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I just got back from a couple hours at Duocom in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Thanks to Craig Bishop for taking the time to show the 5 projectors to me. They have a huge boardroom there. Here are my impressions of the projectors.


Let me qualify my comments by saying that I am a newbie to front projectors. My only viewing experience was with a NEC LT150 that I had overnight last week to demo. I posted last week about how I got massive eyestrain and headache by watching the LT150 for a couple of hours. The eyestrain lasted for 3 days and was so intense that I swore I would not buy a DLP projector.


That is the extent of my viewing experience. Your impressions will vary from my, your eyeballs are different from mine. What my time at Duocom taught me is that YOU must see any projector before you buy it. Do not depend on comments on the web or reviews by others. Use them as a guide to narrow down the field of projectors. Everyone has their own set of requirements, needs, wants, budgets and viewing situations.


All viewing was done on a whoflungdung run of the mill DVD player: interlaced with S-Video into the projectors. I believe the screen was a draper 1.0. I didn't pay close attention to noise levels, because I am looking to project from the rear, so noise isn't as important to me. I was viewing using the Star Wars Phantom Menace DVD. There was no audio during the viewing which was strange at first, but it really forces you to focus on the picture and not on the movie. Viewing was done with some lights on and no daylight.


Infocus LP530 DLP (2000 Lumen)

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This is an impressively bright projector. Fan noise was noticeable at 2000 lumen but went down substantially when the lumen was dropped down to 1600. The light difference between 2000 and 1600 wasn't that big, surprisingly.


I was willing to give DLP another chance despite my previous problems with the LT150. After 5 minutes of watching it, I could feel tension arising in my head and eyes. Now I notice rainbows all the time. Sometimes I see them when I blink. The colors looked very drab (I didn't fiddle with the adjustments) even on scenes in Phantom Menace that you know are very colorful. The bright picture was impressive, though. The built in Faroudja (sp?) video processing was stellar, the best of the shootout!!


For plug and play video this was the best. However, colors were the worst. I thought that the tension in my head was psychological and had to close my eyes a few times to try to relax. I was thinking to myself--- "I guess all projectors are like this".


All the remaining projectors I saw were LCD.


Toshiba TLP-MT7 (1000 lumen)

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After the 2000 lumen LP530, the 1000 lumen MT7 was dimmer. The video processing was good but not as great as the LP530 (the best of all for video processor).


But the colors were incredible-- Vibrant and vivid! The best colors of any projector I saw (to my eyes). The interesting part was that I wasn't feeling the need to close my eyes as I did on the LP530 DLP. After 15 minutes of LCD watching, my eye strain was diminishing. By the end of the session, all eye strain was gone, and I had no problems at all. DLP is definitely NOT for ME!


Dead pixels and screen door are a much smaller issues for me than rainbows and eyestrain. The LCD is my technology of choice- if you are undecided, compare projectors head to head.


The Toshiba MT7 picture was good to watch, the colors were noticeably better than the LP530-- night and day. Where the LP530 colors were drab and boring, the MT7 was vivid. Very watchable.


SONY VPL-CX10 (1200 Lumen)

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I had big expectations for this projector. The price is in the sweet spot of my budget. Brightness is decent. The colors were not as intense as on the Toshiba. (Again, I don't know how the settings were set). Video processing was noticeably poorer than the LP530 and the MT7. It definitely needs an external processor.


The viewing experience was mid-pack. Not the worst and not the best.


TOSHIBA TLP-680 (1500 Lumen)

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This was the second Toshiba that I viewed. Again, the vivid colors that I saw on the MT7 were here. The bright picture was highly viewable and enjoyable. The much brighter projector (than the Toshiba MT7) made for a very enjoyable viewing session. By now, my DLP induced eyestrain was gone- which I was happy about. Amazingly enough, after a few minutes, I stopped watching the projector's picture and started watching the movie.


The screen door was there, but it didn't bother me any. The video processing was not as good as the MT7 or LP530, but I found it better than the Sony CX10. Decent, but it can benefit from a external signal processor.


This was my favorite projector.


NEC VT540 (1000 Lumen)

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It's hard to go from a bright projector to a dimmer one. 1500 to 1000 is a noticeable drop. The colors are good on the NEC, but not as good as the Toshiba. The Vortex video processing wasn't particularly great, IMO. Probably the worst of the bunch, other than perhaps the Sony CX10. Not much to say here.


My favorite projectors were:


1. Toshiba TLP-680

2. Toshiba TLP-MT7

3. Sony VPL-CX10

4. NEC VT540

5. INFOCUS LP530 (DLP eyestrain for me makes me rate this in this worst)


I have the TLP680 overnight and will spend some time with it. The downside is that it doesn't have component input. So unless you are running it via HTPC, you are stuck with S-Video.


- JP
 

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Even if the PJ does not have component input it may still support component if you use VGA-->component or breakout cables. My cheap Sony-CX1 ($1500) and my LT150 both support component via VGA ports using special cable mentioned.


You are one of the 10% that can't stand rainbows. LCD or LCOS probably will suite you best. LCOS is the technology behind JVC DILAs with higher resolution and more expensive. Also consider testing the Sanyo LCD's from the PLV-60, XP18N, XP21N, SW-15 or higher. Sony W11HT should be nice too. LCD will almost always have better colors while DLP should have better contrast and less screendoor.


The newer DLP's like the Sharp z9000 with the faster color wheel (some have 6 color wheel--RGBRGB) to reduce rainbows and the 3 chip DLP should eliminate rainbows/flickers altogether. Plus Piano is the cheapest DLP using the 4x color wheel for 3K but it's dim (450 lumens and SVGA). That is if you want to give DLP more chances :)
 

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making a final decision. DLP is out for this purchase, my eyes just tell me: FORGET IT! Maybe the 3 screen ones will be better.
 

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I would make sure that the presentation you were given is what you will actually be running at home (i.e. interlaced fed by S-video). It has a great impact on what you are seeing.


med.
 
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