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Tuesday, February 24

Hi folks,

We have just noticed that since our Epson 6500UB has 150 hours on it, and the Panasonic AE3000 has 200 hours on it, they are no longer delivering the same light output as they were when the lamps were fresh. That is no surprise, but what is intriguing is that they are losing light output at different rates. Accordingly, we are going back to remeasure all operating modes on both projectors. I'm going to wait till tomorrow to post the 6500UB review so we have time to collect that data and include it in the review. Thanks very much for your patience.

And oh, by the way, Epson announced yesterday a $500 mail-in rebate on the 6500UB and 7500UB. That brings the official street price of the 6500UB down to $2499.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Friday, February 20

Hi folks,

We have just received the modified version of the Epson 6100, so we should be able to report results of that testing by the beginning of next week. We anticipate that the modification done to these units will largely resolve the defocusing issue on the 6100/7100 as it has on the 6500/7500. But since these two series of products use different LCD panels, we want to test it to make sure.

The testing of the Epson 7500 and 6500 is taking a bit longer than we had anticipated, so the review will be posted next Tuesday afternoon, rather than Monday as originally planned. Epson confirms that the new version of frame interpolation to be released shortly will be downloadable. Once it becomes available, owners of the 7500 UB and 6500 UB will be able to contact Epson Advanced Product Support (APS) to request the upgrade, and to get guided instructions on how to install it.

The Elite Starbright ambient light screen is scheduled to arrive shortly, and that will be the next screen up for review.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Tuesday, February 17

Hi folks,

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.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Thursday, January 29

Hi folks,

We are making progress in getting the focus issue on the new Epson models squared away. In our latest test, we decided to try running the 6500UB and the 6100 in high altitude mode (this mode makes the fan run faster to move more air through the projector). The result was that the tendency for both units to defocus over time was reduced somewhat. We still saw some defocusing on the 6500UB, but it was less than we'd been seeing before. The 6100 showed some improvement also. The 6100 is the more problematic of our test units, as it always goes more out of focus than the 6500UB. In this latest test in high altitude mode, the 6100 defocused less than it has been in the past, but still too much to be acceptable by our standards.

Epson believes that the issue will be resolved by further enhancing the airflow through the unit. As a result, they are making an alteration near the exhaust vent that will achieve this objective. New units being manufactured henceforth will have this enhancement. We expect to receive new test samples with this improvement around mid-February.

We are aware that not everyone is experiencing defocusing on these models to the same degree that we have been. Since the issue seems to be related to cooling and airflow, it is reasonable to suspect that elevation may be playing a role in the uneven results. We are in Las Vegas, and our projector testing is done at 3000 feet elevation. Due to the slightly thinner atmosphere it is possible the defocusing we are seeing may be more than what users might experience at sea level. Nevertheless, the competitive units we have been testing do not defocus to the same degree. So we are looking forward to receiving new test units with the updates.

As far as the review schedule is concerned, we will table the Epson reviews until the new units arrive. We are currently reviewing the new Canon Realis WUX10, which is a 3200 lumen portable in 1920x1200 resolution. We expect the Screen Innovations Black Diamond screen to be showing up at any moment, and we will get that review done as soon as possible. The new Optoma 1080p DLP projectors, the HD8200 and the HD808 are coming up soon too.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Friday, January 23

Hi folks,

In case you have not been tuning in lately, we've been trying to resolve an issue with the Epson 6500UB and 6100 before proceeding with the reviews. The issue is that they tend to fall out of focus during the first half hour of a viewing session, if they have been started up at room temperature. Epson maintains that this may occur during an initial break-in period, but that they will stabilize with time. We have been putting our test units through a series of power up and power down cycles, and putting some hours on them to see if the defocusing issue is resolved with normal use.

