Review Contents
Advantages
Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
Home Theater
Samsung SP-A800B Projector Samsung SP-A800B
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10000:1 Contrast Ratio
1000 Lumens
Street Price: n/a
$9,999 MSRP

Samsung SP-A800B
1080p Home Theater
Projector Review

Evan Powell, November 3, 2008

Features and Advantages

Color gamut. No 1080p projector that we've tested can match the wide color gamut of the SP-A800B. The ability to match and reproduce colors according to HD color specifications is a key strength of this projector, and in this respect it outperforms every other home theater projector we've seen under $10,000. We'd suspect it beats many projectors well above this price point as well.

Natural color. Related to the wide color gamut is the ability to deliver natural, realistic color, with a particularly impressive capability to define subtle differences in flesh tones. Competing units can come close to matching the SP-A800B's color accuracy, but none will exceed it.

Lumen output. The SP-A800B puts out a very bright picture in video optimized modes of operation. In Movie 1, which is optimized for color film and vido display, we measured 568 lumens. This is much brighter than many home theater projectors when they are calibrated to optimum color performance. In Movie 2, which is warmer toned for black/white films, it measured a bit higher--600 lumens.

On most projectors, Dynamic mode boosts lumen output at the sacrifice of color, but not on this one. Dynamic measured a bit lower at 520 lumens, and it did so at the cost of color accuracy. Thus, there is not a super-high lumen output mode for ambient light conditions as there is on some competing models. The SP-A800B was made for great dark room theater viewing.

The SP-A800B has a low lamp mode that reduces lumen output by 20%. It also has a relatively short 1.25x zoom lens which can have a minor impact on brightness--at the telephoto end of the zoom lens, brightness is curtailed by 8% from the widest angle setting.


Samsung SP-A800B Connection Panel

Sharpness. The SP-A800B has excellent optics. Viewed up close, the pixel structure on this unit is as well-defined as it gets, probably better than any DLP product we've seen. However, despite the outstanding optics, the projector has less than state-of-the-art contrast, as well as a subtle graininess in the image. These factors tend to compromise the impression of image sharpness (more on this below). The bottom line is that while the optical precision of the lens on the SP-A800B exceeds that of the lenses found on competing 1080p models such as the Sony VPL-HW10 and the Panasonic AE3000, the overall impression of image sharpness is comparable on all three models.

Brightness uniformity. Screen illumination is impressively even. On our test unit, there was no variation in brightness from top to bottom. Horizontally, the left side of the image was less bright than the center of the image by about 5%, and the right side was brighter than the center by about 5%. These subtle changes in brightness can only be detected with a light meter. When one looks at a solid white or gray field, illumination looks perfectly even with no trace of hotspotting.

Movie 2 Mode for B/W. Classic black and white films are best viewed at a warmer color temperature than we use for color films. In your home theater, you've got to see Casino Royale or Batman at 6500 degrees. But when Casablanca is displayed on a projector calibrated to the color standard 6500, it looks cold and uninviting, and certainly not as attractive as it does with a warmer color temperature. One of the common oversights of home theater projector manufacturers is the failure to include a precalibrated operating closer to 5500 degrees, which can be easily selected when black and white films are being viewed. This imparts a warmer tone to the image, and makes the viewing of B/W classics a much more satisfying experience. In addition, most projection light sources in commercial theaters back in the 1940s are thought to have been warmer than they are today. So the viewing of a B/W film at 5500 degrees replicates the look that audiences actually experienced back then. The SP-A800B's Movie 2 mode, calibrated to 5500 degrees, reflects Mr. Kane's sensitivity to this issue.

User Interface. The menu design is elegant and easy to use, and the remote control feels good in the hand and is easy to manipulate once you've had some time getting used to it. The projector responds to the remote bounced from the screen at a distance of at least 20 feet.

