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LT150 review - and HTPC vs. Skyworth impressions

1407 Views 23 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Frode
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!

Dead pixels.

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.


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.

Scaling conclusion?

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.

Final thoughts

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


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Wow, just wanted to say thanks Frode, for a fantastic review. You addressed just about every issue I could think of. Could you tell me what graphics card and dvd software you used on your HTPC?
I used an ATI Radeon 32MB SDR on the HTPC with the ATI Player v4.1. For film source I used "force weave" with adaptive de-interlacing turned off. For video source I used "smart detect" with adaptive de-interlacing turned on.


Great review. Extremely useful comments. What scaler would you recommend if a HTPC is not an option? Thanks for your help.

I am not a scaler person http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif . I know next to nothing about what scalers are out there and what the different specs are and how good they de-interlace etc. However - if you want to use a scaler the best results will be gained from one that can match the XGA resolution of the projector.. 1024x768 in other words. There are others here who know far more than I about this subject - so hopefully they'll chime in (hint, hint) http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif .



Did you notice any "un-smooth" pans due to the 60Hz refresh rate (i.e. the best refresh rate for film-source material is a multiple of 24Hz)?


Scott "Anxiouly awaiting my LT150"
Frode, the 576p PAL via components from the Skyworth into the LT150 - why doesn't it work? Is the image green? Or it does not sync up to 576p at 50 Hz? How about 480p NTSC from the Skyworth into the LT150 components? Does it work?

Apparently some people are saying that a solution to the green issue (if this is the issue with PAL 576p) may be using the Skyworth's VGA out into LT150 component in via a modified breakout cable (sync pins removed).

This way you retain LT150 aspect ratio controls.

Can you please elaborate?
I second the motion ;For people with knowledge and info on scalers that would match up well with the lt150, to throw their 2 cents in! Especially , getting your money's worth comparison, as a lot of the new lt150 owners [like me http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif are going to be looking for a cost effective way to get this thing looking good for a reasonable amount of cash! Thanks, Roman

Yes I have unsmooth pans - but only because I checked just now and I was looking for them. Some people are truly bothered by this and even so called micro-stuttering is bad. I'm not one of them fortunately. You can certainly try the 71.91Hz setting and see if that works better for you. It's more likely that you'll get tearing during pans instead though. YMMV


I answered in another thread earlier on this but I'll repeat it here anyway. I have both an ordinary VGA cable - and a VGA to component breakout cable (with the sync pins removed). Using the breakout cable with the Skyworth set to output progressive component I got a green picture on the LT150 using PAL. The projector obviously thought i was inputting RGB due to the sync timings. I then tried to force the LT150 into component mode. That worked with NTSC - but with PAL now I instead got a blue screen. Didn't sync correctly at all. So PAL+breakout cable=no go.

The regular VGA cable worked perfectly however with both PAL and NTSC. Problem is that you loose aspect ratio control for anamorphic discs.



[This message has been edited by Frode (edited 07-24-2001).]
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I just agreed to terms on a used Crystal Image scaler 5.2 for use with my LT150 if/when it arrives. As soon as I can see these guys in action, I'll post my opinions and pictures(although this is my first projector, so it won't be technical).
"VGA to component breakout cable (with the sync pins removed)."

Are you using the NEC branded VGA to component cable or another brand? If another brand, which and where did you purchase it?


I used an old HP VGA to 3 BNC cable. It only has the 6 pins required for the LT150. I removed the old BNC plugs and soldered on my own plugs. Checked the specs in my manual - and measured using a multimeter to make sure all the connections were correct.


Hi Frode,

Great review - very comprehensive!

I agree with your comments about HTPC vs. Proscan. DVD player - neither are perfect, but for me the HTPC (with film material) provides a smoother more 3D look!

Obviously, I agree with your comments about the high gain screen as well! You simply have to see the LT150 with the Hi-power to appreciate what it will do for the image. A guest came down from Montreal today with his Lt150 to see it on the Hi-power - he was impressed - how could he not be!

