Demo Z4 vs AE900 vs PJTX200 vs HS50 vs H30A vs 4805 vs H79 (vs PJTX100!)

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by PJTX100, Nov 3, 2005.

  1. PJTX100

    PJTX100
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    I’ve just spent a very enjoyable morning in the demo room of DiscountTV in Colne. First thing to say is what an excellent (and possibly unique, in the UK anyway) demo room this is. There were 7 or 8 of the latest PJs all lined up there ready to be viewed on a very expensive Beamax screen! Benji was on a day off I think but Shane stepped in and a fine job he did - the friendly non-pressured way he demonstrated the PJs was great. When he asked what I particularly wanted to look at, he didn’t even flinch when I said “just about everything thanks!”

    Shane even brought in a selection of DVDs for me to see but I brought 2 of my own and we watched the same scene from both using the same DVD player on each PJ. For info the discs used were:

    R1 Apollo 13 (1.85:1 IMAX disc) – scene early on where the shot sweeps over the Apollo assembly building and then internal shot of it being assembled followed by conversation of people being shown around. This is a particularly demanding shot, the angular building fast panning across the screen is a killer, as are the vertical ridges on the spacecraft as it’s lowered into place.

    R2 Day After Tomorrow (2.35:1) – opening credits as they sweep over the ice pack (All CG I believe) – another demanding fast pan scene, blown snow over the ice, detail in the dark waters.

    Apologies I’ve forgotten which player was being used but it was a high-end hard disk unit and player – looked expensive, a massive slab of aluminium on the front panel! For good luck we also viewed some HD material stored on the hard drive – Fifth Element and some golf from HD TV.

    Sound-wise it was kept extremely low, I wasn’t interested in the sound (even though there was an impressive array of speakers and AV amps just ready to rumble!)

    Anyway, onto the PJs…
     
  2. PJTX100

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    I walked into the room and the Z4 was already on. I immediately put my nose close to the screen to have a look at the D5 pixel structure. Was it a big leap forward over previous generation panel? Well, it’s a bit better, bit more fill, bit less pronounced, but not invisible by any means – perhaps 20% better, yes an improvement but not radical and not enough to warrant changing based on that alone!

    In common with most if not all PJs I think the unit wasn’t adjusted much from the default, and to be honest I’m used to watching a brighter pic at the sacrifice of contrast. But we didn’t have time to delve into and calibrate each PJ, and this is how Benji demo’s the PJs I believe, hence we proceeded with the viewing. And impressive it was. It handled all scenes well, relatively smoothly, plenty of detail, good colours, not a sniff of VB, absolutely no SDE from viewing distance. I was impressed. I do believe the dynamic iris setting had been switched off, quickly dispensed with I believe because of the issues already reported on this forum. I certainly didn’t notice any darkening/lightening of scenes. The contrast looked fine and better than I’m used to but to be honest if I put the TX100 on its default settings (as I did right before writing this) the contrast looks similar. But still, in isolation, a fine picture all round.

    Just remembered we also looked at some HD material on the Z4 – looked fantastic. Again not a quantim leap, but a leap nevertheless. Fifth Element in HD – wow!
     
  3. PJTX100

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    OK, the one I really wanted to see. Very little between this and the Z4 to be honest. Great detail akin to the Z4, contrast similar. Colours to me looked a little deeper and well defined, but easily could have been down to different settings. The TX200 handled the “Apollo scene” very well but it didn’t handle the opening scenes of “Day After Tomorrow” as well, it was clearly less smooth than the Z4 in terms of movement and continuity. I was surprised by this, could be a particular anomaly with this display/player combination - certainly my TX100 combined with the Oppo handles this scene much better. Pixel structure as expected identical with the Z4, overall very little between them but I did prefer the Z4 based on this albeit short sample.

    One other comment, this unit is very quiet. I’m not saying the Z4 isn’t, it’s just that the TX200 was so close to my head I could feel the heat from the vent yet it was still almost silent.
     
