SIM2 M.150 3D 1080p LED Single Chip DLP Projector Review

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Steve Withers takes a look at the world's first 3D LED projector

by Steve Withers Jun 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM

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    SIM2 M.150 3D 1080p LED Single Chip DLP Projector Review
    SRP: £19,000.00

    Introduction

    We’ve reviewed a number of LED projectors over the past two years, including models from Vivitek, Digital Projection and Sim2's own MICO 50. Yet, despite the obvious advantages of LEDs over a traditional bulb, there have been very little in the way of new models this year. In fact, it appears that only Sim2 are persevering with the use of LEDs as a light source, which is a shame because we think the technology has real potential. Given the profusion of LED LCD TVs on the market, you could be forgiven for wondering why we aren't also being flooded by LED projectors in the same way. Well the problem is that unlike TVs that use LEDs as a backlight, it is far more difficult to use them with a projector. The precision required to illuminate the panel, as well as the LEDs inherent susceptibility to changes in temperature, makes stable implementation in a projector very difficult, not to mention expensive. Another problem is their perceived lack of brightness and although that might surprise anyone who has ever used a LED torch, many manufacturers feel that this puts LED projectors at a disadvantage, especially when it comes to 3D.

    This general indifference to the technology is a shame, because the use of LEDs in a projector has a number of key advantages. The technology especially lends itself to single-chip DLP projectors where the use of three LEDs (red, green and blue) negates the need for a colour wheel, thus almost eliminating rainbow artefacts. This isn't the only advantage of course, as the use of LEDs offers additional benefits, including very long life times, consistent brightness and purer colours. Thankfully Sim2 have continued to develop LED projectors and are managing to surmount many of the technological hurdles, especially those related to perceived brightness. As a result of these efforts comes the M.150, which is the latest of their LED single-chip DLP projectors and the first in the world to offer 3D capability. Of course, such technological breakthroughs don't come cheaply and the M.150 costs a fairly hefty £19,000 but this may be a small price to pay if the projector delivers in terms of performance. Let's find out...

    Design and Features

    The first thing you notice about the M.150 is that Sim2 have eschewed their usual curvaceous chassis for something far more angular. In fact, the M.150's sharp edged shape seems the very antithesis of Sim2's design ethos, essentially being a large black box. That's not to say that the Italian manufacturer hasn't brought some of their traditional flair to the design, it's just that it's something of a departure. Thanks to the Italian influence, the M.150 remains stylish, even for a black box, with a glass finish to the top and front and hard rubber ventilation grilles to the sides and rear.

    SIM2 M.150 Design and Features

    The overall build quality is excellent and in terms of chassis size the M.150 is a bit smaller than previous MICO LED projectors, measuring 53cm x 22cm x 42cm. However don't let the reduced dimensions fool you, Sim2 have crammed a serious amount of technology into the M.150's boxy interior and at 28kgs it has to rate as one of the heaviest projectors we've had to mount on our review stand. The glass finish and large lens undoubtedly contribute to the mass but if you're planning a ceiling mount, make sure it's secure because you really don't want the M.150 falling on your head. SIM2 recommend various optional ceiling brackets for just such a purpose but the M.150 can also be shelf mounted using two adjustable feet at the front.

    SIM2 M.150 Design and Features

    As always, the quality of the glass in the lens is one of the most important factors in determining the performance of a projector and as we have come to expect from Sim2, the lens on the M.150 is a precision piece of optics. Naturally, such high quality glass doesn't come cheap and is one of the reasons that Sim2 projectors carry such a high price tag. The lens on the M.150 is especially impressive, centrally mounted and dominating the front of the chassis. The M.150 uses the latest 0.95" 1080p DarkChip4 DLP chipset from Texas Instruments which is illuminated using Sim2's proprietary SUPER PureLED technology. As a result the three high power LEDs have a life expectancy of at least 30,000 hours and Sim2 claim a light output of 1,000 ANSI lumens. The M.150 uses liquid-cooling to keep the temperature of the LEDs constant and there are also additional fans built into the already crowded chassis. These fans could be a little noisy but we understand that our sample was an early unit and the more recent ones use quieter fans. Quite why the M.150 needs fans at all when it uses liquid-cooling is something of a mystery but when watching normal movie content we were never aware of the fans from our viewing position (which was only a few feet away).

