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Discussion in 'Home Theater Forum Meets' started by Jonathan DA, May 21, 2003.
Dang Jonathan, you say I get up too early in the morning! Are you building inventory today?
Oy, long weekend. The speakers look really good though. Okay, my head is about to explode over this projector stuff. The contender's are: Panny L300U $1699 Great picture, cheap, quiet. Can't use with a PC. Sanyo Z1 $1200 Awesome price. Poor black levels from what I read, and the screen door pretty much nixes this one for me. Sharp M20X $2088 Need to look at it again, but I recall it having a very nice picture (comparable to the L300U), plus it has XGA 1:1 mapping and I think it will sync to 72Hz from a PC (good for HTPC use if I decide to stay that route). More expensive. NEC LT240 $2315 More expensive that the Sharp for the same resolution but better contrast. Only has a 2x color wheel though, which brings up rainbow concerns. Does anyone in town have this pj that I could seen in action? Will it sync to 72Hz or is locked like the HS10? Sony HS10 $2569 Great resolution, decent contrast, black levels okay, but it will only sync to 56Hz over DVI for 1:1 pixel mapping. 56Hz?! Forget watching 30fps video on that with a pc, and 24fps probably isn't great either. Any other projectors in this price range I should be looking at? It's starting to look like the Sharp might be the way to go for me. Jeff, thanks again for the demo, even though I probably won't get one because of the 1:1 issue, you convinced Josh. I think he is ordering his today.
I know that many people do use an L300U with an HTPC. I think it requires more setup and tweaking time than with most other projectors, but people do it and are quite happy. I don't know what was wrong when we tried it (bright gray black levels and letterboxed areas were the most obviously incorrect-looking thing to me), but I'm sure it could be fixed. The creature comforts and automatic figure-stuff-out logic in this projector are centered around the component video connections. A very good picture is supposedly obtainable over VGA, though... it's just not as plug-and-play easy I guess. Unless you really expect to do a large amount of "data projector" duties such as presentations, I think the L300U can do adequate desktop duty. You get 1:1 pixel mapping for almost all of the pixels in the right mode without having any of the desktop cropped. Just 3 or 4 faintly fuzzy bands that we saw. These would be annoying if you were going to use the display for web surfing more than once a month, but for the rare crossover presentation, it should be just fine. Also, remember that a 4:3 digital projector leaves a 4:3 halo. Be prepared to install black felt/velvet/whatever masking around your 16:9 screen if you don't want the railing below and ceiling above to be lit up. I'm not trying to push you to choose my PJ over the Sharp or another if it's not the best choice for you, but "Can't use with a PC" is not correct. Maybe "Can't set up with PC in one evening and still have time to watch demo material and play poker" might be more accurate. About the other PJ's you're considering: M20X: Yeah, nice picture from what I remember seeing on Mark's. Much brighter than mine, slightly more pixels, and higher contrast. The only negative things I've ever read about this PJ are about color fidelity and reliability. (I've only ever seen animated content on his PJ, though. Monster's Inc. and Shrek, so I don't have any comments about color fidelity.) LT240: My friend Dave E (he posts here) has seen one, and had very good things to say about it. Supposed to be very quiet, too. I've pretty much determined that 2x color wheels don't make me or Darlene very happy, though. HS10: I don't think I'd recommend it over the L300U unless you're going to be watching lots of HDTV (and I don't think you are). I haven't seen them side by side or even in the same setting, but the "word on the street" matches my experience pretty well: L300U has better blacks and shadow details, and is just as bright if not brighter once the filter is over the HS10 lens, though. HS10 certainly has many more pixels than any of these players, though... might allow you to sit closer. If you wanted to wait a little while and increase your budget, this PJ looks promising and will probably sell for street-price of $5k: http://www.projectorcentral.com/optoma_h76.htm I'm still way interested in hosting a Sharp vs. L300U a/b comparison when mark gets his back if you're still considering the L300U. One more note... when I fired the PJ back up again on Saturday night, I realized that it was left on "Dynamic" mode. "Dynamic" has the worst black levels and the hardest "blue" cast of any of the modes. I flipped to it while there was lots of ambient light coming into the loft, and didn't flip back before going back down to the poker table. Oops. It wasn't like that the whole time, but any viewing you did after I went back downstairs to wasn't in the ideal darkened-room mode.