  4. PJTX100

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    Shane commented that Benji seemed to be selling more AE900’s after demoing it, people commented the blacks seemed better. I could see what they mean but I put it down simply to the fact the pic was generally darker than the previous two. I was interested in the smoothscreen technology, yes it did make the pixels less defined but for me at the expense of detail – it didn’t look as sharp as either the Z4 or TX200. It handled all scenes pretty well though, smoother on the R2 disc than the TX200, but what did become noticeable was VB. Not drastic, but unmistakable on those white scenes (also saw it on the R1 disc). I certainly would not have walked out with a 900 based on this demo. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great but for me the Z4 and TX suit my tastes better for very sharp pics – and the VB is a worry with Panasonics.
     
  5. PJTX100

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    OK, relatively “old tech” vs the others, never seen one before so how would it fare? It was the first PJ where I said “pass me the Remote I need to turn up the brightness” – (I upped it from 50 to 80). Once done it turned in a very impressive performance indeed. The best contrast so far for me – inky blacks but still a punchy image. Scenes were handled more smoothly than any so far, basically I found myself enjoying this PJ a lot. Pixel structure looked fine, even though it was using older panels it seemed to have good fill and less distinction than the Z3/TX100 and wasn’t far off the Z4/TX200. Not a sniff of VB. Great detail. HiDef looked great too.
     
  6. PJTX100

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    My first true experience of a DLP in the “proper” environment. I was quite impressed. Vivid pics, colours looked better then I expected and certainly a match for LCD from what I saw in terms of colour. I probably saw more depth/detail in the water on “The Day After Tomorrow” clip than any unit so far but again I think it was settings (I saw the same detail later at home with my TX100). The contrast was great but it didn’t blow me away and didn’t seem to be a distinguishing factor vs the HS50 for example. Detail was surprisingly good for SD. Rainbows? Yes I instantly saw them, especially flicking from the remote to the pic and back again. I could live with that, but what I could not live with is the low resolution. I could clearly see the pixels from the seating position. I can’t understand the LCD SDE argument now, the only SDE I saw up to now was on this unit. Even so, in isolation, this is a fine machine.
     
  7. PJTX100

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    Must say, compared to the H30A this looks a brute and sounds like a brute too – noisey fan! There was very little between this and the H30A to be honest, I probably preferred the 4805 because the pixel structure though still visible was slightly less apparent, also the RBE was slightly less pronounced. I can understand why people like this machine so much though, a very clean and punchy image though again contrast did not knock me dead vs the LCDs.
     
  8. PJTX100

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    OK, so if I can see the pixels with SD machines, and RBE, the answer must be a step up in resolution and wheel speed! The H79 is big compared to the others but I thought it looked rather nice in a minimalist sort of way! But it’s the picture that’s important and at 2 or 3 times the price of the others I sat back prepared to be wowed. First thing we did was again turn up the brightness, it looked well darker than the other PJs. RBE was reduced but still there slightly, I’d need an extended viewing to be 100% sure it was not an issue but I’d guess it would be fine. In isolation the pic was detailed, refined and punchy. But when compare to the Z4 and the HS50 I wasn’t blown away. If the H79 was the same price it would be a tough call, but at this price it’s not competitive IMHO. I’m sure if you paired it with a scaler and calibrated it properly then it would look stunning, but so would the others probably.

    Also a comment on pixel structure, not much less pronounced than the new D5 LCD panels to be honest.
     
  9. PJTX100

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    OK, I came home and admit the first thing I did was watch the same scenes (who wouldn’t?!). First thing that struck me is how much brighter I have everything pushed up, people must feel like wearing sunglasses when visiting me if the norm is what I saw at DiscountTV! When I switched the TX100 to default settings there was really not much difference certainly to the TX200 for example, I really could not justify the expense of upgrading at this point in time. But clearly if you are coming in from a few generations back then the new crop of D5’s are a compelling buy with stocks of bargain older models dwindling.
     
  10. PJTX100

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    Well, the overriding view was that in isolation I think anyone would be happy with any of these machines. There’s certainly not much between the HD units, and the SD units are no slouches but unless you can get a SD unit for silly money I don’t see the rationale for buying them any more.

    But which would I have walked out with? Well, if it was between the Z4/TX200/AE900 the Z4 would just get the nod for me – but it is more expensive than the TX200 (3 yr warranty though). I was slightly disappointed with the 900 to be honest, again in isolation it would look great but the Z4 and TX200 seem clearer and more detailed to me. And Panasonic don’t seem to have sorted their VB woes yet.

