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Central Scrutinizer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,


I am a CRT guy who recently decided to buy a new PJ for my bedroom setup, so I looked at the LCD and DLP offerings at the last HE 2002 show, and sight unseen, I purchased the InFocus X1, based on its specs and the FLI2200 chip it uses for deinterlacing. Since I also own a Marquee 9500LC, arguably the finest projector made, I have stated in other threads that I would be posting my comparison between these 2 very different machines. First, let me start by saying that I have only had the X1 for one day, so these are only preliminary findings.


The screen is a 100" x 56" 1.7 gain screen (I made it myself, but it is better than any Stewart screen I have ever seen), and the room is totally light controlled, with a black velvet ceiling and very dark carpet covered walls. That being said, let's begin:


Using a stock Panasonic RP-56 DVD player connected via s-video, the picture from the X1 was quite amazing, though far from perfect. Color saturation and sharpness were excellent, but in very dark scenes, the X1 just didn't put out the detail, making these very dark scenes look like a single black mass, rather than displaying the subtle nuances and details contained in the picture. Since the 9500LC only accepts RGB, I could not make any comparison at all. This was probably the worst I have seen out of the X1, and from here on it only gets better. :)


Switching to my HTPC, I used Theater Tek DVD player at 1440 x 960 @ 71.928 hz and played short excerpts from a few movies (the same ones I tried on the RP-56 via s-video), but this time I fed the RGB output to the X1 - the same output I feed to my 9500LC. I am happy to report that with the better connection, the X1 rose to the occasion and performed significantly better than it did via s-video (no big surprise here), and the picture quality was truly outstanding! The black level detail was there and revealed even very subtle nuances in the picture. For these tests I used chapter 5 of Ice Age, various scenes from Men In Black II, and Monsters, Inc, along with Austin Powers in Goldmember for color rendition and saturation. Here's how I scored it:


Marquee 9500LC:


Color rendition - 98

Color accuracy - 96

Sharpness - 95

Black level - 99

Shadow detail - 98


InFocus X1:


Color rendition - 98

Color accuracy - 97

Sharpness - 95

Black level - 90

Shadow detail - 93


As you can see, the X1 is every bit the equal of the 9500LC in terms of color accuracy and rendition, but the Marquee is really a monster when it comes to black level and shadow detail.


I have a few quibbles with the X1, and here they are:


1. The 16:9 mode is not truly 16:9, but is more like 15:9, with the left and right sides cropped or squeezed (I don't know which). I would like to see a true 16:9, or at least have the ability to adjust it myself.


2. Screen door is something I have never experienced with a CRT, and I have to say that I could see it on this size screen, though I did not find it overly objectionable. Also, since I have no other digital projector to compare it to, I don't know how the X1 compares relative to its competition. I also tried out the X1 on my smaller bedroom screen, which measures 60" x 45", and I could not see any screen door at all.


3. Although the X1 is extremely simple to set up, I would like to see a LOT more software control of the picture. With CRT's, we are able to control many aspects of the picture, including all of the geometry (size, phase, pincusion, bow, skew, etc.) and picture (focus, brightness, contrast, etc.), and I found the X1's controls too limited in scope for my tastes. With more control I feel that I could tweak the best out of this already great projector.


4. Rainbow was not an issue at all. After reading posts by some of the crusaders, even I was getting a little nervous about it, but I didn't see ANY rainbows at all, but don't forget that my source material was also excellent.


5. Noise - what noise?


My first impression - I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW MUCH PERFORMANCE THIS 6.8 POUND LOW COST PROJECTOR DELIVERS!! I am thoroughly amazed that I could even compare it to my 9500LC in any way whatsoever. On a small screen (like my 60" x 45"), I really feel that it could give the Marquee a run for its money. The sharpness and color rendition blew me away and was much better than I had expected. The better the source, the better the X1 performs. I was a bit disappointed in the s-video performance, but as soon as I gave it a better signal, with more color information, the better the X1 performed. Now don't get me wrong, the s-video performance was quite outstanding given the limitations of the format, but if you really want to see what this projector can do, feed it a software DVD player of the calibur of Theater Tek via RGB and prepare to be amazed!