What we can say so far is this. First, there seems to be a variance in the degree to which any given unit is susceptible to defocusing. The first of the two 6500UB's we received showed the most severe defocusing. If you focused it upon start up, after about 30 minutes it was obviously blurry. The second 6500UB does the same thing, but it does not defocus to the same degree the first one did. We have also received a 6100, and that unit shows the same tendency to defocus as the two 6500's. The severity of the issue on the 6100 falls about half way between the first and the second 6500UBs...not as bad as the first one, but it loses more focus than our newer 6500UB.

We are puzzled as to why there is a noticeable difference in the degree to which defocusing occurs on these three units. We have asked Epson whether there are any physical differences that could account for it, but have not yet received a response. If there is nothing different in the design, perhaps these differences are simply due to manufacturing variances.

At this point we have 65 hours on the 6500UB, and about 30 hours on the 6100. So far we are not seeing any significant mitigation of the problem. However, it is possible that we will see improvement as we accumulate more hours on the projectors. We will continue to run these units to see how they may settle in.

As we've been exploring this, we wondered whether other projectors might be susceptible to the same problem, and perhaps we just had not noticed it before. So we went back to retest several 1080p projectors we have on hand, including the BenQ W20000, the Panasonic AE3000, the Sanyo Z3000, and the Mitsubishi HC6500. We were happy to see that the BenQ 20000, the Panny AE3000 and the Mits HC6500 all remained in perfect focus after one hour's runtime. The Sanyo Z3000 had shifted just a hair from perfect after one hour, but you'd need a microscope to measure the difference. The tiny shift would never been noticed by anyone, and it is not enough to have any impact on the Z3000's picture quality or sharpness. So the bottom line is that none of these four projectors have any tendency to defocus in the manner we are seeing on the Epson models.

If you have any personal experience as an owner of any of the new Epson home theater models--either good or bad--I'd like to hear from you. Please drop me a note here to give me your input.

Stay tuned....we will report more as we learn more. This is an interesting mystery.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Monday, January 19

Hi folks,

We've been taking a close look at the Epson 6500 UB and the Epson 6100 in preparation for reviews of these two models. We delayed the reviews because of a phenomenon we identified first on the 6500 UB. The issue is that the projector tends to go out of focus over the first 30 minutes of viewing time. If it is sharply focused after initial start up, it will slowly lose its precise focus as it warms up, evidently due to heat expansion in the light engine. When we refocus it after about 30 minutes, it will then remain in focus for the duration of the viewing session.

The loss of focus is not radical, but it is noticeable when watching HD material from Blu-ray in particular. After the first half hour of viewing, a Blu-ray movie being played in 1080p begins to look more like a very clean upscaled DVD... still very watchable, but with a bit of the fine detail lost. Since this happens slowly over the course of half an hour, it is easy to overlook it. Many users might not even notice it. However, the focus issue becomes more apparent when we call up the menu after thirty minutes-the graphic menu is obviously softer than it was when the viewing session began.

We called in a second 6500 UB from a later shipment to see if this was isolated just to our first test unit. We found the same results on the second 6500 UB. It is also happening on our 6100 as well.

We have been discussing all this with Epson. They have been studying the problem, and have been running their own tests on multiple units internally. As of this afternoon, they have reported that they initially saw the same thing we did. However, after multiple power up and power down cycles, they say the projector will stabilize, and that the issue will be resolved. They have likened it to a break-in period on a new vehicle. If this is the case, it will be good news.

Based on this latest feedback, we will continue to test our units here and put them through multiple power up/down cycles to see if we can get them to stabilize as Epson thinks they will. We will report more as we learn more. Thanks very much for your patience.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Thursday, January 15

Hi folks,

Just a quick update ... we received a second sample of the Epson 6500 UB as well as a 6100 yesterday. At this point we are in daily communication with Epson product management, trying to troubleshoot a specific problem that needs to be understood and resolved prior to reviewing the 6500 UB. It looks like this will take some time. Once we have all the facts together, we will be able to discuss it in detail. The 6500 UB review will be delayed until we get this worked out. Meanwhile, I think we can proceed with the 6100 review and get that posted by next week.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Monday, January 12

Hi folks,

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) just wrapped up yesterday in Las Vegas. All things considered it was a quieter show that usual. There was not a lot of pre-show buzz. And, to nobody's surprise, attendance was down noticeably from years past. However, that was all good for those of us who don't care for lines and crowds. It was easier to get around, and for that reason probably the most pleasant CES experience in memory.

