Yamaha DPX-1300 DLP projector Page 2

Setup of the DPX-1300 was typical of digital projectors that offer the convenience of motorized zoom, focus, and lens shift. I initially used the 6500K +/-0.00 setting of the color temperature. Later measurements showed it to be, in fact, the most accurate setting (at least initially)—something that is almost never the case with the products we review.

The best settings of the primary video controls varied slightly with the program material, but were generally close to the optimum settings indicated by test DVDs such as Video Essentials and . The most natural looking gamma settings, for me, ranged from A to C, depending on the source. As noted earlier, I did not find the lower case a-e gammas useful for video-based material.

Performance: The Boring Bits
Yes, I did see rainbows on the DPX-1300, as I have with every single-chip DLP projector I've reviewed to date. I'm very sensitive to this artifact. But rainbows on this Yamaha were only an occasional distraction for me on the most rainbow-prone images—very dark scenes sprinkled with a few bright highlights, such as street lamps along an otherwise gloomy road.

406Yamaha.3.jpgMany of you won't see rainbows on the Yamaha at all. A minority may see them but wonder what the fuss is about. Those who always see them and can't tolerate them should stay away from single-chip DLP projectors altogether, because I doubt it you'll find one on the market that does a better job in minimizing them than the DPX-1300.

False contours? Those stair-step gradations from light to shadow that look like the result of a bad paint-by-numbers portrait were never a problem. The few times I thought I did see them it was never clear if the problem was in the source or in the Yamaha, but the weight of the evidence pointed to the source.

The HQV video processing does introduce a significant video delay, a characteristic it inherits from its Teranex roots. I strongly recommend using this projector with an AV receiver or pre-pro offering an adjustable audio delay (often referred to as lip sync.) On DVDs it took 140ms of audio delay to line up the audio and video using the DPX-1300. That's more than a four frame delay for 30fps video! Not all receivers or pre-pros provide such a delay feature, and some that do don't provide this much range. I used either the delay built into the Anthem Statement D1 pre-pro, or the outboard Alchemy2 D2L Digital Delay Line. You may also find that different sources (which may add their own AV sync issues) require different settings.

How does the HQV processor handle day-to-day scaling and deinterlacing? On normal program material, I did see some jagged edge artifacts here or there, but only on an occasional DVD menu and on one or two standard definition commercials on HD broadcasts. But these were rare. I also recall occasional artifacts of this sort on DVD menus when I tested the Teranex processor. I did not see them on the older Yamaha DPX-1200.

With my usual scaling torture tests, the DPX-1300 performed nearly flawlessly. It will come as no surprise that it turned in pristine performance on Silicon Optix' own HQV Benchmark DVD. It sailed through the tests, including the assortment of odd video cadences than no other projector has ever passed through unscathed. I also saw no problems on an additional disc of real-world material that Silicon Optix sent along for the test. But the projector also performed superbly on an old Faroudja test DVD. It sailed through all the tests there as well, including an unflagged 3:2 pulldown sequence, which it locked onto immediately.

Performance: The Interesting Stuff
What you really want to know is how the DPX-1300 performs on real program material, both standard definition and HDTV. You're also waiting to hear just how it compares with some of its more formidable competition. The ride starts here, with direct observations on all of these important points.

Viewed purely on its own, the DPX-1300 is a remarkable product. Yes, some projectors will run brighter and be more suitable for a very big screen. Nevertheless, the Yamaha does have the horsepower for a screen significantly larger than my 78-inch wide, 1.3-gain Stewart Studiotek. While the comments in this report refer in general to using the projector with the smallish Studiotek, I did try the 1300 briefly on a 96-inch wide Stewart Firehawk and was surprised that its brightness was acceptable for this much larger screen, even in the mid iris setting. Bur many will prefer to open the iris completely on so large a screen, particularly for brightly lit material such as sports.

With respect to its overall balance of image sharpness, usable resolution, black level, contrast, color fidelity, lack of artifacts, scaling and deinterlacing performance, adjustability, and mechanical noise, the DPX-1300 equals or betters any digital projector I've seen. The only projector system I feel definitively beat it was that Reference Imaging CRT/Teranex projector—although this comparison is through the prism of four-year-old memories of a product that was reviewed primarily with standard definition (DVD) source material.

It's hard to convey the experience of watching the DPX-1300 to those who haven't seen it in action, and even if you have there's less than a 50-50 chance you've seen it at its best. As easy as setup is with most any digital projector, there are enough adjustments on the Yamaha to tempt a dealer, even with the best of intentions, into a skewed setup. When I first saw the Yamaha in a Silicon Optix demonstration at the 2005 CEDIA EXPO last September, it blew me away. It was, without a doubt, one of the best, if not the best video display at the show. When I saw it in Yamaha's booth at the 2006 CES last January however, I thought it looked, well, nice.

When properly set up, the Yamaha steadfastly refuses to produce hyped, super-vivid pictures. It just sails along smoothly, and given good program material it produces some of the most natural images I've ever seen. Colors (including those all-important flesh tones) are true. Green is just a little "hot," but less so than with many other digital displays. Sharpness and detail are impeccable. Black levels, while not as strikingly deep and rich as those on the Sony VPL-VW100 SXRD projector (with its dynamic iris system), are still as low as (or lower than) those on any other competing projector I've seen and measured.

There was plenty of brightness on my small screen in the middle setting of the iris for films, though I did have to crank the lamp power up to 100 and the White Peaking to 3 to get enough punch in the image to fully satisfy me. (Opening the iris completely did result, as with the larger screen, in a more pleasing picture on sports and other bright, evenly lit material. But on my small, modest-gain screen this did, in my judgment, compromise the black level too much for films.)

Even in its maximum lamp setting, the projector is very quiet. Not dead quiet (and not as quiet as the Sony VPL-VW100 SXRD), but quiet enough that it was never distracting, even when barely three feet away from the projector's front-positioned exhaust port.

406Yamaha.4.jpgOn high-definition material the Yamaha often compelled me to sit down and watch program material that I normally wouldn't bother with. Anyone for A Cinderella Story, which has been playing recently on HBO HD? I thought not. Some may find it a sweet updating of the old Brothers Grimm warhorse, others a vapid teen romantic comedy. It's a little of both. I came in part way through as I was surfing across my cable system's HD channels for some likely evaluation material, and was taken in by the visuals. It's a relatively easy-on-the-projector piece of fluff. But it's also full of visual detail, particularly in the scenes that take place at a high school Halloween dance and the car chase that follows. These are the darkest sequences in this brightly lit film, and the Yamaha handled them beautifully. I also discovered to my surprise, in fact, that the car chase was shot within a few miles of my house! Even in the scenes' dim lighting I easily recognized several of the storefronts and street signs I drive past several times a week.

Open Range on HDNet Movies, wasn't quite as crisp a high-definition transfer, apart from the vistas of the (Canadian) Rockies. The film features grubby but interesting characters caught up in a short, violent range war (with possibly the best gunfight ever put on film.) This movie was far more impressive visually on the Yamaha in HD than it was when I first saw it theatrically.

On a wide variety of HD television series, from Lost to CSI: Miami, the DPX-1300 did far better than hold its own. It's surprising how well photographed the best TV dramas are these days, and the quality was clearly visible on the Yamaha.

While DVDs were not as riveting as HD material, the best of them do cross that near-HD threshold. I know, we've all seen The Fifth Element far too many times. But years after its release it's still among the top reference discs. The Superbit version looked so crisp, clean, colorful, and detailed that I'm wondering just how much better the Blu-ray high-definition version will look (it's scheduled to be among the format's first releases).