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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/AlbumIndex?u=1633995&a=13143361&gt ;


My subjective comments follow:


** Projector Placement **


I tested the projector sitting on an 18" end table. (It's my second face-off and I'm already too lazy to perform the pseudo ceiling mount) The controls were sufficent such that I could position the picture in the center of my screen. Then I only needed the remote to zoom the picture out to fill the entire screen.


Tilt was not necessary so I did not use keystone correction, though I did verify that the feature was available. Like the zoom feature, it is also available from the remote control.


I was able to set it about 1 ft in front of the LP350 at minimum zoom to cast the same size image which means that it has a slightly larger throw than the infocus and quite a bit less than the NEC.


** Setup **


My goal was to try and compare the XP21N at its best so I connected it via an HTPC for DVD and used RGB from my Dish 6000 for HDTV.


The remote of the XP21N is sturdy and comfortable to hold with real push buttons. I loved the fact that everything could be accomplished via the remote including zoom, power, and keystone. One thing I didn't like about it was the shuttle mouse in the middle which sometimes wouldn't register and other times would register as multiple presses.


The XP21N menu was pretty easy to navigate even though Sanyo used incomprehensible graphics instead of headings for the menus. I have a sneaking suspicion the graphics were designed by Engineers.


Configuration options were fewer than the LT150, but all the right ones were there including contrast, brightness, R, G, and B.


** Calibration **


I calibrated the XP21N with Video Essentials. Brightness needed to be set down a few notches. Contrast was about right out of the box which was lucky for me because the contrast menu was not transparent and came down right on top of the contrast pattern. Color was about on the money so I left those controls alone.


** Fan Noise **


Fan noise of the Sanyo was commensurate with both the LT150 and LP350 and was without the annoying whine.


** Aspect Ratio **


Like the LP350 and LT150, the XP21N is not panamorph ready when watching an HDTV feed via RGB. The Sanyo provides a true mode which is analagous to native mode on the other projectors. Unfortunately I didn't figure this out until I accidentally stumbled upon it when I was combing through the manual later. So I can not report whether the image is placed in the middle of the 16:9 frame like the LP350 or elsewhere like the LT150.


** 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/Sanyo through an HTPC connected via RGB.


Surprise! The Sanyo is bright! There is no question which projector wins the king of the lamp competition. This is contrary to when I tested the NEC and Infocus and found the aggressively lumen rated Infocus to only demonstrate a slight edge in brightness if any.


Unfortunately, the Sanyo is so bright (16ft throw) it causes a few negative effects:


o The black level was poorer than both the LT150 and LP350 in my opinion. Certainly *not* so bad that it would cause most viewers stress during the normal watching of a DVD. Heck, when I watch, everything is relative anyway. Blacks look black and whites look white. But I was specifically looking for black in this case and I believe the brightness of the XP21N hurts the black level despite my grayhawk.


o Because the black level is higher, contrast on the XP21N suffers. Still, it was better than what I am now thinking is a relative low contrast on the LP350. The LT150 still stays atop the heap in contrast, in my opinion by a large and noticeable margin.


o And speaking of noticeable, this is the first LCD I've auditioned, so I was introduced to more screen door than I've previously witnessed. At 17ft away from the 8ft wide screen, I thought the screendoor effect was quite noticeable and sometimes distracting. Screen door was more noticeable in bright scenes and I believe accentuated by the brightness of the unit. Text (times new roman font) through the PC was pixelated because of screen door which made it more difficult to read.


Those are my opinions of the effect of the XP21N's brightness. However, I had a friend over while I performed these tests and he had a different opinion. My friend is not a home theater enthusiast, but likes movies as much as the next person. His quote on the XP21N was, "That picture really grabs you and pulls you in." Also, at 10ft viewing distance, my friend didn't notice the screendoor until I showed it to him. Once I did then it started to bother him. So you are free to make up your own opinions based on this tale.


Color saturation on the XP21N was as good as the other machines. But because of how LCDs are touted for such remarkable colors, I was really expecting to see a big difference which I can't tell you I saw.


I generally don't see rainbows. I didn't see any distracting rainbows in my tests for either the LT150 and LP350. And, of course I didn't see any rainbows on the XP21N because it is LCD.


The XP21N had no halo which definitely is nice since you won't have to worry about covering the darn thing up.


** Website Challenge **


All projectors failed the dreaded yellowish website challenge. The LP350 and :LT150 showed as an olive green demonstrating how they tended to shift toward green. The XP21N tended towards red. The websites showed as bright yellow.


