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Sim2 C3X: Astonishing.

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by Gary Lightfoot, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I was down at RTFMs today, and had a good look at the 250w lamped version of the new 3 chip C3X. Wow. :)

    I'd seen other 3chip DLPs, but this Sim2 designed 3 chipper is a noticable improvement over those. They've done a great job to what amounts to double the performance at half the price!

    Of course it was bright, but what I first noticed was how deep the black level was - MIB II Superbit was on and that had some good dark sequences with an impressive black level. Out of curiosity we tried some ND filters and a polarising filter I had handy to dim it down to C3X Lite levels (the 150w model), and even then it never looked dim, but the black level looked even deeper. It has an adjustable lamp that goes from 200w to 250w so that makes it quite flexible. If you want a good movie-like black level, add an ND2 filter, If you want to watch sports during the day or with the lights on, then take it off.

    Failing that, fit a 15ft wide unity gain screen for 12ft lamberts in low lamp mode, and ramp it up for sports or to take into account lamp aging. Go even bigger if you choose a screen with 1.3 gain - 18ft wide is easily attainable on low lamp!

    We watched some clips from Star Wars ANH and of course it rendered very well since the DVD is reference material as far as DVD transfers go IMHO. Great colours, with red being a good deep red, and not the slight orange the other 3 chipppers had. The contrast advantage was visible and with good source material there was no visible dark area dithering. ANSI contrast looked good with plenty of shadow detail remaining visible with the presence of bright surrounding areas of light - Darth entering the blockade runner for example - his black legging material was clearly visible with plenty of bright white surrounding him, and during close ups of his mask with the bright white behind. Jeff has a very dark Kodak 18% grey room, with drapes at the sides and perfect light control, so this of course helps control unwanted light reflections. The room is an important part of the viewing set-up and contributes to how much shadow detail we see in scenes with both dark and bright images within the same frame.

    5th Element showed a great amount of depth where Leeloo jumps off and into Bruce's taxi, and revealed some good shadow detail in the tubes she was escaping through.

    I measured high lamp (250w) mode at 2233 lumens and low lamp (200w) at 1615 lumens. That's almost the same level as advertised which is 2500. Impressive output for a calibrated machine! Apparently Jeff saw it calibrated to D65 before he brought it back, so all we had to do was set the white and black levels. Increasing the contrast to crushing whites would have increased the lumens further and would have met the advertised lumen spec IMHO.

    The thing that struck me the most was the clarity in motion - moving objects were rendered with good detail and no blurring, and it's not until you see this that you realise where single chip models are struggling. I watched Final Flight of the Osiris from 1X seating distance and I've never seen this mini-movie rendered with such detail or crispness. I was seeing background dark area detail that I hadn't seen so clearly before, and I've watched this sequence many times on digital projectors and even on a Barco CRT, and this Sim has really impressed me in it's ability here by being clearly superior. There was no dark area dithering that I could see, and I never noticed any image noise in this sequence - admitted that this was a CGI movie so would probably have less mpg noise than normal, but the improvement was so noticable I couldn't help but be impressed and astonished (and that doesn't happen very often. :) ). This is the first pj that I could live with above cinema levels of reflectance - we were watching at around 38 ft lamberts on Jeffs 104inch wide screen and it just seemed to make the images jump of the screen without adding additional unwanted elements. If this sequence was good, I can't wait to see what Blu-Ray and other Hi Def transfers will look like on it.

    The future's bright - the future's Sim2 :D

    The only negative I was aware of was the same as with the earlier 3 chip machines, and that was it's ability to reveal detail meant that a poor transfer or a poor set-up would show up on the screen (crap in, crap out), but fortunately DVDs tend to be of good quality by and large these days so we shouldn't see much mpg blocking going on.

    If you want to smooth the image for closer seating distances or to just soften the image, then some slight defocussing would help or use an IMX lens. If you're a high end CRT owner waiting for to go digital, then this could well be what you were waiting for.

    We watched all the material we saw via a Uvem HTPC and a Pioneer 868i using the DVI/HDMI connection as a comparison. We also saw some SD Freeview TV which looked OK but of course was not to the same quality as the DVDs we'd seen.

