Compared to that the £30,000 C3X Lumis 3D-S - the S stands for Solo as opposed to dual - seems comparatively cheap and SIM2 hopes it will fill the void between the JVC X7/X9 and the far more expensive dual stack systems. As you would expect for a C3X Lumis it uses three Texas Instruments DarkChip4 DMDs so there is no need for a colour wheel but for this projector SIM2 have also utilised TI's Triple Flash technology. Triple Flash - which has only previously been used in professional 3D cinemas - increases the frame rate to 144Hz and thus it is claimed eliminates any crosstalk. The Lumis 3D-S also incorporates SIM2's Live Colour Calibration (LCC) software that they claim will give an unprecedented degree of calibration control for both 2D and 3D images. The Lumis 3D-S is also claimed to be capable of up to 3,000 lumens in 2D for very bright images or larger screens and even in 3D it is claimed the Lumis 3D-S can deliver 1,000 lumens which is much brighter than most other 3D projectors.
That's certainly an incredible list of specifications to aspire to but then the Lumis 3D-S is an aspirational product, so let's see if SIM2's combination of 3 Chip, 3D and Triple Flash has reached their lofty goals.
Design and Features
The overall build quality is excellent with the chassis showing a finely crafted attention to detail. Considering the dimensions of the Lumis 3D-S chassis are only 40cm wide by 45cm deep by 20cm at its highest point it is incredible that SIM2 have managed to cram so much technology into such a confined space. It is obvious that SIM2 are utilising every bit of space within the chassis because despite the modest dimensions the whole projector still has a solid feel and weighs in at 11kg. Certainly the Lumis 3D-S is considerably smaller and lighter than some of its counterparts and this might be an advantage if you want to mount the projector on the ceiling. SIM2 offer an optional ceiling bracket for just such a purpose but the Lumis 3D-S can also be mounted on a shelf and has three adjustable feet. The use of three feet actually makes levelling the projector much easier and makes you wonder why more manufacturers don't use this approach.
The quality of the glass in the lens is one of the most impartant factors in determining the performance of a projector but often it is one of the most overlooked. The quality of the lens on the Lumis 3D-S is excellent but of course such high quality glass doesn't come cheap and is one of the reasons for the higher price tag. The lens itself is positioned slightly to the right of the chassis as you are facing it and we assume this is a result of the optical path within the projector. The Lumis 3D-S uses three of the latest 0.95" 1080p DarkChip4 DLP chipset from Texas Instruments which are combined with the precision optics of SIM2's ALPHAPATH light engine. The UHP bulb is rated at a maximum brightness of 3,000 lumens when new, has a power consumption level of 280W which can be dimmed down to 230W and has an average life of 2,000 hours in standard mode and 3,000 in ECO mode.
We prefer the lens to be centred for easier installation but understand that it isn't always possible and this can be easily addressed with correct positioning. It is important to position the lens on the centre of the screen because the Lumis 3D-S doesn't have a horizontal lens shift. However placement in the vertical plane is less crucial because the Lumis 3D-S has a manual shift that can move the image by up to 50%. The lens shift is achieved using an allen key that fits into a small hole above the lens housing. However the lens Zoom and Focus functions are motorised and can be adjusted using the remote control.
The Lumis 3D-S has a standard high quality glass lens (T2) with a throw ratio of 1.75-2.48:1 as well as two optional high quality glass lenses, the T1 with a throw ratio of 1.37-1.66:1 and the T3 with a throw ratio of 2.6-3.9:1. There is also an optional anamorphic lens system that can be either fixed or motorised. The IR receiver is positioned just below the lens and there is another one at the rear along with the socket for the power cord. The Lumis 3D-S can run on 100-240V at 48 to 62Hz, uses a fused three pin style socket and comes with a 2m cable included.
As well as the power socket all the other connectors are at the rear, including two HDMI v1.4a connectors with HDCP and InstaPort technology. This is designed to drastically reduce the time required for HDMI source switching. Every time a new HDMI source is selected, the visualisation device and the source device must perform an HDCP authorisation check. Usually an HDMI handshake begins only when a source is selected, requiring a significant amount of time for the image to appear. InstaPort allows for the simultaneous pre-authentification of every attached device whilst it remains connected. When a new input source is selected by the user, the handshaking has already been performed and the data stream doesn't suffer from the corresponding delay.