Are you seeing any blurring on film material or am I just hypersensitive to it like some are very sensitvie to rainbow?

You have to compare this projector (once set up properly) to the HT projectors to really appreciate it - you need a point of reference - same thing goes for the screen. I have done this - I have several screens and several projectors and have taken the time to see lots of others.

The warnings are the same - 1) if you're sensitive to rainbow you may have a problem and 2) you must set this thing up properly to get the kind of image I've been talking about - s-video just won't cut it!



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Originally posted by Frode:

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 .

Thanks for the nice review.

I completely agree with the quote above. I own a Mitsubishi X30 (also Plus U3-1080 clone) and if I would to write a

review of that I should just quote your every word http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif .

But unlike LT-150, Mits X30 can do an anamorphic stretch on its VGA input!

That projector is perfect match to my Skyworth 1050P DVD player.

Although, I ordered LT-150 from Dell - can't resist the price http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif and if the deal turns on I could do a real shotout between two!




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What a great review! Thanks Frode, for the scaler issue, the QuadScan Elite support 1024x768 resolution, maybe a good choice for LT-150. Besides it also solve the problem for the lack of inputs of LT-150.Anyone want to test it?

The only blurring I see cannot be attributed to anything but the source material. Who said anything about MPEG2 being perfect http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


Don't get me wrong. The gamma tables and the ability to turn the white segment off are very important! I can easily see how many would be fooled into thinking this projector was horrible for HT use if they used the "Normal" gamma setting and had white segment turned on. Do you have these adjustments on the Mits? I would be very interested to see what you come up with when you get your LT150.



[This message has been edited by Frode (edited 07-25-2001).]
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What a great post and review! Thanks for taking the time to write this up Frode. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


The Mits X30 has four gamma settings: Normal, Natural, Real and Custom.

I use Natural for most of the film based material and Normal for video and animation. I tried to play with Custom gamma, but found it hard to set without special calibration tools - it has 265 steps in 31 groups in every R,G,B.

There is not the ability to turn white segment off on that projector, but even if it will be there I rather leave it on, the picture just brighter and puncher with it and I don't see any "crawles" or other video noise.

In fact the NEC LT100 projector (Plus U-1100 clone) have had the ability to turn the white segment Off, but most of its users prefer leaving it On. Original Plus U-1100 didn't have that feature either.

Mits X30 has very important setting in RGB Menu - it's called Filter. The Filter 'sharpened' the picture in RGB mode but not as standard Sharpness - in a different way. I checked with AVIA sharpness pattern, the 6 MHz looks much sharper with Filter set on 3 of 4. It helps a lot to sharpen slightly soft picture from Skyworth! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/cool.gif

You don't need to switch cables back and forth, a plain KVM switch or VGA video splitter will connect that projector to both the computer and Skyworth.

I also see the tearing sometimes during fast motion pans, I believe that's software problem and I'll contact Mitsubishi on this regard.

Once again: if I wanted to write a review on Mits X30 I would ask permission to use your great LT-150 post. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif



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Originally posted by lmo:
I just agreed to terms on a used Crystal Image scaler 5.2 for use with my LT150 if/when it arrives. As soon as I can see these guys in action, I'll post my opinions and pictures(although this is my first projector, so it won't be technical).
I'll be eagerly looking forward to this.

it would be sooooo helpful if someone is able to do a scaler/htpc shootout in the near future. i'm sure with all the units that will be floating around out there in the not-too-distant future, it shouldn't be to hard to make this happen.

[This message has been edited by ckolchak (edited 07-25-2001).]
Minor update..

I saw rainbows today. During normal viewing but there wasn't a lot. I was watching 6th day (excellent PAL transfer btw) and the exhaust air from the projector (I'm sitting right next to it) was drying out my contact lens. My tired eye of course blinks a lot more to keep the contact moist, and as a result I see small flashes of rainbow whenever I blink and there's a high contrast scene with white on black. Truly not enough rainbow for me to be bothered about it - but it is there.

The moral of the story - don't watch a movie while tired ^_^.


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