    Surprisingly though, based on what I saw, it would be the Sony HS50 I’d walk out with. “Old Tech” I know, and people seem to either love or hate this machine. I can understand the gripes of it being a bit weak on light output, but as a “package” it seemed to provide good detail, good punch, good contrast, smooth panning, no rainbows and no VB/SDE!

    Can I just thank Shane and DiscountTV again. If you are in the market for a PJ and are within an hour’s (or two even) drive of Colne then pay them a visit. Certainly when I come to upgrade I’ll be buying my PJ from them. But I’ve a feeling based on what I’ve seen today it might be a while – unless the TX100 goes phut of course!…PJ
     
  11. JiveTalker

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    Thanks for a very objective comparison of models.

    So have you chosen your new toy or are you sticking with the old one?
     
  12. homeagain

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    Well done PJ. I'm guessing the HS60 will be the one to wait for then.... with its improved CR and sharper image with perfect pixel mapping over HDMI.
    Did the TX200 also have its dynamis iris switched off ?
    Thanks, Rob. :smashin:
     
  13. PJTX100

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    I'm sticking at the moment. The HS50 will become very tempting though as the price drops!...PJ :)
     
  14. PJTX100

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    I would be interested to see the HS60!

    I'm sorry I'm not sure if the dynamic iris was on or off. Most of the remotes were still in the packing case and with time short I didn't have much time to delve deeply. I do think the CR figures on the new D5's seem to be more of a paper exercise however in a practical sense. The CR on my TX100 is a meagre 1200:1 and I've never had an issue with that...PJ
     
  15. rdundas

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    Do me a favour and ask if the Auto Iris was switched off or not on the Z4 during Demo. I would lay odds it was on and you just didn't see it, particularly as you did not comment ot it on the Sony HS50. A lot of people have been panicking about this and I have yet to spot it moving on mine
     
  16. Jules

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    Excellent summary and thanks for the effort.
    As an HS50 owner I'm liking what I hear. No need to upgrade just yet.
    Perhaps I'll wait and see what the HS60 can do!

    I'd also like to recommend the guys at Colne..... I mean where else would you receive this level of service?

    I bought my beamax M-Silver screen from them and there was no pressure.
    They obviously understand a demo might not produce a sale, but with the right attitude people will want to buy from you in the future.
    And guess what....? Despite the 45 mile drive, my next purchase will definately be from Benji and the gang.

    I hope other retailers are reading this.. this is how you do business!
     
  17. ROne

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    Well balanced reviews. Cheers.
     
  18. Kopite4Ever

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    PJ cheers for taking the time out to write a very unbiased review, i commend you for that its easy to compare your own stuff unfairly against others.

    ive been monitoring the HS-50's recently seen a few going for about £1000 2nd hand so im sure there could be a few more for sale when the Hs-60 comes out.
     
  19. Penfold73

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    Thanks for the reviews, very interesting.
     
  20. DEANO-B

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    Interesting PJTX - I and 2 friends went to Benjis place for a demo (long,long demo), and tested the Panny 700 vs Themescence H30A vs Sony HS50 and all thought the Sony was very disappointing! We all agreed it was a very uninspired, dull, lifeless picture, and agreed the Themscence H30A and Panny 700 produced a much more vivid, and involving experience. Back then (3 months ago) when we demoed the PJs, I remember coming home and posting comments on the Sonys 'over active iris' making scences with black in them look dull, which no one seemed to agree with until recently (everyone seems to be talking about 'over active iris's' now ;) )I do agree that PJs that aren't hi-def look poor as the resolution restrictions are easily visible. I'm not saying I'm right and your wrong about any of the comments above PJTX, and it's nice to see other people views on PJs :thumbsup: It does though prove that going to demo a few PJs before a purchase is essential as people do like different aspects in picture quality. If you are going to demo PJs I cannot recommend a retailer more highly than Benji at http://www.discounttv.co.uk/
     
  21. petrolhead

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    So, still, no justification to upgrade from a TW100 then which is HD
     
  22. UrbanT

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    Good to see the 'old HS50' still doing well. Having owned mine for 11 months, I have still not seen another model that I would swap it for for sensible money. Don't forget though, that describing it as old technology may not be correct. You chose it above all the new comers, so you could argue that the other manufacturers have been trying to play catch up :)

    As for the HS60, I've heard reports that it may not be a step up from the 50, only time will tell.
     
