....and my thoughts and personal review on the Darblet for the short time I had with it.
The Darbee Darblet right out of the box is extremely simple to integrate into your system and the remote and menu system is set out in such a way that you can get straight into using it without having to read a manual - and who read's manuals anyway
I first tested it briefly with my plasma tv - watched a little cricket. I hate cricket, but its the channel that I last visited on my SkyHD box so it was there when I switched it back on. I pressed paused and then switched the Darblet on and off at 45% effect. Straight away I could see a players shirt had a small crease/fold in it. With the Darblet off, you didn't notice it at all. With Darblet on - it was clear to see. Switching it back off, I could just about make out a feint detail but this detail escaped my eye completely at first glance. So the Darbee effect was that it brought out some detail that I would otherwise have not seen. Hmmnnn, I think I like it!
Flicked onto a couple of Sky Movie channels and again, more detail was to be seen with the Darblet switched on. So first impressions were good but kids were hungry so grub was made and Darblet was put away for the day so that I could test it on my projector later that evening.
Testing on my BenQ W7000 3D projector. I project a 132" cinemascope image and viewing from 11/12 ft away - any image changes are quite obvious. In my dedicated room, I threw various material and sources at it. Sky HD, Blu-rays and 3D blu-rays. Film, animation, sport. The effect can be changed from 5% to 120% at 5% steps so very easy to dial in an image that suits you. Some content, you may want to have less effect, some you may want more - animation for example.
Avatar is a beautifully put together visual feast for the eyes if your into that type of thing (and I am) and with the Darblet enabled, you could create a really stand-out image which really popped off the screen. DLP projectors need little help when you want a image to pop off the screen but with the Darblet enabled, the Avatar image was a real treat. The foreground parts of the image are always the parts which draw your eye. These were enhanced quite nicely but it was the effect in the surrounding areas which I found more pleasing. For example, foliage or trees in the background had more depth - the definition lines between each piece of the image were enhanced so that your eye could separate them more easily which means that out of the corner of your eye, the background isn't a general backdrop to the scene, but now an integral part of what you are watching.
Overall, Avatar was a much more enjoyable experience with the Darblet enabled.
I also watched Descendants on blu-ray and all those enhancements I described for Avatar were also evident for this movie too. Now the question I asked myself, did this movie really give anything with the Darblet enabled and I would probably say no - well, not by as much. I mean, there are a few scenes were the Darblet enhanced the scene but its just not that type of movie that actually gets a lot of benefit. If there is a bookcase in the background, do I really need to get the benefit of each book having a better defined edge? George Clooney's face is enhanced in such a way that you see each rugged feature more clearly and it look like its better focused with the Darblet enabled so other's people mileage may vary in terms of how much better it may look to them. So while it improved the image from the bog standard setting, its not the type of movie that really benefits a great deal from this type of enhancement - its more of a eat a tub of popcorn and have a coke type of movie so its never going to be reference material for image quality anyway.
Switching to Lord of the Rings - now we're talking! This is the type of movie that Dr Darbee loves...! Set in New Zealand if I remember correctly - the scenery is spectacular at times and the Darbee effect really brings out this detail, from the daylight scene's with the helicopter pans over mountains to the night time battle scenes with lots of shadowy footage, the Darblet enhances them all. The shadow detail which may have looked a little lacklustre at times now gets rendered with a bit more sparkle, a contrast hit if you like, just to let you know its there. There is also some fantastic costume and make up in this film and the Orc's are rendered in all their ugly glory.
I also briefly tried Underworld 3D and the Darblet didn't really add a lot. The BenQ W7000 is one of the best projectors around when it comes to 3D and while the Darblet does its job just as effectively with 3D as it does with 2D - I just didn't feel it brought a lot to the party. But it was only 1 movie and I power watched and skipped through so maybe I might appreciate it if I tried some more content with some more time.
When I switched back to my plasma, I watched some golf which was good with the Darblet enabled and this was SkyHD transmission at 1080i. Same story as with the projector, this tells me it can be used with a less quality source as well. I also watched Lord of the Rings on blu-ray on my plasma just like I did on the projector just to confirm if the Darblet is display dependant. It isn't in my example. I found the Darbee effect to be very similar on my plasma as it was on my DLP projector. One screen is 132" from around 11 or 12 feet, the other is 43" from around 7 or 8 feet.
So overall, a great little device and considering what we spend on our displays - not a lot of money either. There is a lot of clever things going on with this device which I'll not even guess at how they achieve it. For an end user, I think it improves detail and depth (some may call this better sharpness) although I don't personally think its any sharper. I think the improved definition of edges gives it a sharper feel though and when you switch it off, the image almost looks a fraction out of focus.
If you imagine 2 leaves, one dark green and the other really dark green. They almost blend into each other. It feels like when you enable the Darblet, where the leaves 'meet', the dark green one is lightened a bit and the really dark green one is darkened further, creating a colour shift to make the variance larger than it was to begin with. Ie, the variance went from dark green/really dark green to become green/really really dark green. This bigger variance creates a bigger visual difference and the 2 parts of the image become more separated, more defined and this is what gives the better depth. Well thats my take on it anyway but thats just a small example to what seems to be a hell of a lot of other things going on at the same time!!!
Hopefully my screen shots help back up what I've tried to describe when I'm discussing these visual effects.
The purists amongst us may frown at the colour manipulation of the Darblet and for films like the Woman in Black which I watched recently, you may want to have the Darbee effect quite low or maybe not on at all. It's a serious film and enhancing the picture may not actually add much to the movie experience. This film is about suspense. The script, the soundtrack, the characters, the camerawork, the costumes, the sets etc are what make this film a great watch. The image quality in terms of detail aren't quite as important in a movie like this. If I watched it in 1080p or 720p I would soon forget and neither would I care - far to busy being scared out of my wits at what was about to happen!
But when it comes to films like Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Tron, the Dark Night, Mission Impossible etc etc, the Darblet can certainly bring a lot to the party. Peter Jackson and Co. will have spent considerable time getting films to look the way they look and people will say you should watch as the director intended. I'm all for this and I've spend considerable time on all my displays getting them to look right as there is nothing worse that burnt skin tones, blown highlights, crushed blacks, neon grass etc.
But I've also paid for my blu-ray, I've paid for my sound system and I've paid for my display devices. Its my room and its me I want to please so if I've got a device that lets me further fine tune what I'm watching then I've no problem altering Mr Jackson's image ever so slightly to my own personal taste. I've paid my money so who says I can't!
And thats the beauty of the 24 steps of Darbee effect you can apply - 5% to 120% means you'll always be able to find a level that its acceptable to you, and thats who's most important!