    SIM2 M.150 Design and Features

    Unlike the far more expensive Lumis 3D-S, the M.150 has fully motorised zoom, shift and focus controls for the lens, which makes installation very easy. In fact, the shift control offers 60% up and 25% down in the vertical and 8% left or right in the horizontal. When you take into account the central position of the lens itself, all you need to do is point the M.150 at your screen and then adjust the size using the remote control until it fits. There is a grid pattern that you can use to help align the image, as well as one that you can use for focus and the whole process only took a few minutes. Unlike recent projectors from JVC and Sony, the M.150 doesn't have a lens memory but thanks to the motorised lens controls, we were able to watch 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 movies on our scope screen without any problems.

    The M.150 has a standard high quality glass lens (T1) with a throw ratio of 1.5-2.1:1 as well as two optional high quality glass lenses, the T2 with a throw ratio of 2.1-3.9:1 and a short throw lens with a throw ratio of 0.675:1. The variety of lenses, coupled with the motorised zoom, shift and focus makes installation much easier and reasonably flexible. The IR receiver is positioned just below and to the left of the lens and there is another one at the rear along with the socket for the power cord and a main power switch. The M.150 can run on 100-240V at 50/60Hz, uses a fused three pin style socket and comes with a 2m cable included. Also at the rear is an access cover for a basic control keypad and an indicator light and status display.

    SIM2 M.150 Design and Features

    As well as the power socket all the other connectors are at the rear, including two HDMI v1.4a inputs and a component input for YPbPr/RGBs/RGBHV using RCA connectors. There is an analogue composite video input, also using an RCA connector, a graphic RGBVH (VGA-UXGA) input using a D-sub 15 pin connector and an RS232 D-sub 9 pin connector for system control. In addition there is a USB socket for connecting to a laptop for use with the Live Colour Calibration software, as well as three 12V 100mA output mini jacks that can be used in conjunction with motorised screens, side masking and anamorphic lenses. Finally the legacy S-Video socket has been removed and replaced with a connector for syncing the M.150 to the XpanD 3D emitter.

    SIM2 M.150 Design and Features

    Unlike most other manufacturers and despite the new chassis, the M.150 still uses an external 3D sync emitter provided by XpanD. Quite why Sim2 are continuing to use an external 3D emitter is a mystery but it is possible that there just wasn't enough space inside for the M.150 chassis for one. It is also possible that given the M.150's is aimed at the custom build market, an external emitter offers more options when installing the projector. The emitter is the same redesign that we saw when reviewing the Nero 3D-2 and uses IR signals to sync the projector with the glasses. As a result it requires line of sight, which can be achieved by either placing the emitter at the front or bouncing the signal off the screen. Overall we found that the emitter worked very well and we never had any problems with losing sync whilst watching 3D content.

    SIM2 M.150 Design and Features

    The emitter comes as a set with four pairs of 3D glasses included and SIM2 are using XpanD's X103 universal active shutter glasses, which have been rebadged with the SIM2 logo and optimised for use with the M.150. We are big fans of this particular design of active shutter glasses due to their large lens size, which offers a wide field of view and the fact they comfortably fit over regular glasses. We also like the fact that the large frames are effective at blocking out ambient light. To turn the glasses on you need to hold down the on/off button on the left hand side until the light on the inside of the frame flashes, this means that the glasses are synced and once they stop receiving a sync signal for a few minutes they will automatically turn themselves off.