    I have to say thanks to Jeff for his hospitality and allowing me to view this new addition to the Sim2 range. This is just the first Sim2 designed 3 chip DLP of course, so I can only drool at the prospect of better machines at cheaper prices and of course 1080 is on the horizon. £10,995 may currently be out of the price range of many of us (C3X Lite), but don't forget the first 1280 x 720 res projectors were too at one stage and cost almost as much, but now look how much they cost.

    Gary.
     
  2. Edgeyboy

    Edgeyboy
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    Gary

    Why would you want to defocus the image for closer seating distances ?

    Is SD an issue ?

    Tom.
     
  3. RTFM

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    Hi Tom

    Screen door is definitely not an issue.
    With the 104 inch wide screen you cannot see the mirrors at 12 feet with a white field. With actual film material you have to go much closer to the screen.

    Jeff
     
  4. squibbly

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    So if we extrapolate SIM2's pricing on HD2+ 1-chip and look at past history we can expect the following releases in the near future:

    A 3-chip from Infocus (same spec) and Optoma (better spec), retailing at around £8250.

    A 3-chip from Benq a little late out of the blocks but retailing at just over £4k! :clap:

    Squibbly :devil:
     
  5. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Yes but the InFocus one will be so bright it'll seen by aliens from outerspace and declared a new star and the Optoma one will be replaced with a new model with exactly the same specs after 10 days.

    No-one will buy the Benq one as they will be waiting for the next cheaper variant.

    Gordon
     
  6. squibbly

    squibbly
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    :D

    Squibbly
     
  7. Zag

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    Gordon

    Like your comments. Spot on. :D

    I suspect the only reason SIM2 released the C3X now, rather than waiting until CEDIA. Is that they know that there's a whole raft of 3 chippers (Well maybe one or two) waiting in the wings to be revealed at this years CEDIA.

    It enables SIM2 to jump the starting gate and gather all the attention/press in advance of the other, likely cheaper 3 chippers, that will be revealed very soon.

    It's unlikely though that anything from Infocus, Optoma....will be in the same ball park as the SIM2 machine.

    Oh well good to see some clever marketing for a change (Optoma take note), it reminds me of what the XBOX 360 did to the PS3.

    SIM2 :thumbsup:
     
  8. mikeaitch

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    :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

    Excellent!
     
  9. mikeaitch

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    Seriously though, this has changed my whole approach to future plans.

    There's now no way I will pay big money, and by that I mean the aspirational models £5k+, for what was a noticeable, but incremental improvement. When I do make the big purchase, it will be for a huge improvement and no rainbows due to the 3 chips' inherent superiority.

    Until then, I'll keep to the £2-3k level, which is improving all the time anyway. Who knows, in 12-18 months' time, 2nd hand models may be sub £5k anyway- the price of mid range single chippers just a few months ago...
     
  10. juniper

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    :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:
     
  11. BAN5HEE

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  12. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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  13. Paul Hayward

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    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for the superb in-depth review. You do make this model sound mouth watering. Were you able to measure stuff like CR and were you able to check the grey scale tracking for D65 by any chance? Thanks once again.

    Regards,

    Paul H
     
  14. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hi Tom,

    Sitting at 1X screen distance and I couldn't see any screendoor. The image was very smooth and film like with a clean transfer such as the one I was watching, but I only suggested a slight amount of defocus or an IMX for those such as CRT owners who may like to sit that much closer and are perhaps used to a softer image.

    Guy Kuo for example has sold his NEC CRT and now has an Optoma H79 with an IMX lens. It isn't necessary from certain seating distances but some prefer a less sharp look and the IMX is means to an end.

    Gary.
     
  15. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hi Paul,

    I had CF with me but didn't take a greyscale though I may do if Jeff doesn't mind the next time I'm down. The IRE ramps looked similar to the H500+ and contrast noticably improved. A noticably better machine in my view and after seeing a single chip the advantages of three chips are apparent on this machine.

    You should try and get a viewing sometime, as I'm sure you'll be impressed. :)

    Gary.
     
  16. RTFM

    RTFM
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  17. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Interesting indeed. :)

    Until I saw the C3X, I wasn't too bothered about having a 3chip DLP as I was perfectly happy with single chip. I don't know what the other differences are between this new model and the old ones, but the C3X is such a noticable improvement I'd buy one tomorrow - I liked it that much. Unfortunately it's a tad above my budget.

