PLUS "Piano" HE-3100 Home Theater Projector
PLUS Corporation is the undisputed leader in projector miniaturization. It was the company to first introduce the very popular 3-lb projectors in 2000, and in 2001 they went even further in the mini-projector market with the new 2-lb units. And with the release of the new 4.4 lb. HE-3100 "Piano", the company takes its miniaturization skills into the home theater market.
This unique little projector has a retail price of $2,995. It is clearly targeted to the economy-minded home theater enthusiast. It is not loaded with every conceivable feature the videophile would ever want. But for the money it delivers a superb DVD picture.
At the heart of the HE-3100 is the new 848 x 600 dual-mode DLP chip. "Dual-mode" refers to the fact that it can be used in two native formats, either standard 4:3 SVGA (800 x 600), or a native 16:9 which is 848 x 480. This is an ideal video format since DVDs are encoded in 480 lines per video frame. The benefit is that there is no compression required to force 480 lines into 450 lines, which is what is required to maintain the 16:9 ratio on a standard SVGA chip. No compression means no compression artifacts, and a very clean picture.
The HE-3100 has a 4x speed color wheel which largely eliminates the color artifacts on the edges of moving objects that are typical of many DLP projectors. Color accuracy is remarkably good when properly calibrated.
The HE-3100 has a brightness rating of 450 ANSI lumens, which is quite low compared to any other digital projector currently on the market. That means several things to you. First, you must set it up in a fully darkened viewing room. Any ambient light at all will compromise the image quality.
Second, low light output means there is a practical limit to the screen size that it can illuminate effectively. In this case, six feet wide is the maximum we would suggest you stretch it on a typical 1.3 gain screen.
Third, it is questionable whether you would want to use the lower gain Stewart Grayhawk screen to boost contrast (recommended with most digital projectors). The Grayhawk does indeed boost contrast on this unit, but as usual it is at the expense of overall image brightness. The Grayhawk works so well with most digital projectors because they have more than ample light output. So a reduction in image brightness is not a concern. Not so with the HE-3100. Thus if the Grayhawk is deployed, we would further reduce the recommended screen size to a range of 5.0 to 5.5 feet in width to achieve optimum results. (Practically speaking the HE-3100 + Grayhawk is an unlikely match anyway. The HE-3100 is built for the economy-minded user, and it is the exceptional buyer who would invest in a Stewart Grayhawk screen while limiting funds for the projector itself.)