    SIM2 M.150 Design and Features

    As usual the M.150 comes with the standard Sim2 RCI 2005 remote control which is fine if you're familiar with it but can be somewhat unintuitive if you're not. To enter the user menu you hit the Plus or Minus buttons and once there you also use these buttons to navigate from one menu page to the next. Once in a specific menu page you use the Up/Down/Left/Right buttons and the black dot button to navigate around that particular menu and the Escape button to leave the menu screen. There is a standby button which must be held down to turn the projector off - and to turn the projector on you need to press one of the number buttons and whichever number you choose will also select the appropriate input assigned to that number. There is also an Info button that actually brings up a very comprehensive information screen and the remote control itself is well built, comfortable to hold and is equipped with a backlight.

    Menus and Setup

    Whilst the method of accessing the menu system might be slightly unintuitive, the actual design of the menus themselves is informative and sensibly laid out. Once in the menu system, there are four primary menu screens - Picture, Image, Setup and Menu.
    The Picture menu includes all the standard picture controls such as Brightness, Contrast and Colour. It also has a Sharpness control and a Sharpness Mode which selects the type of processing. For normal viewing the best choice is Video, which if selected also gives you access to Noise Reduction filters. With interlaced signals there is the Cinema Mode, which performs 3:2 or 2:2 pull-down with film based material. There is also a control for choosing between PureMotion and PureMovie. If you select PureMovie then you can choose whether or not to engage the Dynamic Black function, with a choice of Off, Video and Movie. If you select PureMotion then you have a choice of the different PureMotion settings - Off/Low/Med/High.

    SIM2 M.150 Menus and Setup
    SIM2 M.150 Menus and Setup

    The Setup menu includes an Orientation option for choosing whether the projector is installed on the ceiling or the floor and there is also a digital Keystone correction control which you should do your upmost to avoid because this will introduce unwanted scaling. There are also options for selecting the Standby Mode, Test Patterns, Initial Settings and RBSs Sync.

    The next menu screen is Menu which includes all the controls relating to the menu itself such as which Language it is in, the Source List, F1/F2 Keys, Source Info and the HELP Menu. There are also choices for the OSD Background, Position and Timeout.

    SIM2 M.150 Menus and Setup
    SIM2 M.150 Menus and Setup
    Finally the Image menu gives the user the option to select the Aspect Ratio and here the choices consist of Normal, Anamorphic, Letterbox, Panoramic, Subtitle and Pixel to Pixel plus three custom-user adjustments. There is also a sub-menu for selecting the Gamma Correction and within this menu you can choose between 2D Natural, 2D Dynamic and Parametric. The Parametric control will allow you to select the Gamma setting with the default set at 2.2. Finally there is the LED Overlap control which is designed to boost the brightness but should be disabled for optimum image quality.
    SIM2 M.150 Menus and Setup
    SIM2 M.150 Menus and Setup

    The Colour Management sub-menu allows you to select a choice of [tip=gamut]colour gamut[/tip]; the choices are Wide which is the native gamut, Cinema which approximates DCI, HDTV which is Rec.709, Adobe98, EBU, SMPTE-C, Auto and saved setting created using LCC. There are also choices for the White Point or [tip=Colortemp]colour temperature[/tip], including the industry standard of D65 and a saved setting from LCC. Whilst the Colour Management sub-menu allows you to select the colour gamut and colour temperature, this is not where you will find the [tip=CMS]Colour Management System[/tip] (CMS) or the controls for adjusting the [tip=WhiteBal]White Balance[/tip] and [tip=gamma]Gamma[/tip]. These calibration controls are contained within SIM2's incredible Live Colour Calibration (LCC) software. This remarkable tool is included when you purchase the M.150 and can be loaded onto a laptop which is then used to control the projector via the RS232 or USB sockets.

