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Budget Projector Choice? (<£1300)

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by funkmonkey, Sep 23, 2004.

  1. funkmonkey

    funkmonkey
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    Hello all,

    I've decided I'm in the market for my second projector.

    I've just very recently taken delivery of an NEC VT45 LCD projector from ebay for £380. I did my homework, or at least tried and it seemed HCC rated this model highly giving it 5 stars and a best buy award back in 2002.
    How wrong could I be! I set it up and it looked terrible - no depth to the image, very poor colours which were all over the place and terrible black levels.

    So I've just sold it on again and now have £1300 absolute maximum to spend on a decent budget projector.

    I narrowed my search down to the following models:

    Sanyo Z2
    Panasonic AE500
    Hitachi TX100
    Optoma Themescene H30
    Infocus Screenplay 4805

    I've been a little proactive and managed to get a head to head demo between the AE500 and the Z2. Both were very impressive compared to the old NEC and I'd just give the nod to AE500 with regards to picture.

    I've also had a brief demo of the 4805 but didn't have any reference since it was demoed solo. Infact I do have reservations about the 4805 since I could clearly see the rainbow effect when watching dark scenes with bright highlights in them. It wasn't subtle at all. The picture, I felt, did beat the Z2 and the AE500 though. But is it worth the risk of the annoying rainbows personally I'd say no. So even though its a cracking picture I'm ruling it out.

    That just leaves the H30 and the TX100. Both of which I cannot seem to get a demo of. I think I'll leave the H30 alone because its apparently just as rainbow prone as the 4805.
    The Hitachi seems to get praise all over the place at the moment, with many suggesting its better than Z2 and AE500.
    Anyway it was very difficult to find people who have stock AND are willing to demo the TX100 but one such company does exist and that is Shoot and Show or Nexnix as it used to be called. As a bonus I'll be able to demo it against the Z2 and possibly an AE500.
    I'm off for a demo tommorow and if I like what I see I'll be walking away with my preferred model.

    Before I do though I was just wondering if I'd missed some obvious choice in my price catagory.

    My screen, which I already have, is a 60" DRH fixed frame with 1.0 gain. So the image isn't huge.
     
  2. explicitlyrics

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    Bear in mind the AE700 which can be had for £1099 from komplett.co.uk, which is worth a look i you do not need the projector within a week. It can be almost garuanteed to be great given the few reviews so maybe hold another week till more people have 1.... thats a thought...
     
  3. funkmonkey

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    I may also have access to a colourfacts calibrator which is being rented by a colegue.

    The only problem is that he will only have it for another week - its got to be back at the end of this month.

    So I'm ruling out waiting for the AE700 and Z3.

    As a bonus, whichever projector I choose tommorow I'll post back here with the calibration settings needed for 6500k :)
     
  4. explicitlyrics

    explicitlyrics
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    hahaha - thats funny! i beat you to it! :p
     
  5. funkmonkey

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    Had my demo today :smashin:

    I had the guys scale the image down to what I'd be using them at - 60" diagonal and then set about testing each against one another.

    The only one I ended up testing was the TX100 and I was most eager to see this one. Initial impressions were that it was incredibly bright, easily enough lumens for daytime viewing but I thought that the night time sessions would be a strain on my eyes.
    Luckily the guy engaged the iris function, which was set at max initially and backed it down to something called 'deep black'. This setting looked so cinematic, loads of contrast and details everywhere and this was just with DVD!
    HDTV was simply unbelievable, we had on a Coral Reef Imax demonstration and to be honest I though I was looking into a fish tank on the wall. It was that detailed.
    He did go on to explain that because I'm using such a small screen at 60" I would gain a lot more vibrancy to the image than say using it at 90" and what he said was right, there was nothing in it in terms of contrast, brightness and colour when compared to the plasma displays that they had in the other room. The only exception was that it was around £6000 for a 60" plasma and only £1145 for the Hitachi!

    I'm about to setup the projector after typing this and my buddy will be around a little later this afternoon with the colorfacts :)

    If there are any TX100 owners out there, I'll post back here after were done with all the correct calibration settings and hopefully some what of getting more contrast :) :smashin:
     
  6. funkmonkey

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    Finished the mounting of the projector and have just spent the last hour or so looking through various DVD's.

    Aside from the stunning quality on offer I've noticed a couple of strange things when setting up:

    Firstly, when the projector iris is set to open the focus of the image is degraded - this is no matter how much you fiddle with the focus. After experimenting I found that this can be virtually eliminated by simply using the projector maximum zoom setting. Although this meant I had to mount the projector much closer to the screen than I originally hoped but it was a fair trade off for the much improved focus at very high brightness levels needed for daytime viewing.

