Thought it was about time for me to give a little back to this forum and post my first impressions on the NEC LT150. I got mine just last Friday and have been tweaking and playing with it ever since.
No pictures unfortunately - haven't got a digital camera, and there are already a couple of posts on this forum with pictures of the LT150 in action.
Screen is just an ironed white (tensioned) blanket as a stopgap until I can get hold of a proper screen. Should be about equivalent to a low gain screen. Calibrated using Avia first. For the Skyworth using component I needed to just drop hue and saturation two clicks on each for it to match. HTPC was spot on from the beginning - default settings.
Color and gamma.
Color on the LT150 looks great. Nicely saturated - no blooming or oversaturation. There are three gamma settings - Normal, Natural 1 and Natural 2. Experimentation revealed exactly the same thing Grant noticed. Use Normal for normal PC use, Natural 1 for animated material and Natural 2 for live action. For anime the Natural 1 selection gave good color balance, while Natural 2 left you with a washed out image. For live action Natural 2 was the better choice with more realistic colors and contrast. There obviously isn't _one_ setting that works for all source material in this case, so you need to change this setting to match the source material. There's plenty of tweakability of the colors with separate brightness/contrast for each color, but I didn't feel that I needed to. Very 3d like picture that really made me feel as if I was there... HTPC gaming ruled btw http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif
Black level and screen.
Unfortunately my white blanket ruined most of the black level details. Bright material looked great, while the darker scenes lose detail (no surprise really). Borrowed an old high gain screen meant for slides (and so was too small for any real usage) to check - there was the shadow details. It also brought colors to life that I thought looked great before. Get a high gain screen - you'll love the projector even more!
Well - DLPs aren't perfect in this area contrary to popular opinion. I have one dead pixel in the second column from the right. Since it's on the far edge of the screen and warranty issues are a big PITA for me (imported from the US.. and I don't live in the US) I'll just leave it. I don't notice it unless I look for it anyway.
Tearing, rainbows and refresh rate.
I ran the Video 2000 tearing test on the projector in different refresh rates. If you don't know what DLP rainbows look like this is the test to use. The test is a white vertical bar that moves quickly from left to right on a black background. If you run it you'll notice that the left and right edges of the white bar have the DLP rainbow. This is the only time I've ever seen rainbows on this projector - not even when testing specifically for this with the high gain screen.
As for the tearing itself - 60Hz passed almost perfectly. Only one case of tearing and then hardly noticeable. Too bad this couldn't be said for the other refresh rates. 70,72, 75 and 85 all exhibited lots of tearing artifacts. The higher the refresh rate - the worse it got. So I stuck with 60Hz for all my other testing. Incidentally I had troubles getting the standard 72Hz to sync properly giving me an awful picture. This problem apparently varies from projector to projector with some LT150s being able to synch properly. If you absolutely need to use 72Hz it's possible to use PowerStrip to reduce the frequency slightly so it matches an exact multiple of 23.97 and thus sync properly - but I wouldn't recommend it due to the tearing issue.
The DLP halo is very visible. On a 165cm wide screen the halo is 10cm in addition. Personally I don't mind, and found it to actually help deepen the blacks as black was darker than the halo. Haven't tried blacking the halo out - but I will when I get a proper screen as it will probably be more important then.
Light output is quite good actually. It's perfectly useable in ambient light for regular presentation use. If you turn on the white segment it looks even bright white! In fact I'm typing this review using it with four fluorescents right over my head. HT however sucks with ambient light - and turn off white segment for HT(!). I suspect one of the engineers at NEC for being a HT enthusiast. Why else would they leave this option in http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif
Noise and heat
At 39dB it's rather loud. The problem isn't the fan, but the noise from the color wheel. The color wheel noise is also of a type that is far more noticeable than fan noise. I've had access to a Ask Impression A9+ that is rated for the same 39dB, and the noise from that projector is not so distracting. A hushbox of some kind is recommended if you want full impact from quiet scenes. Personally I'm going to modify an AV rack I have. Just putting the LT150 in there and closing the glass door makes it very quiet, but I need to replace the glass with clear glass that hopefully doesn't have a reflectivity issue. It's also very hot so the hushbox will need some kind of fan to clear out the air. I guesstimate the air output to be around 50C during normal use.
