LED/Laser Home Theater Projector
November 30, 2012
Lumen degradation. One of the purported perks of LED/laser projectors is that, unlike traditional arc-lamp models, their light output does not degrade over time. We have not found this to be strictly true. After running the Pro9000 for just over 120 hours, our test sample shows a loss of about 10% of its initial light output. So after 120 hours of use, the maximum light output in Theater mode became 427 lumens compared to the initial 478 lumens out of the box.
In the past we did extended burn tests of a first-generation Casio LED/laser hybrid projector and found a 25% lumen degradation over the first 200 hours of operation. We were only able to run the Pro9000 for 120 hours, but that test indicates that lumen degradation on this model is not as severe as on those early Casio models. Only time will tell how much light output may be curtailed over many thousands of hours of use.
Color. Most home theater projectors can be calibrated fairly easily. However, there are two problems with the Pro9000. First, the default calibration -- the settings the projector ships with from the factory -- is visibly incorrect. Secondly and more importantly, the projector's color controls are simplistic and difficult to use, such that we could not calibrate our test unit to the desired 6500K.
By default, the projector's white balance pushes magenta, which makes the entire image appear purplish. To counteract this, one must add green, which is the opposite of magenta in the additive color model. But that doesn't fix the problem completely, since the Pro9000 only provides one axis of adjustment. The Pro9000 has controls for Red Gain, Green Gain, and Blue Gain, while other projectors typically split these adjustments into Gain and Bias, allowing you to independently adjust highlights and shadows.
Locked Image Modes. The Pro9000 has a number of image modes, but the projector does not allow complete calibration of these modes. You can freely change brightness, contrast, and color saturation, but if you attempt to alter Color Temperature, you are prompted to save your changes to either of the projector's two User modes. Since the projector's default calibrations all have significant white balance issues, most people will find themselves in User 1 or User 2 mode before long.
Placement Flexibility. The Pro9000 has a 1.2:1 zoom lens and no lens shift. As such, it is best placed on a low table or in a ceiling mount. It is typical for low-cost home theater projectors to have this type of lensing, and it is likewise common to see the same setup on many business and presentation projectors. However, on a home theater projector priced at $2999, it is unusual.
No Frame interpolation. Most home theater projectors in this price range feature some kind of frame interpolation, which smooths out the judder created by fast action and camera pans. Some of those systems are less successful than others, but there have been $1500 home theater projectors that still managed to include FI systems. The Pro9000 does not have any frame interpolation on board.
No 3D. Love it or hate it, almost all home theater projectors these days are able to display 3D. The Pro9000 is, so far, the only home theater projector around the $3000 price point released this year to lack 3D.
Value. The primary attraction of lampless technology is, obviously, that users no longer need to buy lamps. Unfortunately, the Pro9000's $2999 asking price is just as much as the most popular models in today's market, and despite this the projector lacks now-common features that appear in many other projectors. Click over to the Competition page to learn exactly what the differences are.