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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I attended the NYC Home Entertainment Expo sponsored by Stereophile yesterday, Thursday, May 30. This was the pre-general public day for press (not me), industry (still cold), and advance ticket holders (getting warm). Thus I mostly beat the crowds, got to hobnob with industry giants, and look important. Ahh...power.


Let me preface my comments with a major caveat: this kind of event is quite possibly the worst, most unreliable way to evaluate HT hardware, especially projectors: the rooms are noisy, uncomfortable, and mostly blighted by ambient light and other anomalies. The venues are also usually too small to show the units at their biggest and best. And the manufacturer reps often have only a semi-clue as to what they're supposed to do to make them li'l doo-hickeys work. That said, here are my completely unreliable, fallible, and error-prone informal observations. (If you're unwise enough to base any buying decisions on these comments, there's this bridge I happened to pass by in NYC yesterday...)


First, the new Plus Piano: the HE-3200. As a Piano owner, as many of you know, I'm biased--I love the thing to death. Upon entering the tiny Plus room tucked away in a corner on the seventh floor, I proudly announced my ownership status, and was feted by the lovely Japanese rep (who continually bowed to me--another customer benefit) with a treasure trove of Piano trinkets: a replica (as the rep kept emphasizing, I suppose to prevent my hawking it over by the men's rooms) of the DLP chip, and a key chain with a tiny little Piano hanging on it (only slightly runtier than the real thing), with a push-button LED light where the lens is supposed to be. Adorable isn't the word. Here are the important warnings on the enclosed label for your reading pleasure (Warning: dont read if you're easily frightened):


Piano Key Chain Holder w/LED Light!


- Press the button at the bottom of the keychain to active the LED Light


- Avoid Exposure: Do NOT Project LED light into eyes!

- Caution: Keyholder is tiny and can be swalloded by children!

- Caution: Do not use under water!


Made in China


Damn...this thing is more hazardous than Happy Fun Ball. And there go my plans to use it as a bathtub toy. Oh, well...


Oh, yes...the projector.


Well, frankly I didn't see any eye-opening differences vis-a-vis the current Piano. Which, in my view, is all to the good: they haven't gone and ruined what was already a great piece of work. Source material was a film (I don't know what it was...I lose track of movies later than Ben-Hur [the silent version]), via PC and downcoverted by the pj from HD. Looked like a nice DVD looks on the old unit. My conclusion is that while it's good to have the ability to input an HD signal, the attractive but non-wow-inducing result only proves how good the downscaling is: you can't compensate for those lost pixels no matter what. HD is HD, and this ain't it.


The light engine remains the same. Rep agrees that more light is a potential negative--it washes out the blacks. Zoom lens? We don't need no steenkin' zoom lens!


Now here's the good news: the original Piano will still be sold at a reduced price of $2,699. (Well, good for you. For me, no rebate. Hey, I tried!) Better yet, they're offering it for the weekend at a special show price of $2,499. See you at the Hilton!


I got the sense (and I'm only speculating here) that the changes in the Piano were not made so much because of any manufacturer reservations about the unit's performance, but rather in response to common public criticisms, particularly vis-a-vis the InFocus LS110. At an MSRP of $3,300, the new Piano places itself squarely in competition with the InFocus in everything but light output. As for the old unit, at that price it's a steal.


As for the other DLP's, I got a chance to see the Seleco SIM2, the aforementioned InFocus, and the Sharp 9000. I must honestly tell you that none looked significantly better than the Piano, and the Sharp looked especially unimpressive. The rep claimed the real HD demo material hadn't arrived, so they were showing some dreadful race car stuff that looked washed out and greenish in hue. The SIM2 and InFocus demos--the latter actually two rooms, a smaller and a bigger one, with the projector beaming at different size screens--were similarly off-color (performance, not filmic content), which brings me to my next point.