The Lumis 3D-S also has an analogue composite video input using an RCA connector, a component input for YPbPr/RGBs/RGBHV also using RCA connectors and a graphic RGBVH (VGA-UXGA) input using a D-sub 15 pin connector. There is also an RS232 D-sub 9 pin connector and a USB socket for system control as well as connecting to a laptop for use with the Live Colour Calibration software. There are 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 Lumis 3D-S to the XpanD 3D emitter.
One of the problems with incorporating technological developments like 3D is that there is often a considerable lead time. Rather than delay the release of the Lumis 3D-S by incorporating a 3D emitter within the projector itself which would require additional R&D and possibly a new chassis, SIM have instead chosen to use an external 3D sync emitter similar to the approach taken by JVC. Since the Lumis 3D-S uses XpanD's Universal 3D glasses it should come as no surprise to discover that SIM2 are using their 3D emitter. As a third party product it lacks the design style of the projector itself and is essentially a black box with a connector at the back for the sync cable, a button for reversing the left/right images and a power jack. Unfortunately the 3D emitter uses 24V so it can't be powered directly from the projector's 12V jacks and instead uses its own power adapter. However this was a review sample and in fact Sim2 will be updating the emitter on the retail units so that it can be powered by the projector in much the same way that the JVC projectors do.
Since SIM2 are using XpanD's 3D emitter, they are obviously also using XpanD's X103 universal active shutter glasses. This is good news because we are big fans of these glasses due to their large lens size, comfort and ability to block out ambient light. JVC also use the XpanD glasses which turn on automatically once a sync signal is received from the emitter but at the moment you need to turn the SIM2 glasses on manually. SIM2 plan to release their own branded glasses later which like the JVC version will turn on automatically. However currently you need to hold down the on/off button until the light on the inside of the frame flashes, this means that the glasses are set for use with the Lumis 3D-S. One useful benefit of this manual approach is that if you press the on/off button again once the glasses are activated you can cycle through all the other displays that the XpanD glasses are compatible with - so if you have a 3D TV you can use the XpanD glasses with that too. The Lumis 3D-S comes with four pairs of glasses included and you can buy additional pairs for £120 each.
As usual the Lumis 3D-S comes with the standard Sim2 RCI 2005 remote control which is fine if you're familiar with it but can be problematic if you're not. Unfortunately this remote control can be rather counter intuitive to use and at times down right frustrating. The main annoyance is that 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 an Off button but 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. On the plus side there is an Info button that actually produces a very comprehensive information screen and the remote control itself is well built, comfortable to hold and comes with a backlight. To be honest anyone buying a £30,000 projector is going to be using a system controller so the chances are that once the projector is installed you will never need the remote control again.
Menus and Setup
The Picture menu includes all the standard picture controls such as Brightness, Contrast, Colour, Sharpness and Noise Reduction. 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 but if you select PureMotion then you have a choice of the different PureMotion settings - Off/Low/Med/High.
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 never use. There is a control called 3D Glasses which allows you to choose between the Universal XpanD glasses that the Lumis 3D-S currently ships with and the SIM2 branded glasses that will be released at a later date. There are also options for selecting Test Patterns, Initial Settings and RBSs Sync.
The final menu screen is Menu which includes all the controls relating to the menu itself such as which Language it is in, the Source List, Source Info and the HELP Menu. There are also choices for the OSD Background, Position and Timeout.
Whilst the Colour Management sub-menu allows you to select the [tip=gamut]colour gamut[/tip] and [tip=Colortemp]colour temperature[/tip] 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 which is currently on its second version. The LCC software is included when you purchase the Lumis 3D-S and can be loaded onto a laptop that can then control the projector via the RS232 or USB sockets. The LCC software provides an unprecedented degree of control over the image and we could only scratch the surface in terms of its capabilities during the review due to time constraints. However as you will see in the Calibrated Measurements section the results speak for themselves.
The screen shot on the right above is from the Gamma Adjustment window within LCC and as the name suggests it allows you to adjust the gamma by increasing or decreasing the amounts of the three primary colours at various points along the curve.
The screen shot on the left 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.