Here are some interesting stuff they say about the 300 and z1. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=267994 I have the 1HD and I may say that mine is probably not properly caliberated the way it should be and I do run off a BIG A$$ screen in my little living room. I can't say that screen door even bothers me an bit. If you click on the link above it mentions that you can defocus the Z1 and it will get rid of screendoor and improve picture. I am sure Chad has properly caliberated his 300 the way it should be so that its at its top performance. I hear alot of great things about the the 300, but since its 700.00 more then the 1Z, I say its no brainer to get the Z1 and go to the service menu and tweek it if your really that pickey. There soooooo many things you can tweek on the Z1 that will slap an 300 around. Plus I love lens shift and since I am not running an ceiling or shelf mount it becomes really handy. I know when I had a meet at my house I know for the screen size I am shoot and sitting distance is way off (image to big for the sitting distance). But IF I was to make the image smaller to say ummmm 65" there is no screendoor. Take the 300 and max out the image on the zoom and tell me if you do not see screen door? All LCDs have screendoor and its known for it. Thats why there is DLP. As for DLP... hi rainbows So either way deal with some screendoor or rainbows on DLP. Both Pjs 300 and z1 are excellent budget Pjs... I'd choose the Z1 and save that extra 700.00 or so and add to my dvd movie collection
L300U has less screendoor than a DLP. In fact, I suspect that many L300U's have no screendoor at all. That is to say, no grid between the pixels... not even a faint or dim grid. If you were to view a solid color filling the whole screen, you would be unable to tell where the pixels are. In reality, my L300U and Chad's L300U achieve this perfect smoothness on only half of the screen. The other half has very subtle screendoor. Probably some manufacturing tolerance issue. I guess it all depends on how much screendoor bothers you. True, $700 is a lot of money. Maybe that's why my DVD collection is so small (about 30 titles). I dislike screendoor enough so that it was worth it for me. I don't like to soft-focus my image. I do envy your lens shift. Optical lens shift is such a great idea. Digital keystone correction sucks, and the Z1 / 1HD can be placed with more freedom without sacrificing image quality because of that groovy lens shift.
I'm with Jeff on this one, I've seen quite a few LCD projectors and the only one that didn't both me at all is the L300U. Even the HS10 bugged me a little bit, had to sit 2 times from the screen for it to really disappear. My chair is only 1.5 times. Mike, maybe I could drop by and take a look at your 1HD? DLP rainbows are not an issue for me at 3x or above. I noticed that HP just came out with a new XGA DLP, the vp6120, for $1999. I couldn't get any details out of them on the color wheel speed though.
Jeff, You are so right about digital keystone.. I hate it. I never can get it correct. Some people on AVS tells me to angle my screen . LMAO (were they serious)? Jonathan, Hey man that's cool with me if you like to see my PJ in action. I have really no knowlege about sitting distance and screen size should be. But I know I am sitting about 9.5' back and I am viewing an 92" 16:9 screen (viewable). If I zoom down my lens then I don't see really no screen door. I do know if I sit way further back I can't see any screendoor. Its all in really how far to sit back and there is none. I have not yet ever defocus my image so I don't know if that will get rid of screendoor, but I will try that next . But as I say there are allot of tweeks that can be done on the Z1 which I will not get into on the 1HD b/c the screendoor really does not bother me. I'm gald I got the 1HD and I have no complaints as of yet.
Even if you could use digital keystone correction to project a perfectly rectangular image that fit your screen exactly, you wouldn't want to. You lose tons of detail. Example: select a scene from a DVD with an "extreme close up" of someone's face. Milla J. in 5th element or Reese W. in Sweet Home Alabama, or something. Take a good look at the skin texture: dimples, freckles, lines, etc. Now apply just one click of keystone correction and watch most of that detail get washed away. I hope optical lens shift catches on and improves. A PJ with distortion-free lens shift with 100% horizontal and vertical adjustability relative to the screen dimensions would be sweet! People could put their screen in the ideal location, and put the PJ where it is convenient. Actually, MORE than 100% adjustability would be beneficial. I'd like to have the centerline of my lens ABOVE the top of the screen if possible. Tall people's foreheads would be spared.
