Saw an HT300...my thoughts.

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Gordon @ Convergent AV, Mar 5, 2002.

  1. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I had a short time with an HT300 this morning. Enough to get a sort of handle on the thing anyway. This is what transpired.

    The HT300, for those who don’t know, is the latest member of the SIM2 HT family of DLP projectors. It uses the newest HD1 chipset which is 1280 x 720 pixels and has light absorbing backing to help get lower black levels. It is utilising the Sage de-interlacing chip alongside a pixelworks scaling engine. This should give excellent video and film based material de-interlacing performance. The unit I saw has a nifty black/grey stealth case. It has the same noise level as HT200/DM/250 etc. Most of this noise seems to be the colour wheel rather than the cooling fan.

    Steve Hopkins from Owl Video Systems dropped by to let me see his dem unit. It’s running beta software just now so there were a few issues. I stuck it on, fed by our TAG DVD32r and put AVIA in it to set it all up. Didn’t take long to get things going. The gamma settings are not complete on this software though so it was set to a predetermined level by Steve. Seemed to be working fine on this though. Set contrast and brightness etc. Only thing I wasn't sure about was colour temperature. Both High and Mid looked pretty blue to me. Low seemed a bit greeny. I left it on low setting and proceeded to put some real footage through the thing.

    While setting up I saw a “cinema” or “auto” feature. I wondered whether this was a low light output thing like with Sony’s and Sharps etc. So we stuck it to “cinema”. On went Star Trek Insurrection…..oh dear…it wasn’t anything like how I was expecting. Shimmering on the hay, jaggies between the canoes, pumping on the roof of one of the buildings, moire on the tiles pergolas. Something was amiss. We went back and stuck it to “auto”. Replayed virtually every artifact disappeared. Perfect two canoes, no pumping on the roof, no moire only visible tiles. Very good on this setting. Steve got the manual out to see what this setting was for. He wasn’t able to find it mentioned in the instructions. I suspect it locks the processor in to 2:3 pulldown mode or such like rather than letting it decide on best type of processing. Of course, if this was the case I’d have expected that on “cinema” it’d have been better than “auto” with this scene….Who cares though. On “Auto” it was great.

    Tried some scenes from the replacements. Looked good.. Then put on BuenaVista Social Club. Much of this is filmed in video. This is a nightmare for de-interlacers. Put on the scenes where Ry Cooder and his son are riding through the city centre on way to recording studio. Look at the ledges of the buildings and the lines of the bike headlight. With most devices you’re going to see plenty of artifacts. With the HT300 there were some (I’d be amazed if there were none) but lots less than I usually see.

    Last little test piece was MI2. Pal. The third scene is a test of black levels and detail as well as colour. There is a girl dancing with 4 other girls round her. The four outside are wearing reddy orange dresses. The central girl has a much deeper more saturated red dress. I’ve seen display devices where they all five look the same…..Not here. Very obvious difference. It’s a dark scene too. Done well it should look dark but you should still be able to see the detail in Tom Cruise jacket. Turning up the brightness with some devices will help this but then the impact of the image is lost as it looks washed out and grey. The HT300 did this well. I didn’t want to turn up the brightness, although the dark background area’s seemed to put on a strange appearance of a solid block of black…This was a minor detail though compared to everything else it does so well.

    Some SAGE powered devices I’ve seen in the past have made the image look softish and I was expecting this to as well but it didn’t. Perhaps it’s the quality of the optics used, I don’t know. So far though it’s the best of the fixed pixel units I’ve come across. Worth a look.

    I will mention that I did try this unit with both an external prog scan DVD player and a scaler set to output RGBHV (1280x720) and YUV (1280x720). While the Prog scan DVD worked with strange colour the scaler didn’t, at all, in either PC or 32k component inputs. I presume this is a software issue. If you are intending on using a HTPC or external HD device capable of higher than 480i/576i…then I’d confirm this is functional for yourself.

    Gordon

    p.s. Didn't mention rainbows or halo as I couldn't see either!
     
