X1 and Z1 Side-By-Side Review (Long) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Spent about 22 hours (according to the lamp counter) with my new Z1 and my X1. Yeah, I know, I need to get a life. And for once, I think I can say I am totally burnt out on watching TV!

I kind of hesitate doing this side-by-side review, because it seems like everyone wants to rip on you for stating your opinion these days. But, hopefully this info will help people still trying to decide between the Z1 and X1.

These are only my opinions. Take them with as much salt as you wish.

If you don’t want to read the full review, here’s the short version:

These two projectors are so close in terms of pq, it’s almost impossible to say one is better than the other. Comparing the two side-by-side reminded me a lot of going to the eye doctor: "Is this better? Or is this better?" You can hardly see any difference, so you finally just end up telling the eye doctor, "Okay, that one. No, that one." I could actually tell more difference when flipping through the "color temp" settings on just one pj than I could when flipping between pjs.

After about 30 minutes of "back and forth" between the two pjs, my wife finally said, "If I have to look this hard to see any difference, maybe there just isn’t any." Hmmm…she’s got a point. I often found myself "trying" to see differences.

So, if you own an X1, relax. Quit worrying that the Z1 is somehow better, and you maybe you should really have gotten it instead.

Or, if you own a Z1, relax. Quit worrying that the X1 is somehow better, and maybe you should really have gotten it instead.

So, here was the setup:

Both X1 and Z1 were setup with Avia prior to viewing. Both were setup to project a 92" wide picture onto a Dalite HiPower screen. Viewing distance was about 15 feet. Room lighting was 80% controlled. I set both pjs up to project exactly the same size image (I lined it up with both on), and they were each fed an identical signal using an AudioAuthority Video Distribution amp.

Viewing material consisted of DVDs, OTA digital and analog TV, DirecTV, and HDTV.

Connections:
X1: Component to vga breakout cable (vga port) for DVDS, HDTV). S-video for OTA digtital, analog & DirecTV.

Z1: Component for DVDs, HDTV. S-Video for OTA digital, analog & DirecTV.

On Saturday, I had about 5 friends and neighbors over. On Sunday, I had 4 other people. And the results were very consistent with both groups.

Equipment: DVD player was a Panasonic RP62 in progressive mode. HDTV box was a Sony HD100.

Half the people preferred the X1. The other half preferred the Z1. And both halves changed their minds repeatedly. In other words, they really, really couldn’t see much difference.

Here are my impressions:

Black Level
X1 slightly better, but only if I looked really, really closely. Both of these pjs delivered what I consider to be very, very good black levels.

Shadow Detail
Z1 slightly better, but only if I looked really, really closely. Again, I think both of these pjs have excellent shadow detail.

Brightness
Z1 slightly brighter in settings for watching dvds. However, the X1 does have the "presentation" mode, which really helps if you’re watching low quality TV (like football) in ambient light.

Contrast
X1 slightly better.

Colors
Z1 was a little greenish, I’ll have to tweak it a bit. Z1 colors were a bit more vibrant and saturated, but didn’t seem quite as natural.
X1 seemed a bit more accurate and felt a tad more natural. Colors on both pjs are very impressive.

Rainbows:
No one except me saw rainbows on X1. And I only saw a few, just for a millisecond. No one complained of eye strain or headaches. No one wanted to leave!

Screen Door
X1 wins (as you would expect) in this area. I would say the Z1 will give you screendoor problems if you can’t be back 1.8X or more. I tried the slight defocus, and that did help.

Artifacts
I think both of these pjs have pretty damn good scalers. About the only artifacts I saw were "crawlies" in sky scenes and on standard def TV with the X1. I saw no artifacts with the Z1—no vertical banding on my unit, no jaggies (except on credits), no color shifts. Very solid picture on both units.

DVDs
Watched Shrek, LOTR, Matrix, Ocean’s 11 and Pearl Harbor. We did both extended viewing, and quick flips from one pj to another. Honestly, there just wasn’t much difference between the two. They were both excellent, with excellent detail, color, and black levels. Both of these machines shine with anamorphic DVDS. I have no vertical banding on my Z1 that I can see. As for the "cropping" of the X1, I just really didn’t see it. And I was comparing one image directly on top of the other—maybe a few pixels on each side, but I really, really had to look for it. So to me, the "cropping" of the X1 is a non-issue.