Jeff I think you may be coming down with a bad case of the BBS (Buyer's Bias Syndrome) ...
I tried my best to avoid coming across with a "my PJ is the best PJ in the world" attitude when I posted. I was merely explaining what I learned in my very recent projector purchase research, and why I chose this one. I never said that the L300U was without its limitations. I also made my comments on the specific PJ's Jonathan listed, which I still think are quite valid. Now it looks like I'm coming across with a defensive attitude. I stand by what I said about the L300U's screendoor. I'll start by defining screendoor as the grid of dark lines separating the pixels. My PJ and Chad's PJ have a faint grid on half the screen. On the other half, though, the grid is simply not there. If you were to display a solid color, it would be very difficult to pick out individual pixels on the smooth side. Maybe the edges of the pixels interact in a subtle way where they meet, but there is no black line. I'm talking about true 100% fill factor. Posts that I've read on AVS indicate that some people have a completely smooth picture with no grid whatsoever. The majority (not overwhelming) have a faint grid on one side of the screen though. I should have qualified my statement with "than any DLP that I've seen". To be honest, though, I'd be suprised to learn of a DLP projector at any pricepoint with less screendoor than an L300U's most out-of-spec screen area. I'm not talking about less perceived screendoor by virtue of having more/smaller pixels... I'm talking about fill factor. If both PJs were far enough away from the screen so that the pixels were 1/8-inch squares, how visible would the lines between pixels be? That is, how wide are they and how dark (relative to the surrounding filled pixels) are they? I think for the half of my screen that has any grid at all, the grid would be less pronounced than that of a DLP image. I will certainly take a look at whatever HT720 info I can dig up. If the DMD has a better fill rate, I'll be amazed. If the PJ employs a prism layer or something else like Panasonic used, then I say "thumbs up for Immersive". But even if that one example PJ has better FF, I think my comment is still valid and helpful. Does the L300U have visible pixel structure? Heck yeah! Does it have scanlines that look very very much like screendoor during slow vertical pans? You betcha. I never said it was perfect, and I never said there isn't another projector I'd rather have. Yeah, having masking would rock. I've seen effective masking systems, and agree that they make a HUGE difference. Anyone who can set up a masking system should do it. I don't have a masking system because it's quite difficult to make it work for a pull-down screen in front of a window. I think it might be difficult for Jonathan as well for similar reasons; his screen is floating in mid-air. With a 16:9 projector, I think it would be easy for him to mask his current 16:9 screen for wider-screen content by having removable black fabric strips for the top and bottom.. perhaps applied with velcro to the sides of his frame. When not needed, they can be stuffed under a chair or something. A 4:3 projector running in 16:9 mode ALWAYS has an unwanted halo, no matter what you're watching. Masking a 16:9 screen with no wall behind it would be more difficult. If he's really going to put black velvet curtains along the balcony, though, then it's a non-issue as long as the halo doesn't hit his ceiling.
