Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED 1080p Projector Review

Steve Withers takes a look at Digital Projections new LED projector

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Highly Recommended
Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED 1080p Projector Review
SRP: £16,000.00

Introduction

Whilst the use of LED backlighting has taken the TV world by storm, it would seem that projectors using this type of lighting are a lot thinner on the ground. In fact the Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED projector is only the third that we have reviewed here at AVForums, the other two being the Vivitek H9080FD and the Sim2 Mico50. All three of these models are single chip DLP projectors that use three PhlatLight LEDs (red, blue and green) for illumination, thus eliminating the need for a colour wheel. However despite this and numerous other benefits of LED lighting - very long life, consistent brightness, purer colours and near instantaneous on and off - incorporating the technology can be problematic and expensive. One of the main problems with using LEDs is that they are very susceptible to changes in temperature and in fact Sim2 resorted to liquid cooling in order to regulate the temperature of their LED projectors. These technical hurdles mean that LED projectors remain firmly in the high-end realm for the time being and at £16,000 the M-Vision Cine LED certainly falls into that category. The question is does that price buy you cutting edge performance and can LED projectors measure up to the claims being made by the manufacturers? Let’s take a look and see...

Design and Features

The Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED is aimed squarely at the professional installation market and everything about its design reflects this. The black chassis is well built and functional but it won’t be winning any design awards; then again if it is attached to the ceiling, in a hush box or a projector lift does it really need to look pretty? In fact Digital Projection have used the same chassis as their other M-Vision projectors for that very reason, the dimensions were specifically chosen to ensure that the projector would fit into a standard projector lift. The chassis measures 43.5cm long by 44.8cm wide by 20.8cm high and the overall build quality is excellent, with a pleasantly solid and well engineered feel. The entire projector weighs in at 15kg and sits on adjustable feet for placement on a shelf or stand. There are four fans inside the chassis with inlet vents on the left side, the right side and at the rear, as well as an outlet vent on the right hand side. The M-Vision Cine LED is shipped with a power cable, an HDMI cable, a remote control, a user manual on CD and a 5mm allen key.

It is easy to forget how important the lens of a projector is and as you would expect from a high-end model, the optical array on the M-Vision Cine LED comprises both precision and quality. There are multiple lens options available for the M-Vision Cine LED including a fixed lens with a throw ratio of 0.73:1, a short-throw lens with a throw ratio of 1.56-1.86:1 and a long-throw lens with a throw ratio of 1.85-2.40:1.

The lens array is actually just slightly off centre which is a little strange but shouldn’t cause any problems with installation because if you can't centre the lens by positioning the projector you can always use the lens shift. When it comes to lens shift the M-Vision Cine LED once again shows its custom installation origins because this is done manually. The logic behind this is that a manual lens shift offers better accuracy and control and once the projector has been installed you can lock the settings off. To actually adjust the lens shift you need to remove the Digital Projection badge from the top of the chassis and use the 5mm allen key provided to adjust the vertical and horizontal shift. There M-Vision Cine LED is very flexible in terms of lens shift with a range of 0.3 of frame horizontal and 0.7 of frame vertical. The lens zoom and lens focus are also adjusted manually using rings around the lens, which was fine for using the zoom but required a second person to stand near the screen and check as you adjusted the focus. Obviously the M-Vision Cine LED wouldn't be appropriate for anyone who wanted to use use 'zoom and shift' with a 2.35:1 screen but given the projector's intended market, anyone spending £16,000 will undoubtedly be using an anamorphic lens.