    SIM2 M.150 Menus and Setup
    SIM2 M.150 Menus and Setup

    The screen shot on the right below shows the controls for adjusting the coordinates of all three primary colours (red, green and blue) and all three secondary colours (cyan, magenta and yellow) on the CIE chart. This is the same chart that we use in our before and after calibration measurements and the target coordinates relate to where the primary and secondary colours should appear to perfectly match the targets which for our reviews are the [tip=IndStand]industry standards[/tip] of [tip=Rec709]Rec.709[/tip] and [tip=D65]D65[/tip]. For example, the x coordinate for red should be 0.64 and the y coordinate should be 0.33 and the LCC software allows you to adjust these coordinates in steps as small as 0.01. Therefore using a meter such as our Klein K-10s, a pattern generator like our Sencore MP500 and calibration software like CalMAN you can measure and adjust the coordinates until they are exact. The same can be done with the Gain (Y) which is the luminance or brightness of each colour.

    Out-of-the-Box Measurements

    For the purposes of this test we started by setting the Brightness and Contrast controls correctly for our test environment and left Colour at its default setting. We also played with the Sharpness and Noise Reduction controls to ensure they weren't doing anything detrimental in terms of image quality. In fact, in terms of the Sharpness control we found that the default setting of 10 is correct, as this is the point at which no sharpening or softening is being applied. We chose the PureMovie setting and turned Dynamic Black off for these measurements but we will address these controls as well as the PureMotion option in greater detail in the video processing section. In the Colour Management menu we chose HDTV (Rec.709) for the Primaries and a White Point of D65, we also chose a Gamma of 2.4 which is the correct setting for the light controlled environment of our reference theatre.

    SIM2 M.150 Out-of-the-Box Measurements

    As you can see from the chart above the out-of-the-box greyscale performance is actually very good with red tracking at our target of 100, green tracking about 5% above the target and blue tracking about 5% below the target. Whilst these inaccuracies did result in some visible errors including a slight green tinge to the image, overall they weren't too noticeable. Since all three primary colours are tracking in straight lines, we should find it easy to correct this performance with the Live Colour Calibration (LCC) software. The Gamma is tracking very close to our target of 2.4 and the Gamma Luminance is also very accurate. Overall this is an excellent starting point and we should be able to reduce the errors to a reference level of performance using the LCC software.

    SIM2 M.150 Out-of-the-Box Measurements

    The [tip=cie]CIE Chart[/tip] above is a measurement of the Wide colour setting, which is the M.150's native colour space. As you can see the purity of the colour produced by the three LEDs delivers a native colour space that covers most of the visible spectrum (which is the tongue shaped part of the graph). The triangle represents Rec.709 - which is the standard to which all TV broadcasts, DVDs and Blu-rays are mastered to - so the challenge is taming the red, green and blue LEDs to bring the colour space in line with this standard. Green in particular will be a challenge, not only because it represents the largest part of the visible spectrum but also because our eyes are most sensitive to errors in that colour.

    SIM2 M.150 Out-of-the-Box Measurements

    Given the massive native gamut of the M.150, the projector does a remarkable job of taming it when the HDTV (Rec.709) mode is selected. Looking at the CIE Chart above, the colours are now much closer to our target, although there is still an excess of green both in terms of colour and luminance. This in turn is affecting the accuracy of cyan and yellow, both of which contain green, and resulting in some sizeable errors in the hue of these two secondary colours. Certainly when watching test material before calibration there was a green cast to images that was very obvious but given our previous experience with the LCC software we can be confident of getting a reference colour performance out of the M.150 after calibration.

    Calibrated Measurements

    When it comes to a product like the M.150, the out-of-the-box measurements are largely unimportant because you are unlikely to spend £19,000 and not get a professional calibration, especially when the LCC tool set is so effective. The software runs on a laptop which you can then connect to the M.150 with a RS232 cable, allowing you to make changes on-the-fly as you measure the co-ordinates of the three primary and three secondary colours as well as the colour of white. The LCC software provides a very granular level of control which allows a trained calibrator to dial in the precise co-ordinates of the colours on the CIE Chart. Obviously, given the incredible level of accuracy provided by the LCC software, we strongly recommended that anyone buying the M.150 has the projector properly calibrated, either by their installer or a professional calibrator.