  23. UrbanT

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    And I forgot to add, the HS50 does 48hz for silky smooth NTSC playback. I'd be interested if the latest models all offer this as well. Any idea?
     
  24. PJTX100

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    I do remember, hence why I said people seem to either love or hate the HS50. Ideally I would like it to be more of a "light gun", if I had it I'm sure I'd be cranking up a lot of the settings to get the sort of punch I like. I'd also have liked to have spent a lot more time with each of these PJs to do them full justification, but I couldn't take up all of Shane's day! But what I saw today with the HS50 impressed me and it looked like a machine that could deliver the "best of both worlds" with good contrast yet enough brightness.

    I am surprised you found it *very* disappointing though, but as you say this is why it's vital to demo and to buy from a retailer who can provide a flexible service...PJ :)
     
  25. Orbital

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    Now I might be wrong here (wont be the first time) but doesn't the HS50 use Sonys own panels? If that's the case is it fair to call it's panels older ones? It might be that Sony panels were ahead of the older Epson ones and the D5 panels are just catching up?
     
  26. PJTX100

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    Actually I was beginning to think exactly that, the panels do look better than the older Epson panels and are impressively close to the new D5 panels. I'm surprised the HS50 scored so poorly on pixel structure on the cine4home test (even though it did overall come out on top). To me it combines the clarity of the Z3/TX100 with the "smoothness" of the AE700...PJ
     
  27. mjw1999

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    well done m8
    top marks for the hs50
    and top marks for the shop, i bought my hs50 from here and they offer a great service.
    i travled for 2 hours to this shop and it was worth every minute.
     
  28. inzaman

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    Good overview PJ, sounds like the HS60 is the one to wait for if the performance is another step up over the HS50.
     
  29. SuperSportBilly

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    I went to DiscountTv last Saturday. We looked at the Z4 v Panny 900 v PJTX200 v H30A.

    Ben showed us the ropes and was very accommodating.

    For information I own a Sanyo Z1 (which has been great) but I was completely open minded about each brand.

    On each We viewed DVD - Lord of the Rings + HD footage off a HTPC of Tiger Woods shot at Augusta, Paul McCartney half-time show from the Superbowl & some Spiderman movie footage (when the spider bites him !) all via HDMI.

    The Z4 was already set up when we arrived - my first impression was that it was not very bright displaying the HTPC menu screen. This continued when all footage was shown. LOTR showed good detail but the image just did not jump of the screen at me. It was undeniably a lot better than my Z1 - the higher resolution giving a more detailed image but to me lacked punch. The HD footage was fantastically crisp (1st time I had seen any) but again lacked punch. I did ask if it was set in a low lamp setting - Ben confirmed it was set at default. I admit that I like a bright image rather than a dimmer image with arguably more contrast. A big step up from my Z1 especially with HD footage but the overall improvement in contrast was not as great as I was expecting.

    Next the Panny 900 - immediately appeared much brighter - more punch to the image without loss of contrast - in fact the colours were richer - this was only the menu screen. Put LOTR on and the image was superb - bright yet with good contrast - deep blacks yet bright patches and good contrast in the same scene - much much better than my Z1. This was emphasised even more with the HD footage - fantastically crisp. I was impressed.

    Next up the PJTX200 - LOTR - very similar to Z4 - perhaps a slight advantage in contrast but about the same brightness. Both (to me) lacked the punch of the Panny. Again HD footage was amazingly crisp but same lack of brightness.

    Then the H30A - what a great projector for the money. Great blacks & vivid colours. This was brighter than the Z4/PJTX200 which made the image more involving. Contrast about the same as the Panny - perhaps not quite as vivid colours but damn close. The H30A handled HD footage surprisingly well definitely translating to a much crisper image than DVD. The extra resolution of the LCDs did show by resolving more detail. However, not by a huge margin. I found the pixel structure barely visible at viewing distance if you really looked for it. I did not see any rainbows and I tried to induce them.

