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Narrowing the ANSI Contrast Performance Gap

The review of the Sanyo Z700 has just been posted. Don't miss this one if you are looking for 1080p at a rock bottom price. As we did last year, the reviews of this year's 1080p models will be posted, initially, without the 5-star ratings. We want to be able to do some shootouts before making final 5-star rating assessments.

ANSI Contrast update: In my review of the CEDIA show earlier this month I mentioned that the latest high contrast LCD projectors appeared to be showing significant strides in ANSI contrast. This is a significant competitive issue, since one of DLP's primary advantages over LCD has been superiority in ANSI contrast (which is essentially contrast potential within a given frame, without the effects of an auto-iris).

We currently have the Mitsubishi HC7000 and the Panasonic AE3000 in house. They have Full On/Off contrast ratings of 72,000:1 and 60,000:1 respectively. It will take a while to get these reviews completed, but I want to give you a peek at the ANSI contrast data in advance. The Panny AE3000 gave an ANSI contrast reading of 446:1. Viewed side by side with the last year's AE2000 (305:1), the AE3000 is quite obviously much higher in visible contrast and superior in shadow detail. Meanwhile, the Mits HC7000 measured 409:1, which is a huge improvement over their HC5500's 260:1.

Is this a big deal, you ask? Yes, indeed it is. Most of the LCD projectors we've tested have given readings in the 200:1 to 300:1 range, with a couple exceptions--the Panny AE2000 was 305:1, and the Sanyo Z2000 was a particularly noteworthy 350:1. Meanwhile, the DLP home theater models we've tested tend to be closer to 500:1. As examples, the Optoma HD80 was 515:1, and the Mitsubishi HC1600 was 493:1. So until now there has been an obvious performance gap between LCD and DLP as far as ANSI contrast is concerned.

Therefore, the early returns indicate that the newest LCD light engine tweaks have made important strides in narrowing the contrast performance gap with DLP. We have yet to measure the other high contrast models coming to market this fall, including the Sony VW70, the Epson Pro Cinema 7500, and the Sanyo Z3000. But we expect to see similar improvements on those models. Stay tuned for more info!

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