HDTV
I thought the Z1 would win hands down here, but it really didn’t. I guess it had a bit more detail than the X1, but again, it’s not readily apparent. The Z1 was a tad "blockier" than the X1, but I really have to say both of these pjs do a wonderful job with HD. I loved the picture both of them put up.

Standard Def TV
This is probably the only area where I think one pj was consistently the winner—almost everyone preferred the X1. The Z1 looked good, but it was a lot softer than the X1. The X1 (probably because of the DCDI chip) actually makes most standard def stuff look pretty good…not great by any means, but very watchable. The Z1 also does a nice job, but it was definitely softer—even when I tightly focused it.

Viewing Distance
The X1 has the advantage in screendoor if you have to sit closer than 1.8X. But if you can get back at least 1.8X, the Z1 will amaze you.


Controls/Build Quality, etc.

The Z1 is a very slick looking unit. I LOVE the lens shift feature. It seems the unit is built very solid, except for the lens shift levers, which strike me as a little loosey goosey. Also, I didn’t like the focus/zoom setup on the Z1—I kept missing the lever or the lens ring, and getting a big fat fingerprint on the lens. The X1 is easier to focus and zoom (the lens housing sticks out where you can reach it), but it doesn’t have the lens shift feature, which makes setup for the Z1 a whole lot easier IMO. The Z1 is also a great coffee table unit—the two legs on front make it easy to level, and the horizontal, wedge shape looks really good. Also, I really love the front flip-down panel on the Z1—much easier than the lens cap of the X1, because every time I put the lens cap on or take it off, I mess up the focus of the X1. With the Z1, just flip up the little panel. The X1 feels a little clunkier than the Z1, but it’s quite solid. One thing I really don’t like about the X1 is that goofy "foot" in the front. Makes it hard to get it level on a coffee table. Plus, there’s only one adjuster foot at the back, on the right-hand side. They should have put one on both sides.

Remote/Power cord, etc.
The Z1 has a nicer remote, IMO…feels more substantial and more home theater like. The X1 has a better power cord—the Z1’s is just too damn short, and has a weird "3-tube" connector to the pj.

So, since they both have almost identical picture quality, how do you choose. Here is how I am making recommendations on which to get to my neighbors and friends (because even after viewing both, they could not decide). In my mind, picture quality and viewing enjoyment are so close, it comes down to other things. Here’s what I’m telling my friends.

Choose the X1 if:
1. You don’t see rainbows
1. You watch a lot of standard def tv
1. You want to sit closer than 1.8X
1. You need a longer throw distance
5. You want to watch football games, etc with some ambient light in the room, and you need the brightness of the presentation mode.
6. You don’t have a progressive scan dvd player, and don’t want to buy one
7. You already have a 4:3 screen.


Choose the Z1 if:
1. You can sit back 1.8X or more
2. You like really vibrant colors
3. You want a short throw pj and prefer the pj in front of you, rather than behind you.
4. You don’t watch much tv
5. You have a progressive scan DVD player (although the Z1 looks very, very good even with and interlaced signal)
6. You want something that will sit nicely on a coffee table.
7. You already have a 16:9 screen
8. You're not terribly handy (like me), and want the lens shift feature for making less than perfect installations appear perfect!

Okay, that’s it. Bottom line, these are two very nice, very evenly matched projectors. Your decision will be based mainly on throw distance, rainbows and screendoor. And whichever one you get, stop worrying that you’re missing out on something—you’re not. I have 22 hours of side-by-side viewing that pretty much bears that out.

Questions? Flames? Fire away.
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post #2 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 09:08 AM
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How could anyone flame that?:) Easily the best side by side of the two PJs.

It's nice to hear that both pjs pretty much eprform the same and it really coems down to other stuff like 4x3 vs 16x9, etc to decide which one might be the way to go for each user.

I also agree about how the focus ring should be out more from the actual lens surface and how the lens shift is cool but feels a little flakey.

Great post! Thanks!

ROB
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post #3 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 09:16 AM
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Great review mike,

I just ordered the x1 recently and cant wait! I'm replacing my old 400q.
Is the x1 fine at 1.6x distance?

James
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post #4 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 09:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by jcebedo1
[B

I just ordered the x1 recently and cant wait! I'm replacing my old 400q.
Is the x1 fine at 1.6x distance?

