When it comes to high-end digital projectors, Digital Projection International (DPI) is hard to beat. At CEDIA this year, the company introduced two new alternative-illumination models—the Insight 4K Laser and Insight 4K LED. Both are 3-chip DLP designs using true 4K DMD imagers (4096x2160) and as their names imply, they use lasers and LEDs, respectively, as the light source.
The Insight 4K Laser is similar in concept to the other laser projectors at the show. The light from an array of blue-laser diodes is split—part of it is used to excite yellow phosphor on a spinning wheel, producing yellow light that is then split into red and green, which illuminate the corresponding imagers. The rest of the blue laser light illuminates the blue imager. The light engine is rated at 20,000 hours to half brightness, and unlike the other laser projectors at CEDIA, it can be replaced.
Also unlike the other laser projectors at the show, this one can output up to 12,000 lumens, which means it can fill a screen up to 36 feet wide in a light-controlled room. It also features 12-bit color, but the gamut barely reaches beyond BT.709. Its two HDMI inputs support HDCP 2.2.
As seen in the photo above, the Insight 4K laser was demonstrated out on the show floor on an 8-foot-diagonal dnp Supernova ambient light-rejecting screen using unfamiliar 4K footage. With 12-bit color, the gradations in the colors of the sunset behind the Eiffel Tower in this shot were super-smooth and devoid of any banding.
The Insight 4K LED, which uses an identical housing as the 4K Laser, was demonstrated in a darkened room on a 12-foot-wide, 16:9 Stewart StudioTek 130 screen, most likely because its peak light output is 2000-3000 lumens. It uses red, green, and blue LEDs to directly illuminate the DMD imagers, and the LED engine can be replaced after its 60,000-hour lifespan has elapsed. Most remarkably, it achieves a color gamut very close to BT.2020; in fact, it's the first display I know of to do so, and DPI claims it's the only projector that can reproduce that gamut and true 4K resolution.
Before the demo footage was shown, a representative went through a PowerPoint presentation, and one of the points he made was that more-saturated colors appear brighter than less-saturated versions of the same colors, even though they measure the same brightness. This is called the Helmholtz-Kohlrausch (HK) effect, and it could well be why most viewers are attracted to more-saturated colors.
The demo footage included the same native 4K content being shown by the Insight 4K Laser on the show floor as well as the trailer for Elysium and clips from Tears of Steel, a very cool live-action/CGI sci-fi short. Unfortunately, the content had not been graded for the projector's wide color gamut, and it looked quite oversaturated to me—though I also recognized the HK effect in my visceral response (ooh, look at the pretty eye candy!). On the plus side, the Insight 4K LED implements 12-bit color, and as with the 4K Laser, subtle gradations were silky smooth with nary a hint of banding.
Despite the oversaturation on the material used in the demo, I'm very excited about both of these projectors, especially the Insight 4K LED. If 4K content is released with the BT.2020 color gamut, this is the only display device I know of that will be able to reproduce it accurately, at least for now. Of course that capability doesn't come cheap—the Insight 4K LED will set you back $150,000! (The 4K Laser is actually less—only $120,000.) But DPI is clearly pointing the way toward the future of display technology, and I'm glad to be along for the ride.
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