    SIM2 M.150 Calibrated Measurements

    As you can see from the chart above once we had accurately set white and the primary and secondary colours the resulting greyscale is perfect, with errors of less than one. The Gamma Point is still tracking at our target of 2.4 and the Gamma Luminance is also spot on. Overall this is an absolutely reference performance and shows how powerful a tool the LCC software is.

    SIM2 M.150 Calibrated Measurements

    As you can see from the CIE Chart above the calibrated colour gamut is now measuring at accuracy levels that are essentially perfect. All three primary colours and all three secondary colours are measuring exactly at the co-ordinates used for Rec.709 and the luminance or brightness of the colours are also hitting our targets. Overall this is a reference colour performance and means that when watching content on the M.150, you are seeing exactly what the content creators want you to see.

    Video Processing

    The M.150 includes the same video processing found on Sim2's flagship Lumis 3D-S, so we expected the projector to perform well in these tests and we weren't disappointed. Using the HQV benchmark test DVDs the projector was able to fully reproduce the SMPTE 133 test pattern for both PAL and NTSC, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. With the video deinterlacing tests the results were also excellent, the M.150 reproduced the rotating line without producing any jaggies except very slightly at the most extreme angles. In the motion adaptive deinterlacing test the performance remained superb with all three moving lines being reproduced correctly and only very slight jaggies on the bottom line. The projecrtor also had no problems in resolving all the fine brickwork in the detail tests on both the PAL and NTSC discs
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    The M.150's performance was equally as impressive with the film detail test, correctly locking on to the image resulting in no aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car. In the cadence tests the projector continued to perform flawlessly, correctly detecting the 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) format as well as the 2:2 (PAL - European) format. The projector also had no problems displaying mixed film material with scrolling video text and was able to reproduce the text without any shredding or blurring.

    The M.150 also performed superbly in the tests on the HQV Blu-ray using high definition content. With the player set to 1080i the projector correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests (provided the aspect ratio is set to Pixel to Pixel of course) and showed excellent scaling and filtering performance as well as good resolution enhancement. With 1080i material the projector had no difficulties in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems.
    There are two display modes on the M.150, one is called PureMovie and the other is called PureMotion. You should always use the PureMovie mode when watching 24p content as this option projects the images at 48Hz thus maintaining a film-like quality without any flicker. The PureMotion mode utilises motion adaptive processing which increases 50Hz to 100Hz and 24p and 60Hz to 120Hz. This mode is designed to give moving images a smooth video-like quality that might be useful for fast moving sporting content. Given how well DLP handles motion we found this mode to be largely redundant and always used PureMovie for 24p content.

    On the Spears & Munsil Blu-ray disc, the M.150 passed every single test including the peaks for the luma channels of the three primary colours and the Dynamic Range High test which shows whether a display is reproducing all the video levels above reference white (235) up to peak white (255). There is also a Dynamic Range Low test which allows you to check that a display is only showing detail down to video level 17 which represents reference black. Once again the M.150 was showing detail down to 17 but not below it which means it is correctly reproducing black whilst maintaining appropriate shadow detail.

    The Dynamic Black function is only available when the M.150 is in PureMovie mode and it is designed to boost the black level of the projected image. However unlike some dynamic black functions the one on the M.150 didn't affect the low end of the dynamic range when it was engaged and was actually fairly subtle in its operation. However we found the blacks on the M.150 to be very good without the need to resort to dynamic trickery and we left it off to avoid any unwanted artefacts.

    2D - Picture Performance

    When comparing projector technologies, each has its strengths and weaknesses and often when deciding which is best for you it depends on your priorities. Obviously price is also a major factor but if you're prepared to spend nearly £20,000 on a projector, it's safe to assume that what you're looking for is performance. If that is the case, then the M.150 will not disappoint because this projector has quality in spades and delivers a performance that is simply spectacular. This level of performance is in part due to the DLP technology itself which offers an unrivalled degree of motion handling that eliminates smearing on camera pans and fast movement. This superior motion handling makes a huge difference when watching large projected images where a loss of detail in camera moves is more obvious. The helicopter shot of Prague in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was a good example, perfectly resolved with no smearing or loss of detail.