I have seen the NEC LT240 in action. A friend of mine here upgraded from his LT150 to the LT240 because he got tired of the noise from the LT150. I spent last Saturday watching T2 in High Def from his HTPC and the special HD version DVD they included. It was brilliant. I also had him bring the LT240 out to my place and we watched The Transporter -- a cheezy movie but one that has a very good transfer. My impressions of the LT240: - Totally silent compared to my LT150 - It was plenty bright, far brighter than my LT150, an X1, or the L300u. And that was in econo mode, presentation mode is retina scorching. - *Excellent* (in Mr. Burns voice) contrast and black level, even on my high 2.8 gain screen. Easily MUCH better than *any* LCD I've seen and a definite improvement over my modified LT150. 2000:1 may be a bit of an exagerration, but not by much. I think you'd have to go to a $4K HT1000 or an HD2 to get any better. - Colors were very good after tweeking. But it definitely needs some setup and AVIA calibration. - Rainbows, with a 2x wheel it was about the same as my LT150. In VERY bright contrasty scenes (credits and moving flashlights) I saw a few, but rarely in the movie. I'm used to them though. - It did not have any light leakage around the 4:3 screen like my Lt150 does. When viewing a 16:9 or 2.35:1 image, it had a very slight halo at the top/bottom, but unnoticeable except on very dark scenes. It has very good blacks, so that helps. IMHO, I think its THE projector for $2500 or less AS LONG as you aren't susceptible to rainbows. Considering the fact that the universally acclaimed HT1000 is just a modified LT240, that says a lot. If you're ok with DLP, I think it provides a better picture than my LT150, the L300u, X1, Z1, Sony 11HT, etc. If anyone wants a used LT150 for $900 I could probably be convinced to upgrade and give you all a first hand demo ;-) Ok, more comments: Sanyo Z1: At the HT shootout last fall I saw massive amounts of screendoor from 1.75x away, so it must not have been setup right. Defocusing got rid of it, but then the sharpness was lost, so I'll just have to say that I obviously didn't see it in optimal conditions as I came away unimpressed. L300u: Best LCD I've seen (except maybe the PLV70). Jeff's looks great. I do notice some pixelation (moreso than on my DLP) but thats partially due to resolution and Jeff's viewing distance (I prefer a 2.0x viewing distance). Absolute black level was very acceptible, as was contrast, but still not DLP level (even my 3yr old one). Color was better than a typical DLP. HD looked very good. My only issue is the mounting requirements -- it just would be far too low in my installation. WTF was panasonic smoking when they calculated the lens angle? Nils -- Have you seen the Immersive? I can't wait to see either the Optoma 76 (which lists at $6K) or the Immersive Virtuoso (which was $5995 on pre-buy). I'm debating whether to upgrade now to an LT240 (maybe out of pocket $1500 if I sell my LT150) or get one of these two HD2s. If I get the Lt240 I'd probably get another projector in 2yrs when (hopefully) some 1080p native models are out and reasonably priced. -Dave
Grr, too bad about the rainbows on the LT240, if they're comparable to the LT150 then there's no way I could live with them. Jeff, I know you wanted to see a Sharp M20X in action again. I have one at my place for a few days if you want to come over and check it out. Nils, do you know anything about the new HP vp6120? I can't locate any specs on its color wheel and the HP rep couldn't answer any of my questions. It seems comparable to the Sharp, but is a bit cheaper. I think its OEM is Coretronics but I'm not sure.
Jeff, I think we are on the same page regarding what Fill Factor means and how to measure it. Specifically, FF is measured by the following formula: W/(W+D) = FF% W = Width of a pixel D = Distance between the edges of two adjoining pixels It makes no difference how many pixels or how large or small the image is when calculating FF. While there are obviously some exceptions, currently CRT & Film are the only projectors that have 100% FF. LCoS is next best with FFs as high as 95% (SXRD may improve upon this). DLP is next in-line with FFs just over the 90% levels. LCDs use to be around the low 80% levels, but the highest FF I have seen measured was nearly 87%. I have not seen an actual scientific measurement of the L300 FF, but considering Panny has yet to publish that spec I suspect it wont be to revolutionary. As you clarified, by comparison of the FPs that Doc listed, I too would recommend the L300 - in fact after the Parade of HTs I called Doc up and strongly suggested he consider it should he decide to let go of his Barco. For me it comes down to four approaches to FP buying: 1) For those with deep pockets, buy the best and trade it in every year for the LNG (Latest'N'Greatest). 2) For those who don't keep up with what the LNG is, and like to hold on to what they have until it stops working or costs more to repair than to replace. For those folks I recommend they consider a budget in the $5,000-$10,000 range and there they will find a wide range of superb projectors that will provide spectacular performances until they finally keel over and die. They key here though is ignorance! If you go this route you don't want to wander into a high-end HT shop a few years from now. You wont want to be reading the various HT forums, especially AVS. Instead, just enjoy what you have and don't compare it to the latest FPs. Once you do, then the temptation to upgrade will likely grab hold and you'll be facing a significant amount of depreciation. 3) For folks who are interested in what the LNG technology has to offer and constantly wanting to improve our HT systems, right now the best recommendation is buy cheap. Why? Because cheap no longer has to be mediocre - as the current entry level FPs have shown. With most of these FPs I would be quite content to enjoy it for a year, maybe even two before I would want to upgrade and by then, prices for the current crop of high-end FPs will have dropped dramatically due to some even more tantalizingly improved new models. 4) For those that wont pull the trigger until they are sure they are getting the absolute best deal in town - wait... and wait... and wait... (etc) When you finally get tired of waiting join group #3. I opted for group #3 last year when I bought a 12SF (LS110 Screenplay) for $4,000. I still feel I have a good value projector, but I suspect sometime next year I'll be ready for a change, and I'll probably follow the same strategy. Eventually digital projectors will reach a performance level like CRTs where only marginally differences will be made each year such that the desire to upgrade will not be much of a factor. Until then, I plan on following strategy #3.
