Yamaha's New Home Theater Projector: the DPX-1
The highly anticipated Yamaha DPX-1, the company's first offering in the home theater projection market, is now appearing in retail stores and on dealer shelves. And the production model we have just seen looks as good as the pre-production units Yamaha has displayed at recent trade shows. Here's a run-down on what this projector has to offer...
The DPX-1 is a single-chip DLP projector with native XGA resolution (1,024 x 768, 4:3 aspect ratio format). Though pre-release marketing literature had this unit rated at 1000 ANSI lumens, the owner's manual lists it at 800 ANSI lumens. We have therefore reduced the manufacturer's published rating on our spec sheet for this product. Full on/off contrast is rated at a very high 900:1.
The DXP-1 will take video signals in a variety of formats, including 480i, 480p, 576i, and HDTV 1080i, 1035i, and 720p. DVI is also supported for those who want to go with the best possible DVD sources. Standard data formats from VGA (640x480) up to a compressed SXGA (1,280x1,024) are also accepted.
Connector panel: The connector panel features an S-video port, a composite video jack, a standard 15-pin D-sub and a set of five BNCs for RGB and component video signals, a 24-pin DVI port, and a D4 video connector for the Japanese market. There are no speakers on board this unit, and no audio connections on the panel.
Lens and throw distance: The projector features a manual zoom and focus lens with a modest 1.2x zoom range, adequate for making small image size adjustments to fit your screen, but not enough to allow great flexibility in the placement of the unit for any given screen size. Throw distance is not particularly short. If you want to throw a 100" diagonal 16:9 image, you need to allow at least 14.5 feet from lens to screen, and 16 feet if you want to use the center of the zoom range. The good news is that the ventilation is out the front of the projector, so the rear end of the unit can be backed up to within about 6 inches of the back wall and still allow adequate heat dissipation. Bottom line, you can set up a 100" 16:9 screen and hit it comfortably in a room that is at least 17 and preferably 18 feet from wall to wall.
Lamp and fan noise: The DPX-1 has a 120-watt VIP user-changeable lamp from which you will get 1000 hours of usable life. A lamp this small doesn't put out much heat, so it won't challenge your air conditioning. And the fan noise is almost non-existent with such a small lamp in the larger, non-portable housing.
Digital lens shift: While the physical lens cannot be moved up or down to change the height of the projected image, the image height can be changed digitally when the unit is in 16:9 mode by essentially altering which portion of the 4:3 chip is used to create the image.
Aspect Ratio Modes: The DPX-1 will format an image on the screen however you might want it displayed. If you are using a 16:9 screen, you can display a full 4:3 image with side bars. A letterbox image will zoom up to fill the full screen. Anamorphically squeezed 16:9 will be in proper full screen. If you are using a 4:3 screen, a letterboxed image can be display in normally with top/bottom bars, or zoomed to fill the screen with the sides truncated. You have the same options with an HDTV source. An anamorphically squeezed source will be displayed in 16:9 ratio with top/bottom bars.
Image control: Yamaha has given the user a wide range of control over the image. A black level control enables you to adjust black without affecting white brightness-an unusual feature in a digital projector these days. Meanwhile the brightness control affects both black level and white together, and contrast adjusts the ratio of black to white. Five predefined gamma trim patterns are user-selectable. Sharpness can be set at any one of five discrete settings from 1 to 5, although setting it any place above 1 adds unattractive edge definition.
Color temperature is user-selectable at four separate settings: low, mid-low, mid, and high. Of the four, the "mid" setting delivered a very serviceable neutral gray. High is visibly blue and mid-low is visibly yellow. For those who want to get into additional fine-tuning, the white balance can be adjusted by contrast and brightness controls over red, green, and blue independently.
Another unique element on the DPX-1 that is not found on many digital projectors is the "SETUP LEVEL" which lets you adjust the black level difference of the signal. Options are either 0% for a signal with no difference from the pedestal level, or 7.5% for a signal with higher black level.
The DPX-1 has six memory settings so you can set up six different image calibrations for use with different material-a neutral gray for color video, a warmer calibration for black and white films, and perhaps a colder setting for data, for example.