The M-Vision Cine LED uses three Luminus Phlatlight R/G/B LEDs to replace the traditional bulb and colour wheel used in normal single-chip DLP projectors. As a result of this the M-Vision Cine LED should be able to remove any rainbow effects and reduce the possibility of any system failure. The estimated life of the LED's is up to 60,000 hours which basically means the owner will never have to replace the light source. In addition, the use of LED's means that the colour gamut is wider than that delivered by standard UHP lamp technology and you don't suffer from a gradual loss of brightness as you would with traditional bulbs. In fact the average lumen decay over 2,000 hours is less than 5%. Another advantage of using LEDs is that they light up very quickly, achieving full brightness in seconds and offering nearly-immediate startup/shutdown, which means the projector doesn't require minutes to warm-up or a cool-down period. In addition to the LED light source the M-Vision Cine LED utilises a 1080p DarkChip single-chip DMD by Texas Instruments which results in a full 1920 x 1080 high definition image.

Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED

Menus and Setup

When you turn on the M-Vision Cine LED it takes about 30 seconds for the image to appear which is not because of the LEDs - they turn on instantly - but because it takes time for the software to boot up. However the M-Vision Cine LED is still faster than a regular projector and like all LED projectors you can turn it off instantly without the need for a long period of cooling down and you can immediately turn it on again without damaging any bulb. Setting up the M-Vision Cine LED is very simple and once you have positioned the projector, adjusted the zoom and lens shift and focused the image you are ready to access the menu system.

The menu system is, like the projector itself, functional rather than pretty but it is sensibly laid out, intuitive to use and very comprehensive. The first page in the menu is called Main and it offers access to all the standard controls such as Brightness, Contrast, Saturation (Colour), Hue, Sharpness and Noise Reduction. There is also a control for selecting memory Presets (which can also be accessed by using the User Memory buttons on the remote) as well as a control for image Overscan. Finally there are a number of choices for the Aspect Ratio including 16:9 (which scales the image to fit a 16:9 screen), Theatrescope (for use with an anamorphic lens) and Native which displays the image with no scaling at its native resolution, this is the best choice when using a high definition source.

Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED
Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED

The second page is the Advanced menu and this offers the user the chance to customise the performance of the M-Vision Cine LED to meet their needs. The first option allows you to choose the Colour Space but the default option of Auto is probably the best as this will automatically detect the colour space being used by the source. The second choice is for the Video Standard and is only applicable when watching standard definition material, once again the default setting of Auto is probably best. The third option is to choose the appropriate Gamma and here the two most appropriate choices are CRT which has a gamma of 2.5 and Film which has a gamma of 2.2. The fourth option is for the Colour Temperature and since all our content is mastered using 6500K as the colour of white that would seem the most appropriate choice. The fifth choice relates to the Colour Gamut and offers a choice of different industry standards including SMPTE-C (for NTSC, 480i and 480p sources, EBU (for PAL, SECAM, 576i and 576p sources) Rec.709 for high definition content. Since EBU and Rec.709 are almost identical we use Rec.709 as our standard measurement of colour gamut here at AVForums.

There are also a number of picture features designed to enhance the performance and these include Brilliant Colour (which widens the colour gamut), DynamicBlack (which reduces the overall light output in dark scenes) and Adaptive Contrast (which adjusts the light and dark portions of the image depending on its mean luminance). Finally this menu offers the opportunity to adjust the greyscale using a two point white balance control that is called RGB Adjust in the menu. There is also a Colour Management System called HSG, however to access this you need to choose the Native option under Colour Gamut. It is a full CMS which means it allows the user to adjust the Hue, Saturation (Colour) and Gain (Luminance or Brightness) of all three primary colours and all three secondary colours. The menu page is called System and this allows the user to select basic setup options such as Menu position, Blank Screen, Auto Power Off, Rear Projection, Ceiling Mode and Logo Display.

Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED
Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED

The fourth menu page is called Control and this allows the installer to set up the M-Vision Cine LED for use with controllers and to set the 12v triggers for a motorised screen or anamorphic lens. It also allows the user to allocate different input sources to the numeric keys 1-5 on the remote control.

Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED

Finally there is the Service menu page that shows the Model Name, Serial Number, Software Version, Active Source, Signal Format, the Runtime Hours, a High Altitude setting, a Factory Reset and Test Patterns.

