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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It looks amazing on HD and with DVD from HTPC, except in dark scenes. I was really hoping the blacks would do it for me, but not even close. As Les said in another thread, it's many levels away from true black.


I'm not sure what the subjective effect of the eyes' nonlinear response to brightness is, but I'm guessing halving the black level might still not do it. But assuming it did, that would take a doubling of contrast ratio. On top of that, I think I'd want at least double the brightness to be happy, to match the vividness I now enjoy on my RPTV. That's another doubling of contrast ratio, putting it at over 2000:1. Maybe a Thumperized Black DMD with the greater mirror rotation will do it.


I saw Daen McManis' G15 a few weeks ago, which I'd say was a touch brighter and had somewhat lower black level, which is to say, better contrast than I saw last night. It measured 500:1, so I wonder if something was amiss in Les' setup. Perhaps some of the halo light was reflecting from the light-colored floor/ceiling/walls onto the screen.


Also there are comments about the Seleco's 200DM's great blacks. and I believe its contrast spec is less tahn the LT150's, but it's not quite as bright.


So maybe it was a setup problem (I don't think it's the pj because Les has two and they looked identical), and perhaps Thumper's mods will do the trick.


Either that, or wait however long it takes for digital to improve, or perhaps I'm condemned to a CRT.


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Noah
 

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I agree that the black level on the LT150 is not very good. I think the brightness is fine, but the absolute black level is very, very poor. And I understand this is one of the better DLP performers? Yikes. I will be sure not to buy my next digital projector without seeing it for myself...


I'm keeping the LT150 for use with my laptop, and also in my living room where I have some ambient light during the daytime. It should be great for football. For movies, I don't think it's an acceptable projector.
 

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I respectively disagree. Depends on how you set up your projector and calibrate it and your room. Everyperson I have demoed my system to has been surprised and elated by the contrast and black level, and some own CRTs.


I guess that's what is so frustrating for me and must be for Alan as well. I remember his comments about how the Seleco and Dwin were very close to CRT in black level, and what you're saying here is that you're simply not seeing this, which is fair enough - but what screen are you using, what is the room setup etc.


Everyone has to judge for himself or herself and we all have different expectations - mine are very high. You simply have to become a master of illusion and I guess I must be pretty good!


Problem is I can't be there when these comparisons are made and the testing is being done, so I feel somewhat frustrated. There is no doubt in my mind that the Hipower screen is a big part of the illusion and so is my masking system, non-reflective walls and ceiling etc. (all done cheaply). On a side by side comparison the Hipower doesn't have the black level of the matt white screen, however, when the Hipower is incorporated into the system as a whole it overwhelms the matt white for blacks, contrast, colour etc. How can this be? Its all about illusion. I calibrate troublesome DVDs to my RPTV for shadow delineation and the results are surprisingly good - excellent in fact. I switch from natural 1 to natural 2 gamma settings and there are big differences.


I am not seeing a blue cast to blacks or a yellow tinge to the picture. I am seeing vibrant colour, glassy smoothness with my Radeon based HTPC and a picture with so much punch it puts my RPTV to shame. The interesting thing is some others are seeing the same as me. So who's right - I suggest you make the effort to set the projector up the way I have suggested, or close to it, and judge for yourself. You don't have to spend a ton of money either! This doesn't go for just the LT150, but the Sony, Seleco, Dwin, Davis, Sanyos etc. Calibrate your rooms!!!


Just read the posts from members who have seen the LT150 setup in my HT - every post is from a person who was excited by what he saw! I recently demoed my system to a new friend from Ohio who is a CRT owner - he didn't wait to get home, he ordered one from my home! What's going on here? Are all these people crazy or is it they just don't know what real quality looks like? The answer is simple - what they are seeing is better than what they have seen before and at a price that is seductive! Its not that these guests haven't seen Front Projection before - they have!


Is there something I am doing that is different from what some others are doing? - must be.


Are DLPs perfect? - NO!! Is the LT150 perfect? NO!!

Neither are D-ILAs or CRTs and they come at more expense (generally) and fuss!


Am I always right! Not a chance. However, what I find interesting is that when I originally recommended the LT150 it was with the Hipower screen and a HTPC (the right proscan DVD player works amazingly well with this projector as well). The majority of those who have tried the Hipower love it and now both Frode and Les have confirmed my findings with the HTPC (at least for film based DVDs)! Maybe, just maybe, I am right about calibrating the room - might be worth a try.