As far as home theater projectors go, this was not a big event. However there were some notable releases. Sharp debuted their new Z15000, which is a DLP-based 1080p projector rated at 1300 lumens and 30,000:1 contrast--the highest contrast ratio we've seen on a DLP product to date. The Z15000 will begin shipping in another month or two, and will see street prices around $2500.

Optoma showed up with two new DLP models also. Their new top of the line 1080p model is the HD8200, rated at 1300 lumens at 20,000:1 contrast. This model will be available through the CEDIA dealers and specialty retailers at a retail price of $4,999. A less pricey version of this projector will be the HD808, rated at 1200 lumens and 15,000:1 contrast. These are both 1080p resolution DLP projectors, but the HD8200 uses the DarkChip3, whereas the HD808 uses the DarkChip2.

Samsung and Joe Kane were unveiling the SP-A900, the latest product of their design/manufacturing collaboration, and the next generation model to follow the DLP DarkChip2 based SP-A800. The SP-A900 steps contrast up to 15,000:1 using a DarkChip3, and it also steps the retail price up to $15,000. The A900 should be shipping by the end of the month.

LG was showing a new LED-based projector called the HS102, which is already on the market in Europe, but not yet available in the US. It is a very small, one-pound unit, in SVGA resolution, and rated at 160 lumens. In Europe it currently retails for 699 euros.

Vivitek announced the industry's first 1080p projector with an LED light source, the HC7500A. The unit is rated at 700 lumens and 35,000:1 contrast. The LED light source is expected to deliver 20,000 hours of operation. The HC7500A is scheduled to ship in June at a retail price of $13,999. We will be anxious to see it in operation as the release date gets closer.

This year's CES saw a flurry of new "micro" or "pico" projectors. These are about the size of a pack of cigarettes, in either SVGA resolution or lower, and quite dim. Light output is in the 5 to 15 lumen range. On spec sheets their weight can be stated in grams rather than pounds. You can hold them in the palm of your hand and project an image onto any white wall or surface. Prices vary, but they are typically in the range of $300 to $500. They are available from a variety of vendors. Optoma, Toshiba, and 3M have them, among others. And a Chinese company called Butterfly Technology was showing an assortment of them in a very black demo space.

These tiny projectors stimulated quite a bit of conversation. The big questions of course are these: Who will buy them, and what will they be used for? If you have an opinion on this, I would be very interested to hear it. Are you interested in micro or pico projectors? Under what circumstances would you use one? From a marketing perspective, do you think this new class of product should be called micro-projectors or pico-projectors? Drop me your thoughts here. Thanks very much!

We are expecting to receive a second sample of the Epson 6500 UB in the next couple of days. Hopefully that will get our review of that model back on track. We will also be getting into the Epson 6100 later this week as well.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Tuesday, January 6

Hi folks,

Just a quick update from yesterday's posting on this page. We have requested a second sample of the 6500 UB from Epson, as the unit we have in house is manifesting some atypical behavior. This problem is not related to frame interpolation, which is indeed a weakness, but it is not the biggest problem we are concerned about. The 6500 UB review will be delayed until we are able to test a second unit. Since the CES rush is on top of all of us, it is a difficult time for vendors to coordinate delivery of a second unit. We will report more when we know more.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Monday, January 5

Hi folks,

We are back in gear after some holiday downtime. Hope you had a safe and relaxing holiday season. As usual, our first week back entails a lot of CES Show meetings and activity. The show happens later this week, and we will be writing it up next week.

At the moment we are reviewing the Epson 6500 UB. Our plan was to get it done before CES, and that still may happen. But we are seeing a mechanical problem with our sample that may require us to call in a second unit, and that may delay things a bit.