James [/b]
I sit 1.5X back from my X1 projecting onto a 92 x 69 screen. I do occassionaly see screendoor, but not bad...a bit more than with a 400q, but believe me, the added contrast, better blacks, and extra brightness you get with the X1 (not to mention a LOT quieter fan) over the 400q make a tiny bit of screendoor now and then no big deal--at least to my eyes.
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post #5 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 09:28 AM
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Great job. I had been waiting for this comparison for the whole weekend. Kept checking AVS site Saturday and Sunday. I wish there would be comparison between HS10 and AE300 side by side like this comparison. Job well done.

Mac
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post #6 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 10:03 AM
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Awesome review Flooper! This should settle down the X1 versus Z1 crowd.

I assume from what I read that you had to quickly switch between projectors on the one 92" screen? If my understanding is correct, then this of course makes it very hard to compare, particularly when both PJ's look good on their own.

It would have been interesting if you could have set them up running truely side-by-side simultaneously on identical screens (or on one wider screen).
Then it would be much easier to decide which one you prefered watching at any given time, and to directly compare images, when both are simultaneously displaying side-by-side.

Please correct me if I have mis-interpreted your setup, and you did in fact do a true simultaneous side-by-side compare.

Thanks again for an excellant unbiased review.

Greg
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post #7 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 10:07 AM
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Get ready to hear this alot! Great job, very usable information. It strikes me as odd that the decision to go with a 4:3 vs. 16:9 pj is hardly ever listed as one of the first deciding factors for these two unit. This comparison proves these machines are so close that you can throw out most of the lesser criteria and concentrate on price, native screen size, and throw distance.

I really agree with mac2047, I'd love to see the same exercise with the HS10 and AE300.

Thanks ... Ando
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post #8 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 10:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by KoolKiwi
[B.

I assume from what I read that you had to quickly switch between projectors on the one 92" screen? If my understanding is correct, then this of course makes it very hard to compare, particularly when both PJ's look good on their own.


Greg [/b]
Greg,
You are correct...I had to switch between projectors (I put a DVD case in front of the lens of the one I wanted to block!--real high tech) I just don't have the room for two 92" screens. However, because I had the pictures lined up almost in perfect register, I was able to cover half the lens of one pj, and half the lens of the other...and see the two halves side-by-side. There was a black line down the center of course, but the two halves still matched up pretty well--and that's where you could really see that there is very little difference in the picture quality of these two very nice pjs. I actually think if I had played around with both pjs enough, I could have gotten the two halves to look almost identical in terms of color, brightness, contrast, etc.

mike

mike
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post #9 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 10:53 AM
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Thanks for the clarification Mike.

I hadn't thought of the blocking of the opposite half of each image for side-by-side comparison, excellant idea.

I think your review should help all X1 *and* Z1 owners feel very happy and confident with their purchase.

Greg
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post #10 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by KoolKiwi

I think your review should help all X1 *and* Z1 owners feel very happy and confident with their purchase.

Greg
I was perfectly happy with my z1 buying decision wthout reading this comparo.:) I've been happy since day one

ROB
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post #11 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 11:17 AM
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Bravo! We should all send Flooper some $$ for the comparo and because the review will quite down some "mine is better than yours..." nonsense.
Thank you
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post #12 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 11:17 AM
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Nice review Flooper.

I liked how you pulled in some other friends to get another point of view also. You put a lot of work into making sure the conditions were equal for both projectors. Calibrating them both using Avia for the same screen was the key factor for comparing them both. Also using the same video signal. You also tested using as many formats as possible like hdtv, dvd and regular tv. Very impressive job. I think your observations carry a lot more weight because of your attention to setting up the projectors equally.

People who were worried about making the wrong decision from other posts can worry no longer. The ghosts have been dispelled.
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post #13 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 11:18 AM
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great review. did the cropping feature of x1 make itself obvious when flipping between pj's? was anyone able to notice some of the picture was lost?

also, you rate the Z1 ahead in shadow detail. I thought shadow detail meant that you can see details of clothing etc in dark scenes and that it doesn't just look all black. Wouldn't that be a function of contrast? And if so, why then did the X1 have better contrast but worse shadow detail?
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post #14 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 11:31 AM
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I have to totally agree with Flooper as I just got back from Ottawa where I was able to get a demo of the Z1 & X1. First I'd like to thank audible for giving me a demo of the X1, nice guy. We came away from the demos with the same conclusion as Flooper; the PQ of these two projectors is too close to call one a winner. You really have to decide based on features that you prefer. I did like the lens shift of the Z1 but even though 2 of the 3 of us saw rainbows I think I would prefer the X1 as a HTPC display. If I was just going to hook it up to a DVD player I would go with the Z1 based on its easier setup. Like I said in the end there is no real winner because they are both great projectors.
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post #15 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by brianluce
great review. did the cropping feature of x1 make itself obvious when flipping between pj's? was anyone able to notice some of the picture was lost?

