Yamaha DPX-1300 DLP projector Page 3

The stars don't often align in a way that allows me to make a direct comparison of a product under review with its most formidable competitors, but it happened this time. During the time I had the Yamaha for evaluation the Sony VPL-VW100 and Marantz VP-12S4 were also undergoing testing in my home theater. I was also able to compare the DPX-1300 directly with the older Yamaha DPX-1200.

How did they stack up? First off, let me state that no one who brings any of these outstanding projectors home will have a reason for buyer's remorse. If there's a projector in this price range that will blow away any of them I haven't seen it. Nor do any of them render the others irrelevant. Video displays (at any price) involve compromises. All of these projectors have their strengths and weaknesses, and viewers will invariably disagree on which manufacturer chose the "right" tradeoffs.

The Yamaha DPX-1300 and the DPX-1200 are more alike than different. The older projector had about 300 hours on its lamp at the time of the comparison, the newer one about 100 hours, but when calibrated to the correct Black Level and White Level settings, the DPX-1200 was actually a bit more than one foot-Lambert brighter, though with less impressive blacks. For this comparison, I reduced its lamp output to the point at which the peak white levels of the two projectors differed by less than 2%. This also improved the black level of the DPX-1200, but it was still higher than the black level of the new projector (0.007fL vs 0.004fL.) This was surprising, as the black level of the DPX-1200 measured lower than 0.007fL when I reviewed it. I can only speculate that the change was due to extra time on the lamp.

I lacked an HDMI splitter (a device that will feed the same source to two projectors simultaneously) that will function correctly at 480i. So fed the two Yamahas with 1080i HDMI from high-definition broadcasts and an upconverting DVD player.

On DVD, the 1200 looked less crisp and vividly three-dimensional than the 1300. There were slight color differences as well, to the benefit of the 1300, but the color can be tweaked into closer alignment with additional calibration. On HD material the added vividness of the 1300 was less obvious. The newer projector was more detailed, but the differences were not always obvious. They showed up primarily on such things as the detail in facial textures and in the beard stubble commonly sported these days by actors in almost every TV series.

The bottom line on the DPX-1200 vs. the DPX-1300: if you already own a 1200, it might not be worth your while to upgrade at this time. If you're in the market for a new projector, however, the 1300 certainly belongs on your shopping list.

The Marantz was definitely more vivid and punchy through the mid-brightness region on both standard and high-definition material, a difference I attribute to its gamma curve (go here for Marantz' arguments for choosing this gamma curve.)

While the Marantz' added punch results in an often exciting viewing experience, I somehow continued to return to the Yamaha for its easy naturalness and, to use a cliché that nevertheless fits perfectly, a genuinely film-like quality. While the Marantz' measured blacks were not quite as deep as those on the Yamaha, they were very close and the differences were not obvious on a direct comparison. The Yamaha did look a hair sharper than the Marantz, to the same minute degree (and visible mainly on the same type of details) as the Yamaha 1300 topped the 1200.

Direct comparison of the Yamaha DPX-1300 to the Sony VPL-VW100 appears here.

As I remarked in my review of the DPX-1200, "We may be on the cusp of 1920x1080 resolution for home displays, but a first-class 1280x720, high-definition image, on a screen of reasonable size, can still be an eye-opener." That still applies, and the Yamaha is certainly that—and far more. If you were to line up all the DLP projectors we've reviewed in the past couple of years in my home theater, this is he one I'd choose to watch. The Yamaha DPX-1300 is the real deal.

Highs and Lows

Outstanding picture quality
Flexible video and setup adjustments
Unsurpassed scaling and deinterlacing
Quiet operation
Measured resolution rolled off at the highest frequencies