In general, the Epson 6500 UB is a very impressive projector when it comes to brightness, color, sharpness, and contrast. It is certainly competitive with the best of the new 1080p competition in its price range in these aspects. The only notable weakness we see so far is in the frame interpolation system. Panasonic clearly has a more robust implementation on the AE3000. But we will get into more details of how they differ in the review. As I have mentioned elsewhere, if you have seen frame interpolation on a particular video product, don't assume that it will look the same on all products. The implementations and algorithms vary greatly among vendors, with decidedly different end results.

We will be posting a review of Sony BDP-BX1 Blu-ray player in the next day or two. Overall, a great little machine for under $300.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Thursday, December 18

Hi folks,

While awaiting arrival of the Epson 6500 UB, we've been able to put up a couple of reviews on two exciting home theater components you'll want to know about. One is the new Da-lite JKP Affinity HD screen. This really is an amazing screen as far as purity of image goes. I was quite surprised to see that the extremely smooth screen surface really did make a difference in how natural the picture looks. We have already ordered a 10.5 foot wide JKP Affinity screen in 2.35 format, and we will be using it on all reviews of 1080p projectors once we get it installed in a few weeks.

This afternoon Bill has finished up his look at the DVDO Edge Video Processor. This unit has a lot of power and features for the money, and it represents a great way to upgrade your home theater in many respects.

The next projector review will be the Epson 6500 UB. Due to the holidays and vacation time planned, we expect this review to be completed the week of January 5, hopefully before the CES show which starts on the 8th.

In addition to the Epson 6500 UB, we will be focusing our attention on Blu-ray players in the coming weeks. Player prices have dropped considerably, although the price of discs is still annoyingly high. But we will be posting reviews of some of the popular and aggressively priced Blu-ray players to give you an idea of what they can do, and what you might be sacrificing by going for the models under $300 as opposed to the pricier alternatives.

We wish you all the best this holiday season. Thanks for being loyal readers this past year, and we look forward to an exciting 2009.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Monday, December 15

Hi folks,

Well, last week we posted the review of the Sanyo Z3000, as well as the comparison between the Z3000 and the Panny AE3000. (By the way, I initially reported in the Z3000 review that the seven user programmable memories could not be custom labeled. They can, in fact, it was just not intuitive in the menu. I have corrected that statement in the review as of this morning.)

Still no word on the arrival of the Epson 6100, 6500 UB and 7500 UB. It is clear now that these reviews will not be done until at least mid-January, and sometime after the big CES show in Las Vegas the second week of the month.

We have just assembled the Da-lite Affinity HD screen, the screen that is designed for use with 1080p projectors. We will be examining it the next few days and will put some comments together on this new product before the end of the week.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Thursday, December 4

Hi folks,

We've got a lot going on here. The Sanyo PLV-Z3000 is currently in review, and we expect to have this one posted next Wednesday. We are still waiting to hear arrival dates for review units from Epson. They told us back in September that we wouldn't see anything until December, and they were right about that. As soon as we know anything more we will let you know.

Meanwhile, we are also looking at the new DVDO Edge Video Processor, and hope to get that review done next week. And the newly released Affinity HD Screen from Da-lite has just started to ship, and our test sample has arrived. Joe Kane worked with Da-lite in developing this screen, and we are anxious to see how the latest 1080p projectors show on its super fine surface.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Friday, November 21

Hi folks,

In case you missed it, Mitsubishi has announced rebates on several of its home theater projectors including the HC6500, the HC5500, and the HC1600. The rebate on the HC6500 is $200, bringing the official street price down to $2,295. As luck would have it, this rebate is well-timed. We are planning to do a shoot-out comparison between the Mits HC6500 and the Panny AE3000 next week. However, since it is Thanksgiving week, we expect to post it a week from Monday.

Next up in the 1080p review schedule is the Sanyo PLV-Z3000, which should arrive shortly. Everyone is waiting anxiously for that one, and we will get it reviewed as quickly as possible. Assuming it arrives on schedule, that review will be posted the week after next as well.

From all of us here at ProjectorCentral, thanks very much for your loyal readership, and we wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.

