Samsung's projector division is primarily known for their line of high-end home cinema projectors. Projectors such as the SP-A900, reviewed a few weeks ago, make it clear that Samsung projectors can set a very high bar for performance. However, with the release of their new SP-A600B, they now have something to offer consumers on a budget as well. The SP-A600B is a compact 1080p projector that retails for $1795. It offers 1,000 ANSI lumens, respectable 3000:1 contrast, and accurate color in a package that's affordable. While it's not the least expensive 1080p projector on the market, it does offer decent performance for a reasonable price.
Lumen output. The SP-A600B packs a punch despite its small size. Its brightest mode, Vivid, produces 883 lumens on our test sample -- good for HD sports with the lights turned on, which makes it easier to see how much beer you have left. For cinema applications, Movie 1 mode has much-improved color when compared to Vivid, and still produces an excellent 570 lumens in high lamp mode. This is more than enough for a 120" diagonal screen in a light-controlled room, or even one with some ambient lighting, and could power a 100" diagonal screen in a room with plenty of light.
Low lamp mode extends the life of the lamp from 3,000 to 4,000 hours and cuts lumen output by 25%. This brings Movie 1 mode to 428 lumens, which is still sufficient for a 120" screen in a light-controlled theater. Vivid mode produces 662 lumens in low lamp mode, and is great for use with your child's video game system.
Contrast. In the age of projectors with 100,000:1 contrast and better, your initial reaction at a 3000:1 contrast ratio might be "Why would I buy that?" Taking one look at the Samsung SP-A600B's picture ought to satisfy your doubts. The projector has a black level that is more than sufficient for home theater, and competitive with other 1080p projectors under $2,000.
The SP-A600B is capable of displaying a good, solid picture that really looks great with high-contrast material like Blu-Ray movies. When the SP-A600B was placed next to its big brother, the SP-A900, it was surprising how good the little A600 looked. This is not to say that the two projectors are in the same league - they aren't - but that the A600 looks higher in contrast than you might assume.
Sharpness and Detail. The SP-A600B has a smooth, film-like, natural picture that is flattering to any content shown on it. Fine details in HD content, like the texture of a shirt or an actor's beard stubble, are resolved clearly and cleanly. At the same time, the image is not over-sharp, and there is no evidence of artificial edge enhancement.
Color performance. One of the SP-A600B's strong suits is accurate, natural color. Out of the box, color needed some adjustment to remove a green bias and some over-saturation. But give it a little fine-tuning and you're in business. Furthermore, black-and-white buffs will appreciate Movie 2 mode, which defaults to 5500K. This is a good approximation of the color temperature used to project black-and-white films, and produces a warmer, more inviting tone when watching these movies.
Quiet operation. The SP-A600B produces almost no fan noise during operation. If you are planning to use the projector in a coffee table mount, this will come in handy - the projector is so quiet that it will not cause any distraction to anyone, even if they're seated right next to it.
Connectivity. The SP-A600B has a spartan, uncluttered connection panel that still includes all of the connections commonly used in home theater. Featured are two HDMI 1.3 ports, a set of YPbPr component inputs, a VGA port, composite and s-video connections, a 12V trigger, and a 1/8" RS-232C connection. The 1/8" RS-232 is something not often found on projectors -- but RS-232 is a standard, not a connector, and it should be interoperable with all of your other RS-232 compliant equipment.