Out-of-the-Box Measurements

For the purposes of these measurements we chose the most appropriate settings based upon the choices available in the menu. We adjusted the Brightness and Contrast settings using the appropriate test patterns and we set the Sharpness and Noise Reduction settings to zero. For the Gamma setting we chose the CRT option which according to the manual creates a gamma measurement of 2.5 which would be appropriate for our blacked out reference theatre. If you have a less well controlled viewing environment you might prefer a slightly brighter overall image, in which case the Film option provides a gamma measurement of 2.2. For the Colour Temperature setting we chose the 6500K option and for the Colour Gamut setting we chose the REC709 option. Although the manual suggests leaving the BrilliantColour setting on (which is the default) we would recommend turning it off as this will only degrade colour accuracy. We also left the DynamicBlack and Adaptive Contrast settings to off, we can assess these later when reviewing the overall picture performance.

Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED

As you can see from the above graph the greyscale performance is nothing short of reference right out of the box. Gamma is tracking exactly at 2.5 where it should be and Red, Green and Blue are all tracking around 100 and the DetlaEs (errors) are all less than 1 which is basically perfect. This is without doubt the best out of the box greyscale performance we have ever seen from any display we’ve tested.

Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED

Unfortunately as the CIE chart above shows the colour gamut is a lot less accurate than the reference greyscale. The colour of white is measuring at exactly D65 which we would expect given the reference greyscale but the other colours were not so impressive. Whilst the REC709 setting is supposed to approximate that particular industry standard, you can see from the graph that it misses that target by some margin. The squares on the triangle represent the correct coordinates for the three primary and three secondary colours within the Rec.709 colour gamut. The coloured dots are where each colour is actually measuring and as you can see the secondaries in particular are showing some large Hue errors. The Saturation measurements of the three primary colours are also showing large errors because all three appear to be undersaturated.

However the CIE chart doesn’t tell the whole story because it only shows the Hue and Saturation measurements (the x and y axes of the graph), there is also a third Y axis which represents the Luminance or Brightness of the colours. Here you can see that there is a massive error in Green - which is far too bright - and there is a similar error in Cyan which is expected since Cyan is made up of Green and Blue. As you can see from the CIE chart the visible colour spectrum (the entire tongue shaped area) is largely made up of Green and for this reason our eyes are most sensitive to that colour. When calibrating a display a calibrator will seek to eliminate any errors in Luminance because they are the most obvious and also any errors in Green because that is the colour our eyes are most sensitive to. The reason that the Luminance of Green is so high is probably to make the image appear brighter, TV manufacturers often do this as well but it is unfortunate to see this happening on a preset that is supposed to approximate a specific industry standard. The good news is that the M-Vision Cine LED has a full CMS, so we should be able to correct all these errors.

Calibrated Measurements

For the purposes of the calibrated measurements we chose the Native colour gamut which gives the user access to the CMS. This makes sense because the Native colour gamut is the widest that the projector is capable of and thus we can use the CMS to reduce the colour gamut down to our target of Rec.709 - remember that a CMS can reduce something but it can’t add what isn’t already there. Although the M-Vision Cine LED is already producing a reference greyscale performance, there is no harm in us also playing with the projectors’s two point white balance (RGB Adjust) control.

Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED

Whilst the out-of-the-box greyscale measurements were already a reference performance it is possible to refine this even further with the RGB Adjust to produce results that are nothing short of perfect. As you can see on the graph the gamma is still a straight line at 2.5 and the DeltaEs are now measuring less than 0.5 but in all fairness the human eye wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this measurement and the one recorded out-of-the-box, even in a direct comparison. In reality DeltaEs of less than 3.0 are indistinguishable to the human so once you get down to DeltaEs of 1.0 and 0.5 you really are into perfection territory.

Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED

The industry standard of Rec.709 is represented by the triangle on the CIE chart and the Native colour gamut of the M-Vision Cine LED - being much wider - would be represented as a bigger triangle within which Rec.709 sits. Therefore we use the CMS to reduce the larger triangle of the Native colour gamut until all the colours are measuring the same coordinates on the graph as the Rec.709 triangle. Since the CMS on the M-Vision Cine LED allows the user to calibrate all three colour components (Hue, Saturation and Luminance) for all three primary colours (Red, Green and Blue) and all three secondary colours (Cyan, Magenta and Yellow) the results are essentially perfect. As you can see on the graph the DeltaEs on Hue, Saturation and Luminance are all less than 0.5 and the overall DeltaE is also less than 0.5. This is a reference colour performance which means the M-Vision Cine LED is perfectly reproducing Rec.709 and that means you are watching PAL and high definition content exactly as the creators intended.

Video Processing

Given that the video processing within the M-Vision Cine LED is provided by Silicon Optics HQV it should come as no surprise to discover that the projector’s performance in these tests was very impressive indeed. Using the HQV benchmark test DVDs the projector was able to fully reproduce the SMPTE colour bar tests 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-Vision Cine LED 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.

The M-Vision Cine LED's performance was equally 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-Vision Cine LED 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 Native 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.

The Spears & Munsil Blu-ray disc includes many of the same tests found on the HQV discs but also includes some interesting additional ones. One of the most useful is the Dynamic Range High test which tests whether a display is reproducing all the video levels above reference white (235) up to peak white (255). This test is an easy way of spotting if a display is clipping above reference white and thus losing detail in bright parts of the image. The M-Vision Cine LED was showing detail all the way up to peak white. The other useful test is Dynamic Range Low which allows you to check that a display is only showing detail down to video level 18 which represents reference black. Once again the M-Vision Cine LED was showing detail down to 18 but not below it which means it is correctly reproducing black whilst maintaining appropriate shadow detail.

Picture Performance

There is no mistaking that this is a premium projector when it comes to the actual picture performance. The M-Vision Cine LED delivers the kind of authority that only comes from a high-end projector and it is comforting to know that whilst it might be expensive, at least you are rewarded with great performance. The reference level accuracy of the greyscale and the colour gamut was evident in everything that we watched, especially high definition material.

The combination of DLP technology, a lack of any alignment issues due to the use of a single chip and the superior optics resulted in an image of astonishing sharpness. High definition material showed a level of detail that was revelatory but the obvious downside was that any imperfections in the source material were mercilessly revealed. With standard definition the M-Vision Cine LED was able to produce a surprisingly good image with well encoded and transferred material but less so with poorly encoded material.

One other area where DLP technology has an advantage is with motion, here the M-Vision Cine LED was able to reproduce the images without any noticeable loss of resolution or blurring. Compared to LCoS or SXRD projectors the projector's performance with camera pans or moving objects was excellent and resulted in a wonderfully detailed and film-like image. The excellent video processing really came in to play here as well, with the Silicon Optics HQV processing being able to deinterlace and scale standard definition material without and noticeable judder or artefacts.

If you suffer from rainbows or similar colour artefacts this can be a major drawback of watching a single chip DLP projector that uses a colour wheel. The use of individual LED's for the three primary colours removes the need for a colour wheel and as a result should eliminate rainbows. To test this we invited a friend who is very susceptible to rainbows to watch some material on the M-Vision Cine LED and for the most part there were none present. He did very occasionally see a rainbow but they were incredibly rare and it would seem that the use of LED's has largely eliminated this problem with single chip DLP projectors. In fact the use of LED's resulted in a wonderfully stable image that was always bright and accurate with no warming up or cooling down and no worries about bulb life or damage. One of the problems with LEDs is their temperature sensitivity which results in the need for additional cooling and can produce some noise. We actually measured the projector noise at NC 35 which is quite good but ideally you would want the noise criteria reading to be below 20 to ensure it doesn't interfere with the quiet parts of soundtracks.

