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Screen Innovations and the Epson Saga Update

Last week we completed the review of the Screen Innovations Black Diamond II, which is a screen you can use with the room lights on. It works beautifully, as long as you use it in ambient light with a bright projector, and you are sitting in its sweetspot. If you have a dark viewing space, a traditional white or light gray screen will give the best results. Though the Black Diamond is more expensive than a conventional screen, it is inappropriate to compare them price-wise. They are apples and oranges products. Think of the Black Diamond and a good projector as a cheap substitute for a 100" plasma TV, and you'll have a better perspective on the price.

We reviewed the 0.8 gain version of this screen, which is what Screen Innovations sent us. This morning they indicated to us that there is a 1.4 gain version which had not been released. The latest word is that both versions begin shipping today. We suspect that the 1.4 gain edition will be brighter. We also suspect that it will have even more restrictive viewing angles, or perhaps more significant color shifts or some other compromise in image quality. There are usually trade-offs when it comes to boosting screen gain. We won't know how the 1.4 gain model behaves until we see it. So our Highly Recommended award applies only to the 0.8 gain version, and it applies only with the assumption that it is being used in a room with ambient light, with appropriate installation precautions related to optimal projection and viewing angles.

And now for our latest update in the Epson defocusing saga. Last week we received an enhanced Epson 7500UB, with the fix aboard that reduces the projector's tendency to defocus as it warms up. After putting it through several power up and cool down cycles over several days, we are happy to report that the tendency for the unit to defocus has been substantially reduced. We still see a little bit of softening, but nothing like we saw on the previous test units. And since the problem is related to airflow, we suspect that what little defocusing we see on this unit is aggravated by the fact that our test facilities are at 3100 feet elevation. Nevertheless, even at this altitude the problem is relatively insignificant and easy to live with.

The test results on our new 7500UB should apply equally to the 6500UB. We still have no results for the 6100/7100, as those models use different LCD panels than those on the 6500UB/7500UB. So we will reserve comment on those models until we've had a chance to see them with the airflow enhancement.

Meanwhile, now that this problem is resolved, we will proceed with the Epson 7500UB/6500UB review, and expect to post it next Monday.

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