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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Equipment: 8 ft wide 16x9 Grayhawk Ultimate 4-way; Dell Inspiron 7500 Laptop; DISH 6000 Receiver; Toshiba DVD-ROM SD-C2302; PowerDVD; YXY; Included RGB cable; Radio Shack 12' S-Video Cable; Star Trek 6 DVD; True Lies DVD; Army of Darkness DVD; Friends Vol. 1 DVD; Video Essentials DVD


Here's the link to the pics.
http://albums.photopoint.com/j/Album...995&a=13143361


My subjective comments follow:


** Projector Placement **


I tested the projector pseudo ceiling mounted. I brought in a bookcase from the family room, turned the projector upside down and tilted it up about 3 degrees so it would shine in the proper position on the screen. Keystone correction worked like a champ on the NEC.


I was surprised at the way the NEC shined on the screen. The projector needs to practically sit on the floor to shine in the middle of an 8 foot high wall. Setting it on an 18" high table required me to tilt the projector down about 3 degrees using the high fidelity method of propping it up with the right thickness of book. I did try to adjust the position of the screen within the menu, but it was to no avail.


Everyone already knows about the lack of zoom on the LT150 so I won't beat on it other than to say, it sure would have been helpful to have one. A good note on the LT150 side is the throw ratio. I was able to set it about 4 ft in front of the LP350 at minimum zoom to cast the same size image. This means a bigger image in a smaller space if you were to use the LT150.


** Setup **


My goal was to try and compare both projectors at their best and what better way to do that then to follow the instructions of LT150 enthusiast Grant Smyth. The one thing I didn't comply with is using a white screen rather than my gray. A little more on this later.


The remote of the LT150 is one of those cheap credit card jobbies with the bubble buttons. I have one for my digital camera and I really hate it. I also the menuing system cumbersome. Too many options were hidden under advanced and somehow I kept managing to pop myself back into the basic menu which meant more clicks on the remote to get back to the options I really wanted.


The LT150 does have a bunch more options than the LP350 for configuration including color brightness, color contrast, and gamma. I really liked that I had the power at my finger tips. Conversely the LP350 has very few settings and of those settings, several like color for pete's sake are not available with RGB in.


** Calibration **


Now that I found all the cool controls in LT150, it was time to calibrate the projector with Video Essentials. Setting general contrast and brightness was easy. Here's a suggestion for all others that are going to attempt calibating color: Pack a lunch (or two). I spent an hour playing around with calibration of color and didn't have much luck. For instant changing green to acceptable levels for yellow made aqua look blue. Has anyone attempted an ISF calibration of the LT150?


** Fan Noise **


The LT150 and LP350 fan noise are comparable in sound level. They both can't be described as quiet, but it's not like running your vacuum either. Fan noise will be present when watching quiet scenes and completely inaudibly when watching action sequences. My NEC unit sometime tended to go into a higher pitch. This was much more obnoxious than the loudness of the fan itself.


Aspect Ratio: Neither the LP350 or LT150 are panamorph ready when watching an HDTV feed. Both projectors provide native mode when using S-Video In. The LP350 puts the picture in the middle of the screen 16:9 frame. The LT150 puts the image in the horizontal middle but the vertical is toward the bottom. This might have been able to be adjusted with the NEC menu, but frankly it didn't even occur to me until just now. Native mode should not be an issue if viewing 4:3 content through an HTPC.


** DVD Picture Quality **


I tested the projectors with the material shown at the link at the top. I tested them through their best connection methods. This meant the infocus was tested through the S-Video/Internal scaler and the NEC through an HTPC connected via RGB.


Color saturation was very good on both machines. Both projectors tend toward green, though you can diminish the effect on the NEC at the expense of other colors.


Black level and contrast is won hands down by the NEC. The blacks shocked me they looked so good. Blacks are not something that generally bother me when watching a movie. It's all relative to me. But these blacks jumped out at me because they were so dark. I believe that's a tribute to the great contrast of the NEC that does a real nice job at producing that 3D effect(TM).


The pictures at my above link tell a reasonably accurate story in my opinion. Someone mentioned the LP350 pics looked terrible. I wouldn't agree that to be the case in general use. Viewing a DVD through the LP350 yields a nice experience. Now, if I was projecting the same DVD through the LT150 and showing it next to the LP350, then the picture might appear much worse.