Evan Powell
Editor




Friday, November 7

Hi folks,

We just posted the review of the Sony VPL-HW10 earlier today. Overall, a great product from Sony with one of the brightest video optimized pictures we've ever seen. Several requests have already come in for a shootout between the Sony HW10 and the Panny AE3000. We will have that posted no later than the middle of next week.

Also, as promised, we've been able to go back and add 5-star ratings to each of the 1080p models we've reviewed so far this fall. See each of the reviews for details. More comments will be forthcoming on these ratings as we discuss the relative merits of the projectors coming to market in the weeks to come.

The Optoma HD806 arrived and it is now in review. That review will be posted later next week.

In addition, frame interpolation is going to become a very big issue in the months to come. What is the big deal? Stay tuned for an article on the subject to be posted no later than this coming Tuesday.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Monday, November 3

Hi folks,

We've just posted a review of the Samsung SP-A800B, which is the 1080p DLP projector designed in consultation with Joe Kane. It's an elegant projector with excellent color and gray scale performance, and those who need a projector with perfect color should have it at the top of their list. However, with the latest competitive releases this fall the SP-A800B is not on the leading edge of price/performance. This industry just moves too quickly these days.

Next in the review line up is the Sony VPL-HW10, which I expect to post by Thursday or so. We are still waiting for the arrival of the Optoma HD806, which was supposed to be here by now. Hopefully that will show up in the next couple of days, so we can get that done by next week.

After completion of the Sony HW10 review, we will have reviewed enough of the new 1080p products to begin assigning 5-star ratings. We've already included them in the Samsung review. The rest of the 1080p reviews done so far will be updated with that information by the end of the week.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Monday, October 20

Hi folks,

Just a quick note to let you know what we've got going at the moment. Currently we've got the Samsung SP-A800 and the Mitsubishi HC6500 in review. Those reviews should appear later this week and early next week, although I'm not sure which will be done first. The Sony VPL-HW10 and the Optoma HD806 are expected to arrive shortly. So there are a lot more 1080p reviews in the pipeline.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Thursday, October 9

Hi folks,

We just posted a new review of Mitsubishi's HC7000 Diamond Series home theater projector. The 5-star ratings are not included since we are withholding those until we've done some side by side testing with other 1080p models being released this fall.

The review of the Pansonic AE3000 should be completed and posted by Monday night. We are still putting it through some paces and evaluating the effects of the Frame Creation feature. But this model is certain to be a very high scoring projector, and one of the most popular of the fall releases.

As you might have noticed, we are trying a new home page format. Your comments and critiques would be welcome. Please drop us your thoughts.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Tuesday, September 30

Hi folks,

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!

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Monday, September 29

Hi folks,

Well, we were able to get the Sanyo Z60 review posted last week, but I decided to hold the Z700 review until tomorrow. The reason is that we have received the Mitsubishi HC7000, and the Panasonic AE3000 is arriving today. Since we have the opportunity, we want to see these units side by side before publishing any comments.

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. It will take take a few weeks to see and evaluate enough of them to develop a baseline for comparison. But we will post the reviews of each model as soon as we can, and from the discussion of each unit you will be able to get a good idea of how we are seeing the strengths and weaknesses of each model.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Monday, September 22

Hi folks,

We currently have the newest Sanyo units, the Z700 and the Z60, in the review process. We will get them both posted this week. Following those, if the review units arrived on schedule, will be the Mitsubishi HC7000 to be posted next week, and the Panasonic AE3000 will be the week after.

If you are into video gaming, we need your thoughts and feedback--we'd like to know how many of you use a projector exclusively or primarily for video games as opposed to movies, TV, and/or presentation uses? Or do you use a projector for both gaming and movies/TV? When you are selecting a projector, are you more concerned about its viability as a gaming projector, or its video quality for movies and TV? Please drop us a comment or two with your thoughts on the matter. As always, we will try to respond to everyone individually.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Tuesday, September 9

Hi folks,

The CEDIA trade show has wrapped up for another year, and our review of the show has just been posted.

