Ever since the native 854x480 video projectors appeared on the market they have had great success due in part to their low street prices, but also because they allow users to watch 480-line material such as DVD video in its native format. As an entry-level projector or for someone who primarily watches 480-line material, it's hard to go wrong with the Viewsonic Cine1000, which is currently available at street prices under $1000. This is Viewsonic's first widescreen projector, and their first model to target the growing home entertainment market.
Specifications. 1000 ANSI lumens, 2000:1 contrast, native 16:9 format, 854x480 resolution DLP chip with a 4x speed, 6-segment color wheel.
Compatibility. HDTV 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i. Full NTSC / PAL / SECAM.
Lens and Throw Distance. 1.20:1 manual zoom/focus lens. Throws a 100" diagonal image from 11.3 feet to 13.8 feet.
Lamp Life. 2,000 hours, 3,000 hours in eco-mode.
Connection Panel. One DVI-I port, one 15-pin RGB-in, one 15-pin RGB-out, one USB port, one 1/8" audio in, one set of YPbPr component inputs, one S-video port, one composite video port, RCA audio-in, one 1/8" audio-out, and one RS-232C port.
Installation Options. Table mount, rear shelf mount, ceiling mount.
Warranty. Three years.
General Impressions/Feature Set
The connection panel of the Cine1000 is crammed full of goodies, including DVI-I, component video, a VGA port, S-Video and composite. This allows you to hook up multiple sources simultaneously and allows you to make direct cable connections between source devices and your projector, rather than using a signal switcher such as an A/V Receiver. The benefit of making direct cable connections is that there is less opportunity for the signal to pick up noise during transmission.
Overall, the Cine1000 feels like a sturdy projector in terms of case construction. Sometimes low-cost projectors will feel flimsy or fragile, but this is not the case on the Cine1000. The projector comes with a carrying case, so you can transport it safely to a friend's house to watch the big game. However, if you do this you must be careful with the lens assembly, which cannot tolerate too much abuse. Luckily, the carrying case is extra padded around the lens to prevent damage.
The Cine1000 has an upward throw angle that lends itself to a ceiling or coffee table mount. In a coffee table mount installation, the bottom edge of the projected image will be 42% of the image height above the centerline of the lens (this is reversed in a ceiling mount, so it would be a downward throw). So, for a 100" diagonal 16:9 image, the bottom edge would be 20.6" above the lens centerline. This angle does not lend itself to a rear shelf installation, but is very easy to accommodate on a low coffee table or an inverted mount on the ceiling. (Make sure to know your screen size, throw distance, and throw angle requirements before purchasing any projector.)
The menu system is easy to learn, with adjustments subdivided into tabbed categories. There are some advanced features available, such as RGBCMYW color adjustment (red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow, and white). There is also a white peaking option that runs from 0-10 and defaults to 3. We achieved the most satisfying movie image by turning off white peaking entirely.
Audible fan noise is not silent, but it's also remarkably unobtrusive. The Cine1000 is rated at 35dB audible noise and 33dB in eco mode, and it lacks the high-pitched whine of some DLP projectors due to the rotating color wheel - instead, audible noise is a low pitch constant hum which is very easy to ignore.
The menu system is large and takes up most of the screen when it is active. There are no options to make it translucent, change its position, or reduce its size to make it less obtrusive, so making fine adjustments can become slightly aggravating. It almost seems as if the menu system is a holdover from Viewsonic's business projection models, as it does not seem particularly well suited to a home theater projector.
For those who have worked with business projectors before, the remote will feel familiar. It is a thin, compact design, no larger than a stack of three or four credit cards. The remote's direct access buttons reveal a decidedly business-like slant, with keystone adjustment, volume controls, freeze frame, auto-adjust, and a single source-search button. There is no backlighting, nor do the buttons glow. While the remote is certainly workable, it is a poor fit for this type of projector.
The Cine1000 is rated at 1000 ANSI lumens maximum. When optimizing light output, we were able to obtain a reading of 727 ANSI lumens on our test unit with the lamp in Normal mode and white peaking turned all the way up. At more reasonable settings for video but with the lamp left in Normal mode, our test unit read 566 ANSI lumens. Finally, in eco-mode with color optimized, we obtained a reading of 462 ANSI lumens. This is brighter than average, as most home theater projectors balance out around 300-400 ANSI lumens. Combined with the projector's coffee table-friendly throw angle, this makes the Cine1000 a good candidate for portable use in rooms with less-than-ideal light control.
Contrast is rated at 2000:1. In practical terms, this means that black level is deep enough to provide a pleasing image, but not quite matching the capability of some competing home theater projectors. On occasion, very deep shadow details in the 10-20IRE range appear muddy or hard to distinguish. This can be fixed by adjusting brightness, but doing so will result in a higher black level. It is up to you to find a comfortable balance that provides clear shadow detail and good black level.
The Cine1000's color performance is excellent. After boosting saturation on our test unit by a few notches, the Cine1000 provided a bright, vibrantly colored image. There was little to no evidence of red push, and while the test unit had a slight red bias, this was easily balanced out using the unit's color adjustments.
We found a noteworthy incompatibility between the Cine1000 and the new Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player, in that the Cine1000 could not correctly display the player's menu system. However, once the film started, the projector picked up the correct signal and displayed a beautiful image. On the other hand, the budget DVD players we have on hand work fine with the Cine1000, and those who want to spend no more than $1000 on a projector are unlikely to be spending $500 to step up to HD-DVD.
The Cine1000 can serve not only as a good DVD and HDTV projector, but also as an excellent video game projector. When using an Xbox system connected via component video, games in 480p and 720p look superb. While next-generation systems will output all games at 720p, the Cine1000's clean scaling, relatively high lumen output, and low street price make it a great choice for gamers.
The Cine1000 is an interesting projector. While there are some small holdovers from business-class machines, the projector as a complete package is an excellent choice as a first projector, a portable home theater machine for sports, or as a gaming projector for the kids (or for yourself). Good lumen output and great color, combined with quality onboard video processing and a three-year manufacturer's warranty make the Cine1000 a great budget solution for those seeking the big-screen experience at home.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our ViewSonic Cine1000 projector page.