  2. minimivic

    minimivic
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    Good one Gordon,

    I can confirm that the HT300 we had here did work with the HTPC at 720p using RGBHV.

    How do you think it compares to both the Marantz and the Sharp?

    I am waiting for me demo unit, 6 days and counting:D They are surposed to have a later software version and a few improvements.

    Will you swop your CRT for 1?
     
  3. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Only saw the Maeantz at the Bristol show. Wasn't really representative. I'll wait and see if I can get a look at it somewhere. Specs look good though. The colour issue is important to me and I don't know hwat primaries they use in their wheel.

    It's better than Sharp in all fronts except noise. IMO

    No' I'll keep my CRT thanks. These things are undoubteldy gettign closer but I have the luxury of space and decor for a CRT, and I know how to set them up......My preference will not stop me recommending it though!

    Gordon
     
  4. minimivic

    minimivic
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    I'm trying to get all 3 DLP's down on the same day for a bit of a shoot out.

    I'll have the HT300 here anyway the Sharp is not a problem and Marantz said they would send a rep down to show me there projector.

    Might be an interestinmg day.

    The sharp is quieter than the HT300 but I too think the Sim is a better unit ( sorry nick ).

    Just need to sell my 64" Vutec screen and get a bigger 76" screen to make the projector fit in my room. Dam throw ratios, who need them.
     
  5. jrwood

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    Would be nice to bung in the Panasonic budget projector too, it would be interesting to see how it fairs with the higher end projectors (read expensive!)

    :D
     
  6. gwbailey

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    Gordon,

    When you say you didn't see any rainbows... do you normally see them?

    The reason I'm asking is because Sim2 said that the problem would be solved with the six segment colour wheel on the HT200DM and the 300HT, well I've seen the HT200DM and I still see rainbows!

    So are they totally gone on the HT300?

    Also, am I right in thinking the price is £9000?

    How long is the bulb life? and will you have one at the Event2?

    Thanks,
     
  7. Cliff

    Cliff
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    That's really interesting Gordon.

    It is good that you keep us up to date with the latest offerings. I, personally do not have the space for a CRT unit as my lounge doubles as a home cinema (WAF etc) . However I do look to upgrading my trusty VPL400 and so far I have seen only incremental improvements which cannot justify the replacement of a unit which cost me me nearly 5k. Yes I would like an improvement but we have not got to the point where some one can say, hand on heart- this picture is just like film- deep blacks linear grey, scale accurate colour and flesh tones , no rainbows, 3:2 pulldown etc etc.

    Give me a ring when you have found this "perfect machine" and I will buy!

    Cliff

    PS it has to be below £6k!
     
  8. nigel_williams

    nigel_williams
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    I saw the Marantz VP12-S1 at the Bristol Show and was impressed despite the far from perfect conditions. They were showing the Santana Supernatural Live DVD.

    RRP in the US is $12,500 so with today's exchange rate, that's £12,500 !!! ;) ;)

    Bit above my budget, so are the SIM2's for now.
     
  9. minimivic

    minimivic
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    Graham,

    The HT300 reduces the rainbow effect even more than the HT200DM, The 300 has a 6 speed colour wheel, not sure what the 200DM has 3 or 4 I think.

    I saw rainbows more on the sharp 9000 than the HT300, which I am very suseptable to the effect. I have owned the HT200DM for a few months now and I must say that after a while the raibow effect doesn't bother me, i can now watch a film without any distractions.

    Bulb is 6000 hours life and the normal 2 year warranty on the HT300


    Nigel,

    The Marantz is £ 7000 not £ 12500 so a bit of a bargain compared to the others. The Sharp can be had from the net at reduced price, if you are willing to take the chance.
     
  10. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The colour wheel speed is getting quite confusing and the manufacturers aren't helping. All HD1 DLP projectors use a 300Hz wheel, this equates to a 6 colour wheel running at 2.5 x @60Hz or 3 x @50Hz. The DM type chips run at 240 Hz and the XGA chips run at 120Hz.
     