I didn't include pictures of the websites with the XP21N because the snapshots came out bright green on my end and I didn't notice until it was too late. My hypothesis is that my Olympus does that when it's running low on fuel. If I remember correctly, I needed to change batts right after the website pics.


** Sync **


I plugged in the cable, and something came on the XP21N. The XP21N, like the LT150, was also MUCH more tolerant with non 1024x768 resolutions than the LP350.


** NTSC Viewing **


I did not try any NTSC viewing. For that matter I didn't try viewing with the lights on. That just isn't one of my areas of focus since I have a light controlled room.


However, I would imagine that the XP21N would do quite well comparably in a room where some light was let in, making it more tolerable. Of course, the picture would also still be washed out like all FPs.


** HDTV **


When I first started watching the DISH HDTV loop there was a strange jerkiness like the XP21N was showing less than the optimal number of frames per second. This eventually went away though and I never saw the symptom again, so it might have been in the feed.


HDTV displayed the same picture deficiencies as when viewing DVD, but otherwise looked as good as HDTV usually looks.


** Conclusions **


I had very high hopes for the XP21N and it didn't meet my high (possibly unfair) expectations. If I chose to fiddle with an HTPC, between these three projectors I would opt for the LT150. For plug n' play, the LP350 does a nice job.


I should say that all these projectors are valiant performers. All of them will do the job and there's nothing I have seen yet that makes one or the other a must have. My LP350 is comfortably mounted on the ceiling behind me until something really jumps out at me as a great leap in picture quality and usability.


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


--Les



[This message has been edited by arrow (edited 06-11-2001).]
 

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Are the severe jaggies from the source, the projector or the digital camera? The scene where the car is going over the bridge (with many diagonal lines) shows it especially well.


I am hoping that this is a case of low-quality source material and not an indication of the XP21N's overall picture.


By the way, what is the resolution of the XP21N again?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Joe, The camera is minimizing the effect of the brightness as you guessed. If you saw the projector in person, you would immediately tell the difference in sheer light output. The camera also can sometimes tend yellow towards green.


The XP21N was *much* brighter, but at the expense of black level. I found the contrast to be better on the LT150.


Mark, the XP21N is 1024x768 resolution. I think the jaggies you are referring to are a reflection of the compression photopoint does for the thumbnail. If you click on the picture to show at high res, they should mostly go away.


--Les
 

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Hi Les,


You were right. I was looking at the thumbnail. The picture did get better when I looked at the high resolution picture , although it was still a slight bit grainy.


Thanks for the hint.
 

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Hi Arrow:


Just read another post and saw you are using HTPC.


From the pictures It seems the xp21n has noticeable screendoor and some jaggies. I saw your response to Mark on the jaggies. Did you notice screendoor or does that have something to do with the digital camera?


Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Knuck,


In my opinion, the screen door was quite noticeable at 17ft.

I'll make reference to this when I compile my notes and complete my subjective comments.


--Les
 

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Interesting again. From the photos, especially the space station one, the black levels on the LT150 seem to be a fair bit better. Even the LP350 appears better than the Sanyo.


Was this subjectively true?


Steve


------------------
Steve's Stuff
 

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About the 21n's pixelization... do *not* use perfect focus! You can defocus the pixels fairly well without losing image sharpness. The the only thing that gets sharper with perfect focus is the screendoor effect itself. My screen width is half of my viewing distance, and the screendoor effect is a non-issue. Beyond that ratio, however, defocusing doesn't work well enough to blur the pixels.


Also, I would not say the projector's black level suffers at the hand of brightness. Even lower-output LCDs produce a gray-black of similar intensity. With the incredible brightness and tonal range this thing is capable of, I rarely find myself dissapointed with blacks that aren't pitch. The 21n has no problem resolving the subtle gradients of low-key scenes. In fact, it's very good at it!


Certain compromises have to be made with each technology. In my case, I put brightness, contrast, and color fidelity at the top of my list. Natually other folks have different preferences. If your tastes are similar, the only thing that will disappoint you about the 21n is the doubler. You *will* notice scan lines, but I understand that a respectable doubler/scaler will eliminate this. It's on my list!


Frank
 

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Les


Very nice work, we appreciate all the effort that you’ve been putting in lately on all these reviews ….thank you very much. I’ve basically come to the same conclusion as you, after seeing many front projection systems after purchasing my LP350 there wasn’t anything out there that really jumped out at me as being worth the effort of upgrading. I’m still very satisfied with my unit and I suspect I will continue to be for a while. While I’m not prone to the rainbow a I am very prone to the distracting effects of the screen door that LCD’s produce.