In the next few days, I will be testing the X1 with a variety of signals, including a SDI modded DVD player feeding the Immersive Holo3DGraph board (even better than Theater Tek!), a DTC 100 with both OTA HDTV and satellite HDTV, and then a poor quality source - regular satellite. Also, since most of my testing tonight involved software deinterlacing done in the HTPC, I will make it a point to test the Faroudja FLI2200 chip's deinterlacing capabilities by presenting it with a number of challenges, including poorly flagged DVD's, highly compressed MPEG2 streams, and video based material. I'll be giving it a good workout for sure. :cool:
 

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Have you posted this on the CRT forum yet? I'm tempted to do it for you and watch the fur begin to fly! =)


Key question: Did the Marquee's advantage in black level and shadow detail create, to your eye, a noticeable and/or significant increase in the three-dimensionality of the image?


I used to have a Sony 1271Q, then moved on to a Sharp 9000 and now am tempted to buy an XG110, but I'd love to go with a small digital pj like this to save the headache. Even at only 1400:1 contrast, this is still around 40% better contrast than my Sharp 9000.


Another question: What about motion artifacts on the X1? Did you notice any degradation of the image on pans? DLP's are known for this. My Plus Piano 3100 was terrible on horizontal pans and my Sharp 9000 still degrades, though not to the same extent.


And lastly, thanks for the comparison. CRT/digital comparos are quite valuable, especially by a CRT owner who doesn't just have an anti-digital knee jerk reaction.


BTW, I think this thread is going to become awfully long =)
 

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bob, that 'ole marquee 9500 is a dinosaur. a relic. a fossil. get rid of it. i'll be happy to take it off your hands. just say when.
 

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Central Scrutinizer
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Have you posted this on the CRT forum yet? I'm tempted to do it for you and watch the fur begin to fly!
Hi Chris,


Don't get me wrong - my Marquee 9500LC isn't going anywhere! It remains the single finest projector I have ever seen! I'm just quite amazed at how good this little X1 really is. The Marquee is simply superb in every way, but consider that this used CRT projector costs roughly 10 times as much as a new X1. There's no reason to ruffle feathers in the CRT forum. The CRT is still king!

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Did the Marquee's advantage in black level and shadow detail create, to your eye, a noticeable and/or significant increase in the three-dimensionality of the image?
Yes, most certainly. This is a big advantage for the Marquee, though the X1 did a very very good job also.

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What about motion artifacts on the X1? Did you notice any degradation of the image on pans?
I didn't notice any degradation on fast moving motion, and I really didn't check out slow pans. I will put that on my list of things to test.
 

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I am very surprised that you gave the X1 such high marks in color accuracy. It is not even close to a good CRT or for that matter a well calibrated LCD in terms of color.


Did you do an A/B comparison with quick switches during scenes?


How did you calibrate the X1?


I share your eagerness to spread the word on how wonderful this projector is for the money...but when it comes to color accuracy that is not its strong suit.


If you are not doing an A/B comparison then you will not see the difference in color. Our eyes are easily fooled into making inaccurate color seem good if we don't have a quick reference to switch back and forth between.
 

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Bob:


Thoroughly enjoyable review. To be honest, I'm surprised and a little skeptical of how close you make the two sound. I've been toying with getting one too.


I'm surprised you didn't mention differences in apparent resolution.
 

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Bob,


Thanks for the review. Looking forward to hearing more. I just got one of these for work, and will be doing a comparison with my CRT somtime this week (NEC 9pg extra.) Not as good as the marquee but another data point for CRT vs X1 comparisons. Unfortantely I had to dismatle my theater room (I'm hopefully moving to a bigger house with a 28x18 foot basment/theater,) so I'll have to make do with projecting on a white wall.


Looking forward in more of your review.
 

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Hello Bob, I follow the others too - thank you very much for this very interesting review. I am also a bit astonished how good you rate the X1 (sounds not really like David vs. Goliath as I thought first...) , I think that this is a very good sign for this cheap DLP. And I am also looking forward for more of your impressions.


Stefan
 

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wow. impressive indeed. Nice to see that a low cost digital pj can perform very well compared to a high end CRT projector.
 

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This is great news -- those of us on tight budgets have hope! Thanks for the informative review Bob. I'm especially interested in seeing the results of pictures from the DTC100 - both satellite and HDTV signals.