    Sim2 claim a contrast ratio of 100,000:1 but of course that's with Dynamic Black engaged, obviously the native contrat ratio is nothing like that. However, while there are projectors that can deliver better black levels in absolute terms, this can sometimes be achieved by lowering the light output and crushing the blacks themselves, robbing the image of shadow detail. It's also worth remembering you will rarely be looking at a black screen, so of far more importance is the quality of the image when there are both dark and light scenes share the same frame. This is the intra-frame contrast ratio and it is this that gives an image its dynamic range between black and white. The M.150 performed exceptionally well in terms of dynamic range within the frame, delivering deep blacks against peak whites and retaining all the shadow detail. Whilst we have seen better absolute blacks from other projectors, the M.150 could more than hold its own against the competition when it comes to delivering contrast within the frame. In a scene from Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol that takes place in a sewer, the M.150 expertly rendered the lights of the torches against the darkness but also revealed the shiny tiles and the grouting on the walls.

    Another area of strength for DLP projectors - and especially single-chip DLP projectors - is the sharpness of the image, revealing every last pixel of detail from your favourite Blu-rays. Some people find the image from DLP projectors to be too sharp, often describing it as a 'digital' look when compared to the softer, more film-like images of some other projectors. This is very much a matter of personal taste but the sharp and precise image resulting from the single chip and the superior optics of the M.150 results in a breath-taking level of detail. The scenes outside the Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol were just draw dropping - especially on a large screen - creating a real sense of vertigo.

    As far as the M.150's LED light source is concerned, it would seem that Sim2 have delivered on all the technology's early promise. The LEDs incredibly fast on/off times mean that the M.150 doesn't need a colour wheel and this almost completely eliminates the artefact often referred to as 'rainbows'. There were still very occasional flashes of colour but as one friend pointed out, with images this good, who cares?! The development work that Sim2 have put into improving the brightness of the LED light source has also paid dividends, with the M.150 now delivering 1,000 lumens. This might not sound like a lot but when you consider we measured the M.150 at 900 lumens in its calibrated mode, at least it is realistic. It is also important to stress that due to the purity of the LEDs, the image actually appears brighter to the human eye than the measurements would indicate. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the brightness of the M.150's LEDs will only dim by a small margin over their life expectancy, which is a minimum of 30,000 hours.

    Compare this to a projector that uses a UHP bulb and although they might offer higher lumens initially, the brightness will have probably halved within 500 hours. Sim2 also use a sensor to sample the LEDs' colour temperatures and ensure their fidelity, making corrections where necessary. It's this long life expectancy and consistent brightness and colour that gives the M.150 its advantage over more traditional projectors. We certainly had no problems lighting up a nine foot wide 2.35:1 screen and whilst we wouldn't recommend the M.150 for a room with white walls, it is ideal for a light controlled environment.

    Of course all this performance would be pointless if Sim2 didn't get the basics right but once again the M.150 knocks it out of the park. The image accuracy is second to none, thanks to the perfect colour gamut, greyscale and gamma that the LCC software can deliver. Once you couple this with the superb video processing you get an image that looks fantastic, even when the source is in standard definition. However, feed the M.150 some high definition content and all the factors mentioned previously converge into a truly spectacular image that reminds you despite all this talk of 4K, there's still plenty of life left in 1080p yet.

    Video Review


    3D - Picture Performance

    Of course whilst it is rewarding to see that the M.150 can deliver a reference performance with 2D, there have been good LED projectors before. What sets the M.150 apart from the competition is its 3D capability, making it the first LED projector in the world to offer this functionality. In previous reviews we have found that DLP projectors really lend themselves to 3D, where their higher refresh rates and superior motion handling eliminate any crosstalk. The M.150 is no exception, delivering a breath-taking 3D performance that rivals even the mighty Lumis 3D-S in terms of detail, motion handling and a complete lack of crosstalk. We were pleased to discover that when watching problematic films like Despicable Me and Monsters vs Aliens or our new torture test - Happy Feet Two - there was absolutely no crosstalk.

