My experiences with the Boxlight 1HD Projector

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Daniel.T, Jun 23, 2003.

  1. Daniel.T

    Daniel.T Auditioning

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    My screen, a Da-Lite High Contrast Cinema Vision 119" diagonal, arrived a couple of days before the projector. Setup was a snap, literally. Though it has now been a week, the room still stinks of vinyl! I picked up the projector on Saturday morning after a visit from Time Warner and a new HDTV cable box. The projector, a Studio Experience HD1 by Boxlight, was unpacked without issue. I then took my 1/4" plexiglas projector plate, marked the mounting holes, drilled, and then attached the projector to the plate with 3" 6mm screws. Finally I mounted the projector and plate up to my ceiling suspension column and connected all the video feeds and power cable.

    Since the column was ever so slightly off center, it gave me a chance to use the best feature the 1HD has for setup; lens shift. The action of the lens shift is a bit sloppy till it catches, but nothing out of the ordinary if you understand how it works and what it is doing. Briefing the manual I used the "zoom" setting of the "screen" feature to get a completely filled 16x9 picture. Then it was all just a matter of fiddling with the lens shift and lens zoom to get the picture to nearly perfectly fill the screen from 13.5' back. The entire process took about 10 minutes to complete. All that was left was to re-install the drop ceiling piece for a very clean looking install.

    The menu system was very easy to navigate, though it would have been nice for Sanyo / Boxlight to have put all the features for a given section on the same page and allowed the user to scroll the list. As it now stands the user has to select a type of "next page" command to get to multiple screens worth of features. This can be somewhat annoying when a feature is several pages deep. The first step was switch the projector from "rear" display to "ceiling" display so that the image would be transmitted upside down and view correctly as right side up on the screen. The menu also serves an easy way to focus the lens, but more on that later. All the basic functions are available with controls for brightness, contrast, sharpness, gamma, red, green, blue, color, tint and many others. There is also a menu for using automated settings for input detection from video source and input detection of signal type for the component video (which had some issues). There are also 2 factory settings presets and 4 user defined settings presets which allows the user to save different settings for DVD, TV, or any other video source type. Altogether this is a very easy to use menu that virtually anyone could feel comfortable with.

    It is still best that you have a completely light controlled environment for use with this projector. While bright, it isn't bright enough to overcome light close to the screen. My observations in this regard might be different from the average user in that I'm projecting onto a 119" grey screen (more on that later). A user with an 80" or 92" screen is likely to be more tolerant of ambient light. However, even with a 119" screen it was still bright enough with some ambient lighting sufficient for those Sunday football games. After all, if you can't see what you're eating and what it's being dipped in; you've got some potential problems! The Da-Lite HCCV screen does help mitigate the ambient light problem that could definitely be adversely exacerbated by using a high power type screen with a +3 gain.

    Out of the box, the picture was quite impressive. The color was vivid and nicely saturated. Now having previously seen an Infocus 7200 and a Sharp 9000 (both setup at dealers with the wrong screens, either too small, wrong aspect ratio, or wrong fabric type), the black levels weren't quite as deep, especially on the masked portions of a 4:3 or theatrical wide screen material. The black "bars" were an 85% grey level color (I use way too much Photoshop). The two $8000 DLP projectors definitely were better, but they were also $6800 more and darned well should have been better. Still, this was not distracting or did it in any way detract from the visible picture. If I want, and probably will, I'll make some hinged black velvet panels for cropping my display for 4:3 and theatrical wide screen material. I was still able to tweak the image using the simple on disc THX examples provided by the two Star Wars DVD's or the one on "Ice Age".

    I decided to evaluate one animated DVD and one standard film DVD to get a quick idea for the visual quality of the projector. "Ice Age" was an easy choice for animated material because it offers great detail, color contrasts, and a lot of color on solid white scenes. That, and let's face it, it is one of the best animated movies to come out in a long time. Forget the kids, this is good enough for adults to really enjoy. This animated feature is presented in 16x9 format and allows the entire screen and LCD panels in the 1HD to be fully utilized. From a viewing distance of 16' the picture was as big as it was impressive. I couldn't stop pinching myself to know that what I was seeing was really in my own home. The colors were fantastic, bright and brilliant without a degree of over saturation or bleed. Because there was no "dark grey" boarder region to reference, the black levels looked very deep and almost the same quality as my older 53" Hitachi Ultrascan RPTV, just a lot, lot bigger. The film I chose to view was the Superbit edition of "The Fifth Element". Yeah I know, reviewers are supposed to use "Lord of the Rings", but I don't like LotR and found it overly hyped and underwhelming, but this isn't a movie review, so back to the point. "The Fifth Element" is a visual and audio melding the like that has rarely been seen in a film. The wide-ranging colors and vista's make for a very demanding presentation for any TV or projector. The 1HD did not disappoint in the least. The opening seen with the professor in the Egyptian temple conveyed all the subtle tones of browns with great clarity and detail the like my old 53" RPTV could never achieve. The scene with Leelu outside the genetics laboratory displayed the dinginess of the building without loosing the impact of her outfit (if it can be called that) and her orange hair. All in all, for a projector and screen that cost only 60% of what my RPTV did 2 years ago is nothing short of astonishing!

    Now for some of the rough areas of the 1HD, and please keep in mind for less than $1200 these criticisms are very slight. Screen Door Effect. This is the effect named because it is similar to looking through a screen door. LCD pixels do not meet edge to edge with adjacent pixels and thus there is a black space between them. General rule of thumb is to sit 1.5 times the screen width back. I was sitting 16' back or about 1.8 times the screen width. Even at this distance, the 1/4 HD (964x578) panels did make for visible SDE if one was looking for it. An ever so slight defocusing of the lens made it disappear completely without losing any sharpness of the image. But be careful, too much and you'll soften the picture to the point it looks bad. Once again, my use of a 119" screen is on the edge of being too much for a project of this resolution to handle, after all it really wasn't intended for such very large screens. But I knew in 8mos I would upgrade, so I went for a future proof screen.