I'm a little concerned that the resolution of the X1 matches well to DVD's but may not do as much justice to a 720p or 1080i HDTV signal. So far, every review I've seen has been very encouraging.
 

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Central Scrutinizer
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi guys,


For the skeptics amongst us, let me qualify things a bit. First of all, I am not an industry profesional, but rather just a home theater buff, so take my observations with a grain of salt. Secondly, I have only spent a few brief hours with the X1, and what has surprised me is the amount of quality from such a low priced piece of gear. Thirdly, let me repeat that in no way is the X1 going to replace my 9500LC! The screen door alone (though not all that bad) is enough to stop it from being used as my main projector. Fourthly, I have NO EXPERIENCE with digital projectors prior to buying this one, so I have no idea how the X1 compares to other digital projectors. I can tell you that I like it a lot better than the Electrohome 3501 7" CRT that it is replacing in my bedroom. The 3501 was too big and bulky, and the image was not very impressive. This little DLP easily bests the 3501 on a 60" x 45" screen (my bedroom screen).

Quote:
I am very surprised that you gave the X1 such high marks in color accuracy. It is not even close to a good CRT or for that matter a well calibrated LCD in terms of color.


Did you do an A/B comparison with quick switches during scenes?
No, it took about a minute to switch from one PJ to the other. I did the best I could under the circumstances. To my untrained eye, the colors produced from the X1 were extremely accurate, but I am sure that we all see color slightly differently. Also, I was not predisposed to the opinions of others, as I did not read any reviews of the X1 before posting my comments. I based my opinions on the reproductions of primary and simple secondary colors, or at least my perception of them. How red were reds, how green were greens, etc.? How good were flesh tones? If your comment of "It is not even close to a good CRT or for that matter a well calibrated LCD in terms of color." is true, then bring these bad colors on! To me, the colors appeared very rich, well saturated, and accurate, but then again, what do I know? :)

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How did you calibrate the X1?
I didn't. I just did a quick "by eye" setup. I will use Avia tomorrow when I get to spend more time with the unit.

Quote:
To be honest, I'm surprised and a little skeptical of how close you make the two sound.
If that is how my review sounds to you, then somehow my words are failing me. I really am in awe of how much performance I can get from this little, low cost box, but I repeat, it is no match overall for my Marquee 9500LC. I think that a stronger case for the X1 could be made on a smaller screen, but the screen door on a 100" x 56" screen, viewed from 12' back, is not good enough for me to use as a primary projector. The screen door is all but invisible on my 60" x 45" screen (viewed from 10' back), and the small size makes the image look that much better, so for my bedroom setup, I have a hard time believing that I could have done much better. And once again, I have no reference as to how the X1 compares to other DLP's, though I definitely feel that it is better than any of the LCD's, or at least any that I have seen. I know that the new breed of LCD's must be much better, but when I saw them at HE 2002, as a group the LCD's looked washed out, with poor black level, and even poorer shadow detail, and the X1 does not suffer from ANY of those problems.

Quote:
I'm surprised you didn't mention differences in apparent resolution.
To be honest, the difference was not very apparent using DVD as source material, though I feel confident that HDTV programming will be quite revealing. I did try playing DVD's at both 1440 x 960 and then at 800 x 600, and I noticed very little difference between DVD playback at those 2 resolutions. With my HTPC, I can easily try out many different resolutions, and that is another area with which to experiment. I still have so many tests to run! :rolleyes:

Quote:
I think that this is a very good sign for this cheap DLP.
Yes! This is probably the most exciting part of my experiments. A couple of years ago, I would have never considered a DLP or a LCD, but the pace at which the technology is progressing is mind boggling. If things keep moving forward and prices keep coming down, I can foresee a day when the DLP completely takes over, though that day has not yet arrived. I feel quite confident that eventually the performance will match the best that the CRT world has to offer, and it will weigh in at about 5 pounds, will be easy to set up and adjust, and will cost under $2000 (just a wild guess). As much as I love my Marquee, it weighs 185 pounds, it took 4 of us to mount it on my ceiling, and I have to adjust and converge the unit regularly.


Tonight I will be playing pool in my local APA league, but tomorrow night I will take some time to properly calibrate the X1 (with the little controls available), make some more comparisons using different sources, and report back with updated findings. Also, next week a friend of mine will be bringing his LT-240 over to my place, and we will attempt a head to head between it and the X1, as that will be a much more fair comparison, don't you think?
 