    Still, prices do drop and if other manufacturers enter the market it will be intersting to see how they compare, though currently I don't know of any other manufacturer with a 3 chip in the pipeline, let alone ready for Cedia. Sim2 seem to have the jump on the rest.

    Gary.
     
  18. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    New technology with plummeting prices is very exciting, but also very frustrating
    when you want to buy gear which is going to hold up for a few years, which is becoming impossible.

    It's always, do I wait for the prices to drop or wait for the next generation to come in & then wait for prices to drop, then you're back where you started. :eek:

    I bought a 7205 & then a week later they knock £500 off. :eek: & with H79
    looking like retailing for £3000. Wow, you'd never end up getting anything.

    Since technology seems to be increasing at an ever faster rate, I wonder how far it will go. e.g. updated models out every week.

    I think Optoma are there already. :D
     
  19. Paul Hayward

    Paul Hayward
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    I do agree with RTFM on this one. There is not much real curiosity about the machine and what makes it tick. Rather posters seem more locked into price and deals. Hmmm. Disappointing but maybe its a British thing.

    Regards,

    Paul H
     
  20. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Perhaps UK posters are more interested in whether it works rather than how? Just a thought.

    Gordon
     
  21. RTFM

    RTFM
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    I would have thought forum members would be a lot more interested in the technical aspects of front projection than the average man in the street.

    Jeff
     
  22. gandley

    gandley
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    Not a british thing more a consumer thing.

    Anything +10K which is essentialy a big TV is going in the wrong direction regardless of what it can do. It looks stunning theres no doubt about it and i think i would need to see the lite model as ( at last sim2) the C3x @200-250watts maybe a tad too bright on the eyes.

    Also i think there was a post somewhere that said the nearest rivals with a home grown 3 chipper maybe a year out from release? so Sim2 in fairness have done a great job.

    Whats the Dimensions of the unit, is it pretty biggish?.

    Are there a choice of colours as with the single chippers?

    And whats the best deal anyone can do for me on the C3X lite model (PM me for that one)
    and does anyone know any banks where security is a tad low
     
  23. RTFM

    RTFM
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    Hi Dustin,

    The C3X is very compact for a 3 chipper. It measures 43.5 x 19 x 43 cm WxHxD

    The finish is Silver/Grey and is as smart as paint :)

    Jeff
     

    Attached Files:

  24. cameronl

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    nice review :)

    so what was better on the sim2; the dvd player or the HTPC?

    CaM
     
  25. Liam @ Prog AV

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    Now THAT is hitting the nail on the head!!!
     
  26. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hi Cameron,

    I think the HTPC had the edge, though to be honest it was quite close. The first time I saw the Pioneer 868i feeding a 3 chip (Sim2 HT500 IIRC) it did just have the edge on the HTPC that Jeff had at the time, but we think that was because the HT500 had been set-up and calibrated with Colorfacts for the Pioneer. The Pioneer was the first standalone player I'd seen to be able to compete with an HTPC, though for convenience as a media server for Hi Def and ripped DVDs, HTPC can't be beaten. It certainly beats having to get up and put disks in the player. :)

    I think Jeff primarily uses the UVEM HTPC these days, though hopefully he'll correct me if I'm wrong.

    The new Snazzio 1350 looks like a good interface for HTPC though - via a lan connection it can stream many different files including HD stuff from PCs, so you don't need to worry about setting up the PC for playback.

    Gary.
     
  27. RTFM

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    Hi Gary

    I still favour HTPC for playback of SD and HD material as you have so much control over all parameters.

    I will be putting a Kaleidescape system through its paces over the next few days to see how it compares with HTPC.

    Jeff
     
  28. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Hi Jeff,

    Sounds interesting so I'm looking forward to the results.

    Gary.
     
  29. Tejstar

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    Anyone going to the Heathrow show to see this in action?
     
  30. RTFM

    RTFM
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    Hi Gary

    Check out http://www.kaleidescape.com/ if you haven't already.

    I have been testing a system today and it's an astonishing bit of kit.

    Jeff
     

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