Performance
Features
Ease of Use
Value
Intended Use:
DIY Home Theater
ViewSonic Pro9000 Projector ViewSonic Pro9000
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Street Price: $1,960
MSRP:$2,129
Contrast:100,000:1
Lumens:1600
Weight: 9.4 lbs
Resolution:1920x1080
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Technology:DLP
Lens:1.2x manual
Lens Shift:No
Lamp Life:20,000 Hrs
Warranty:3 year
Connectors:  S-Video, Composite, RGB, HDMI (x2), RS232
Video Formats:  480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 576i, 576p

Viewsonic Pro9000
LED/Laser Home Theater Projector

Bill Livolsi, November 30, 2012

Performance

Light output. One of the biggest obstacles to the use of LEDs in projectors has been brightness. That is in part why many manufacturers, including Viewsonic, are now looking at hybrid systems using both LEDs and lasers in order to make up the LED brightness limitations.

LED/laser based projectors measure their maximum possible light output immediately after startup, so that is how our readings were taken. After the projector has run for ten to fifteen minutes, light output decreases by roughly five percent. The post-warmup numbers are listed in parentheses after the initial numbers.

The Pro9000 is rated at 1600 lumens. Its brightest mode, called Bright, measured 1471 (1395) lumens on our test sample. Bright mode has a green cast, but it is suitable for presentations, non-color sensitive computer applications, and the occasional football game in the living room as long as the teams aren't wearing similar jerseys.

Theater mode is the projector's default. Theater mode measures 475 (454) lumens, and color balance is biased towards magenta about as much as Bright mode is slanted towards green.

Our preferred mode for the best color balance was Standard, which sits squarely between Bright and Theater as far as light output is concerned. Our test unit measured 943 (895) lumens in this mode, and color balance was more visually pleasing than either Bright or Theater mode. This is mostly due to Standard mode's cleaner white, while Theater mode's highlights were tinged green. This is a side-effect of the projector's single-axis white balance controls; by canceling out the magenta shift in the rest of the grayscale, whites are pushed too far and take on a green cast.

While there is no lamp-preserving rationale to engage an Eco mode, the Pro9000 includes one anyway. It cuts light output by 33%, bringing Bright mode to 970 (920) lumens, Standard mode to 632 (600) lumens, and Theater mode to 313 (296) lumens. Since Standard will be the preferred operating mode, this results in a light level that hits the sweetspot for many home theater enthusiasts. Eco-mode also reduces fan noise from a rush to a soft whisper.

Contrast. The Pro9000 specifications list a contrast ratio of 100,000:1. However, the projector has some characteristics that limit the impression of dynamic range in the projected image. For one, it can be difficult to get a "clean" white out of the projector due to white balance concerns. We will discuss this further in the Color section, but an obviously tinted white makes contrast appear less dramatic. Second, the projector's black level is higher than that of other home theater projectors that have been released this year. Third, the projector's gamma adjustment is limited, so the slight detail crush in the projector's deepest shadows can be difficult to eliminate. Gamma is controlled by a simple slider. The default setting of 6 tended to crush detail, while a setting of 4 reduced but did not eliminate this behavior. These factors combined make the projector appear lower in contrast than other projectors rated at 100,000:1.

Color. By default, the Pro9000's Theater mode uses the Medium color temperature preset, which over-emphasizes magenta (or, conversely, under-emphasizes green). You can see that in this chart, which shows our test sample's white balance before any calibration.


Pro9000 Theater mode before calibration

The Pro9000 has limited color correction ability. Instead of separate gain and bias sliders for each color, the white balance controls are limited to Red Gain, Green Gain, and Blue Gain. As a result, we were only able to balance color correctly in a portion of the grayscale.


Pro9000 Theater mode after calibration

What does this mean? As mentioned before, whites don't look as clean as they do on competing projectors due to color cast. Shadows likewise take on a color tint in some instances. The middle of the grayscale is more or less in line with the 6500K standard, but we were not able to calibrate the grayscale correctly in Theater mode on our test unit.

Standard mode, while far from perfect, does yield a white balance similar to that of Theater mode, as can be seen in the graph below. 100% white in particular is far better in Standard mode, which helps give the impression of higher contrast and a more natural image compared to Theater mode.


Pro9000 Standard mode after calibration

As for gamut, you can see from the CIE chart below that the Pro9000's red and blue points actually fall outside the Rec. 709 specification. This in part contributes to the Pro9000's seemingly overemphasized color. The projector does have a complete color management system, allowing adjustment of hue, saturation, and gain for primaries and secondaries, but in order to use it you need access to a color meter and specialized software. You can either hire someone to do the job for you, or buy the gear and learn to do it yourself. The latter can be fun if you enjoy tinkering, but if you are the kind of person who wants your projector to "just work" the former is probably easier.