I don't pretend to be a technical expert or ISF color guru or anything, but every single projector I saw looked significantly off color-wise, and all seemed skewed toward the green end. Since this coincides with the bias of most of the bulbs used in these DLP's, I've got to think many of the reps simply didn't know how to use the picture settings to extract the best performance out of their units. There wasn't an accurate fleshtone within shouting distance of any of these demos, and I know for a fact that the pj's in question have the means. Can't anybody SEE?


Anyway, the InFocus rep did provide a useful explanation of the difference between "home entertainment" and "home theater" (jeez, thanks for that) and the Sharp demo proved that yes, it is possible to completely bury your flagship product in an overly well-lit corner with ding-dong source material. I mean, come on, this is New York. Take a walk over to Tower and pick up a copy of "Breakfast at Tiffany's." It sure would've been more impressive than that race car thing, and significantly more appealing to our sophisticated cosmopolitan sensibilities. ;)


I will say that all the manufacturers' reps were very polite (non-snooty) and tried to be helpful, particularly when dealing with some of the inane questions from the peanut gallery ("What kind of stretching mechanism does this unit have?"). That was probably one of the writers from SGHT.


More as (or if) I think of it. My mind is clouded as is: it's almost 3 a.m., and I just got finished digesting an 11:30 yesterday morning spectacular, steaming hot, soft-as-butter Carnegie Deli corned beef on rye (yes, BETTER than sex) and re-watching the second season of the Sopranos on my beautiful Plus Piano. Ahhhhhh...life is good.
 

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Hi, everybody, a long time lurker I finally made the step.

First thank you bublitchki for your informations. I am very glad that infocus didn't sabotage a fine pj like the piano for dubious "improvements" (I like the Piano's black much better than those of the LS110, I was afraid they would give in to marketing and boost lumen output)


But I withheld my purchase of the Piano, in spite of all raving review and a very positive personnal experience, because in my living room (or should I say my girlfriend's living room if you see what I mean) at the only spot available (4m to the screen, around 12ft) the Piano gives too big an image compared to viewing distance (1:1 ration for a 2.40m wide image (7.3ft)).

So you can imagine my joy when I learned that the new piano would have a "steenkin' zoom" and at the same price to boot! So I would be VERY interested if you any info concerning this articular point.


YOU WILL TALK! or else...


I will beg you until you can't stand it no more ;-)
 

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This is info I got of the plus web site. I don't know if it is of any help.

1.2X Short-focus manual zoom lens , that makes it easy to place the projector in virtually any size room and project a large image on-screen. For example, at a distance of just 8.3 to 10 feet, the HE-3200 can project an 80-inch image.
 

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Yes, I read that part, but I'm not sure how to interpret it. To what refers this 1.2 ratio?

The key question for me is: What is the range of possible screen size with a 12 ft screen-projector distance?
 

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I am not sure if I understand it correctly, but I think it is only a very small zoom so that you don't have to move the projector when switching from 16:9 to 4:3 as you did with the 3100. Take the size of the image and multiply it by 1.2 that is the amount of your zoom.
 

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Bublitchki


Great write-up! During your discussions with the Piano Representatives, were there any discussions wrt an upgrade programme for existing HE-3100 owners? The Japanese announcement talked about an upgrade programme for current HE-3100 owners. However, the English announcement didn’t mention anything about this programme. If there was discussion was a price mentioned?


Peter
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi, guys. Sorry for the long delay. I jes' got back from a second day at the HE Expo. Main impression: my feet hurt like hell. (Also, the Rolling Stones will sound great in SACD. Just thought you might like to know.)


Yes, the upgrade program. The Piano rep says there will be one. It will involve the updated inputs, but not the lens, so throw distance and lack of zoom will be unchanged. No price yet.


Cryptic data, I realize, but that's all I could yank out of them at this point.


Very, very nice people, BTW.
 

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Well, you know what they say about opinions. I just got back from HEE as well. While I didn't get to see the SIM2, I did see the Sharp, InFocus 110 and Piano.