    Secondly I found that the lens shift created problems getting a uniform focus across the screen. It was a situation of top was focused and the bottom was slightly out and vice-versa. The lens shift also creates shading artifacts on the left and right hand of the screen. Left was green in tint and the right was blue. All these observations were made using just the vertical lens shift and no horizontal as it wasn't needed.
    In the end I abandoned any use of lens shift and altered my projector positioning accordingly.

    Lastly the colour setting of 6500k out of the box is a joke! Its has a massive red leaning that gives a disgusting rose tint to every screen. I watched parts of Return of the Jedi and the Death Star looked pink instead of grey! Better was the 9300k setting but I then felt the image looked a little clinical.

    Back later with more.
     
  7. funkmonkey

    funkmonkey
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    Unfortunately I was let down with the calibration.

    I work for Sheffield Hallam University and one of the film & video technicians sets up projectors for the film department and students using the colorfacts system, he's also a good friend who's willing to turn a blind eye :) However it was a no go today since it had gone walkabouts but in the end it turned out that somebody had simply moved it to the next room :blush:

    Anyway we've kidnapped it for a session tommorow, let hope the folks upstairs at SHU don't find out ;)

    BTW: I'm glad I'm not the one that's going to be messing with this stuff tommorow - it looks hideously complex!
    There's some sort of USB light sensor which in turns connects to a laptop running the colorfacts software. I had a little play earlier but couldn't make sense of the readings or settings in the software, I didn't even know where the sensor should go :blush: :laugh:
     
  8. moco

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    Regarding the effect of the iris on the focus - that is just basic optics, for the same reason it is always simpler to get a greater depth of field when taking photos in bright daylight. I personally don't really feel the focus change.
    Regarding lens shift (my pg is on a ceiling mount), I found a good compromise by tilting the pj lightly with some keystone adjustment and using the lens shift not all the way.
    Question: once you post the calibration data, will that be relevant to other instances of the TX100. Doesn't it vary among different projectors of the same model?

    Question 2: I couldn't understand the definition or the usefullness of the movie-1 and movie-2 aspect ratios. Could you enlighten me?
    Thanks
     
  9. funkmonkey

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    Re: Q.1
    I believe that each projector does have slight variances in colour reproduction but the settings I offer will hopefully enable a better movie image than the laughable rendition of the NTSC 6500k Standard Hitachi thinks its got with the projector.
    I run the projector through DVI connected to a HTPC and out of curiosity rigged the TV-Out up to my 28" JVC widescreen CRT set to do a comparison when playing back video. The CRT on one hand looked beautifully natural in the colour reproduction and the TX100 whilst brighter and more vibrant had that disgusting rose tint to every shade in the colour spectrum, whites look pinks and pretty much everything else has a noticable hint when glancing between the two display devices. I believe that there is massive room for improvement here.
    One thing I'm looking forward to is gaining more contrast using the colorfacts system whilst also getting good colours.

    Re: Q2
    Having only owned the projector for less than a day I can't really tell you much about the Movie 1 and 2 aspect ratio modes.
    Movie 1 seems to stretch 2.35:1 material into full screen whilst cutting some of the left and right portions of the screen out.
    Movie 2 seems even more useless than 1, as all it does is stretch the image vertically and squashes the sides somewhat.
    Perhaps these modes are simply for people who wish to fill the entire screen with letterbox aspect ratio films, though Movie 2 seems more geared toward 4:3 material.
    I can tell you that the Wide mode is very useful for PC gaming whereby most are 4:3 in aspect, meaning you end up with a smallish square of active video area in the middle of projection screen. What Wide mode does is maintain the linearity you have in the 4:3 image in the most important part of the image - the center half and the outer two halves are stretched to fill the entire screen. Looks very natural and you gain a much more engaging image. Certainly a worthwhile feature. Switching between the 16:9 and the Wiide mode whilst using 4:3 footage is revelation, especially when gaming. It is a compromise of course and therefore isn't perfect but its more cleaver than most solutions I've come across.
     
  10. moco

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    Well, in my TX100 I don't feel that rose tint, but it might be I am less sensitive than others.
    BTW, there is one configuration where I get a very noticable red. When I use the composite (video) input AND in parallel, that input is also connected to my TV.
    Of course, that is not something I really use. I just mention it because maybe you also have some cable issue.
     
  11. funkmonkey

    funkmonkey
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    Let me start by saying that I hate projectors, in a good way, but still setting them up for best performance is a pain!

