A very interesting shoot-out was organized last Saturday in Athens by the Greek www.avclub.gr
, where 35 of its members were invited to comment on the differences between the 720 and 1080 DLP panels when fed by HD and SD material.
As sources we used two HTPCs with identical Hardware and Software configuration: Hardware: P4 at 3.0, ATI X800 PRO graphics card,1gb memory,asus m/b.
Software: For SD zoom player 4.51 (VMR9 renderless, dscaler 5008 decoders, reclock 1.5b, 2X lanczos resize) For HD: Media Player Classic (Overlay, Dscaler 5008 decoders) ATI Catalyst driver version 6.5.
As reference clips, the following were used:
HD VIDEO: BenQ demo, Epson Demo, Shakira Tortura mtv video clip, Samsung Demo, (all at 1920Χ1080i)
HD FILM: Starship Troopers (1920Χ1080i)
SD FILM: SW III, Chronicles of ridick, Sin City, Alexander, Van Helsing (all 720X576)
We used two Marantz projectors (VP11-S1 1080p & VP12-S4 720p) which were D65 calibrated and were matched in brightness.
The interesting thing was that we managed to have both projectors to project the same half picture simultaneously
on the same Dalitte High Contrast DaMatt screen at about 130'! This way it was very easy to draw conclusions without having to even turn your head from the screen!
Each one was connected to a HTPC via a dvi to hdmi Oelbach cable and at the native resolution of each projector ( 720p for VP12-S4 and 1080p for VP11-S1) with 1:1 pixel mapping.
The results were really eye-opening: The majority of the people present felt that from a distance of 4 meters and beyond from the 130' screen, the resolution difference between the two projectors was from minimal to insignificant! We even had 3-4 people who in fact thought that the 720 projector was the 1080 one! Some thought that the 1080 had better depth, but all agreed that if you have a very good 720 projector and you are not planning to sit very close to the screen or to project more than 130', then the upgrade to 1080 is not necessary.
Both projectors threw a glorious image, in HD and in SD and did match perfectly with the HTPC as source. We also connected a BR player with 5-6 BR titles just to have a taste of the new HD reality. We all felt that the real revolution nowadays is not the 1080 projectors but the 1080 software which will transform our existing 720 projectors.
Also, on a personal note, I think that it might be a very wise idea to invest today on a top 720 projector like the Marantz S4 with great optics, scaler, deinterlacer etc, instead of a new 1080 projector with worse optics, scaler, deinterlacer etc if you don't plan to have a very large screen (over 130' ) in your house.