  11. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    I am very susceptible to rainbows. Call it a Zippy fixation.....hahaha

    No seriously, I do saw them all the time with 200, less with 200dm to a point where I could sit and watch for extended periods. With Sharp I saw them occasionally and with my 2hrs with the HT300 I never noticed them once.

    Pricing I can't comment on a public board other than to say the current retail is supposed to be around £9000.

    Event 2 is still being planned. It may be there. As the best single chip DLP I've seen it would be strange if it were not...of course there's still a few months to go....October probably....

    Gordon
     
  12. HouseofMu

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    I see the HT300 specs mention 3:2 pull down, can it also do 2:2 pulldown or cope with a PAL progscan signal ?

    Does it not seem odd that such a new pj doesn't have a digital (DVI) input, or would that be asking too much for a £9k pj?

    Reading the *other* forum, it seems there all excited about the soon to be released Dwin Transvision2 (HD1, sealed optics, scaler etc, DVI) at roughly $9(USD), should Sim2 be reconsidering their price?
    I know its all spec comparisons at this early point, but it does appear to be a direct competitor with major price difference. Another one for the 'Event 2' maybe?

    n.
     
  13. Paul Hayward

    Paul Hayward
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    I think I was the first customer in the UK to own an HT300. It was delivered the Friday before Christmas. It replaces my trusty W400 and in my opinion, it is in a different league to LCD. There will always be a new pj just round the corner (the new Dwin and Barco to mention but two) however, I find the HT300 a stunning performer now. The colours are rich and very accurate and the clarity is terrific. You do not need to use a progressive scan with this pj because the de-interlacing is performed by the on board Faroudja chip set which beats out most progressive DVD players anyway. The pj still allows progressive as it does connection with an HTPC. Projected balck is also very good in all but the lowest contrast scenes although there is still significant light leaking onto the screen to make the 'black' a gray black. I think DLP's have a long way to go before near black or true black digital projectors are a reality. As of this moment, I would say the HT300 lies between a cinema film black and real CRT black which has yet to be beaten.

    By the way Gorden, I don't yet have the 'beta tested' software version you saw and don't recognise a number of the settings. On my earlier version I would say that the medium colour temp corresponding to 6400K is the most natural on my pj and certainly does not look too blue. The beauty of the HT300 is that you can load up the different software packages. If you dont like the newer version, just re-load the old. As you can see, I am a great fan of this projector and feel it gives most 7"CRT's a fine run for their money.

    Regards,

    Paul H
     
  14. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Paul:

    High temp was VERY BLUE
    Mid was blue
    Low was greeny.

    After Steve left I put on our HT200DM and put up pluge to see what it looked like at factory defaults...Blue, Close and then slightly reddy grey. The 200DM was closer to what I was expecting. If I had had my analyser available I'd have measured the thing. Either one or both were wrong. I didn't think it an issue though as it was a beta unit and I'm confident production units will be better. Greyscale is dependant on room and source anyway.

    Gordon
     
  15. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I hope so, it is 1.5x the cost of many good 7 inchers and getting on to 2.5x the cost of Chompy's Ellie. Does look interesting however;)
     
  16. Paul Hayward

    Paul Hayward
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    Hi Gorden,

    I guess there may be an additional variable to add to the mix which is personal taste. I used to own a sony W400 and I actually preferred the high (ie blue) colour temp on that machine. When I demo'ed the HT300 at Owl video with Alan Rosa we both preferred the high colour temp, admittedly on earlier software. Medium was too creamy white for my taste. However, with updated software, I prefer the medium colour temp which looks superb to my eye.

    Nic,

    Crt's are still unbeatable for producing real black and this quality does enhance colour saturation and the ability produce watchable images in very low contrast scenes. All the HD1 pjs do still tend to struggle with low lights, although they are now much better at this. However, the HT300 is sharper with better overall clarity, probably brighter than a 7" CRT and for the extra money you get an attractive smallish unit with built in Faroudja de-interlacer and Pixelworks scaler (all imputs are de-interlaced and then upscaled to 720p), a lamp life of around 6000hrs and sealed optics. I cant speak highly enough about this pj and I am extremely fussy.

    Best Wishes,

    Paul H
     

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