I am not posting this and saying I am right and you're wrong. All I am saying is experiment - you be the magician, the master of illusion, because at the end of the day the illusion is what counts!! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


All of this must be confusing for lurkers and forum members in general - two diametrically opposed points of view. I can't encourage you enough to come and see for yourself! My door is always open and you're welcome. I will demo my Marantz DLP, the three LT150s (different configurations), my two proscan DVD players (so you can see the difference), my HTPC, the Hipower vs. matt vs. blockout material screens my Panamorph (when I get it) and so on. This isn't just a hobby for me - its a passion! Just email me. Remember, seeing is believing!!


Cheers,


Grant
 

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Quote:
I suggest you make the effort to set the projector up the way I have suggested, or close to it, and judge for yourself
Grant-


Do you have a link or have to got an FAQ/Webpage which describes this process?


Thank you!

Mike
 

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Hi Grant,


I have no doubt that you are seeing a really nice picture. I am, too. In a magazine review, this projector would have the "Best Buy" icon next to it. No doubt.


It certainly does not lose any value if it can't outperform projectors that cost 3 times as much up to 15 times as much. It's a solid value, and for it's price point, I think that a consumer doesn't expect to be getting "the best that there is", but instead getting a solid value and a decent performer, which is what it is.


I don't think that anyone is questioning your awesome find here. It's everything that you said it was. Are there others (that cost significantly more) with better black levels and richer colors? Of course.


[This message has been edited by milori (edited 08-14-2001).]
 

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Grant,


I know it must seem to some that harping about the "black" in a CRT display's picture is overly emphasized. But for those who are used to seeing black it's a very difficult transition to go to a picture without black.

In fact it is really the only thing that's kept me from ditching my CRT projectors. I'm in full agreement with you that color differences are subtle enough that I can easily enjoy watching the colors made with digital projectors (and improvement is in the works which should make that less of an issue anyway). But the absence of black is not subtle. It's not simply a question of one makes black and the other makes gray. This inability to turn off the light in dark movie scenes is very very noticeable. Hopefully Mark, Thumper or others will be able to offer us some improvement with this.


Your point is well taken that while this projector (at least in it's out of the box state) is not going to please the most demanding videophiles it does provide one of the best values for a front projection solution currently available to us. It fits the budget of probably the majority of people reading these forums (including mine). And it's picture is not chopped liver either. Frankly, I'm to a point now where I'm ready to sacrifice a little picture quality for the friendliness and convenience this thing provides. But I will be wanting to take advantage of all the available ways to improve it.


Bob


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~ The Sultan of Cheap ~




[This message has been edited by RobertWood (edited 08-14-2001).]
 

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Quote:
Hopefully the next time Dell screws up.
I wish there was something we could do to hurry up this next time. Say, do you know if Dell needs a new Web programmer for their site ? maybe I can offer my services (just for a while).

I'll just have to make sure it'll look like someone else's fault...


[This message has been edited by Jones_Rush (edited 08-14-2001).]
 

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Robert, how much time do you think will pass untill we'll see these new HT improved DLP/LCD's at budget prices of $2-4K ?, can I expect it to happen in one year ?.
Most of what the Seleco HT200DM does, could be produced at a lower price point. Seleco gets their black levels through careful chip masking, fine-tuning the color wheel (with all due respect to Grant's HTPC approach, it's better to remove the blue cast right at the color wheel), and controlling light bleed outside the projector. All of that could be done more cheaply. The Seleco is a "boutique" projector and they're charging boutique prices for it, because there isn't much else out there right now that can compete. But this could all be done more cheaply.


The one thing that can't be done more cheaply is the optics. I'm not sure how much of the HT200DM's performance is due to the optics, but I think it has to be some part of it. High quality optics don't have the same manufacturing economics as electronics. Digital cameras keep getting cheaper, but a good Nikon lens still costs a lot. So I don't think you're ever going to get quite the same level of performance with an inexpensive projector that you get at a higher price, where the manufacturer has more freedom to put more money into the optics.


P.S. I'm not trying to knock the LT150 here. That sounds like an amazing bang for the buck. I'm just trying to point out that there are some things that don't easily scale down in price. If the optical quality of the lens doesn't contribute that much to the image, then this is a moot point. But I suspect it does have a role in things like black level.
 