I too was extremely unimpressed with the Sharp. Especially considering it's a $10k unit! It was so bad in the Sharp room and even in a Paradigm demo showing the Pod Race scene from Phantom Menace.


I really liked the Infocus 110. I didn't think the color was off at all. In fact I thought skin tones were real good. Overall, I thought it was much better than the Piano. In the Piano demo I saw an HD demo of CSI and to be honest, it didn't even look like HD! Then we saw some Jurassic Park III on DVD and I was still, unimpressed. In general I thought the image was washed out. Colors and blacks were poor.


I walked out thinking I'd like to see more of the InFocus 110. I just wished that other folks like NEC were there so I could see their projectors. (At least I didn't seem them at the show.)


I would love to see some screen shots of your Piano though. For what it's worth, I'm still interested interested in it and would like to see it again.


Thanks.
 

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Forewarning! Take anything I post with a grain of salt.


I stopped by the New York show on my way home and had a fun time. I was able to obtain a trade pass by registering through their website. Whether I qualified for one is highly debatable. I will only add to the stuff that was not covered previously.

IMO the show was geared towards more to the audiophile than to videophile as evidenced in the plethora of hi-end tube type amps and massive but beautiful speakers. The one thing that stands out for me was this beautiful to look at refrigerator size speaker called the calix technolgy's Phoenix Grand Speaker. Her is the URL : http://www.calix.com.tw/english/product/product12.htm.


I stopped by at the Piano demo and was able to obtain a real deal DLP chip wow I can see RAINBOWS all over the shiny part of the chip. (Light Diffraction ?) They were pushing the HE3200 succesor to the Old Piano which is basically the same but with zoom lens. The new one is priced at $3200 and the old one is going for $2700. They also demoed HDTV signal I ask and made sure since it had a CBS logo. I was expecting more detail to pop out from the screen but could not find anything more than I see from an ordinary 848 X 480 PJ. I spoke to the guy if they had plans to introduce a wide 720p similar to the sharp 9000. The guy told me yes and it would be introduce in the $5000 dollar bracket sometime next year, alas this thing belongs to the rich man's forum still.


Next stop was the Studio experience booth. Being an newbie AVSer I correctly pointed out the rebadged Infocus LS110, Sanyo PLV60HT and lastly Optoma H55. I was told they received it from the manufacturer in time for the show. Having heard so much hype about Optoma H55 I continued to take a critical look as to how it compares to the other 2. I came away surprise at my observation, I thought the contrast of Sanyo was comparable to the the rebadged optoma h55. Of the 3 PJ's that was displayed side by side I would have to vote for the rebadged Sanyo PLV60HT. But then again this is just an opinion.


I also stopped at the Runco display. I had very high expectations and quite frankly very disappointed at the display. I could see double lines ala astigmatism ( Is that ringing in videospeak ?). The demo was fifth element and T2. The sound system was by ARCAM and I thought it was pretty cool. But then again I am a Sony kind of person.They were displaying the VX 5000 ? at 27000 list ouch.


Oh, Samsung was also giving away DLP chips so I got one too. And they were also giving away theater candy's package inside a popcorn box so I helped myself. It was fun. XM radio was giving out ball caps. I came away from the show very happy at the choice of PJ that I had made 5 months ago and that is the panny AE100. You really don't have to spend a fortune to get a home theater.


Cheers,


hgo
 

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When I was by the Piano room, they had a flyer on the wall posted advertising the special $2500 show price for the 3100.


I also stopped by the Sharp booth for the 9000. Looked pretty nice to me, but the guy kept talking about how it was great for just breaking the $10,000 mark. Then I remembered you can import it for under $5000. Ah the wonders of two-part pricing schemes.


I totally forgot about the people giving away DLP chips...I wish I would have gotten one :( The only cool thing I got free was a DVD sampler of 5.1 soundtracks (DVD-Video format, not DVD-A.)
 

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Oh yeah I also got one of the DVD- Audio/Video introducing a new music format.