    The rebranded XpanD glasses that SIM2 now use have been optimised for use with the M.150 and the results were excellent, with the glasses never losing sync or introducing flicker or crosstalk. The M.150 has the shortest blanking time (the time between the left and right images) of any projector, a mere 0.9ms. This is one of the reasons for the complete lack of crosstalk, as well as the smoothness of the 3D image. As we mentioned earlier, we also like the design of the glasses, with their large lenses providing a wide field of view and providing a suitably neutral tint. We also found that their wide sides and frames blocked out any ambient light and fitted comfortably over regular glasses. However, due to their size they are quite heavy, so their only major downside is that they could become uncomfortable if worn for long periods of time. We never noticed any rainbows when watching 3D content - we're not quite sure why this should be the case but it might be a side effect of wearing the glasses.

    Whilst the M.150 doesn't use the Triple Flash technology (72Hz per eye) found on the Lumis 3D-S, it does project 24p 3D Blu-rays at 60Hz per eye which results in a 3D viewing experience that is free of both flicker and the aforementioned crosstalk. It is worth pointing out that Sim2 are using proprietary processing to convert the 24p 3D, rather than the usual 3:2 pull down which results in motion that appeared free of the telltale judder. In addition to projecting 24p 3D content at 60Hz, the M.150 projects 50Hz 3D content at 50Hz and 60Hz 3D content at 60Hz. Thanks to the LCC software you can calibrate the greyscale, gamma and colour gamut just as accurately as in 2D, resulting in a very natural looking 3D presentation. The only slight area of weakness was in terms of brightness, where the use of LEDs put the M.150 at a disadvantage to brighter bulb-based projectors like the Lumis 3D-S and the Sony VW1000. However, whilst the M.150's 3D images may lack a little punch, they have the obvious advantage of being able to maintain the same level of brightness for the life of the LEDs, which won't be true of the competition.

    Once you combined the fast refresh rate and superb motion handling of DLP with the accurate picture and excellent glasses, the resulting 3D images were absolutely spectacular. The M.150 rendered the 3D perfectly, maintaining all the detail in the high definition picture and delivering images that were free of any crosstalk or other artefacts that might distract you. In addition, the absence of flicker meant that the 3D experience wasn't fatiguing over long periods of time. Thanks to the accuracy of the overall image and the absence of any other distractions, the 3D had a wonderful sense of dimensionality that was genuinely immersive. With the exception of SIM2's own Lumis 3D-S, this is the best projected 3D we have seen and the result was a genuinely visceral and exciting experience that used the added dimensionality to draw you into the image.

    Conclusion

    10
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    The Good

    • Excellent black levels
    • Superb contrast ratio and dynamic range
    • Excellent out-of-the-box greyscale
    • Reference greyscale after calibration
    • Excellent out-of-the-box colour gamut
    • Reference colour gamut after calibration
    • Excellent video processing
    • Average lifespan of at least 30,000 hours for LEDs
    • Near instantaneous on/off without the need for warming up or cooling down
    • Reference 3D performance
    • Live Colour Calibration software provides unprecedented accuracy
    • Excellent build quality and lens array

    The Bad

    • Could be brighter in 3D mode
    • Despite use of LEDs there are still very occasional rainbow artefacts
    • Use of glass for the chassis might not be the best choice
    • SIM2 remote remains rather unintuitive
    • Fans can be a little noisy
    • Obviously expensive
    You own this Total 0
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    You had this Total 0

    SIM2 M.150 3D 1080p LED Single Chip DLP Projector Review

    In terms of looks the M.150 is a bit of a departure for Sim2, who have eschewed their usual sports car curves for something a little more 'boxy' - that's not to suggest that the M.150 isn't stylish, just different. The gloss black chassis with its glass top and side ventilation grilles still has plenty of Italian flair and the dimensions are smaller than previous MICO projectors. However, don't be fooled by the M.150's reduced size, Sim2 have crammed a lot of tech into that angular chassis, making it one of the heaviest projectors we've reviewed. Overall we liked the design of the M.150 but question the logic of using glass in its construction due to its obvious reflectivity in a darkened home cinema.

