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Seleco HT200 launch mini review, Quite Long!

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Gordon @ Convergent AV, Oct 19, 2000.

  1. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    So here it is, my blow by blow account of the Seleco HT200 DLP projector in Bradford.

    Before I start I’ll explain my main reservations about the limitations of current single chip DLP devices. All I have seen suffered from “Rainbow” effect, “halo effect” and more often than not poor internal scaling coupled with an inability to portray colour as accurately as I would wish. Don’t get me wrong, these devices are generally very affordable and for the money offer a good performance, just not good enough for me!

    The rainbow effect is caused by the way a single field is made up with one of these devices. Basically, light is shone on to a chip covered in mirrors, depending on which way each tiny mirror is tilted light is either directed through a spinning colour filter wheel to the lens, or into light absorbing material within the enclosure. The colour wheel has red, blue, green filters and as light passes through each a red, green, blue image is displayed on the screen one after the other. This happens so fast though that your brain is unable to register each distinct coloured image and instead superimposes them all together to create the full colour image. Well, that’s the theory. For me and many others what happens is that whenever there is motion on the screen ( i.e. something pans across the screen from side to side) and you are forced to move your eyes to track it, you see the three colour images slightly out of phase. This looks a bit like seeing one of those 3D pictures, except without the special glasses they always come with! PAL discs (50Hz) are more susceptible to this than NTSC ones (60hz).

    The halo effect is caused by stray light within the housing illuminating the area around the part of the mirrors actually being used to display the image. So, if you have a 16:9 shape screen more often then not you’ll see a grey 4:3 shape image surrounding it all the time, lighting up the wall or area outwith the screen itself. The darker your room the worse it gets!

    Lastly, all the DLP devices I have seen have been designed for or re-engineered from commercial presentation devices. As such they have been optimised for light output rather than colour accuracy and for PC presentations rather than video. The only exception being Runco who try very hard for colour accuracy and whose external video processor does a great job with DVD’s. Even their best single chip device still suffers from rainbow effect and, to a lesser extent the halo effect and it costs 3 times as much as the Seleco in the UK!

    Any or all of these flaws are enough to stop me from wanting to watch a film on one of these products. It’s a bit like dead pixels on an LCD or their infamous, grey blacks…

    So, what happened?

    The Venue: Cubbi Broccoli theatre in Bradfords, Museum of Photography. This was a small, tiered cinema within the IMAX complex. The screen was a perforated model (as you’d expect at the cinema) masked to give a 16:9 image of around 14ft width. With the lights fully off the room wasn’t completely dark as low-level lighting for the steps created ambient room light and the fire escape light was like a beacon in the corner… It wasn’t perfectly blackout but it was much better than my local Odeon. Sources were PAL dvd fed on s-vid, NTSC dvd fed on Component(480i) and Progressive Component (480P) from a Toshiba DVD player along with Hi-Def Video Tape (1080i). I sat around 20 feet from the screen and was unable to see either the perforations in the screen or the pixel structure.

    Assorted clips were played. On the PAL s-vid feed I found the picture pretty good although slightly digital looking. I didn’t notice any obvious scaling or de-interlacing artefacts and especially pleasing I was not aware of any rainbow effect at all. If it was going to be seen it would be worst with this!

    Progressive component feed again showed no scaling artefacts that were obvious, colour looked fantastic and again I couldn’t discern any rainbow effect. With the clips shown here I was also looking for the halo effect as the clips were quite bright and this would, hopefully, provide lots of stray light inside the device. I couldn’t make out any halo.

    Next, HiDef video tape. This was very interesting. I’ve seen hi-def several times now and each and every time I get more upset that we got lo-fi digital TV. The sense of depth and perspective with this programme material was amazing for a projector at this price. The footage was of different American cities by day and night. It appeared to be filmed from a helicopter, flying in and out of skyscrapers, along rivers, through clouds etc. The only problems I saw with this footage was moiré artefacts on skyscraper windows. This is caused by the de-interlacing circuit I presume. It seemed to stand out more on the hi-def material as everything else seemed so “right”. The Sony LCD is a higher resolution device and with HiDef material it is even more likely to look impressive, although I’m sure black levels are much better with the Seleco which is likely to give it better “snap” and “punch” to the image.

    To check this de-interlacing Alan kindly put on The Fifth Element scene where Leelo jumps off the building. This was done twice played on component both in 480i and 480Progressive mode. The projector had not been calibrated for colour, brightness, contrast on 480i so I will only comment on the scaling capabilities with this image. The pans up and down the buildings on this scene, as well as the vents and conduit she walks through to get to the ledge show up moiré effects quite well. The Sony VPL10W’s DRC scaler has problems with this scene, although it’s not that bad. I didn’t notice problems as much with the HT200 as I have with other devices on this. In 480P I didn’t see any problems at all, but by this point I was just enjoying the film rather than looking for defects. On 480P the de-interlacing is done by the DVD player so this is a comment more on the quality of the Toshiba DVD player. With more and more progressive output devices likely to come along I can see the ability to accept progressive inputs being very useful.