    Firstly we had a massive 6 hour calibration session yesterday. Why so long? Well I get a taste for higher contrast but also decent colour accuracy and it it seems the two are very hard to get combined on the TX100 and possibly any other LCD as far as my mate was concerned - he has far more experience than I in these matters.

    What I can tell you is that the 'Dynamic' colour temperature setting yielded a contrast ratio of just under 1160:1 full on/off with the iris fully closed. But the colours looked terrible, everything was green and some crushing of whites occurred because the gain levels were so high for the panels. Still I thought and wanted a figure of 1000:1 would be attainable with reasonable colour accuracy from an unmodified TX100.

    We started off with the standard 6500k setting and tried uping the gain values uniformly. But it seems that the light from the lamp has a strong leaning toward green with blue being quite strong and red least. My predictions about the red bias in the 6500k setting were confirmed when a colour temperature plot was performed, too much red and slightly too much blue, green was the least.
    We also measure contrast on the default 6500k setting as 680:1 - far from Hitachi's claimed 1200:1 and I was personally dissapointed in the result.

    I'll cut out all the boring bits here but we did a lot of experimenting with various settings, trying to maximuse colour accuracy first and then trying to up the contrast without losing too much of the colour accuracy. The settings we ended up at were a compromise between the two. With correct 6500k calibration we measured 750:1 and the maximum acheivable was with all the RGB gains set at max and this reached 1160:1.

    What we ended up with after a few hours was 980:1 and a respectable colour temperature of 7300k.

    Here are the setting needed for the 980:1 contrast ratio:

    Its important the you enter the gamma values above as this enables you to use the full range of colour spectrum without and compression or crushing of the colours. Its a very subtle difference when you change between the Default 1 Gamma and our Custom1 but its another 50:1 on the contrast ratio :)

    Thanks for listening and I hope you'll agree its a big improvement over the original.
     
  12. UrbanT

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    Nice work Funkmonkey :)

    My PJ is currently away having the dust removed, but I'll try these on its return.

    I had been using Gamma Default 2, and colour at 7500k, with good results. I've tried many of the settings mentioned on the AVS Forum, but found all of them to be unappealing. I'm interested to see how a UK calibration setting will look.
     
  13. funkmonkey

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    Cheers Urban,

    We did a little bit of work with the Gamma 2 setting and initially it is impressive - colours look more vibrant and blacks appear darker in lighter scenes because of the added vibrancy. But we soon found out that it didn't provide a realistic image and favoured a more primary tone to images. Also whites are badly handled too with much crushing/loss of highlights.

    To illustrate the point try loading up the 'my music' window on your HTPC then take a look at the image of the cleff. It almost dissappears with the gamma 2 setting :(

    BTW: I love your garage conversion, really looks the business and puts my 'spare bedroom with a projector in it' to shame :)
     
  14. funkmonkey

    funkmonkey
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    Another worthwhile point is that the sources you connect to any projector will have slight differences in colour tone and quality etc.

    For reference the kit used in conjunction with the TX100 is:

    HTPC consisting of (Video side of hardware):

    Windows XP Pro
    DirectX 9c
    PowerStrip v3.3
    FFDShow for post processing (Lanczos Resize to 1440x960 & 2.0 Luma Sharpen)
    TheaterTek DVD playback software
    Sapphire Radeon X800 XT 256Mb Graphics Card (Catalyst 4.9)

    Output to the Projector is via a DVI-D to DVI-D cable @ 1280x720 60hz resolution with 1:1 pixel mapping.

    Depending on whether you use a standalone DVD player or a different PC configuration, you may need to tweak the offset values a couple of notches to get the desired picture.
    There is also the opinion of projector variances, which could mean one TX100 may differ slightly from the next even though they have the same settings. Having only witnessed one TX100 for a length of time I cannot judge these difference - if they exist at all I believe they would be very small indeed.

    Personally I just enjoyed tweaking my projector and getting virtually a 1000:1 contrast ratio for only a modest amount of effort. I can now happily watch the projector and flick my eyes back and forth between it and my 2 year old 28" CRT, then be happy that the TX100 looks every bit as good and often more with the right material such as HD.
     
  15. moco

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    Thanks for the data, FunkMonkey.
    I will try it out.

    BTW, I already raised the issue of different instances of PJ's needing different numbers. I think the main difference lies in the lamp. This difference also changes with the age of the bulb. I wonder if Hitachi use the same make bulbs in all TX100's (not that it means they are all identical).

