"Long Post Alert" Hi Edgeyboy (Tom) contacted me asking if could demo my Marantz S3 DLP. He mentioned that he had narrowed his search for a PJ to the S3 and Optoma H78. He came and saw the S3 a few weeks a go, and seemed very happy with what he saw. A couple of days a go, he contacted me to say that he had a new H78 on demo, and he would really like see it at the same time as the S3. We arranged a meeting for this morning at my house, and i thought i would post my findings. I hope Tom will post his findings when he gets home. The two DVD players used were:- Pioneer 868i Via HDMI/DVI @ 1280x720(Only used on the S3) Denon 3910 Via HDMI/DVI+ DVI/DVI @ 1280x720 The HDMI/DVI cables were swapped between the Pjs after watching certain scenes etc. Tom owns the Denon 3910, and wanted to see how it performed on each Pj. The Pioneer was only really used as a reference when looking to dismiss artifacts as disc or player based etc. The H78 was calibrated for brightness and contrast only to the 3910. (The S3 was calibrated to the 868i only of course) Before carrying on reading, please bear in mind that my findings are what we saw today, with the equipment mentioned above. Different combinations may produce different results. Also spending time with any equipment normally leads to better results. Tom had spoken to Gary Lightfoot for some basic advice, as to what settings to use on the H78. We did infact cycle through most of the settings in the end, but that's another story! The S3 has 350 hours on the bulb and the H78 had 12. The first thing that hits you with the H78 is brightness! I imagine most of the "pop" is down to the new bulb, but i suspect that it will be brighter than the S3 even at the same bulb hours. We tried running the S3 with the Iris open and high lamp mode, and found we could get close but not match the H78. I would imagine they would only be the same once the new bulb settle in. However, the S3 is only about 2300-1 contrast with the Iris open. The H78 would be the better choice if a larger screen was needed. Tom had noticed much more "Rainbowing" during his home demo of the H78, and was keen to see if a direct demo with the S3 could show an instant reduction. Well the answer was yes. During back to back demoing of the same "Rainbowy" scenes. The S3 shown time and time again to be almost resistant to any rainbowing. This wasn't a fair test for the H78 though. As mentioned above, the H78 is on a new bulb and is way brighter than the S3. Rainbows seem to be more noticeable of brighter DLPs anyway, so i advised Tom that this should settle down as the bulbs gains hours. The upside to the H78 extra brightness is a great punchy image. Scenes just come alive, and i can see the attraction of a brighter image. The extra brightness doesn't seem to come at the expense of black level either. Infact, the contrast ratio of the H78 seemed fantastic. The extra brightness helping to actually make the black seem more inky black etc. Tom thought the brightness was too bright, and winced several times during dark to bright scene transitions. Personally, i prefered the extra brightness afforded by the H78 especially as it does it with high contrast. I wouldn't like to say which had the highest contrast. (the S3 with Iris at F5.0 or the H78 etc) We moved on to dark scenes to see how the H78 compared with low level detail. Scene after scene was rendered with all the detail present on the S3 present on the H78. We swapped DVD players, and found no "low ire" level micro blocking from the 3910. After some mid level APL scenes, Tom commented that he thought the 3910 had a slightly smoother image, and the 868i slightly sharper. This seemed true on both Pjs. Tom picked up straight away that the S3s is sharper than the H78s. I only noticed when checking the focus on both machines. The H78 has slight blue haze around single white pixels, where as the S3 is sharp. The H78 is also very quiet, with only the wheel noise being heard. And since it was at about a foot away, very good indeed. One point to mention, is the big blue "power" light on the H78. It lit up the side of the theatre! We didn't find a way of turning it off, and this will be essential for normal use. We resorted to covering it with a tea towel. The S3 was twice the price of the H78, but is older and now superseded by the S4. The build quality of the H78 is no where near that of the S3. But once installed would be irrelevant anyway.(it the picture that counts eh!) The H78 was starting to look a true bargain, and i thought i might advising Tom to buy one. We both had been concentrating on the brightness and contrast elements, and started looking deeper into the picture quality. When some potentially serious picture artifacts started to show, and the more we investigated the more they became apparent. To try and eliminate the source, we changed discs and players. First up. R1 panning. All "film" based will exhibit some panning judder. This is mostly seen during long slow pans. It is normally a consistent/even judder. On the H78, it was uneven and jumpy. It could even be noticed with any movement in a scene. The picture seemed to update at a slightly different rate across the image. It was more like a sync issue, as the video seemed to catch up and played totally smooth for a moment. We tried various settings on the 3910 (auto 1/2 etc), as we thought it might be it's fault. We tried both DVD players, on the S3 without any problems. Infact the 3910 played a little smoother on the S3 than the 868i with R1 discs. We put a R2 disc in, and the H78 was totally smooth again The main difference between the H77 and H78 is supposed to be better panning. I wonder if they have sacrificed R1 for better R2, or the demo unit has a fault. PWM induced posturisation during pans was present on both Pjs, with the S3 being better at minimising them. Things were going bad for the H78, and the were just about to get worse. We started to notice some weird blocking/streaking artifacts in the image. I have seen some of them before, with one of them looking like I.P. pulsing defects. Due to the Denons suffering blocking artifacts, it would be easy to just blame it. So we started watching the same scenes on the S3, and found the artifacts almost non existent. Watching the same scenes via the 868i and S3 totally eradicated all the artifacts. This gave i clue to what was happening. The H78s video processor was magnifiing any artifact offered to it. It was then introducing certain ones on it's own. To add to the micro blocking and I.P problems, there seems to be a picture "noise" added to the whole picture. This "noise" seems to "dirty" the image and introduce low level banding. On certain scenes and material, none of the faults are evident. (like "The Incredibles") In fact the "The Incredibles" looked errrr "Incredible" on the H78! No noise, banding or blocking Other scenes were plain aweful. With backgrounds pulsing and twitching, and blocks of texture moving about. The banding actually made background wallpaper look like it had curved slashes in it. Again all scenes were checked with the 3910/868i to the S3 with no artifacts present. Honestly guys, we tried every reasonable thing. Checked and rechecked each setting. (we tried stupid settings!) We checked the grey scales, we check brightness and contrast. Anything that could be causing these low level artifacts. The only thing amiss was very low level IRE push towards red. Backgrounds just seemd alive with crawlies and artifacts. It may be a compatibility problem with the 3910 and H78, or a faulty H78. It may be unfair to compare it to the S3 as it was twice the price. But i thought it would be the other way round. The S3 has now been around for 18 months and replaced. I assumed the H78 with the latest firmware/updates would actually outperform the S3. And those who know me, know i would have said so on here! Tom has decided to return the H78. Since this isn't meant to be a H78 bashing or S3 worshipping thread. Feel free to ask any questions, and/or reasons for for what we found. I will try to answer any questions i can honestly and without bias.