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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello again, everyone. I've been making progress in my quest for information that will hopefully lead me to a conclusion as to the best choice for a front projector. One thing is crystal clear: If one doesn't do the research, they are probably going to make a too-hasty purchase. I personally have migrated from rear projection to DLP to D-ILA, and now I've had to abandon D-ILA in favor of JVC's competition in the LCOS market.


The trouble started when I began finding details on the Xenon lamps the various JVC models utilize. Specifically, lifespan and replacement cost. Such details are not typically found in an advertisement-oriented spec sheet. I realize that probably sounds like an understatement. The last thing a reseller would be in a hurry to have on their website is something like, "The lamp will last about two months, and cost at least $600 to replace, so buy my merchandise thx plz."


(Don't jump on my back about the "two months" estimation. Our current 27" TV gets about 16 hours of use a day, and that's approximately 1000 hours per two months. Bear in mind that I'm trying to _replace_ the 27", not supplement it. I mean, really. Supplement "regular TV" with an $8000+ video source?)


It did not take long to determine that there are LCOS projectors that use conventional UHP lamps. I know of at least two, and that's probably all there is so far. Hitachi's SX5500 (aka the 5500) and Christie Digital's Vivid Red.


Information on the 5500 is readily available, as it's been out for quite a bit of time now. What I know so far:


1) There are, or were, severe quality control issues with the 5500, for which only recently have there been unconfirmed hints that Hitachi is actively taking steps to correct the problem and perhaps even calibrating units for home theater use. Regardless of the truth of that possibility, acquisition of a 5500 that has no issues seems to be about 95% luck and 5% user perception. The issues, in order of prevalence, include: a) "Purple blacks," later analyzed to be "purple everything," a phenomenon most readily identifiable in areas which are supposed to be black. b) Dead pixels (of an abnormal magnitude). c) Blobs, similar in appearance to dust-related artifacts, but in fact apparently a genuine fault with the optics, acknowledged by Hitachi.


2) The 5500 is reportedly very difficult to calibrate in any meaningful capacity. Even discounting the advantages of using Dilard with JVC projectors.


3) It may not be possible for the 5500 to display its maximum resolution "pixel perfect," which is to say it does not seem capable of accepting a 1365x1024 signal and outputting the full image. Details are sketchy but it sounds as though the best it can do is accept the signal and then crop (or perhaps scale) it to 1280x1024.


4) It is not yet known whether the 5500 uses D-ILA technology or not. Hitachi says no. Some unbiased individuals agree with Hitachi, while others disagree, and offer evidence.


5) Dilard does not yet support the Hitachi, specifically because Hitachi has not released certain pertinent information which would make such support an easier task for the software developers.


And now I present the information I've been able to dig up on Crystie Digital's Vivid Red:


1) It uses JVC's technology (there doesn't seem to be any disagreement on this point).


That's really about it. It is unknown whether the Vivid Red is supported by Dilard. It is more expensive than the Hitachi, but otherwise has more or less identical specs.


If the Vivid Red manages to avoid the quality control issues which have plagued Hitachi's 5500 (and I have read a lot of good things about Cristie Digital's track record), then it is a very viable option for me. The main point is that it does not utilize overpriced, short-lived lamps, and that is a selling point with me, just as JVC's Xenon lamps are a deal-breaker.


Since there is basically no detailed information available on the Vivid Red, just about anything that anyone would like to contribute would be a step towards filling the void. Information which addresses my concerns above would be a bonus, to be sure. (Yes, I did use the search function this time)


Thanks in advance.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Colmino
(Don't jump on my back about the "two months" estimation. Our current 27" TV gets about 16 hours of use a day, and that's approximately 1000 hours per two months. Bear in mind that I'm trying to _replace_ the 27", not supplement it. I mean, really. Supplement "regular TV" with an $8000+ video source?)
I actually replaced a TV with a JVC for a few months. My conclusion: a FP is not a good replacement for a TV. That conclusion had nothing to do with the cost of the bulbs.


1) FP are harder to use than TV sets. Your wife and children (esp your wife) may not ever be comfortable with running it.


2) FP work best in dark rooms, so eating food, reading, clipping you nails . . . whatever significantly detracts from the experience, and ruins it for others.


3) Huge images are fatiguing when done for long periods of time.


4) Some cable channels, and sat channels are all but unwatchable when they are projected to theater sizes.


5) Do you really want to see huge, tight close-ups, of Larry King? :)


My conclusion was that a RPTV for daily viewing, and a dedicated theater was ideal.