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These considerations are very relative to cost and convenience factors.


Consider:


I saw Apolalypse Now (Redux) in San Francisco the other night. The prints were dye-transfer Technicolor, the famous process that has recently been revived for occasional use.


Dye-transfer (or IB) Technicolor was always known for its rich yet detailed blacks and vivid reds. These were very much in evidence. No electronic or digital projector can yet touch this presentation.


The first home theatre system I built was in 1962. It was a 35mm projector, complete with CinemaScope and 4-track magnetic sound. That system, long since disassembled, was fantastic. I still remember watching Oklahoma! on that most wonderful system (also a Technicolor print).


Unfortuntately, this kind of setup is not feasible. Print costs and availability will kill you!


We have to live in the real world of cost constraints and practicalities, to at least some extent.


I think that the LT150 is a good value choice. Of course, there is always something better, and comparisons need to take that into account. Defenders of electronic systems need to remember that their systems are readily trumpable if you go to the effort and expense to do so.

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A few things:


Les' LT150 was projecting on an 8-ft. wide Grayhawk.


The contrast looked great on scenes with a lot of light areas.


But in star fields, for instance, the gray of space was painfully apparent next to the black border around the screen.


Why not use a gray border slightly lighter than the pj's best black level, so that it looks black in comparison?


Thanks


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Noah
 

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A few notes to add to the discussion:


o Noah was comparing the black levels to his memory of his Toshiba RPTV. This is a fair comparison. His 2000:1 is in reference to wanting both brighter whites and darker blacks.


o We were doing very critical viewing. For instance, we took a low light scene from super speedway and analyzed the heck out of it.


o We turned the brightness down to 0 to get the lowest possible level of black to see how close it was to reference (screen without the projector on). The difference was very apparent.


o I have ambient light control in my room. I own a Grayhawk. You will not have lower black levels on a 2.8 gain screen. You will have brighter whites and colors.


o Blacks in bright scenes are terrific in my opinion. For instance, Laura Farkas's black pants (in the Dish HDTV Demo loop) are pitch black to my eye when surrounded with color and white light. It was the darker scenes where black became more suspect.


I am going to get my hands on a CRT unit in my home so I can see for myself what you all are raving about. Will I have any success pointing one at a gray screen?


Interesting enough the 1292Q (or was it the Barco 808) I was looking at was rated at 1000:1 contrast. This surprised me because I thought CRTs were suppose to approach infinite contrast. So...is there any difference in black between a 250 lumen CRT projector at 1000:1 contrast and a 250 lumen digital projector at 1000:1 contrast?


--Les
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Les,


Wwe only did the critical viewing after noticing the gray blacks during regular viewing.


You can just come see my RPTV and you'll see what I mean.


I'm still not sure something isn't amiss in your setup. Thumper measured a stock LT150 at 600:1, and I'm certain what I saw at your place was worse than Dean's 500:1. He has black everything, whereas except for the front wall, you have light everything. I think the halo light might be reflecting onto the screen.


How about cutting a hole slightly smaller than the lens diameter in some black fabric and holding it a few inches in front of the lens. Maybe a foot, or whatever it takes so that you can't see the bright light from inside the projector that I saw from the left side wall.


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Noah
 

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Noah,


That's an interesting suggestion. The stay light might have bounced around raising the ambient light level in the room which changed reference black.


I will try to block out any stray light from the projector and see if that reduces the black noticeably at all.


As far as CRT goes...I have a 27" and 32" TV in my home so I am familiar with the concept. Would I see any difference viewing your RPTV versus those?


--Les
 

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My comments about the blacks on the LT150 are indeed in comparison to my current CRT projector. I find them "very, very poor", and I get to have that opinion http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


I have not had a wide experience with digital projectors. I borrowed an LCD Promixa that in fairness was "very, very, very, very, very poor" compared to the LT150. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


I just like to be able to understand what somebody means when they say a particular digital projector has "very good blacks." I now know to translate that to "has darker than average grays." If somebody reviews the new Sharp DLP projector and tells me it has "very good blacks", how would I compare them? I can compare them to my CRT, or to the LT150. I'm just trying to understand the frame of reference.