The LCC software also includes an automated calibration function (screen shot right above) that can align the colour gamut and colour temperature of the Lumis 3D-S to a particular viewing environment. At the factory the native colour gamut of the Lumis 3D-S is measured on a unity gain screen and input into the projector's memory. Using an X-Rite Hubble you can measure the colours of the Lumis 3D-S on your screen in your viewing environment and based on the original measurements and the new measurements the software can automatically adjust the settings so that the projector is calibrated to Rec.709 and D65. The automated calibration function is still in its beta testing phase which is why it only works with the Hubble at the moment but it is certainly an interesting sign of future developments.
As you can see from the chart above the out-of-the-box greyscale performance is actually very good with red and green both tracking a few percent below the target and blue tracking about 5% above the target. All three primary colours are tracking in straight lines which should make it easy to fine tune this performance with the Live Colour Calibration (LCC) software. The Gamma is also tracking reasonably accurately around the target of 2.4 and the Gamma Luminance is also very accurate. This is an excellent starting point and we should be able to improve on these results when we use the LCC software.
As you can see from the [tip=cie]CIE Chart[/tip] above the out-of-the-box colour gamut is a little disappointing, especially in green. The Luminance of green in particular is far too high and this in turn is affecting the accuracy of cyan and yellow, both of which contain green. Certainly when watching test material before calibration there was a green cast to images that was very obvious. We tried using the automated calibration function within the LCC software but it struggled to correct the errors in green or the associated secondaries. To be fair to SIM2 the automated function is still in its beta testing phase and given the level of manual control available we knew we could correct these errors ourselves.
It is unfortunate that we only had the Lumis 3D-S in for review for a limited time because the LCC software is an incredibly powerful tool and we would have liked to spend longer with it. However we were able to utilise the software to accurately calibrate the colour gamut and greyscale and hopefully we will get an opportunity to spend more time with it at a later date.
Normally here at AVForums we start our calibrations by dialling in an accurate greyscale because that is the white canvas on which the colour gamut will be painted. However there is a school of thought that suggests you should set the colour gamut accurately first, especially the colour of white (D65) and then fine tune the greyscale. This is essentially the approach taken with the LCC software and we started by getting the coordinates for white, red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow all perfect and then measuring and if necessary fine tuning the greyscale.
As you can see from the chart above once we had accurately set white and the primary and secondary colours the resulting greyscale is almost perfect. There are tiny [tip=DeltaE]DeltaEs[/tip] (errors) at 90 and 100 [tip=IRE]IRE[/tip] but they are too small for the human eye to see. The Gamma Point is still tracking around our target of 2.4 and the Gamma Luminance is almost spot. Of course we could have used the LCC software to fine tune the gamma and get 90 and 100 IRE as perfect as all the other measurements but given we only had limited time and the results were already reference we moved on to other testing.
As you can see from the CIE Chart above the calibrated colour gamut is now measuring at accuracy levels that are essentially perfect. Quite simply this is the most accurate colour gamut we have ever measured and SIM2 are to be congratulated for developing a projector and software that can deliver this level of performance. When you watch Blu-rays, HDTV and PAL DVDs on a calibrated Lumis 3D-S you are seeing exactly what he content creators wanted you to see.
The Lumis 3D-S'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 Lumis 3D-S 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 Lumis 3D-S, 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.
The Spears & Munsil Blu-ray disc includes many of the same tests found on the HQV discs but also includes some interesting additional ones. The Lumis 3D-S passed every single test except for the test showing the peaks for the luma channels of the three primary colours, here green was clearly clipping. This didn't come as a surprise given the initial colour measurements and after calibration the Lumis 3D-S was performing perfectly on this test too.
One of the other useful tests on the Spears & Munsil disc 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 Lumis 3D-S was showing detail all the way up to peak white which is excellent.
There is also a Dynamic Range Low test hich allows you to check that a display is only showing detail down to video level 17 which represents reference black. Once again the Lumis 3D-S 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 Lumis 3D-S 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 Lumis 3D-S didn't affect the low end of the dynamic range range when it was engaged.
2D - Picture Performance
The use of three DLP chips provides all the benefits of that technology and obviously means no colour wheel, thus eliminating the rainbows that their use creates. The alignment of the three DLP chips was also perfect which resulted in an incredibly sharp image that when combined with the high quality glass in the lens and the precision optics in the light path could bring out every detail in a high definition image.