Brightness is won by the LP350. Surprise! It's rated higher at 1300 vs 800 lumens. But who really cares, because while it's brighter, the LP350 loses in contrast and neither projector is truly bright enough to watch in ambient light conditions. You could call the LP350 more tolerable I suppose, but neither is good. My suggestion is keep the lights off and the room dark with both projectors.


Grant warned me that the Grayhawk might be a poor match with the LT150. I believe this to be the case. If you take a look at the star trek photo with the shuttle in space, you'll see what happens to the LT150 in very dark scenes on the Grayhawk. I didn't try the LT150 on a white screen so keep in mind those glowing reports of black may vary when upping that screen gain. I meant to do a half and half photos with the Grayhawk and some blackout fabric, but unfortunately ran out of time.


We all know about the super halo on the LP350. I can still see it project a little even with my entire back wall covered in black felt. I was unable to detect a large halo with the LT150. If it was there I couldn't see it.


I generally don't see rainbows. I didn't see any distracting rainbows in my tests for either projector.


When running True Lies DVD on the LT150, the picture sometimes tended to get pixelated. I'm chalking this up to the video card and processor on the HTPC I was running.


** Website Challenge **


Both projectors fail the dreaded yellow website challenge. They show as an olive green demonstrating how they tend to shift toward green.


Sync: I plugged in the cable, and something came on the NEC LT150. I much prefer this to the nauseating "perfecting the image" message and blank screen delay on the LP350. The LT150 was also MUCH more tolerant with non 1024x768 resolutions than the LP350. I plugged in at 1400x1050 and it showed me part of the screen rather than blink and flash and have sync problems like the LP350. I also had no problems when in the mode that shows the screen on both the laptop and the projector. On the LP350, again it's blink and flash.


** NTSC Viewing **


I used the S-Video in to take a look at the NEC with NTSC material. Both projectors are not particularly good with NTSC material. Surprisingly, in native mode on both projectors, I thought they did a fairly equal job of displaying NTSC.Some channels on the Satellite dish tended to be better than others. I've always thought live NTSC sports have looked dreadful on the LP350 through S-Video and merely tolerable through the Dish6000 via RGB.


** HDTV **


Contrast and blacks are better on the LT150 using an HDTV feed, but the LP350 also produces a very respectable picture.


I had a couple issues with the LT150 in HD. The screen door was more pronounced especially in bright scenes. Maybe this has something to do with the higher contrast. The other issue had to do with how the NEC displayed object that were far away. It tended to shift them out of focus. A good example would be the moutain climbing sequence in the Dish6000 demo feed. The people are shot at a distance and they look like a big blur.


Both the NEC and LP350 tended skin colors towards green.


** Conclusions **


I found that the NEC produced a better picture than the infocus for DVD material. They seemed about even for DVD material. I preferred the LP350 on HD to the LT150 despite the better black and contrast because of the screen door and focus issue.


The LP350 is known to be better for plug n' play. I never tested NEC S-Video vs. Infocus S-Video for DVD playback so I'm just going to jump on the boat with all the others that claim a scaler is definitely necessary.


The LT150 has more controls, however I prefered the ergonomics of the LP350.


That's it! I'll update this review as necessary.


--Les


[This message has been edited by arrow (edited 06-06-2001).]
 

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Wow arrow..


I've only been looking at a couple of the comparison pics so far (slow modem link), and from my perspective it looks like the LT150 is a clear winner. Better definition, colors and contrast. The LP350 in comparison looks washed out - perhaps too bright. The LT150 looks very good, but maybe slightly dark. There are possible calibration issues here that might need be taken into account.


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

/frode
 

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I am not sure how you have the LP350 connected. Are you using the HTPC thus bypassing the internal scaler on the 350? If so, are you confident that this produces a better picture than using the 350's electronics? I've heard most HTPC hookups with the LP350 were not as successful as what the projector could do on its own.


How about running both native for those that may not want to go the HTPC route?


Also, how many hours were on each bulb?


Thanks!


[This message has been edited by S2K (edited 06-04-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I owe everyone my subjective comments. "Shortly" turned out to be after the weekend.


In the meantime, here are the answers to your questions:


S2K, the LP350 pics at the above link are via the LP350's S-Video in. For comparison pics of the LP350 SVid in vs. HTPC in, see the following link: http://albums.photopoint.com/j/Album...995&a=13041213


The LP350 lamp has about 700-800 hours on it. I don't know for sure because of the lamp reset bug. I'm embarrassed to say I forgot to check the lamp hours on the LT150. I'll ask the renter and report back.