I think it's great for folks whose main experience is with digital projectors to be enthusiastic about them. I just want to be sure we all mean the same things when we speak about black levels.


I will be replacing my CRT projector with a digital one some day. I can't buy and try every new device that comes along, so I need to find a way to calibrate what I hear from other people with what I see with my own eyes.
 

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Quote:
I am going to get my hands on a CRT unit in my home so I can see for myself what you all are raving about. Will I have any success pointing one at a gray screen? Interesting enough the 1292Q (or was it the Barco 808) I was looking at was rated at 1000:1 contrast. This surprised me because I thought CRTs were suppose to approach infinite contrast. So...is there any difference in black between a 250 lumen CRT projector at 1000:1 contrast and a 250 lumen digital projector at 1000:1 contrast?
Les,


The contrast ratio expressed in numbers is one thing. But regardless of whatever those numbers indicate to you I can tell you this. You can turn down a CRT projector's brightness and at a given point (ideally about 50-60% of full on depending on the projector and condition of the tubes) letterbox bars will totally disappear. The CRT's are no longer throwing any light whatsoever to any area outside the actual image itself.

You can do exactly the same thing with your CRT PC monitor.

What you see there is what you would see with a CRT fp.


I've never seen it tried but can guess that the Grayhawk probably won't do justice to a CRT projector. Most just dont have enough light output.


Bob



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~ The Sultan of Cheap ~
 

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Myabe a pair a sunglasses is the answer for ultimate black levels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Les,


You can just try what Bob suggested to see what I mean.


CRT's themselves have a huge contrast ratio; like Bob said, turn everything down and you have a completely dark screen/tube. If there's light areas in the image, say with the ANSI checkerboard, light scatter within the lens glass and between all the various surfaces (glass, metal, whatever) will lower the effective contrast ratio.


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Noah
 

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Be happy you have some contrast ratio, my projector has a spec'd rating of 200:1 (old LCD), so it is more likely less than that.


If you are dealing with absolute black level, as the argument has been made, I think that this may not be directly related to the contrast ratio.


Everything in my mind tells me go digital, when the rainbow issue is dealt with completely. But, and there is always a but, I crave black.


In my opinion, it just doesn't seem that any bulb based digital projector will ever really match CRT in regards to absolute black level. The first thing I do when I check a digital projector is turn it on without any signal.

You know what breaks my heart the most? It is when I see the screen light up, when I should not see it at all in a completely light controlled room.


Now, with my current projector, this amount of illumination is ridiculous. The letterbox bars alone are bright enough to light up part of the room http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


My point with this is that contrast ratio may not be the key. Maybe the higher degree of rotation DMD will help in DLP, or maybe LCD will finally be developed so that it can completely block light out on a per pixel basis. However, I am skeptical at the moment. I think LCD have now gained high contrast ratios due to significantly boosted light output, not because of any major breakthrough in the LCD panels.


What about a signlge CRT tube with an LCD panel(s) in front of it? The Tube would be emiting only white light at varying brightness, and the LCD panel in front would determine the colours. The greatest part? Varying light output at different parts of the screen...

Anyone up to the task of designing this. Think of a digital projector, with a CRT as the light source.


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David Mendicino
 

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Here is a suggestion, I would think that most people form their impressions based upon previous experiences. If you want to continue being happy with your LT150 don't go looking at CRTs if you are happy with it right now. Similarlly, don't go driving Porsches if all you can afford are VW's. (this is not entirely accurate because many low hour used CRTs can be had for less than a LT150 but you get my drift, "afford" is more a reference to picture quality and the hassle of setup rather than cost)


CRTs are the current benchmark for overall PQ. The LT150 is the current benchmark when it comes to digital projectors in the under $3k range (of course this is debatable if you are bothered by rainbows and/or slightly lower color accuracy).


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David R. Smith


System info: NEC 9PG in progress, Dalite 60X80 Matte (I know), ATI Radeon 64mb VIVO, ATI 7.1 player w/DC's O IRE patch , WinME.



[This message has been edited by DRS (edited 08-14-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
David,


I'm afraid it is contrast ratio thst's important. Take a low CR pj with low enough output to give satisfying blacks; its output will be insufficient to give a bright enough image.


Simply put, if you want dark blacks and bright whites in one pj, you need high contrast.


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Noah
 
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