Sharpness and clarity. Most 1080p projectors are pretty sharp just by virtue of being 1080p projectors showing 1080p content. Due to the Pro9000's comparative lack of contrast and crushing of fine shadow detail, it can look a touch softer than its competition at times.

Input lag. One upside of the Pro9000 is that it measured about 17 milliseconds (1 frame) of input lag in all of its different image modes. While the projector has a Game mode, it is no faster than the other operating modes. Competing home theater projectors in the Pro9000's price range generally have greater input lags and are therefore less desirable for fast video gaming.

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Key Features
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Limitations
Review Contents: The Viewing Experience Key Features Performance Limitations
  Competition Conclusion

Reader Comments(11 comments)

Posted Mar 22, 2014 8:37:48 PM

By JackII

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Bill,

I am well aware of what input lag is and this projector handles it well. I have had a very good experience with this projector so far. There was one blackout during a game online with my brother. Still not sure if it was the projector of my machine but have not been able to duplicate the problem.

I have seen all the other projectors out there and I am having a hard time justifying the price of some machines. My projector is throwing at 15' onto a 120" custom silver and Matte white spandex screen. The picture quality is simply amazing.

Posted Jan 26, 2014 6:52:42 PM

By Jack II

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Far too much emphasis is being placed on 3D. Who in their right mind thinks 3D is a must have feature. It is nothing more than a fad that will be all but forgotten in 6 mos. I bought this projector for 3 main reasons; 1 it's LED! Which means fewer if not no lamp replacement. Traditional lamps are simply unreliable and expensive. 2 Viewsonic always has a good or very good picture. 3 Input lag for games. This projector simply meets all my tick boxes.If your rich and want to pay for lamps and 3D high end light cannons you'll likely never use, have at it.

Posted Nov 27, 2013 3:20:43 PM

By Stunko

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I am sorry, but this particular review is way too long an tedious, about 80 percent longer than hat it should/could be. Most of us hava no time reading a review of this length on each and every projector out there that we may be considering inquiring about and/or acquiring. This particular review would have been much better and snappier if it as about 02 percent as long as it had actually turned out to be. Way too long.

Posted Nov 24, 2013 2:43:24 PM

By Mike B

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I'm moving into an off grid house and looking to replace my old Optoma hd70 with something 1080p and more energy efficient due to wanting to keep the power consumption as low as possible (because I'll be living off batteries). Are there any other LED projectors available or should I wait a few months and see what comes out?

Posted Nov 7, 2013 10:33:13 AM

By Kiran Kayen

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Can this projector be used for mini color grading setup like fcp color or resolve lite Kiran Kayen

Posted Dec 30, 2012 7:07:46 PM

By gary

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How far away are we from having Epson and Panny use the new LED technology in their annual feature home projectors? Later this year? Or 2014? Or never ???

Posted Dec 21, 2012 9:10:03 AM

By Bill Livolsi

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Jack -- they are two different things.

Input lag measures the time between when a signal is sent to the projector and when that signal is actually displayed, compared to an external reference monitor. The signal that makes it to the projector is still in its native frame rate and can still have all kinds of problems with judder and motion.

Frame interpolation smooths out motion in film and video by analyzing the frames of the signal and creating new interstitial frames between them. This makes video appear smoother and drastically reduces judder, but it also increases processing time and thereby also makes input lag worse.

Here's an analogy: if you order a pizza from a national chain, they will have it to your door very quickly, but it probably won't be a very good pizza. On the other hand, you can get a really delicious pizza from an actual pizza parlor, but you won't have it in 30 minutes. Increasing quality (by creating interstitial frames) increases delivery time (input lag). The analogy has its limits, one of which is that I'm now hungry for pizza, but I hope that helps.

Posted Dec 10, 2012 3:27:18 PM

By Jack

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The high speed of 17ms of the 9000 would seem to remove the necessity of frame interpolation. Is this true or are we mixing two separate functions?

Posted Dec 4, 2012 11:28:28 AM

By Bill Livolsi

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Saied - No, we did not see rainbows.

Palmer - The projector uses a combination of light emitting diodes and lasers to create red, green, and blue light, which are used to create the image. While this does not require a color wheel, it is still a sequential-color, single DLP chip technology.

Posted Nov 30, 2012 2:36:25 PM

By Palmer Woodrow

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Interesting, but this still doesn't explain what a "hybrid LED/laser" engine is. Lasers and LEDs are both light sources. How are they used together in one of these?

Posted Nov 30, 2012 2:31:16 PM

By Saied

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Please could you say if there was any rainbow effect, thanks.

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