Dave E, My screen not only has a black border, but I blackened the entire back wall with felt. I'll get a picture of this up later. The halo on the LP350 is distracting, imo, without a black treatment. Neither projector can be called ambient light friendly. I didn't really enjoy either of them when I turned the light on.


I'll hit on your other questions when I complete the review tonight.


--Les
 

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I'm thinking there really is something wrong with the LP350 setup. Now going into particulars can be difficult as there are so many variables in a HT setup. I'll try to do some minor analysis (guesstimating really) anyway.


If you look at the first Star Trek picture that's where the difference really became most apparent to me. In a comparison such as this have both pictures on the screen side by side - full resolution if possible. Now, look at Kirk's hair. Notice the difference? On the LP350 it looks more greenish than the LT350. This could be the infamous color problems people have been having with DLPs. Grant reported the LT150 being very good in this regard, while I've seen several posts on this forum where people are trying out different color filter with varying success. If Les is keeping the LP350 I think he should at least experiment in this regard (if he hasn't already).


The LP350 also has a more washed out look that I attribute to gamma settings that are way off. This could be partly the screens fault as the projector needs to be properly tuned for the screen as well. The pictures clearly demonstrate many of the same problems I see with uncalibrated picture from PhotoCD actually. PhotoCD was originally tuned for TV gamma - and so the need for gamma adjustment before you start image editing is very apparent. I see the same issues with the LP350 pictures. It's possible that a proper gamma adjustment would also affect the green tint in a favorable way - the eye is most sensitive to greens in the color spectrum after all so having it proper shifted could minimize it. This should also help both contrast and details, making it compete on more even ground with the NEC.


Now the LT150 OTOH looks quite good really. The only real issue I have with it is that the dark parts have a tendency to blend into each other. Again look at the same Star Trek picture. Notice how the parts of the uniform of the person behind Kirk blends into the dark background and almost disappears. It might be possible to adjust this so that the darker parts become brighter and gain better contrast in dark areas. It can be a bit difficult because you don't want to shift it too much and get a washed out picture like the LP350. I'd probably try a brighter screen though to compensate instead. That goes for the LP350 too because it gives you more to work with when you adjust the levels. Both projectors are low light level after all and so hotspotting if the gamma is adjusted properly should be minimal, if not nonexistent.


Okay.. here's the caveat emptor - or YMMV if you will. I see this from the pictures Les put up on the web. The same way a picture says more than a thousand words, it can also lie pretty well - whether intentional or not. I haven't been to Les's home theater, so you really should take my comments above with a large grain of salt. I could be way off here - totally wrong in fact. There are so many factors that affect home theater performance that trying to analyse performance based on pictures is really really difficult, if not impossible. That's also one of the reasons why we do this I guess, trying to tune the most out of our home theaters in order to reach what we feel is an acceptable level to us. Grant found his close-to-perfect combination with the LT150+Hi-power+HTPC. Maybe there's a combination/tuning for the LP350 that brings it up to the same level, maybe even surpassing it? That's why I'm eagerly awaiting Les's subjective comments. Don't give up on a projector simply because it performs badly in a given situation. It's possible one or several variables were off not allowing it to perform at its highest potential.


Oh and Les - in your review please do include the settings for gamma, white segment etc. you used on both projectors.


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

/frode
 

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Arrow,


Thanks for all your comparison pics. They've really helped me a lot. I've seen the LP350 in my home and really liked it, but I found it a bit harsh and the halo was very distracting. I'm leaning towards the Lt150 now.


A couple of quick questions:


- How did the LT150 look running straight from your dish 6000? Do you have it hooked up via RGB or Component? I plan on getting this sat rec'r.


- Does your screen have a black border? If so, how thick is it? Is the halo bad without it?


- The Lt150 looks to have better contrast and the whites don't drown out the other colors. One suggestion is to watch a hockey game. I found the LP350 WAY too bright/harsh to handle that, too much white on the screen. Is the LT150 better?


- How is the LT150 with some ambient light? We have a light controlled room, but also like to watch sports during the day and might have some indirect light coming in.


Thanks again for all your help. Now I just need to find a place that has a return policy and will let me buy an LT150 at a reasonable price (<$3500).