What is revolutionary isn't the LCD panel, of course, but the prism layer. The LCD has very poor fill factor. The prism multiplies each pixel into 4, however, and these 4 pixels touch eachother. Here are some screenshots I bookmarked back when I was shopping. Now that I have my L300U, I can report that these are very consistent with what I see. Sharp M20X: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...achmentid=4186 http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...achmentid=4188 L300U: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...achmentid=4185 http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...achmentid=4187 http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...achmentid=4189 The first L300U image shows some screendoor. This is consistent with what I see on the "bad" side of my screen. If the M20X is 90%, then this has to be WAY more than 87%. The second two pictures show no screendoor. Pic #2 is a soft-focused L300U. You cannot achieve this smoothness with a soft-focused Z1... the screendoor is still there. I think soft-focusing is dumb, though, so "who cares". Pic #3 is of a hard-focused L300U. Pixel structure? Absolutely. But screendoor? Nope. 100% FF, or really darn close anyway, on the side of the screen with the properly aligned smoothscreen prism. I promise. I'm not making it up. All of these images show the L300U's screendoor advantage, but the reviewer who posted them still preferred the picture from the M20X. I'd probably agree with him if I saw them side-by-side. I think DLP gives off a generally more "3D: this is REAL" feel than LCD does. Better texture, etc. So screendoor isn't everything. I don't remember having a big rainbow problem with Mark's projector. I could see them with the white text scrolling on the black background, and the white mouse cursor moving on the dark PC desktop. But I didn't see any during Shrek or Monster's. Then again, I didnt' see rainbows on Monster's on the Dell 3200MP which had the worst rainbows of any PJ I've ever seen. Why didn't I get the M20X? The rumored reliability problems at the time (which I asked Mark about directly, and he confirmed). It would have also been $600 or so more expensive. No doubt that it's a great PJ, and one that I seriously considered.
Jeff, First of, the M20X uses TIs first generation 4:3 XGA chip. The latest XGA chips and HD2 chips have improved FF. Secondly, the FF is still the same on the L300 with or without the prism. Look at your own pics, by breaking each pixel into four, the prism simply makes the normal grid line half the normal size, BUT there are now twice as many grid lines!. Granted, now that each grid line is half th size they are much less noticeable, so the end result is beneficial and explains why the L300 has managed to have a less noticeable screen door than LCDs without the prism. If you think about it, the more you are able to separate a single pixel into smaller segments - 1=4, 1=16, 1=36, etc the more you would be able to spread out the FF such that each individual grid line becomes less and less noticeable. There is a reason for why this has not been the focus for most projector manufacturers, one of which is the lack of uniformity that the prism has on the PQ, and the resulting complaints from consumers asking for a replacement should their unit not be as uniform as what they saw in another unit. I think Panny has done a great job and the results obviously show that. If Panny doesn't get into too much hot water from disappointed consumers expecting perfection, then I would not be surprised to see the other LCD makers to follow Panny's lead. As for LCoS and DLP, they are not that far off from having near 100% FF without any distortion or fragmenting pixel structure and current development projects are working to further improve this and other performance parameters effecting pixel structure.
Remember the line from "The Graduate": "There's one word I have for you son - plastics." Regarding PJ's, it's "LCOS". But not this Fall, and probably not next year, but after that...