SM
 

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I hate to burst your buble but the Vivid Red can not take 1080i! I wanted to buy this projecter until I called and comfirmed this rumor.
 

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Colmino,


You may have already seen this thread on the VIVID Red, but just in case you haven't, here's a link to it.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ight=VIVID+Red


If you are interested, PM me and I will send you the email address of the VIVID Red lead technical guy at Christie that I had been corresponding with regarding this projector. The continual delay in the shipping date is a disappointment and the lack of 1080i could be a serious limitation depending on your configuration.


Good Luck,


Mark
 

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I agree with Swampfox. A front projector would be a poor replacement for a direct view set. FP is great for movies, HDTV and special events but I'd stick with the direct view for day-to-day viewing.


Cheers,

Dave.
 

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we will get this unit in a fortneight for testing; then w e will see, because the specs are telling this unit will compatible to HDTV formats.


And a scaler, which cannot scale down 1080 on a D-ILA panel, I really cannot believe


hb
 

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We use our 5500 for our T V set and watch 3-4 hrs/night primetime. We have a 78" Diag., 4:3 Firehawk and watch DSS, cable, DVD, and S-VHS nightly. Yes, some stuff looks poor, but for that we reduce the image to about 60" diag and that does a pretty good job of removing "grunge" at about 12' away. The good stuff does look great and even digital cable movies can look really good at full size. Our digital (and even analog) cable movies (Motorola box with S-VHS/SP/DIF) are actually sharper and show more detail than those off our RCA DSS (with S-VHS/AC-3).


But one doesn't always want to fire up the projector. So I also have a 7" LCD display on 15' cord to set menus when listening to stereo or set VCR.


Hey, if I'm going to pay $8K+ for projector/screen/mount/wiring, and put in God knows how many hours running cable, etc., I'm sure as h-ll going to make use of it.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Colmino


4) It is not yet known whether the 5500 uses D-ILA technology or not. Hitachi says no. Some unbiased individuals agree with Hitachi, while others disagree, and offer evidence.
Colmino,


There's no mystery or disagreement as to what the Hitachi is or isn't.


D-ILA is JVC's implementation of LCOS technology. Remember my analogy that "Kleenex" is a partcular brand of "tissue"?


The Hitachi is an LCOS unit. However, it is not a D-ILA.


Hitachi doesn't use JVC chips - it uses it's own version of the LCOS technology.


LCOS sorts the light by polarization. Hitachi uses horizontal polarization, while the JVC uses vertical.


The Hitachi is definitely not a D-ILA; but it is an LCOS.

Quote:


5) Dilard does not yet support the Hitachi, specifically because Hitachi has not released certain pertinent information which would make such support an easier task for the software developers.
It may be more than that. When JVC designed the D-ILA, they made much of the operation of the projector software

configurable. This is why the D-ILA is so versatile.


Hitachi may not have followed JVC's lead - they may have "hard-wired" many of the characterics and operating parameters

of their unit. In which case, it will never have the versatilty of the D-ILA. It may not be a matter of releasing

the programming specifications.


Quote:


If the Vivid Red manages to avoid the quality control issues which have plagued Hitachi's 5500 (and I have read a lot of good things about Cristie Digital's track record), then it is a very viable option for me. The main point is that it does not utilize overpriced, short-lived lamps, and that is a selling point with me, just as JVC's Xenon lamps are a deal-breaker.
Of course by not using the Xenon lamp with its higher color temperature - the Vivid Red won't be able to match the color

accuracy of the JVC.


This is another case of "you get what you pay for." The $0.50/hour operating cost of a D-ILA many feel is worth the

cost. Anybody have some numbers for the per hour operating cost for a 9" CRT projector? Replacing 3 9" CRT tubes every

few thousand hours also gets expensive.


Most people use the D-ILA for watching movies - not as a replacement for the TV for everyday viewing. The superior

picture of the D-ILA would be overkill and a waste for that.



Dr. Gregory Greenman

Physicist
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
> Mark is correct. No HDTV support.

> That kills this unit for HT use in my opinion.


Yep. It is a frustrating sensation to have my "ultimate solution" shot dead like that, and I've had it happen twice now in this patience-wearying quest. This basically leaves me with only one real choice: Get the Hitachi and pray to some deity that the projector won't have to be replaced too many times before a reasonably defect-free unit is acquired. And then, stare at it blankly until somebody finally reverse-engineers it and figures out how to get Dilard to work with it.