    So what did I think. Well, the internal scaler seems to be better than average at this price level. Colour accuracy was exceptional to my eyes. It was plenty bright enough for a 14ft image, and I couldn’t see any rainbow effect or halo effect at all. Black’s were looking blacker than I am used to on this type of device. Pretty good then. But there’s more!

    Pictures don’t really do this thing justice. It really is small, light and very sleek and attractive. From a techy point of view it also has some rather good features. Discreet on and off ir commands for one. Another is the movable optics. Rather than having to tilt the projector then apply digital keystone correction to square the image up Seleco have come up with a neat solution. You can manually raise and lower the optics to move the image up or down on the screen wall by 50% or thereabouts either way. This, combined with the long throw lens it uses means you can put the thing up high on a shelf at the back of your room and have a large screen low down at a sensible viewing height. Most other manufacturers units would require that you tilt the projector and use digital keystone correction ( thereby reducing picture size and quality). Of course, if this is the only option the HT200 has this facility as well…..

    Then there’s the wee matter of dust in the optical systems and those filters you have to keep clean with other DLP’s and LCD’s. The HT200 is the first DLP with a completely sealed optical system. In the past Texas Instruments have sold third party projector developers whole assemblies but Seleco took the option to buy bits and develop their own solution. So with this unit there is no filter required as it is impossible for any contaminants to get in and cause discolouration or fog! This also helps reduce the halo effect as the optical system they use is very accurate, cutting down spurious reflections within the enclosure.

    Lamp life is estimated by Philips (manufacturer of the lamp) at 6000hrs in normal use. Seleco’s suggested 4000hrs may be a conservative estimate, time will tell. Replacement lamp costs will be under £300.

    And finally my favourite bit. During the display by Alan, Chris and the team from Owl I posed some questions regarding certain functionality issues with this engineering unit we were using. I wanted to know if it was possible to directly select aspect ratios without having to scroll through every option. It wasn’t but Alan said he would speak with the techs in Italy and get them to look at revising the software to incorporate this. You see this unit can be connected to your or your dealers laptop and new operating and scaling software can be put in to it. You or your dealer just visits the Seleco/SIM2 web site and downloads the latest version and there you go. Brilliant.

    I wasn’t expecting much from this little box I must admit. But now I’ve seen just what it can deliver and how much thought they’ve put in to its design I can’t wait to get a fully functional one in the shop to play with.

    Nice one guys!


    Sorry this post is so long but I think it’s worth it.

    Gordon

    P.S. I guess everyone wants to know how it stacks up compared to the Sony VPL10. This is really its only likely competitor. Well, for a the final shootout I need to see a Seleco in the shop but from what I’ve seen I think the HT200 is able to justify its higher price. In the US, if you managed to find enough hi-def material to watch, you might come to a different conclusion, but in the UK, replaying DVD I believe the Seleco is going to take the honours.


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    StereoStereo
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  2. Rob

    Rob
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    Interesting reading Gordon. How do you think it will compare with CRT projectors, do you think these will take over as the cutting edge of home cinema? I did read that CRT is being phased out, is this true?
    Regards Rob.
     
  3. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Most projectors are based on technology or units developed for the commercial arena. Just now there are fewer and fewer manufacturers of CRT projectors as the bulk of sales are for commercial applications and these are now becoming almost exclusively DLP, LCD and DiLA based.

    I've yet to see any DLP, LCD or DiLA outperform the best CRT's though. Of course, we aren't comparing like with like here. For £6000 what would I buy if I had too. Well, I think that the HT200 will offer superiour resolution to the Seleco 450 crt projector as well as the Ellie. It will have superior colouromitry to the Sony LCD and better black levels IMO.

    Was it a better picture than my s.h NEC data projector and Quadscan scaler, no. But I couldn't hope to produce a 14ft wide image with mine! Not only that we're talking about a £10,000 + projector + £1750 scaler v a wee £6000 box.

    I think that in a couple of years when 16:9 DMD panels are available and three chip devices are more common at reasonable price levels, we'll only see CRT s/hand. In my opinion DLP has just gone from unacceptable to more than acceptable for home use.(for me anyway)

    Gordon

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    [This message has been edited by Gordon, StereoStereo (edited 19-10-2000).]
     
  4. Ludae

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    16:9 DMD panels are available now at 1280x720 resolution.

    Excellent preview Gordon, I am interested in the XGA version the 250. Did they mention anything about releasing that model?

    Cheers.
     
  5. HouseofMu

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    I understand the Sony VPL10 has/is to be reduced by £1000, would your conclusion still be the same (in favour of the DLP)?.

    n.