-Dave

 

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Thanks Les for the face off review. Is the LT150 good enough that you plan to keep it and sell your LP350? I understand that the LT150 requires a HTPC for DVD playback to get good result and the external Scaler for DSS and other sources; However, I know nothing about HTPC, would you please kindly list all the components needed for HTPC, where I can get it and the cost? I'm not sure if I wanna get the LT150+HTPC+scaler or LP350 or even the Infocus HT model if it's available. How much roughly does the LT150+HTPC+external scaler cost?

Thanks for helping.
 

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You don't need a HTPC for the LT150 to perform well. All you need is a progressive scan DVD. I've used both the PC and DVD player and I still don't know for sure if one is better than the other. They are both outstanding.
 

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>I tested them through their best connection methods. This >meant the infocus was tested through the S-Video/Internal >scaler and the NEC through an HTPC connected via RGB


As the Infocus has a DVI input, is the S-Video really better than a HTPC through the DVI?


Thanks

Dean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by deanro:
>As the Infocus has a DVI input, is the S-Video really better than a HTPC through the DVI?

Thanks

Dean.
Dean,


That question I can not answer. I did not have the equipment on hand to use DVI. Actually, I have a PC with a Geforce2, but apparently not the cable wizard needed to connect. At least that's what the instruction manual says. I was kind of surprised I couldn't plug it right in.


If you check one of the links above in the thread you can see the comparison I did between SVid and RGB though HTPC on the infocus.


--Les

 

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Les, great review and very comprehensive. One of the things I immediately noticed when a/b ing these two was video noise (crawlies) which caused me some distress. Did you notice this (looks like a swarm of bees in sky scenes)?


I have now tried the LT150 with a homemade gray screen, blockout material and the Hipower. The gray screen does produce "better blacks" at a cost of vibrant colour and punch. The blockout material worked really well, however, the Hipower ate both for lunch! The hipower may not be perfect but it sure works for me. I am very suspicious about gray screens (I have seen another besides my homemade one and it displayed similar problems) and all the hype. I haven't written them off yet - maybe my expectations are different than the majority's.


Cheers,


Grant
 

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Thanks Les, good review. I would still be interested in seeing how these projectors do on even footing. I understand the need and value of testing these projectors via their best connections. However, another factor in looking at these projectors that most will consider is cost, setup, and usage practices. It says a lot if projector A looks good out of the shoot with its own electronics as opposed to projector B that requires an expensive PC hookup, far more calibration and computer boots every time I want to use the projector. I am not saying that HTPC is bad by any means, however, I'd simply be curious to know how these projector faired using their native electronics at MSRP.


Thanks again for the review.
 

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From my experience with these two machines and their onboard processing there is no doubt that the LP350 gives a more artifact free picture. If you have no interest in a HTPC or progressive scan DVD player (LP350 won't accept a progressive scan DVD player) then go with the LP350! For those interested in something more then try the LT150 with a progressive scan DVD player and a higain white screen - you simply need to see for yourself - I have done this so for me I know what the differences are and whether or not they were important to me. The achilles heel for the LT150 is that it doesn't come into its own until a progressive scan DVD player or HTPC is used and it seems a lot of forum members aren't interested in going this route - I would suggest though that you at least try a progressive scan DVD player with any projector you choose - IMO it's a must have.


I guess the question is - are you strictly plug and play or are you more adventurous (more of a risk taker with your hard earned money)?


Cheers,


Grant
 

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Thanks for the further review, Grant. Actually I own an LP350 and it does accept a progressive player, however, you will need to connect it via the VGA port since there are no component inputs. However, the internal scaler on the LP350 is so good, I think it a waste of time and money.


Progressive scan can make a huge difference I agree. When I was looking I also considered the Sony 10HT. The in-store demo had it hooked up with a non-progressive player. I convinced the sales guy to take the time to hook it up with a progressive player. He was so stunned by the results he had to call all the sales guys in. So, for certain (perhaps many) projectors progressive does make a big difference. As it turns out, the LP350 is not one of them.


[This message has been edited by S2K (edited 06-08-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Grant, I did occasional crawlies on both projectors. For instance in a scene where a woman was wearing a white jacket with lots of thin black stripes. Noticeable, but not overwhelming.


S2K, I'm with you. I think HTPCs are a real pain. I'd rather just plug and play. Of course I still want the best picture available this side of the moon. It will be nice when the trade-off narrows even more.


--Les

 
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