I don’t know if you have gamma control of your S-video output from your DVD, but I have had very good results with the JVC XV-D721BK. It’s a progressive scan DVD player, but I only use the interlaced S-Video output. This player has very good color, brightness, contrast and gamma controls. The gamma control has made a very marked improvement in shadow detail, bringing out the subtle background details in dark scenes.


Anyway, thanks again for all your efforts.



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Regards

GMan
 

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Les,


Thanks for the great comparison review.


May I ask that you post additional comments separately, so that we don't have to scroll back and find where the old ones left off? It also makes a dialogue easier to follow.


Thanks


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Noah
 

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Re the black level comments of the 21 that arrow has made-something here is wrong. I own a LP350 and I have seen Dan G's 21 and there is no way the LP350 is even close to the 21 as far as black level. In fact I thought the black level was incredibly deep, rich and thick. I also owned a CRT projector so I am not easily impressed. Dan G used a quadscan.
 

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Joe-

Dan G has a white screen-dalite I believe-nothing special and the projector was far superior to the LP350 which is saying alot. The only drawback is the screendoor and the need for an external scaler.

Len
 

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Joe-

Dan G has a white screen-dalite I believe-nothing special and the projector was far superior to the LP350 which is saying alot. The only drawback is the screendoor and the need for an external scaler.

Len
 

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I have an XP21N as well and I agree with Frank that you need to take the focus off ever so slightly to reduce/eliminate pixelation. I use the Focus button that appears on the screen as the guide. In full focus you can see the pixels. Slightly off focus it looks like a smooth grey Microsoft Windows push button. Still, at times, with earth tones (yellowish browns, sunsets) you'll see the pixel grid.


I don't have the Video Essentials disc...but I'm surprised that it recommended having the Contrast near the factory setting. I have the Contrast set at 08 and it yields a much smoother picture than the factory setting (of 31?). I have the color set at 31 Red, 30 Green, and 28 Blue. I set the sharpness at 18 but bring it down to about 8 or 10 for watching sports like hockey and basketball.
 

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Great review Les! What an effort. Now if we can only persuade you to do a head to head with the Grayhawk and the Da-lite Hipower with these three projectors. Now that would be something!


A couple quick comments (can't help myself). with respect to the LT150's remote - you can set it up so that when you hit menu it will automatically take to to advanced and this will save time working your way through the other settings.


I have seen the LT155 in my HT (LCD with XGA resolution) and have the same opinion as Les with respect to pixels and colour.


Comments by others who own the Sanyo, for example, should be given their due since they have lived with the projector and "tweaked" it. No doubt their setup is somewhat different from what Les has and this will lead to different results - slight defocusing etc. (I did try this with the LT155 and Toshiba LCDs I've seen and for some reason it just didn't work for me). I would also think that the type of screen makes a big difference as well - that why my opening comment and also your room setup and viewing distance.


Cheers,


Grant

 

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I respectfully disagree with those who say that defocusing the Sanyo takes the edge off the screen door without blurring the image. This works only if the screen door is very marginal.


If the screen door is reasonably noticeable (e.g. 13' back on an 8' screen), the amount of defocusing necessary to make the screen door dissolve blurs each pixel across 2-3 pixels. This is easily seen when switching from a movie to a single pixel while it's blurred.


In other respects, it was a very good projector but the screen door was a deal killer for me.


- Chi



[This message has been edited by piney (edited 06-12-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter #19
GMan, thanks for the advice. I might just give that a try.


Joe, Is it the grayhawk that gave the LP350 the advantage in black? I really couldn't tell you for certain. But I would have expected the blacker unit to remain blacker on a gray screen.


Noah, sure no problem..comments continued in the thread from now on.


--Les


[This message has been edited by arrow (edited 06-12-2001).]
 

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Originally posted by piney:

I respectfully disagree with those who say that defocusing the Sanyo takes the edge off the screen door without blurring the image. This works only if the screen door is very marginal.


If the screen door is reasonably noticeable (e.g. 13' back on an 8' screen), the amount of defocusing necessary to make the screen door dissolve blurs each pixel across 2-3 pixels. This is easily seen when switching from a movie to a single pixel while it's blurred.



I don't know if the 8' picture in your example is the width or the diagonal, but the screendoor on the 21n is aparent with any image until the width is half the viewing distance. As I remarked previosly in this thread, a little defocusing works very well at that ratio, but I certainly don't defocus to create a 2-3 pixel blur--c'mon now!


The only time I zoom wider than 2:1 is when viewing IMAX material (amazing footage, if you like that kind of thing). I'm only viewing DVDs (no other sources yet) and I haven't found the need to zoom wider than 2:1. I don't see the tradeoff in resolution as being worth it.


Frank
 
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