Throw ratio and non-zoom.
This projector has a very short throw which makes it excellent for those with little room. Check the throw ratio chart over at the NEC site ( www.nectech.com
) for more details. The problem with the non-existent zoom becomes much more apparent once you try to position the projector for your screen though. As you move the projector back to get a larger image the bottom position (upper position if you ceiling mount) of the image changes too. So if the height of the projector is set - don't fasten your screen permanently until you've aligned both properly. If you want to create some kind of manual zoom to switch between 16:9 and 4:3 by moving the projector then be aware that the positioning of the image will change.
It's small, it's flat, it works. While some people have complained about the remote I found it adequate. Trick is to aim at the screen instead of the projector itself.
Scaling performance - Skyworth vs. HTPC
Sorry to say this but... get a HTPC if you're serious about watching film source DVDs. 480p via component did look good, but after switching to HTPC it was a whole new ball game. What I thought looked good in 480p turned out to be troubled by scaling artifacts. Slightly more blurred, pixellated and aliased edges was the real issue. If you want to use a progressive DVD player you will get a good picture don't take me wrong, but to enjoy it you'll need to sit slightly further back from the screen than if you are using a HTPC.
If you're watching video source DVDs however then the HTPC has to take the back seat. It simply cannot cope very well with this type of material compared to the Skyworth. Even with the slight scaling artifacts the Skyworth looked sharper, better and more artifact free than the HTPC. The upcoming 720p/1080i player from Skyworth will probably totally eliminate the HTPC edge for film source too making it the best option.
PAL vs. NTSC
Both looked great on the projector. PAL did take the edge in resolution over NTSC though as PAL didn't need to be scaled vertically on the HTPC. Incidentally 576p over component did not work at all from the Skyworth. The problem with this is that this projector then becomes essentially useless with this player for anamorphic PAL discs. I could use RGBHV from the Skyworth, but then all aspect ratio control is lost and anamorphic discs become unwatchable.
Ehh.. get both a HTPC and a Skyworth (or other progressive player)? It's really a choice you make based on what your primary viewing material is. If you primarily watch video source DVDs like anime then the Skyworth will obviously give you the best results. If however you watch mostly film source then use a HTPC. Personally I'll be using both as while my main watching material is video I occasionally do watch properly mastered film source. If you're going to be be watching anamorphic PAL then the Skyworth is also out. I never watch normal TV these days so didn't bother testing the s-video and composite inputs. Besides with only 1000 hours per bulb it would be somewhat of a waste.
If HTPC is not an option, then getting a separate scaler that will match the resolution of the projector is a very good idea. Simply getting a line doubler like an Iscan will not give you the best results.
Skyworth chroma delay issue
What issue? I could see it in the YC delay test of Avia and on the player menus, but that's it. Not apparent or distracting during normal viewing whatsoever. Since I'll use the HTPC for almost all anamorphic content anyway I switched over to VGA.
Nec technology marketspeak
Vortex - well to me this now seems like it's nothing but the Natural 1/2 gamma tables loaded into the projector and the ability to turn the white segment off. Works great. Nice fancy name too http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif
Accublend - scaler... ehh.. what can I say. Too much accuracy (pixellation and aliasing) - not enough blending. I've looked at the NEC serial protocol manuals provided by Mark Fontana and could not find anything to improve this unfortunately.
Well... I love this projector really. I paid $3300 for it before the Dell deal (and even then I would have to have found someone in the US to ship it to me etc) and I still think it's worth what I paid for it. Excellent picture for a good price. There are some issues with noise, heat, scaling and no zoom etc - but those aren't enough of an annoyance for me not to recommend it. Thanks to Grant Smyth and the others here who've posted on the LT150. The comments about white segment and gamma settings were particularly useful.
I'll take questions now http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif