Digital projectors are making significant inroads into the high-end home theater market that has traditionally been the domain of the CRT. Over the past two years digital projection technology has made great strides in color accuracy, saturation, and contrast. Today's digital projectors can put brighter images on bigger screens and deliver the excitement of big theater in the home for prices well below those of high performance CRTs.
All digital technologies have advanced rapidly. Sony, Epson, and Sharp have made major strides with transmissive LCDs. Texas Instruments' Digital Light Processing (DLP) is also achieving remarkable new price/performance benchmarks. However, for the best video performance to date from a digital light engine, the D-ILA technology by JVC takes the gold medal. And it is JVC's D-ILA light engine that is at the heart of the Dukane 9015.
The Dukane 9015
There is one really good reason to buy a Dukane 9015, and that's for its spectacular video. Of course it will display great data/graphics images as well. But if data display is your primary interest there are less expensive options for getting good data images on the screen. The value of the Dukane 9015 is that it can convert a very high quality video signal into a magnificent video image.
This projector is so good that it will enable you to judge the relative quality of your video signals. Most digital projectors aren't good enough to enable you to detect the differences. So keep in mind that the video image quality from the 9015 will vary based on the quality of the video signal you feed it. If you give it standard S-video from a DVD player, you will get a decent but not awe-inspiring picture that looks like many other digital projectors on the market today. But this is not the projector's fault; it is being limited by the lack of information in the signal itself. Think of it as putting low-octane gas in a Ferrari. The car will still run, but the performance will be lacking and it will make funny noises you wish you weren't hearing.
The 9015 is a high-performance projector so it needs a high-test signal to obtain best results. If your source is progressive-component, a Home Theater PC, or a good quality HDTV, the 9015 will put all the richness of the signal onto the screen. With high quality signals, the 9015 delivers beautiful colors, natural flesh tones, exquisite picture detail, and very adequate contrast, even for die-hard CRT advocates. It is a breathtaking display that causes many viewers who see it for the first time to say, "Digital has arrived; the CRT is now history."
Part of the image quality comes from the SXGA-class resolution. The three D-ILA chips are in a 1,365 x 1,024 format, which is a traditional SXGA vertical resolution extended horizontally to accommodate a native 4:3 aspect ratio. In order to project a 16:9 image, the system uses a 1,365 x 768 portion of the displays.
Part of the excitement of the 9015 also comes from the bright 1500 ANSI lumen rating. This projector will put a bigger and brighter image in your home theater than any CRT anywhere near it's price range, which is at this writing about $11,000 on the street.
Three notes of caution
The 9015 brings digital technology as close to CRT quality as it has yet come, at least in this price range. However, there are three items to keep in mind when investing in this unit. First, the 420-watt Xenon lamp throws off quite a bit of heat. In a closed home theater room it will definitely affect ambient temperatures unless adequate air conditioning and venting is applied.
Second, you should plan on replacing that Xenon lamp every 1000 hours or so. And the replacement cost is not inconsequential--about $800 on the street. However, everything is relative. Xenon lamps are more expensive than the UHP and metal halide lamps you find in less expensive projectors. But Xenon renders much more satisfactory color temperature performance. And compared to the cost and nuisance of re-tubing a CRT, the simple Xenon lamp replacement is a deal.
Third, the 420-watt lamp requires a lot of heat dissipation-which means fan noise. The 9015 must be ceiling-mounted in a hush-box of some type to muffle the fan. Minimum clearances and venting for such a box are included in the Owner's Manual. Make sure they are followed carefully.
The Dukane 5-Year Warranty
Dukane has gotten aggressive in the projector market of late. One of the benefits of buying from Dukane is the 5-Year warranty. Dukane has broken new ground here, because a 5-year warrant is otherwise unheard of in the projector industry. This warranty applies not only to the 9015, but to all Dukane digital projector products. Each projector also comes with a free 2-year loaner program to cover downtime should your unit need to be sent in for service.
The Dukane 9015 isn't for everybody. It is just for folks who want the best video possible, and are willing to invest the time and money to get the best equipment and the highest quality signal sources. But for those who do, the results are breathtaking. We recommend that any buyer planning to spend $10,000 and up on a home theater projection system take a close look at this one.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our Dukane ImagePro 9015 projector page.