Cheers,


hgo or george h
 

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I attended as a member of the press (working on a show write-up for Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity and/or my site http://www.greengart.com .)


The video conditions were dreadful. I had a Zenith rep tell me that "magnetic waves from the subway are distorting the pictures and making it look like we're overdriving the sets." True? Hard to believe, but who knows? All I can say is that all the sets on the 2nd floor (Zenith, Samsung, and InFocus) were all clipping white.


I wasn't all that impressed by the 3200's downscaled HDTV; it looked like a decent DVD - much better than NTSC, but a lot of detail was missing. The choice of demo material makes such a big difference! PLUS was showing dark, moody scenes from CSI while I was there, and they looked rather muddy. InFocus' demo material (bright Jay Leno clips) had much more contrast and apparent detail.


The PLUS rep I interviewed told me there would not be an upgrade program for 3100 model owners. I hope bublitchki's version is accurate, as I own a 3100 myself.


The Sharp 9000 was quite dreadful on Day 1, but they had an HDTV loop going on Day 2 (mostly Victoria's Secret eye candy) that looked better.


The press freebies were several jazz and classical music compilations from minor labels, and an aquarium DVD that totally fascinates my 2 year old.


I should have a full show report done sometime this week...


-avi
 

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The studio experience rebadged sanyo could quite possbly be the Sanyo plv70ht as suggested by AJ abrams. I previously reported it as a rebadged sanyo plv60ht.
 

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It seems we've heard conflicting responses from two different Plus sales reps. at the NYC HEE relative to the availability of an upgrade for the Plus Piano HE-3100. Here's a third response from my non-sales Plus contact. Presumably, this pertains to the U.S. market only...


"Regarding Upgrades on the current Piano that is still a

pending issue. If we do come up with an upgrade we will make an announcement and inform our current customers."


Attached is a different HE-3200 announcement...
 

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Sorry about the missing attachment in my previous post...it's over the max of 102K bytes.
 

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I should clarify: the person I interviewed is not a PLUS sales rep - he is the Director of Marketing for PLUS's Home Entertainment Group.


-avi
 

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I was at the Home Entertainment show in NYC as well and got a chance to see the Piano 3200, InFocus 110, Sanyo 60ht, Optima H55, Faroudja Dila, and the Sharp 9000. I agree with what people previously have said about the Piano. I was expecting more out of the HD demo (CSI). I too thought the picture was a bit washed out and flat and the room they were in was fairly dark. The InFocus looked much better. But, it was a small sized screen. It would have been interesting to see how it held up on a larger screen. Plus they had a fair bit more of ambient light in the room. The biggest thing that surprised me was the Sharp 9000. I saw this projector in three different rooms. In each room the quality of the picture varied widely especially for DVD. In the Paradigm room, EP I DVD looked out of focus. HD was fine though. The Denon/Mission room looked much better. I forget the third room I saw it in. But, they had a demo playing of Viva Espana! in HD on a large screen (my guess >120") and it was simply STUNNING! It was like looking out of a window. Wow! is all I can say. I guess that proper setup is very important regardless of what PJ you get. I'm guessing that they probably had a Faroudja NRS or something downrezing 1080i to 720p which is the native resolution of the PJ and may explain why it looked sooooo good. While I like the Sharp, it's simply out of my price range.


IMHO. I would rank the projectors as such

Faroudja Dila projector can't remember the model

Sharp 9000 and Seleco SIM2

Infocus 110

Optima H55

Sanyo close behind the Infocus and Optima.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by AskAvi


I wasn't all that impressed by the 3200's downscaled HDTV; it looked like a decent DVD - much better than NTSC, but a lot of detail was missing.
What more can you expect from a projector with a native resolution of 848x480? It looked like a DVD decent because it was downscaled to (near) DVD resolution.

Quote:


The PLUS rep I interviewed told me there would not be an upgrade program for 3100 model owners. I hope bublitchki's version is accurate, as I own a 3100 myself.
I am hearing otherwise from a reliable source.
 
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