Fascinating things appeared at this show. The big competitive battle this fall between LCD and DLP will be in the area of ANSI contrast. The latest LCD products are showing contrast potential that nobody ever thought would be possible with LCD. We are anxious to get our hands on some of these new high contrast models to see what they can really do. We are working with the vendors to schedule the delivery of review samples of all of the latest releases.

However, it looks like the first of the new models to arrive will be the Sanyo units, the Z700 and the Z60. We will get these reviews done as soon as possible, and I can give you a better time frame once we see them on our doorstep.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Friday, August 29

Hi folks,

The big CEDIA trade show is happening next week in Denver. This is the annual show focused on home theater technologies--projectors, screens, audio systems, vibrating seats, popcorn machines, you name it. If it has to do with home theater, it is at CEDIA. This is the show vendors use to announce many of the new products for the fall season.

Normally, we don't have the product announcements happening until the first day of the show, but this week we've seen a number of advance announcements. Mitsubishi, Planar, projectiondesign, and Sanyo have pre-announced new home theater projectors to be unveiled next week. (See NewsWatch for details on them). Many more announcements will be forthcoming in the next week. Since we will be at the show all week, and since it ends Sunday, Sept 7, we plan to be back in the office late Monday, Sept 8. We will get a review of the show compiled once we have assembled all the product release data.

With all of the feedback coming in on the issue of anamorphic lenses and 2.35 screen formats, the awareness of issues related to ideal screen size and viewing distance was definitely lacking. Whether you are going with a standard 16:9 ratio screen or the wider 2.35, it is vital to figure out what is the best overall combination of screen size and viewing distance for your particular theater. For more on this, see this new article just posted yesterday.

We're still waiting on the arrival of a couple more anamorphic lenses so we can complete a lens review. We will try to squeeze it in among all of the new projector reviews we will be tackling after the show. Also to come, more commentary on the pros and cons of 2.35 format home theaters.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Friday, August 22

Hi folks,

Well, there's a heck of a lot more interest in 2.35 format rigs than we'd have guessed from prior feedback. My request for comments last week generated a huge influx of email, and I thank all of you that wrote in for your thoughts on the matter.

As you might have anticipated, the single largest complaint about anamorphic lenses was the cost. Nobody wants to spend more on an accessory lens than they do on a good 1080p projector, and price is clearly the big stumbling block for most readers. However, there were plenty of other considerations and questions that were on people's minds. We are compiling the most frequently asked questions and most insightful comments, and will post them along with our comments in response next week.

If you have not yet written and want to give us your ideas, experiences, suggestions, compliants, or praise regarding 2.35 screens and anamorphic lenses, we are anxious to hear from you. Please drop us a note if you have any thoughts on the matter!

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Friday, August 15

Hi folks,

We've just posted Bill's overview of five hot projectors that you will want to look at if you are into PC gaming. As projectors have gotten cheaper, many gaming enthusiasts are looking for big pictures to enhance the entertainment experience.

I've got a question for you ... how much interest do you have in anamorphic lenses and the 2.35 screen format? We don't get a lot of email asking for information on this subject, and I am wondering why? Is it because the cost of the lenses makes the concept prohibitively expensive? Is the idea confusing? Or is there just not that much interest in the idea of super-widescreen home theater among our readers? Any feedback you have on this subject would be welcome. Please drop me a note if you have any thoughts on the matter!

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Friday, August 8

Hi folks,

If you are into large screen video gaming, you'll not want to miss the next review. Bill is currently testing five 1280x800 format projectors to see how they stack up as video gaming machines. We should have the results of this work posted next week.

We are also continuing to work on an updated article comparing the relative merits of LCD and DLP. One of the areas we've been examining is the susceptibility of LCD technology to image persistence. At the Infocomm show in June, Texas Instruments demonstrated the tendency of LCD projectors to retain a faint ghost of a static image that had been displayed for an extended period of time. The point of the demo was to highlight the fact that DLP projectors are not susceptible to this particular phenomenon.