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I'd very much like to hear how the X1 stacks up to the LT-240. I'm considering one of the LT's for my church.

Marvin
 

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Bob,

Could you post some details on your design and materials for your large screen?
 

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Not to hi-jack Bob's thread, but I couldn't wait to go home and compare the x1 to my CRT (NEC 9pg extra.) So I grabed a notebook that had the ati 7200 mobility chip and the projector and headed off to our training room here at work.


First let me say that this room is less than optional conditions. There is too much light in the room. Also the notebook only had a copy of windvd installed (not sure what version but since the notebook is brand new, I assume it's fairly new.)


So here goes with a few intial thoughts. As Bob has said, the X1 is not ready to replace a good CRT projector. I couldn't accurately gauge the black levels, but the screen door is enough to push the X1 out of contention. I saw it on a smallish screen (maybe 55 inches wide at most) from about 15 feet or more back. It wasn't horrible, but when your used to sitting 7 feet away from a 72" screen and seeing NO screendoor, you notice it.


Also I saw rainbows. I saw them on the nec lt-150, and I see them on the x1. Poped Gladiator in, and found some dark screens with torches. Hello, my name is rainbow. I guess I'm suseptible to seeing them.


Colors seemed to be really nice. The vivid colors in Goldmember looked pretty sweet.


Just some intial thoughts and I reserve the right to completly change my mind, once I do some tests in a better environment. I hope to do that tonight. I can install Theatertek in eval mode, on the notebook, and then split the VGA signal from the laptop to both the CRT and the X1 using an extron vga splitter. Set them both up for roughly equal screen sizes and do a pretty good shoot out.
 

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Quote:
I saw it on a smallish screen (maybe 55 inches wide at most) from about 15 feet or more back.
damn dude, you must have excellent eyesight.
 

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Bob,


"To be honest, I'm surprised and a little skeptical of how close you make the two sound.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


If that is how my review sounds to you, then somehow my words are failing me."


I think it's your numbers; 97.2 average score for the 9500 vs. 94.6 for the X1. Those numbers would indicate no discernible difference except in a direct A/B comparison.


Thanks for the great review. Thye X1 sounds like the perfect pj to get while waiting for HD2's to become more reasonably priced.
 

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My eyesight is pretty decent. ;) To be more exact as to where I could see the screen door. It was on large areas of white in movies, and on the opening credits to Goldmember (where they introduce xxx xxxxxx as Austin Powers.) I also had the projector in presentation mode. So maybe it was the hot whites that made this more apparent.
 

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Central Scrutinizer
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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I think it's your numbers; 97.2 average score for the 9500 vs. 94.6 for the X1. Those numbers would indicate no discernible difference except in a direct A/B comparison.
Ok, gotcha, and I agree. I guess that in my excitement of just how well this little box performed, I was a bit generous in my scoring. I guess I should have added some other categories to present a more complete rating:


Screen door:


Marquee - 100 (it doesn't have any!)

X1 - 70 (at best)


Software control:


Marquee - 99 (very complete and user friendly)

X1 - 50 (lots of room for improvement here)


AR accuracy:


Marquee - 100 (due to its great sofware control)

X1 - 80 (why didn't InFocus get this right?)


Now average these in with the other figures and what do you get? :)


***Edit: Assuming that you weigh all of the categories equally (which I do not necessarily agree with), the Marquee now comes in at 98.125, while the X1 is rated at 84.125. I think this better represents the fact that differences exist between these two projectors, and it is up to each individual as to which categories he finds important and which ones are not. Do not despair - the X1 is still one heck of a projector for the money!


Theses shortcomings are not a really big deal, and can be overcome with a little ingenuity, except for maybe the screen door, though I plan on trying the "slight defocusing trick".

Quote:
I also had the projector in presentation mode. So maybe it was the hot whites that made this more apparent.
Yes, most certainly. Presentation mode is horrible for our purposes!
 

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Central Scrutinizer
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
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Bob,

Could you post some details on your design and materials for your large screen?
Sorry, Jim,


I guess I missed your post. :)


Anyway, you can find all the gory details here:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ight=bob+sorel


The revised estimate of the screen gain is 1.6 or 1.7, after allowing a couple of months for drying.
 
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