One area where LED projectors can struggle is brightness but we were surprised at how bright the M-Vision Cine LED appeared. The rated luminance is 600 ANSI Lumens and whilst we measured the actual light output as close to that the perceived brightness appeared much higher, especially in a light controlled home cinema. On very large screens the M-Vision Cine LED might struggle but it certainly won’t have any problems lighting up a sensible sized screen and of course there is no bulb to dim as the projector gets older.

Unfortunately we can’t always just have good news and sadly where the M-Vision Cine LED struggles is with its dynamic range and ultimate black levels. The lack of overall contrast does affect the full range of the image and it’s in the lower reaches that the M-Vision Cine LED struggles to produce the same levels of shadow detail and gradation when compared to other reference projectors. Digital Projection claim a contrast ratio of 10,000:1 but after calibration we actually measured a contrast ratio of about 2,000:1. There is the option to use the Dynamic Black which modulates the brightness of the LEDs according to the APL (Average Picture Level) of the image. This will increase the perceived black level but at the expense of some shadow detail and we preferred to leave this function off. The same was true of the Adaptive Contrast which whilst boosting the perceived dynamic range, did so at the expense of peak white detail.
Overall the calibrated picture quality of the M-Vision Cine LED is sublime and despite a lack of absolute dynamic range in the lower reaches, the colour and greyscale accuracy, the screen uniformity, detail levels and sharpness are quite superb.

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Excellent build quality and lens array
  • Reference greyscale out-of-the-box
  • Full Colour Management System
  • Reference colour gamut after calibration
  • Excellent video processing
  • Sensibly laid out menu system
  • Well designed an intuitive remote control
  • Lifespan of up to 60,000 hours for LEDs
  • Near instantaneous on/off without the need for cooling down

Cons

  • Black levels and contrast ratio could be better
  • The horizontal and vertical lens shift is changed manually using an allen key
  • Lens zoom and focus is changed manually
  • The measurements for the Rec.709 setting were surprisingly inaccurate
  • Despite use of LEDs there are still very occasional rainbow artefacts
  • The use of four fans increases the projector's noise floor
  • The design of the chassis is rather bland
  • At £16,000 it might be a bit expensive for most consumers

Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED 1080p Projector Review

The M-Vision Cine LED from Digital Projection is a sublime projector that offers all the benefits of a single chip DLP and thanks to its LED light source removes one of the major disadvantages. Due to the single chip design and the superior optical array the M-Vision Cine LED produces amazingly detailed and sharp images, especially with high definition material. The reference greyscale and colour gamut performance coupled with the superior video processing results in a wonderfully accurate image, whether the source is standard or high definition. As with all DLP projectors the M-Vision Cine LED handles motion incredibly well and the resulting detail and fluidity create a beautiful film-like image.

The M-Vision Cine LED shows the incredible potential of using an LED light source in lieu of the traditional UHP or xenon bulb. First of all the LEDs don’t suffer from a reduction in light output which results in a much more stable image after calibration. Secondly the removal of the colour wheel eliminates the one major problem with single chip DLP projectors - not only are there almost no rainbows but also there is no noise from a colour wheel and fewer complex parts to fail. Finally the incredibly long lifespan of the LEDs means there is no need to replace expensive bulbs after only a year or two of use.

There are still some issues with using LEDs, not least of which is the cost but it is only a matter of time before this will fall and more mass market models become available. The brightness of LED projectors might limit their use with very large screens but this shouldn't be a problem on an average screen size. The only area where the M-Vision Cine LED struggled was with black levels and dynamic range. Whilst the performance in this area was good it wasn't comparable to the reference performance of other projectors and as a result it is this criteria that stops the M-Vision Cine LED from achieving an overall reference score.

However the M-Vision Cine LED remains an absolutely superb projector and anyone looking for a near reference performance coupled with cutting edge technology would be well advised to give this projector a demo - highly recommended.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Features

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
8

Value For Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
8

2D Picture Quality

.
9

Video Processing

.
.
8

Image Uniformity

.
.
8

Greyscale Accuracy

10

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels

.
.
.
7
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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