also, you rate the Z1 ahead in shadow detail. I thought shadow detail meant that you can see details of clothing etc in dark scenes and that it doesn't just look all black. Wouldn't that be a function of contrast? And if so, why then did the X1 have better contrast but worse shadow detail?
Brian,
As I understand it, contrast has to do with the difference between the whitest whites and the blackest blacks. As best as I could tell, the X1 seemed to be able to get just a tiny degree blacker in dark scenes than the Z1--not much, but a hair. On most bright scenes, I could see no real difference in contrast. But on dark scenes, for example, in LOTR Moria scenes, I could see a slight difference...with the X1 having a greater dynamic ranget between the blackest blacks and the whitest whites.

In terms of shadow detail, to me it's the ability to show something very dark, but still see the details without crushing the blacks into a grey fog.. And here, most of the people (myself included) who viewed both pjs felt the Z1 had the edge. For example, in LOTR in dark scenes, where you would see 3 folds of Frodo's cloak, you might see 3.5 with the Z1. Again, though, I want to emphasize that both the X1 and Z1 have very acceptable (to me anyway) black levels, contrast, and shadow details. The Matrix looked very detailed on both, yet still had a lot of pop to the picture. On my other projectors, to get the "pop" I had to crush the blacks. Or to get the shadow detail, I had to blow out the whites. That's what's so great about the Z1 and X1!

mike
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post #16 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 12:08 PM
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Mike,

What a great job with the comparison-review!! Much appreciated.

Now I have problem........I WANT AN X1
Thought I had seen it advertised for around $1,400 recently. Wish I could remember where :confused:

Any suggestions from anyone as to the best place to buy (of course, at the best price too!)?

Thanks for any input.
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post #17 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 12:11 PM
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Mike, we all owe you a wealth of gratitude for your exemplary review. I've consistently said to my customers that they would be happy with either machine and your review confirms this.

My decision to go with the X1 for my own use was simply aspect ratio. I have a lot of DVDs and videos that are in the 4:3 standard and wanted to see those at full size (92"x69"), it really is quite impressive. When I was demoing my X1 on the weekend to CO1 I turned on my 60" RPTV and they were amazed, as I am, by the difference in size. The RPTV looks ridiculously tiny compared with the X1. The image quality of the RPTV is also terrible compared to the X1.

I also agree with you on regular satellite broadcasts, with a few exceptions most channels are very watchable. I watched the Golden Globe awards last night as well as a movie during the day, both on satellite, and was fully immersed in the visuals. After a while you tend to take things for granted and forget that your not watching an enormous direct view TV (only without the scan lines). Isn't technology wonderful!!

Brian
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post #18 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 01:17 PM
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Thanks Flooper, excellent effort. A fellow forum member was kind enough to demo the Z1 for me last week. I loved it. I was kind of hoping to hear there was a clear winner :) If the X1 is as impressive, now I really have to think hard about aspect ratio and throw distance.

Thanks again!

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post #19 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 01:41 PM
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Mike,
Thanks for the great review! I purchased the X1 a couple of weeks ago, and at first I was worried after seeing some rainbows. However my eyes have adjusted and I rarely see them now. Since I watch the same amount of regular satellite (no hidef yet) as dvd, I feel pretty good about my purchase now. This was easily the best review I've seen here because of the great side by side comparisons.
Thanks again!
-Caleb
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post #20 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 01:45 PM
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flooper, my understanding of contrast and shadow detail is the same as yours.

What's puzzling is that since contrast boils down imop to the number of gradations between white and black, one would think the many gradations between black and grey would result in increased shadow detail. can anyone explain?
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post #21 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 02:08 PM
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Thanks for the great review flooper! Now it makes it even harder for me because before I read this I was set on the AE300 :)

One question.. Since the X1 is DLP and the Z1 is LCD, you didn't find that the overall picture on the X1 to be softer(more filmlike) as opposed to the Z1 being more sharp (punchy)?

