I have owned a Planar 8150 for about 2 months now and have been silent so far. The reason is that I always find myself excited when I get a new projector and I am very impressed by the "new and improved" look of it over my last projector. It is only after extended viewing that I get over the newness and start to really view the PQ critically and see its faults. This time I decided to wait until I had logged quite a bit (about 50 hours) of viewing time before posting my thoughts.
This thing rocks!
Unlike most of my previous projectors, I am growing to enjoy the picture quality more each time that I watch it. I was initially VERY impressed, and the more material I view on it, the more I appreciate its qualities. The picture is bright, punchy, incredibly sharp, has no added video noise or grain, has great black level and contrast (both on/off and ANSI), and has beautiful, ACCURATE color right out of the box.
I took some measurements when I first set it up and it measured the grayscale within dE of 5 across the board, and more often within dE of 2 or 3. Since I would assume that Planar used better measuring equipment than I own, I thought it best to leave it alone and not touch it at all. My measuring tools could very well account for the small errors I measured. Decoding was almost spot on and primary and secondary coordinates very very close as well. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Visual observation confirmed what my equipment told me. The color rendition is just fantastic - bright, punchy colors that are EXTREMELY ACCURATE. I am used to viewing accurate displays, so I am pretty confident of spotting inaccuracies if I see them, and this display is a rock solid performer. I am especially sensitive to color inaccuracies in the low IREs, and the 8150 looks better to me than any of the ones I have calibrated myself. Dark scenes remain color perfect!
The most impressive aspect of this unit is the crystal clarity and rock solid image that it delivers. When I view high quality Blu-ray discs, on most any projector I can see what appears to me to be compression artifacts (artificial graininess and/or slightly moving pixels on solid colors). While they are still there on the 8150, they are not exacerbated like they are on other displays. That is, everything that is on the film is still there, but the image appears sharper (with no artificial sharpness or ringing added), yet is rock solid (for lack of a better term), and the compression artifacts are not "in my face" like with other projectors. The resulting image is extremely easy and enjoyable to watch without becoming fatiguing, even though I am viewing a somewhat overly bright image (~20 ftLs) which would tend to make such artifacts more apparent. I am viewing 143" diagonal 2.35:1 High Power screen at a viewing distance of about 1.3X of the screen width.
I really like having the options of both 2.2 and 2.5 gamma available. I find that I use both of them pretty much equally, though I also own a Crystalio 2, so in the future I will play around with the many gamma choices available through it. The 8501 also allows the user to manually select the color space for HDMI, RGB, and component connections to either REC 709, REC 601, RGB-PC, or RGB-Video matrices. I haven't really experimented very much with those options yet, but it is in my list of fun things to do...
The black level, though not as good as the RS-20, is hands down the best I have seen from a DLP at this level of brightness. I can not detect any artifacts from the dynamic iris, but I am not particularly sensitive to them in the first place. Black level is the one area where I feel that the 8150 significantly beats my previous Sim2 HT-380. They were similarly bright, but the black level on the 8150 is very noticeably lower.
Like I said, the more I watch this projector, the more impressed I am with it. I have owned about a half dozen DLPs in the past, most of which I have been very happy with, but this one simply kicks butt. Is it better than the RS-20? That is for the individual to decide, but if you want an EXTREMELY accurate display *out of the box*, then this is the one to own. The RS-20 would need professional calibration, but it is brighter (if you need the extra brightness) and has a better black level, but the 8150 has the cleanest (in terms of adding things that are not present in the original transfer) image I have seen from a display to date.