    Went back to the Panny for a final viewing. My earlier impressions were confirmed. If anything the colours were too bold / contrasty and I wanted to tone them down to make it more natural. I then saw the huge range of presets from dynamic/ cinema 1,2,3 / video / natural & normal. Cinema 3 was good. Cinema 1 produced the dimmest image but still a tad punchier than Z4/PJTX200 by default.

    My wife by far preferred the image of the Panny. She would not have upgraded for the improvement we saw on Z4/PJTX200 the image was not involving enough.

    No surprises we bought a Panny 900. At home the real world step up from the Z1 is huge. So much more contrast and a much brighter vivid image. I have a 37" Panasonic plasma and in a darkened room there is not much in it contrast wise (on a 92" diagonal - at same screen size the PJ shows less noise).

    I have noticed the iris operating a little - mainly on football - there is a video setting designed for sports - real . Very rare on normal TV viewing or on a movie.

    I did notice a significant improvement in image quality (brighter, crisper and cleaner colours) by using scart to component convertor as opposed to Sky+ via svideo. The panny takes Scart input but I have not got a 10m scart lead. Strangely on the Z1 I actually preferred the Svideo input - the scart to component convertor made the image softer yet on the Panny it is the opposite way around as you would expect.

    I am a little baffled by my demo - on what I am reading the Z4 is edging out the Panny but on what we saw it was really no contest. Panny hands down - it was a significant margin.

    I think Ben thought the Panny was the stronger model - he never suggested one over the other but did comment on what appeared to be deeper blacks and richer colours.

    I went along with an open mind to have a look at the contenders. I had previously seen a 4805 - good contrast but put off because not native HD. I had previously viewed a HS50 - nice contrast but just too dim. I had also seen a H77 - too much cash at the time for not 3-4 times the image of a 4805 (and now H30A).

    I would have happily saved the money if it was not the step up I was hoping for. I have walked away from the HS50 and 4805 before.

    It seems that I may like a DLP type image and the Panny delivered a film like image very similar (but more detailed and slightly more contrast) than the H30A.

    I would have rated the PJs for overall image comprising contrast / brightness & detail as - Panny>>H30A>>PJTX200>>Z4. Although the Z4/PJTX200 were more detailed than the H30A the H30A had a far punchier image. I would happily feed a HD signal to the H30A and it would do a great job - I went for the Panny on the basis it edged the H30A on contrast / brightness and gave a noticeably crisper image (especially HD). Both were far better than my lovely Z1.

    I understand Ben leaves the PJs on default - maybe that does a disservice to the Z4 which seems to be highly rated by others.

    It all goes to show you can`t beat a side by side comparison using same source material, cables, screen & lighting conditions. Certainly beats travelling from place to place to view one at a time.

    Many thanks to Ben - great service.
     
  30. PJTX100

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    I think this is the key. To be honest I largely discounted "brightness" as a comparitor as it were, on all the units. The moment I walked in I noticed that the Z4 pic was significantly duller than what I personally prefer, however with all of them (as we did with the HS50 and H79) a simple adjustment would make the pic much more vivid.

    I think to view all these PJs properly they need to be calibrated to the same level brightness / contrast level. If they are indeed simply left on default that's not ideal and you will get a false impression if that's the basis for decision. I did try to make my comparisons not based on this.

    I must stress, as I said in the conclusion, all the HD machines were pretty close and they were all good. Had I sat down and sampled a set of random scenes from LOTR etc I'm sure I'd have enjoyed them all equally. But I chose the type of scenes PJ's have difficulty with, fast pans that will expose uneven movement, lots of white & mist to expose VB and SDE etc. Shane even expressed surprised at one or two points as he saw them struggling. This was not a pleasant experience for the PJs, you could see them all struggling in different ways!

    As soon as the Panny fired up I saw the VB. This is unit dependent of course, the vast majority may be fine. But based on this unit alone I would not have bought the 900. Also, I am a detail fanatic, I like sharpness above all else really, the 900 was a bit behind in this respect doutbless because of the smoothscreen which some of course may prefer over sharpness!

    I'd be interested to hear Benji's comments. If there were 2 recommendations I could make it would be to use a HDMI switcher to make switchovers less awkward for them, and to calibrate the PJs more carefully if they are all set to default...PJ
     

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