Do you plan on purchasing an AE300 too? :))
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post #22 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by brianluce
[B

What's puzzling is that since contrast boils down imop to the number of gradations between white and black, one would think the many gradations between black and grey would result in increased shadow detail. can anyone explain? [/b]
Brian,
I'm not super technical, but here's my take on it. I think the X1 has slightly blacker blacks because of the 12 degree mirrors, and because dlps don't have as much light leakage on the pixels--in other words, if black is the absence of light on the screen, a dlp can get blacker because it allows less light to get to the screen. The Z1, being an LCD, allows a bit more light to get through...this extra light means not as black of blacks, but also allows more shadow detail to come through....kind of like when you set the brightness level higher...you see more details in dark areas, but the blacks get lighter too.

Hey, I just saw this post by Gowgow--I think he's saying the same thing I am, only much better! http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=215994
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post #23 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
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[quote]Originally posted by paradigm
[b]

One question.. Since the X1 is DLP and the Z1 is LCD, you didn't find that the overall picture on the X1 to be softer(more filmlike) as opposed to the Z1 being more sharp (punchy)?


Paradigm,
I really didn't feel one was sharper vs softer. I know a lot of people say dlps are smoother than lcds, and more filmlike, but at 1.8X viewing distance, they both looked very smooth and filmlike.

If you sit closer than 1.8X, the AE300 would be a very good option. Personally, though, having owned projectors for several years, I wouldn't buy one with only a 1 year warranty. As far as I understand, the Panny only has a 1 year warranty. Both the X1 and Z1 have 3 year warranties.
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post #24 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 02:55 PM
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I think X1 has 5 year-warranty if you purchase before March. Am I right?
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post #25 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by mac2047
I think X1 has 5 year-warranty if you purchase before March. Am I right?
yes and register before 03/31/03
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post #26 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by mac2047
I think X1 has 5 year-warranty if you purchase before March. Am I right?
It does, but the extra two years of warranty are for "labor only"--not the parts.
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post #27 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 03:52 PM
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Mike,
Great review! I'm concluding from your followup posts that both are table mounted. How far are the 2 pjs from the screen? and also distance from the floor (which would be height of table I guess)?
Thanks,
Ben

Ben
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post #28 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 05:42 PM
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Mike.. thanks for side by side comparisons...
Two questions:
Did you test any non-anamorphic letterboxed movies? and in different aspect ratios? (like from vhs, or laser or dvd)
I was curious is the Z1 displayed these smaller with the letterbox.

Second question is did you have to connect three different cables to each unit? (component, svideo and compostie?)

thanks again
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post #29 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 05:42 PM
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This review by Flooper is spot on.

I did my own comparison of the Z1 and the X1 today at a retailer where I live, allbeit, not as extensive as Floopers. I won't go into the details of how I tested the two units, other than I spent about 2 hours viewing. Probably not a great deal of time, but enough for me to make my own observations etc...

I must say that having read so many posts about the rainbow effects from the X1 (and other DLP's) that I was very sceptical of the whole thing. In my mind I have been thinking that this whole rainbow thing is just non-sense, having not had any previous DLP experience.

I agree with what Flooper has said above, the units are extremely close in performance. I personally prefer the image of the DLP. For me it is more natural/film like, slightly better blacks and just appears to be more crisp. But the moment I saw the X1 in display was the moment I started seeing rainbows. I simply couldn't believe it! Just 'micro-second' flashes of small little rainbows.... and quite often. I certainly wasn't looking for them. Surely this is a genetic/physical thing.

Its a bit of a problem, becuase had it not been for the rainbows, I would prefer the X1 over the Z1.

One thing I noticed was that the X1 was all over the Z1 when I plugged my Dell laptop in. Just set the laptop res to SVGA. X1 was real crisp, but the Z1 lacked. Is this because I wasn't able to 1:1 pixel map the Z1, or is DLP just better at this than LCD? But then when I played LOTR through my laptop on the Z1, the DVD playback appeared slightly better than through the DVD player, how so?

If only I could demo a PG M20X. I wonder whether there are rainbows (or as many) on this unit? If only I could demo a HS-10. I wonder whether a 1:1 mixel mapping delivers a sharp desktop image?

I'm in a bit of a quandary! Help please!

Chaz.
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post #30 of 98 Old 01-20-2003, 06:19 PM
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I read Gowgow's post that was linked above. He made a CRITICAL point. You simply cannot compare two projectors that have not been calibrated properly under the same conditions. Different adjustments change the picture quality dramitically. A lot of people walked away from the Seattle shootout very convinced on which projectors were better, but some of the results and variations were probably more due to the inconsistent setting up of the projectors, than actual differences in picture quality.
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Closed Thread Digital Projectors - Under $3,000 USD MSRP

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