DLP Hybrid Projector Review
July 9, 2013
Light output. The RW430U is rated at 3500 lumens, and our test sample measured 3536 lumens in its brightest usable mode. After a reasonable warm-up period of five minutes, light output settles about five percent, bringing stable output to 3359 lumens.
Dynamic mode on the RW430U is different from other projectors' Dynamic modes. While other projectors use "Dynamic" as shorthand for "bright and greenish," the RW430's Dynamic mode adjusts the levels of red, green, and blue in real-time based upon the content on screen. As a result, a mostly-white image (like financial spreadsheets or text documents) is significantly brighter than a mixed image containing both highlights and saturated colors. As a result, light output in Dynamic mode can be much lower than 3359 lumens without changing a single setting, and image brightness is entirely dependent on the content of the projected image. The upside is that the image never appears unbalanced and highlights never appear too bright, as is common on many DLP business projectors with large white segments in their color wheels. The downside is that a dark image could reduce light output, and in a bright room this can make the picture seem dimmer than is comfortable.
The RW430U's other color modes are more traditional -- there is no dynamic readjustment of color and white light output. These other modes include Graphic (1949 lumens), which is slightly blue and has open mid-tones. Standard mode (1542 lumens) comes next, with higher gamma and a stronger blue push. Cinema mode (989 lumens) is the projector's go-to video mode, and after some adjustment it can produce a smooth, striking 6500K image, though these adjustments do decrease light output to 936 lumens. Natural (877 lumens) and Rec. 709 (898 lumens) are similar to Cinema mode, but with slight differences that may appeal to certain viewers of the projector. Finally, DICOM mode (776 lumens) simulates medical imaging equipment, opening up the RW430U for use in medical lecture halls and patient conferences.
Contrast. The RW430U's on/off contrast rating of 20,000:1 is higher than that of many other WXGA installation projectors. This is because the projector uses three separate "lamps" - a red LED, a blue LED, and a green laser - and can drastically reduce the brightness of any of these, independently of the others. Less light coming from the projector leads to stronger blacks. We saw excellent dynamic range coupled with strong black levels while using real-world content, not just test patterns. This, in part, accounts for the RW430U's strong crossover potential with the home video market, but it also has benefits in the display of photography or data graphics.
Color. If what you're after is a bright, highly-saturated image, the RW430U's Dynamic mode can deliver it, though there are some caveats. Dynamic mode, as mentioned above, adjusts the amount of red, green, and blue in each image on a per-frame basis. This can lead to a striking picture in the right circumstances, but it also makes color in this mode hard to measure. When displaying a solid white image, Dynamic mode tends to push green in order to increase brightness. The result is grayscale tracking that can appear to be all over the map.
Dynamic mode does not allow any user customization of white balance, though color balance in actual use is not as haphazard as the above graph would suggest. Still, if you plan to view content that changes from frame to frame, like video, it would be wise to use a different image mode as Dynamic's adjustment can become distracting.
Standard mode pushes green and blue by default, making it a good mode for use in brighter conference rooms. If the added brightness is not required, you can improve color balance and knock down light output roughly 10% by reducing green.
For accurate 6500K color, start with Cinema mode. This mode, like many of the other precalibrated modes on the RW430U, pushes green by default, but a quick calibration can take it to near-perfect 6500K white balance.
On our test unit, 6500K was reached after reducing green and blue significantly in the high and low ends of the grayscale by varying amounts. Our settings are listed below, but due to manufacturing variances they might not be ideal for all units.
|White Balance high|
|White Balance Low|
The divergence at 0% illumination is because the RW430U largely turns itself off when displaying an all-black test pattern and our meter had difficulty picking up any significant light output at this level.
Solid state technology tends to expand the color gamut. In the RW430U's case, the projector exceeds the Rec. 709 points for red, green, and blue, though green is also pushed towards yellow. In typical use these divergences do not have any practical impact.
A word on color brightness: single-chip DLP projectors designed for commercial use tend to have low color brightness in part because of the white segments in their color wheels. Since the RW430U has no white segment (indeed, it has no color wheel), it has excellent color brightness. Dynamic mode's color light output measured 81% of white, while Cinema mode measured 100% of white. Both are more than sufficient for a well-balanced, natural image.
Sharpness and clarity. As a single-chip DLP projector, the RW430U has no panel convergence errors to be concerned about as is the case with 3-chip designs. It has a razor-sharp appearance with text and data graphics. Native-resolution content is rendered with pixel-perfect fidelity, giving each pixel a sharp-edged clarity that makes text easy to read. Downscaled higher-resolution content gains a smoothness from the resolution conversion, but little detail is lost and legibility is not compromised.
Input lag. The RW430U measured a lightning-fast 17 milliseconds of delay in our input lag tests, putting it among the fastest projectors we have tested to date. This makes it an attractive choice for video games, especially since its 20,000 hour hybrid light engine will allow you to play for hours on end.