Though it is effective, the remote control is not one of our favorites. Buttons are spaced apart, which is good. However, they are small and the text on the buttons may be difficult to see in the dark for some users. There is backlighting, but it can only be activated by a small backlight button, which happens to be right next to the Power Off button. Once you get the hang of it, you can distinguish between the two in the dark. It's not bad, but we've seen more user friendly remotes.

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Review Contents: Overview Advantages Limitations Conclusion
 

Reader Comments(8 comments)

Posted Feb 7, 2010 7:45:57 PM

By ejpk

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in Korea, this product goes for less than 3000 as of now, and epson 8100 is about the same price there (sine epson is an import)--it is seriously overpriced here probably coz of the name Joe Kane

Posted Dec 24, 2009 5:53:52 AM

By Pescatore

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WHAT THE ---- IS GOING ON? My dealer told me yesterday that this P.O.S. that I spend $10,000 for projector + install got DISCONTINUE ALREADY????

I HATE SAMSUNG. 1. This projector never focus on the edge of screen. 2) They take my $$$ and laugh at me and discontinue this S---.

Posted Nov 5, 2008 11:16:02 AM

By kevinp

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I'am with kevo on this. Reading the review and the specs I can't see that this projector produces a picture good enough to spend $10,000 it seems to only have the edge on a $2,500 panasonic because of colour accuracy. Since most people are not around when the movie is being shot and don't have a photograhic memory to recall with 100% accuracy the colours they saw at the cinema. Is it really worth the extra $7,500.

Posted Nov 5, 2008 3:39:09 AM

By Christophe Cherel

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The Samsung SP-A800B does'nt have a "wide" gamut. It is the big positive point : there is not only ONE gamut but the 3 video gamuts and there is a switch gamut function for it. Another big point is calibration : The samsung can be calibrated accuratly with the CCA advanced function (xyY coordonates for primary colors).

Another test of the projector : http://www.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hdsoir.com%2F2008%2F09%2Fsamsung-sp-a800b-banc-dessais.html&langpair=fr|en&hl=fr&ie=UTF8

Posted Nov 4, 2008 9:45:08 PM

By Comrade

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Kevo, have you seen this projector? Based on your comments, I sure hope so. I think 10k for an entire "high-end" system is a gross miscalculation. Some people invest that into two speakers. Specs do not mean performance.

Posted Nov 4, 2008 5:08:26 PM

By ProBono

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One quick note: The reviewer talks about what "videophiles" may want or not want. Well, if you're not a "videophile", why the hell are you reviewing projectors on one of the most read projector-sites? Who cares what non-videophiles want. If you shell out 10k for a PJ, wouldn't you consider yourself a videophile?

Posted Nov 4, 2008 5:03:33 PM

By ProBono

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First off: I know people who own this PJ, so I have watched several films on it, although I do not (yet?) own one myself.

Kevo: Do you base that statement on this review, or have you actually seen this PJ? I believe that to say the things the reviewer does in this review about the in-use PQ against modern LCD's, the reviewer must have a screwed-up idea about what a good picture looks like. Obviously, if you don't want to look at films the way they were made, this PJ is not for you, but I have no clue as to why you would want anything else than that. If that IS what you want, no other 10k PJ does this as well as the Samsung. I believe the conclusion of this review says a LOT more about the reviewer than about the PJ. A review should say something about whether or not the product lives up to what's promised or not, compared to the competition, not say something about whether the reviewer personally likes frame interpolation or not. Why focus on the reviewers (screwed up) personal opinion about what pictures should look like, and not focus on the fact that even this reviewer acknowledges that no other projector in this price range puts out an image as accurate as this? BTW, I believe that ANSI contrast measurement must be downright flawed.

Wors. Review. Ever.

Posted Nov 4, 2008 2:56:41 PM

By kevo

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i cant believe they are punting this for 10,000 . you could buy a home theater couch with a high end sound system and a better projector and still have enough money to splurge on all the electronic goodies u could want.i cant believe it ten grand i mean ccccccome on!!!!!!! joe cane is a retard for thinking were gona buy this

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