 4.5-foot screen using Epson’s outstanding 5050UB projector, Sound & Vision’s 2019 Top Pick of the Year in projectors. It didn’t take long for his inner video geek to verify the screen’s ability to deliver “fantastic detail, wonderful edge-to-edge uniformity with no motion artifacts” and confirm that its woven structure does not impede or color the sound moving through it. Five hours of watching Formula 1 racing and the varied dialects of international pit crews and drivers revealed “no discernable diminishment of intelligibility.” If there’s a caveat, it’s that the Harmony G2 demands a bright projector, especially with high dynamic range (HDR) content. Even so, it distinguishes itself as a reference-grade screen worthy of our highest recommendation.

Superb uniformity and detail rendition
Precise color tracking and accurate saturation
Minimal reduction in audio fidelity
Woven design involves inherent light loss
Beer budgeteers may find it champagne-priced

Full Review Here (posted 8/25/21)

To browse all Sound & Vision-recommended AV gear, broken out by category, visit our Top Picks page.


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