Before I completely abandon the Vivid Red, I have to be 100% clear what "no 1080i" means. Let's say I use a HTPC for signal processing, and feed the Vivid Red the results. What then would prevent me from getting the same sort of performance from the Vivid Red that I might from the Hitachi?


In other words, is "no 1080i" a limitation of the built-in processing, or is the hardware actually not capable of accepting video over a certain resolution / refresh rate? (And if the latter, anyone know just how high it can go? Obviously, at least to 720p...)


> Most people use the D-ILA for watching movies - not as a replacement for the TV for everyday viewing. The superior picture of the D-ILA would be overkill and a waste for that.


This may be true, but it does not apply to me, nor to another poster earlier on who agreed with me about actually putting a $8000 system to use, as opposed to treating it like a holy relic. The local Ultimate Electronics was showing off HDNet on the Sharp 9000 today. They probably don't mean to suggest that the hardware isn't meant to take such daily abuse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So, in addition to the new questions above, I'd better make my questions more specific because this development is terribly confusing.


Every advertisement I have seen for the Vivid Red says it can handle all of the usual HDTV signals, including 1080i. They even say it can accept 1600x1200 video from a PC and (down)scale it to the 1365x1024 panel.


This is basically the polar opposite of what people are now saying about the Vivid Red in this thread. Are all of these advertisements / spec sheets falsehoods? Or are they merely out of date and in need of a rewording to reflect this recently discovered lack of capacity?


A lot of people have said that the inability to do 1080i elimnates the viability of this projector as a potential addition to their home theaters. Does this disability apply only to the projector's internal hardware? If it's possible to send 1080i to a HTPC and process it into 1360x1024 video to feed to the projector, perhaps that would be a solution? (I don't even know if that's possible, but since most people talk about HTPCs as though they're a given, I have to assume it is.)
 

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Quote:
Colmino wrote:
And then, stare at it blankly until somebody finally reverse-engineers it and figures out how to get Dilard to work with it.
Hi Colmino,


Thanks for the vote of confidence!


I don't want to say too much about what is happening in this area, but right now, I can tell you that we are working on this, and there are just two "missing pieces" left to complete this task on the Hitachi 5500.


We will have a man on the ground in Japan next week trying to extract the missing pieces, but Hitachi is not entirely sure if they support our efforts, or would rather have us just go away.


I believe that things are always that way before a paradign shift, and that the company pioneering efforts in a new space often end up the market leaders when the space takes off. In the meantime, it's a tough educational process and a whole lot of work.


JVC was originally somewhat reluctant to support our efforts as well, but have since come around.


I have also flown to Christie Digital's HQ and spoken to their head engineers about their Vivid Red unit.


If we can get the manufacturers to expose the things we need, we might be able to improve home theater performance for everyone. It's a dream right now, but it is happening...one baby step at a time.


Anyway, thanks for your support and encouragement! Very much appreciated!
 

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You are making a huge mistake in trying to replace your TV rather than using the projector to supplement it. There is no combination of pj and screen that will give you a satisfactory image without some substantial darkening of ambient light.


I use my Marantz with a small 82" Firehawk screen so I can view with as much ambient light as possible. There is no way however that I could consider it without my Sony XBR for viewing when I choose not to dim the room. In fact I'm planning to replace the Sony with a Plasma.


If you have your TV on for 16 hrs a day there are lots of times when you will want to watch something in the morning or afternoon. NONE of the projectors you are talking about can do the job.
 

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I find it quite extraordinary that the Vivid Red does not support 1080i. Do the manufacturers (or assemblers) think there is no future to HDTV? The Hitachi SX5500W DOES support 1080i, but can anyone tell me what it does to that signal? In Australia it down converts it to standard definition. It might be something to do with our 50Hz system. But I'm very, very disappointed.
 

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barryz

The 5500 does an excellent job with 1080i, especially the stuff that isnt upconverted (CBS-HD, PBS demo loop, etc).

vas
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well, I just read that the Hitachi 5500's best pixel-perfect capability is 1280x1024. There are several expletives I am sorely tempted to use to describe how I feel about that.


So now I'm more desperate than ever to learn what the Vivid Red's best pixel-perfect capacity is. So it can't accept 1080i. At this point, I really don't care. I'll make sure it only ever sees 1024p.


But I first have to make sure that it doesn't have the same limitations as the 5500.


Whoever can find out, please do :)
 
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