One of the major benefits of DLP is motion handling and this was very evident, especially on camera pans. As good as the JVC projectors are, one of the weaknesses of D-ILA is handling motion and you will see smearing and a loss of detail in movement such as camera pans. The best analogy we can use when comparing DLP to D-ILA is that DLP is equivalent to plasma and D-ILA is equivalent to LCD when it comes to movement. With the Lumis 3D-S there was no smearing in moving images and they retained a wonderful level of detail and solidity which is very cinematic.
Whilst the level of performance with high definition material on the Lumis 3D-S is spectacular a lot of content remains in standard definition and here the projector was still able to deliver. The superb colour accuracy and motion handling meant that when combined with the excellent video processing the Lumis 3D-S could produce wonderful images even with standard definition material.
If there is one area where the JVC projectors still have an edge it is with black levels. Whilst the native black levels on the Lumis 3D-S are still excellent they aren't quite as impressive as the blacks possible on the X7 and X9. Perhaps because of this SIM2 include a function called Dynamic Black which is designed to boost the blacks by adjusting the brightness on the fly. This control is not a normal dynamic iris and actually sits within the light path itself but it essentially does the same thing. Whilst this function certainly worked we felt that the native black levels of the Lumis 3D-S were already good enough and thus it was unnecessary especially given the minor artefacts that resulted from using it.
One area that is often overlooked is the light output of the projector because the higher the brightness then the larger the screen that the projector can be used with, the punchier the image is and the less impact the gradual dimming of the bulb has. At a rated output of 3,000 lumens the Lumis 3D-S is something of a light canon and in our black testing environment we used the lowest bulb setting (230W) and the smallest iris setting. Even then the Lumis 3D-S was capable of producing incredibly bright images and could easily reach the minimum brightness of 14 fL that [tip=THX]THX[/tip] and [tip=ISF]ISF[/tip] specify for projection.
Of course this kind of brightness comes with a cost, the brighter the bulb the hotter it is and the more cooling that is necessary. This results in the Lumis 3D-S making more noise than projectors with less brightness, producing a NC rating of about 35 which is higher than the THX specification of 25. During actual content the fan noise wasn't audible in loud parts of the soundtrack but it could be heard during quieter passages. However anyone who can afford the Lumis 3D-S can either position it far enough away or use a hush box.
All of these factors combined to produce some the most breathtaking 2D images that we have seen. The combination of accurate colours, excellent blacks and an impressive dynamic range results in images that were both authoritative and punchy. The motion handling and pin sharp accuracy resulted in some of the most detailed and cinematic images we have seen outside of a high end professional theatre. In fact if you have a Lumis 3D-S at home there really is no reason to ever go to the cinema again.
3D - Picture Performance
The first problem is brightness or rather a lack of it, because as soon as you put the 3D glasses on the light output is being reduced by 70%. To put this into context the industry standard for projector brightness in the cinema is 14-16 fL, whereas the DCI standard for 3D projection is 4 fL. Here is where the large light output of the Lumis 3D-S addresses this problem. When watching 3D content the Lumis 3D-S automatically increases the light output and opens the iris to produce a brightness of nearly 1,000 lumens even with the glasses on. As a comparison the maximum light output of the JVC X7 is 1,300 even in 2D. The brighter 3D images on the Lumis 3D-S really add impact to the overall experience and make darker scenes much easier to distinguish.
The second problem relates to greyscale and colour inaccuracies caused by the increased brightness needed and the glasses themselves. The Live Colour Calibration (LCC) software allows the Lumis 3D-S to be calibrated for both 2D and 3D and thus the colours in 3D can be adjusted to compensate for the affect of the 3D glasses. At present the only way to calibrate a 3D image is to put the glasses in front of the meter which is a rather haphazard way of calibrating a display. A forthcoming version of the LCC software will allow the calibrator to take 2D measurements that make an automatic adjustment within the software for the affect of the 3D glasses themselves - this seems the most sensible way of calibrating 3D projectors in the future.
The third problem relates to [tip=crosstalk]crosstalk[/tip] which is caused by one eye seeing the image intended for the other eye, usually because of slow refresh rates. The Lumis 3D-S is the first consumer product to use Texas Instruments Triple Flash technology, which until now has only been used in commercial cinemas. With 24p Blu-rays the Triple Flash technology increases the refresh rate six times faster to 144Hz which equates to 72Hz for each eye. In doing so SIM2 is able to eliminate the crosstalk and flicker that often plague 3D displays. The faster response times of DLP and its inherently better motion handling result in smooth and artefact free 3D images that are nothing short of a revelation.