    Aside from the looks it's business as usual with M.150, which sports an impressively large lens that is centrally mounted. This precision piece of optics is an essential part of the image quality and as always Sim2 have utilised the best quality lenses. At the rear are the usual set of connections including two HDMI inputs, component video input, RS232 connector and three 12v triggers. As expected the M.150 comes with Sim2's standard remote control and, just as inevitably, it remains something of an acquired taste. The M.150 uses an external emitter and active shutter glasses made by XpanD and although it doesn't come with any included, you can buy a starter pack of four pairs of glasses and one emitter as an optional extra. To be honest at a retail price of £19,000 we rather hoped Sim2 would include the starter pack as part of the cost.

    Set up is very easy thanks to the centrally mounted lens and the motorised lens controls. In fact we had the M.150 setup and running in a matter of minutes and we could easily change from 2.35:1 to 1.78:1 on our scope screen using the remote. The menu system is clearly laid out and easy to navigate and the out-of-the-box settings deliver a reasonably accurate performance. However anyone spending £19,000 on a projector is going to get it calibrated (or at least they should) and Sim2's LCC software remains as powerful a tool as ever. After calibration we were able to measure a reference performance in terms of greyscale, gamma and colour gamut on the M.150. The video processing was equally as impressive, passing all our tests and delivering images that looked good no matter what the source content. The fans on our review sample were a little noisy but we understand Sim2 has improved this in later units.
    In terms of 2D performance, the M.150 knocks it out of the park, thanks in part to the superb image accuracy and excellent video processing. The inherent advantages of DLP mean that motion handling is second to none and the superior optics and single chip design deliver a breathtakingly sharp and detailed image. The absolute black levels might not be as deep as some other projectors but the shadow detail and dynamic range within an image was wonderful, delivering pictures that had real impact. Thanks to the LED light source there is no need for a colour wheel, which almost completely eliminates any rainbow artefacts. The LEDs also have the advantage of retaining their brightness and consistency over their minimum 30,000 hour life expectancy. Sim2 have worked hard to develop brighter LEDs and we found the 1,000 lumens on the M.150 to be more than sufficient, delivering bright images on our large review screen. In fact, aside from Sim2’s own Lumis 3D-S, this is one of the best 2D images we have seen and an absolutely reference performance.

    In terms of 2D performance, the M.150 knocks it out of the park, thanks in part to the superb image accuracy and excellent video processing. The inherent advantages of DLP mean that motion handling is second to none and the superior optics and single chip design deliver a breathtakingly sharp and detailed image. The absolute black levels might not be as deep as some other projectors but the shadow detail and dynamic range within an image was wonderful, delivering pictures that had real impact. Thanks to the LED light source there is no need for a colour wheel, which almost completely eliminates any rainbow artefacts. The LEDs also have the advantage of retaining their brightness and consistency over their minimum 30,000 hour life expectancy. Sim2 have worked hard to develop brighter LEDs and we found the 1,000 lumens on the M.150 to be more than sufficient, delivering bright images on our large review screen. In fact, aside from Sim2’s own Lumis 3D-S, this is one of the best 2D images we have seen and an absolutely reference performance.

    Sim2 has delivered on LED's early promise and in the M.150 they have produced a projector that delivers a reference performance in terms of both 2D and 3D. In fact, the various technological elements of the M.150 converge in such a spectacular fashion, that it emphatically reminds you despite all this talk of 4K, there's still plenty of life left in 1080p yet.


    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19,000.00

    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels

    9

    Colour Accuracy

    10

    Greyscale Accuracy

    20

    Video Processing

    9

    Image Uniformity

    9

    2D Picture Quality

    10

    3D Picture Quality

    10

    Features

    8

    Ease Of Use

    8

    Build Quality

    9

    Value For Money

    7

    Verdict

    10

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