Well, I finally
managed to see the SIM2 M.150! SIM2's rep graciously brought the machine to a local dealer's very nice demo theater, so I was able to try it out with a half-dozen of my own Blu-ray discs on a StudioTek 130 screen in a dedicated room.The pros
- Very attractive picture, good color rendering, sharp and bright. There was really nothing to not like about the image that we saw. Color fidelity appeared to be outstanding, with realistic flesh tones and superb saturation and subtlety in the colors, especially the reds. Really impressive.
- Enormously reduced color separation "rainbow" effect. I'm crazy sensitive to color separation artifacts, and I deliberately front-loaded the demo with a number of scenes that would absolutely produce it on a color wheel DLP machine, because there would be no point going further with the demo if I saw rainbows everywhere. I had high hopes in this area, because when I saw the Projection Design LED machine, I only saw a hint of color separation when I was actively looking for it. I'm happy to say that the M.150 was the same in this regard. I could spot the occasional tiny color fringe when I was looking specifically for it, but I don't think this would be any problem at all in normal viewing.
- With my extremely high flicker sensitivity, I did notice various different kinds of strobing, which my friend who came along did not notice at all. As I mentioned, I caught the occasional glimpse of color separation, but what was more distracting was just overall strobing of the picture, which I assume is the result of the various blanking intervals as the LEDs change colors and the DLP refreshes. I see strobing on 3-chip DLPs, so that should give you some idea how sensitive I am to flicker. If my history with 3-chip DLPs is any guide, this projector may actually have been set a bit too bright, as I've noticed that the effect I see on the 3-chip machines becomes unnoticeable when the projector is calibrated to 14ftL. I should also note that I didn't see this phenomenon on the Projection Design machine, which I believe was closer to 14ftL. I wish I had brought my light meter and a disc of test patterns.
- Fan noise. I was surprised at how much fan noise the projector puts out. I may have been seated in a bad spot, although my friend commented on it too. I moved into a position where I could simulate how far away I would be in my own theater, and it was similar in volume and tone to a C3X 1080. I had hoped for a significant reduction in sound because of the liquid cooling and large-diameter fan. SIM2's rep noted that the projector was sitting on a plastic table, so it would probably be quieter hung from a ceiling with acoustic treatments like mine. But, I sat closer to the Sony 1000 in high lamp (also on a plastic table), and it was substantially quieter.
- We weren't able to demo 3D, as the rep didn't have the necessary emitter and glasses. That was a pity, as this machine is supposed to do very good 3D and it would have been nice to see it strut its stuff.
So, a bit of a mixed bag. I was hoping for a real home run with an ultra-quiet, tack-sharp hassle-free LED projector. I think the flicker issues might disappear with calibration to reference light levels, but the fan noise is a bigger problem for me, as ultra-quiet is a big focus of my room, and there are clearly quieter machines available that throw very nice pictures indeed. As much as I value the instant-on and long life of the LED light source, that may not outweigh the need for whisper quiet.
If any AVSers in the SF Bay Area have one of these machines or get one in the near future, I'd love an opportunity to take a second look, especially if the machine is calibrated to 14ftL or thereabouts, and if it is set up for 3D.
And, of course, for those folks considering this machine, definitely see for yourselves. My particular sensitivities are probably not the same as yours!