    PS. (off topic) I hope u took the time to look round the StarWars exibition whilst u were there [​IMG]
     
  6. Edgeyboy

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    Dear Gordon,

    What is the native panel size of this new seleco ?

    Do you know if it accepts RGB ?

    Tom
     
  7. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    HouseofMU: My comments were made knowing the current reduced price of the Sony.

    Ludae: The 16:9 panels are not available for development in front projectors. Currently they are only being used in rear projection Hi-Def TV's in the states, Panasonic I believe were the first to have ago. It will be at least 12 months before we are likely to see early prototypes of front projectors, if TI allow it.

    Tom: It's an 800 x 600 Panel. The 1024 X 768 XGA version HT250 will probably be out around Christmas. I'm really looking forward to this one..... Yes it accepts RGB. The other cute thing they do is that they offer a seperate video control box with this unit. You attach all sources to it and then you use a special hi-quality thin data/style cable from the box to your projector. This gets rid of the nasty mass of cables you usually see hanging out the side of these things.

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  8. Stewart C

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    Gordon

    If this projector is 4:3 with a 16:9 mode, this presumably means you need to buy a 4:3 screen to go with it or as you point out do a masking job of a 16:9 screen.

    Black borders are visible on an Anamorphic 2.35:1 display on a 16:9 TV. How much bigger are the black borders on a 4:3 monitor ?

    The Tosh LCD projector is getting rave reviews for its quality even though it is 4:3 with a 16:9 mode. How less cinematic is the image when you don't have a dedicated 16:9 panel ?

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  9. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Stewart,

    Yes it is a 4:3 panel. No you don't have to have a 4:3 screen. Its scaler has the ability to resize a 4:3 image within a 16:9 screen. When doing this you will loose resolution in the 4:3 image but as most folk are going to be watching anamorphic DVD's through the thing I guess this isn't such a big issue.

    There is alot more to getting a good picture than what aspect ratio the panel is.

    Gordon

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  10. Nuno Santos

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    Gordon:

    The worse thing IMO about DLP is the rainbow effect. I noticed it when watching a movie with subtitles on (I'm Portuguese, so I watch almost everything with subtitles). Sometimes when they came, they sort of split in 3 colors. This was with the Dreamvision DL500 Starlight. You said that you used to notice this effect on other DLP projectors, so, could you please tell me which movies/scenes are the best I can use to see if I can spot this problem? I have about 100 reg. 2 titles and I'd probably take one or two to test this issue.

    Another question: provided the copy protection issues on PAL progressive signals are solved (or hacked...) will the HT200 be able to accept a 576p PAL progressive signal?
    Thanks!

    NS

    [This message has been edited by Nuno Santos (edited 23-10-2000).]
     
  11. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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    Nuno,

    I can't confirm the capability to accept PAL progressive at the rate you say. You'd have to check with Sim2 whether they have had one running at such a rate. It is a 800 x 600 panel though so it should run at up to 600P.

    The rainbow effect is most noticable on scenes where there is fast movement of objects from one side of the screen to the other causing your eyes to move direction rapidly following the action.

    You can simulate this just by shaking your head rapidly and looking from side to side ( of course, you might look a bit strange doing this in a demonstration)

    Hope you enjoy the dem and like what you see. Let us know how you get on.

    Gordon



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  12. Chris Frost

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    The rainbow effect was one of the issues tackled by Seleco during the development of the SDV200 DLP projector.

    PAL signals(R2 DVD, off-air TV, VHS etc) suffer most because the refresh rate (50Hz) is just low enougth that you see the red, green, blue parts of the image seperate on certain scenes with fast motion.

    The SDV200 uses a double speed colour wheel, this significantly reduces the rainbow effect.

    During the recent product launches we specifically asked the dealers if they could see any evidence of the rainbow effect during a demonstration with PAL DVD. The clip used was the Euro Tunnel scene from Mission Impossible. This contains plenty of fast motion - perfect for highlighting any problems.

    I'm glad to report that Seleco's efforts have been worthwhile.



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    Gordon, Chris,

    OK I'm now officially interested 8)

    What is the official release date and likely price? How much would I expect to pay on top for a 7ft motorised screen?

    Regards Neil.

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  14. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Neil: They are supposed to start shipping in around 7-14 days I think. Price is £5999 or thereabouts. Screens vary in price depending on design, functionality and aspect ratio.

    Expect to pay from £300 ish for a 7ft width 4:3

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  15. MJ

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    How does fan noise compare with the Sony 10HT?
    I assume the colour filter wheel is an integral part of the sealed optics?
     
  16. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    MJ: I can't comment on fan noise. It was a relatively noisy enviroment when the film wasn't playing and it was an engineering sample not completely finished article. I'll let you know once we have one in the shop.

    Gordon

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