    Question: do you know what is dynamic in the dynamic temperature? i.e. According to what does it change . Just curious, it always looks bad so I don't use it.
     
  16. moco

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    Hi again,
    So I got around to put in your data and it certainly improves (although, to be honest, I wasn't sensitive enough before to see what I was missing) the picture.
    Skin color looks more natural and indeed less rosy as you said.
    Iris at 0 was too dark for me so I put it at 5. That might be dependent , of course, on the distance of the pj from the screen.
    Mine is at 3.60 meter (12 feet). What is yours?
     
  17. funkmonkey

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    I have my projector approx 1.8m from the screen, I only have a 60" screen so the picture is very bright and vivid even when the iris is set to 0. Infact its so bright that I can watch during the day with daylight hitting the screen when the Iris is set to 10.

    My earlier setting that I posted on here, whilst being correct in a roundabout way, weren't as satisfying as the ones I've now settled on.

    I'll post them at a later date.

    BTW I have 106hrs on the clock already and the projector isn't even a week old. Beside me usign the projector it appears the girlfiend thinks its economical to use it for daytime viewing! I even returned from work the other day to find the projector on and her asleep on the sofa! Talk about waste or what. I'll have to start hiding the cable thats connected to the sky box :)
     
  18. funkmonkey

    funkmonkey
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    Here are my updated settings:

    I use the Load1 for general windows desktop work, Load2 for watching movies and finally Load3 for PC Gaming.
     
  19. moco

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    Hi,
    I also have around a 100 hrs on it, but it has been a month for me.
    I use it only for DVD cinema. I can use it at daytime too, but thats because I put blinds on all openings (its in a cellar sort of room).
    I don't use it for TV (except maybe a footnball match). I have a TV set right behind the screen.
    It is not so much because of saving bulb life, it is more a matter of state of mind.
    With movies, I like a dark room so I concentrate on the movie. TV shows is another matter, I usually do other things at the same time.

    Back to settings: I didn't really understand whether default1, default2, ... are the same or not. Are they?
     
  20. funkmonkey

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    The defaults and custom settings numerically assigned to each are indeed different. Gamma is just a fancy word for brightness distribution throughout the brightness range of the projector. Gamma curves are used to describe this brightness distribution and the TX100 has various curves (the defaults) and user editable versions of these curves (the customs).

    So in short, the different settings and the customs are different.
     
  21. kcw

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    Funkmonkey,

    Thanks for the info. I'm going to give your settings a try this weekend. What setting are you using on the pj for dvi, pc or dvd?

    Kenny
     
  22. funkmonkey

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    Projector is connected to the HTPC via DVI.

    If you read back to post #14, I describe the hardware I use for the projector.
     
  23. funkmonkey

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    As requested by Postman here are the setting that I use purely for movies:

    Make sure to use the Custom2 gamma setting when entering the above values otherwise things could look a little wierd :)
     
  24. kcw

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    Funkmonkey,

    In the menu there's a dvi setting where you can switch it between pc & dvd as the dvi source. It has quite a dramatic effect on the picture so I just wanted to check which one you were using.

    Thanks

    Kenny
     
  25. thepostman

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    Thanks , Funkmonkey for new settings what contrast ratio do these new settings give??? and are these settings from your mate using all that Colorfacts eqpt??
     
  26. thepostman

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    see what you mean about complex calibration eqpt......makes you think what this guy could make on the side setting up every make of projector on the market...also it would ruin threads on perfect setups :laugh:


    www.laaudiofile.com/colorfacts.html
     
  27. funkmonkey

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    Hi Kenny,

    Definitely use the Computer setting as the DVD one distorts the white levels.

    I'm sure if people who use a DVD player via DVI and chose the Computer option would see a darker picture with loss of highlights.
     
  28. funkmonkey

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    Never tested these on Colorfacts, unfortunately I only had access to it for a day :(

    The new settings are just from playing with the settings and then going back and forth between the colorfacts calibration and the new one, noting which was more pleasing to the eye.
    So whilst I'm sure its not technically as accurate as the original calibration, I find it is more pleasing.

    Cheers to Urban T who gave me the idea of trying to work with the Default2 Gamma setting for a more rich image.
     
  29. kcw

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    Thanks mate.
     
  30. bluesteel

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    funkmonkey
    thanks a million for these settings
    i tried it yesterday with my pioneer 575 and it looks amazing
    have you got any ideas of settings for making sky look any better
    pm me and ill send you some new dvds as a thank you for making my hitachi look spiffing
    bluesteel
    dvdexpress@safe-mail.net
     

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