    Black levels. Depending on the video source, the BL are sometimes "crushed". By that I mean some of the subtle detail in shadows tends to lack enough gradation as to be muddled. This was mainly a problem with composite TV and SDTV. The HCCV screen did help a lot with the black levels and even at 119" screen size, I would still recommend this screen type for this projector.

    HDTV. I'm using a feed from Time Warner cable, which only nets me ABC and HBO for the time being. With the auto component video signal detection, the 1HD had a very hard time locking onto these signals correctly. Quite often I was getting only a grayscale image. Same problem when switch from DVD (component) to TV (s-video) and then back to DVD would confuse the 1HD to the point of being unable to lock onto the 480p signal from my dvd player. Taking the 1HD out of auto detect and forcing it to 480p resolved this problem. But HDTV will be another problem to solve, but that may have something to do with either the video switch on my Krell Showcase 7.1 preamp having a problem with HDTV component signals or the 25' component cable I'm using till I can afford to pick up a 30' Belden 1694a component cable.

    Burning smell. The 1HD and PLV-Z1 are notorious for having a burning smell when they are new. This is nothing alarming, just a by-product of burning in the bulb. I've had other pieces of home electronics do the same thing. And to be honest, the HCCV screen from Da-Lite has an odor far more overbearing than the projector. Once again, my negative issues were either self-faulted (component sync'ing issues) or very nit picky considering the phenomenal price of this unit. Also, note to people switching from 4:3 tv's to 16:9 units, remember to adjust the settings of your DVD player accordingly, otherwise things will look out of proportion.

    I can't recommend this projector enough for people looking for their first in home FPJ system. The 1HD and it's Sanyo equivalent the PLV-Z1 are by far the best bang for the buck in the industry right now. It is almost unbelievable to get this kind of performance out of something so much cheaper than a decent 50" RPTV! Everyone that has seen this has had their jaws drop to the floor. It really is that good!

    Equipment Used:

    Studio Experience 1HD (projector)
    119" Da-Lite High Contrast Cinema Vision Perm-Wall (screen)
    Krell Showcase 7.1 (home theater preamp)
    Classe Audio CA-101 (amplifiers via XLR)
    Sony NS-700p (progressive scan DVD)
    Pioneer DV-45a (progressive scan DVD/DVD-a/SACD)
    Outlaw Audio ICBM (analog bass management for DV-45a)
    PSB Stratus Silver-i (front speakers)
    Advent Baby-II (x2 center speakers)
    Paradigm 7se (rear speakers)
    2x 12" subwoofer (self designed, Audio Concept components)
    various cabling from MIT, Better Cables, Monster Cable, Outlaw Audio PCA

    Room: 16.5' screen wall, 29.5' long, 7.5' ceiling
     
  2. Don Marsh

    Don Marsh Extra

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    Very nice review. This is one of the projectors i'm seriously considering. It seems like there are a lot of happy customers out there. Is there any reason to choose the 1HD over the Z1 or vica versa?
     
  3. Daniel.T

    Daniel.T Auditioning

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  4. Robert James Clark

    Robert James Clark Second Unit

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  5. rin

    rin Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the in-depth review Daniel. I've had my 1HD for
    a few weeks now and agree with you 100%, this is a great PJ for the money.

    When it first arrived I was projecting it on a
    textured wall at about 130" diagonal and it looked pretty
    good. Not great though. The only place I had to put it was
    on a cabinet at the rear of the room and with the short
    throw lens the PJ was way too far away.

    I finally ceiling mounted it last week. Just finished building a 16x9 96" diagonal PP screen which I just got mounted yesterday.

    To say that I'm pleased with the picture now is an understatement. I can't believe how good a picture this thing puts out.

    You're right about the Auto setting though,
    mine doesn't want to lock onto the signal half the time
    either. That really isn't a major issue though.

    I was really looking at the Panny 300U for the screen door reduction but when it came down to it I just didn't have the extra $500 so I crossed my fingers and ordered the Boxlight.

    No regrets at all.

    rin
     
  6. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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  7. Daniel.T

    Daniel.T Auditioning

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    The only pics I have are lighted pics. My Kodak DC280 digital camera can't take night shots since I have no control over the exposure time. Maybe I can borrow a better digital camera from a friend at a later time. What I do have is a series of pictures of the before and during states of my home theater room. Still have work to do.

    http://www.schloctar.com/pictures/theater/
     
  8. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Great setup. I have the same camera and I know what you mean about night pictures. I would still try a couple though as I look some pictures of our kitchen with just the under the counter lighting on and it worked just fine. The camera has a mount for a tri-pod and I think you can do a delayed picture. I would just line your picture up and then have it take a delayed picture. You could see how they turn out.

    If you don't mind me asking how much did you pay for the screen? Do you know if they make it in a perfed version?

    Parker
     
  9. Daniel.T

    Daniel.T Auditioning

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    I tried several dark room pictures and they came out very grainy looking even when I paused the dvd picture. The pictures do not do justice to the picture quality. This camera was never intended for night or dark shots. During the day it has incredible color quality, one of the reasons I bought it. I need to borrow a more feature rich camera and try again later. I think a friend of mine has a Nikon Cool Pics 950 I can use.

    As for the screen, it isn't the audio perf model, though they do make them. The screen itself was $550 in the HCCV PermWall format. It stinks to high heaven for the first week and then the vinyl smell starts to weaken. The picture is great and I couldn't be happier at the moment.
     

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