As a result of all these developments the Lumis 3D-S was capable of producing the best 3D images we have seen from a single projector setup. The 3D images had the brightness to make an impact but also retained colour and greyscale accuracy. Most importantly of all they were completely free of crosstalk even on content that is notorious for it. The use of Triple Flash also eliminated any flicker and made viewing 3D images a very pleasurable experience with no eye fatigue. We found that watching large screen 3D with the Lumis 3D-S created a totally immersive experience and by eliminating all the usual problems there was no barrier between the audience and the 3D content. There is no question that with the Lumis 3D-S SIM2 have set a new reference standard for consumer 3D presentation.
- Excellent black levels
- Very bright image in both 2D and 3D
- Superb contrast ratio and dynamic range
- Reference greyscale after calibration
- Reference colour gamut after calibration
- Excellent video processing
- Triple Flash technology resulting in no crosstalk
- Reference 3D performance
- Live Colour calibration software provides unprecedented accuracy
- 4 pairs of XpanD 3D glasses included
- Excellent build quality and attractive design
- SIM2 remote is not very intuitive
- Fans are quite noisy
- 3D emitter is rather ugly
- Obviously quite expensive
SIM2 Grand Cinema C3X Lumis 3D-S Projector Review
Given that 99% of all content is still in 2D it is in this area that the Lumis 3D-S must primarily be judged. Firstly the Lumis 3D-S uses three TI DarkChip4 DMDs which means no colour wheel and thanks to SIM2's experience with DLP the motion handling is superb. The images have a wonderfully smooth film-like quality and an amazing amount of detail which is free of any smearing in camera pans. Secondly the build standard is exemplary with high quality optics and perfect alignment of the three panels resulting in incredibly sharp images. Thirdly whilst the blacks aren't quite up to JVC levels they are still excellent and the far greater brightness results in an incredible dynamic range and extremely punchy images. Fourthly the video processing is superb and allows the Lumis 3D-S to reproduce standard definition material just as well as it can deliver high definition content. Finally the addition of the Live Colour Calibration (LCC) software allows a degree of greyscale and colour accuracy that is genuinely perfect with the lowest error measurements we have ever recorded. All this combines into a wonderful 2D experience that perfectly reproduces the content creator's intentions and results in some of the best images that you are likely to see outside of a mastering suite.
As amazing as the performance of the Lumis 3D-S is in 2D it is likely that anyone considering purchasing it will also want a 3D performance to match and in this area it doesn't disappoint. Quite simply the Lumis 3D-S offers the best 3D performance you will see from a consumer projector and represents a new reference point. The Lumis 3D-S systematically addresses each of the three weaknesses of 3D presentation and corrects them. Firstly the huge light output means that even with the glasses reducing the brightness by up to 70% the Lumis 3D-S is still capable of equalling the light output of many other projectors in their 2D mode.
Secondly the LCC software means that the Lumis 3D-S is still capable of producing an accurate greyscale and colour gamut even in 3D mode. Finally the addition of Triple Flash results in 3D images that are totally free of any crosstalk. The resulting big screen 3D images are bright, accurate and artefact free which results in a breathtaking and truly immersive 3D experience.
Any complaints that we have about the Lumis 3D-S are minor in the extreme and relate to things such as the remote control and the 3D emitter. In the case of the remote control it is the standard SIM2 remote that the company has been using for about 10 years - if you're familiar with it then fine but if not it can be rather counter intuitive. Of course anyone buying a projector like the Lumis 3D-S will almost certainly be using some form of system controller so the remote is largely unimportant. The 3D emitter which is made by XpanD is rather unattractive, especially when compared to the projector itself but once again after installation you will likely never see it so it's a moot point. Finally the Lumis 3D-S produces quite a bit of fan noise which could be a problem if you are sat near to the projector but anyone spending £30,000 will probably be able to place it far enough away or within a hush box.
Ultimately what someone who is paying £30,000 for a projector expects is exceptional performance and in this area the SIM2 C3X Lumis 3D-S truly delivers. In fact the combination of Live Colour Calibration and Triple Flash results in a new reference level of performance for both 2D and 3D performance in a consumer projector. If you have the means then definitely demo a Lumis 3D-S and if not - well we all need something to aspire to don't we.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels
2D Picture Quality
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value For Money
Our Review Ethos
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