In trying to reproduce the demo that was featured in TI's booth, we discovered that not all LCD products behave the same with regard to image persistence. In particular, we tested a total of ten LCD projectors, five of which had inorganic LCD panels, and the other five had organic panels. The unexpected surprise in our testing was that the inorganic units showed very little susceptibility to image persistence. On four of the five, we simply could not get them to retain a ghost image no matter how long we displayed a static image. On one inorganic model, we found an extremely faint residual image which was easily reversed with a few minutes of white screen display.

On the other hand, the five organic units did indeed retain a ghost after at least an hour of displaying a high contrast black and white static image. (We used the ANSI contrast checkerboard test pattern for this evaluation.) In general, the ghost image could be reversed by displaying a full white screen for about half the length of time the original checkerboard image had been displayed. On four out of five of the organic models, the image persistence was fully eliminated using this techique. On the fifth unit, we found that an extremely faint residual ghost could be detected on a 50 IRE gray screen no matter how long we displayed the white screen. The image faded substantially, but never was completely eliminated.

This has been an interesting set of results. We will discuss it more in the upcoming article on the differences between LCD and DLP technologies.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Wednesday, July 30

Hi folks,

We've now got five 1080p projectors lined up, and we are taking copious notes on the relative merits of each. My original plan on Monday was to post a comparison between the Mits HC5500 and the BenQ W5000 today. However, as I see now, that piece would be too limited, and would only stimulate more questions about how they compare to others. So I have modified the plan to write a single piece that highlights the advantages and limitation of each of them as compared to the others.

The Epson 1080 UB has been included in the group, so we now have the Epson as well as the Panny AE2000, the Sanyo Z2000, the Benq W5000 and the Mits HC5500. At the moment, that rounds out the top five most popular home theater projectors in the 1080p category. I will make every effort to get this whole thing posted by Friday.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Monday, July 28

Hi folks,

We've received a number of emails asking about comparisons between the Mitsubishi HC5500, and other 1080p models in the same price range. In particular, the BenQ W5000 is of interest since it is a DLP-based model selling for street prices below $2,500. We are currently looking at the HC5500 and the W5000 and should have comparative notes posted by about Wednesday or so. Following this we will also do side-by-sides between the HC5500 and the Panasonic AE2000 as well as the Sanyo Z2000. We will try to get notes on them done by the end of the week. As of this writing, these are the four most popular 1080p models on the site, as measured by the total number of database accesses by readers in the past week.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor




Friday, July 18

Hi folks,

Well, as promised we got two reviews up this week. One being the entry level Mitsubishi HC1600, and the other the Canon REALiS SX80. The Mits HC1600 is an outstanding entry level projector for graphics and photography, but the switch to a 2x wheel from its predecessor, the HC1500's 4x wheel means a greater number of users will be bothered by rainbow artifacts when using it for video and film.

We are really enthused by the Canon SX80. It delivers extremely bright, well balanced color in 1400x11050 resolution for under $3,000. If you can live with a couple limitations as itemized in the review, it is a highly competitive model for large scale display of photography, graphics, and highly detailed material of all kinds.

We are currently working on the new Mitsubishi HC5500, the latest 1080p model from Mits selling for $2,495. This is a significant upgrade to the HC4900 which is on its way out of production. The HC5500 is 20% brighter, much higher in contrast, and has more powerful video processing circuitry. The increase in brightness comes from a switch to a new, shorter 1.2x zoom lens.

The HC5500 also features two anamorphic lens modes that enable the user to leave an anamorphic lens permanently deployed without ever having to move it. With this feature, no matter what aspect ratio your subject matter is in, you can see it in proper format with the anamorphic lens in place. This eliminates either the nuisance factor of using a manually mounted anamorphic lens, or the significant cost of the automated track. Either way, the option to go with a 2.35 format screen is simplified with this new feature of the HC5500.

A formal review of the Mitsubishi HC5500 will be posted next week.

Thanks for using ProjectorCentral,

Evan Powell
Editor





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