|Marantz VP-11S1 DLP Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Saturday, 01 July 2006|
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These are exciting days as the Marantz VP-11S1 is the first consumer 1920 x 1080 DLP front projector on the market. Retailing for $19,999, the VP-11S1 certainly isn’t inexpensive, but if it keeps pace with the precedent set by the VP-12 series, it should be worth it. We will see below how it fares in its attempts to fulfill the expectations set forth by its VP-12 predecessors.
The VP-11 builds upon the VP-12 series, using its rigid, noise-deadening cast-aluminum chassis (which can use the same ceiling mount as the VP-12S4) and 200-watt DC super high pressure, 2,000-hour lamp. The processor is the 10-bit Gennum VXP 9351, the next generation of the VXP 9350 processor used in the VP-12S4. Like its predecessor, the VXP 9351 features Gennum’s TruMotion HD, FineEdge, RealityExpansion and FidelityEngine technologies, which were described in AVRev.com’s earlier review of the VP-12S4. The VXP 9351 is twice as efficient as the VXP 9350, which enables it to better handle the demands imposed by the VP-11S1’s 1920 by 1080 resolution. The VXP 9351 is in fact said to be able to process images up to 2,048 by 2,048.
The new 1920 by 1080 Texas Instruments DLP chip does more to improve upon the prior 720p chips than just increase resolution. The new DLP chip features smaller, more reflective mirrors with a higher fill factor (smaller gap between pixels). Dual drivers, used in parallel, control the new chip, which is said to provide more precise control and enable 12-bit gamma processing for four times the resolution in gradations (smoother color transitions) and over 68 billion colors.
The VP-11S1 continues the Marantz tradition of utilizing custom optics by Konica-Minolta. The VP-11S1 has two lens options, each with a wider zoom range than the VP-12 lenses, so that the VP-11S1 can cover a similar zoom range with two lenses, rather than three. The lenses are based upon the VP-12S4 lens, with refinements for better peripheral focus and reduced chromatic aberrations. As before, the lens assembly is completely sealed to increase performance. The extended distance lens will be available later this year. It is also worth noting that at any given distance and zoom setting, the VP-11 will generate a larger image than the VP-12, due to the larger size of the 1920 by 1080 chip.
The projector maintains vertical shift ability, which enables the projector to be mounted at approximately one-third of the screen height above or below the screen. A new option will let the VP-11S1 take advantage of the current rage of constant height 2:35:1 capabilities. With this option, a special lens will slide into place and Vertical Stretch Mode will engage when 2:35:1 movies are played, which will give the projector the ability to stretch the image to use the full resolution of the chip on the actual image, rather than the black bars. This option is not yet available, but will feature an anamorphic lens that will slide into place when an extra-wide ratio image is being projected.
The brightness is roughly equivalent to the VP-12S4 with 700 ANSI lumens, with the iris at f 3.0 and 600 at f 6.0. However, the contrast ratio is significantly improved over the previous VP-12S4, with a reported contrast ratio of 6500:1 with the iris set at f 6.0. The VP-11S1 also features a large 98mm seven-segment color wheel spinning at 6x / 10,800 rpm; this higher speed is 20 percent faster than the VP-12S4 and greatly reduces the potential of the rainbow effect, which occurs in single-chip projector designs when the eye can detect color break-up. The color wheel itself is a seven-segment wheel. There are two segments each of red, green and blue; the seventh segment is green with a neutral density filter. This custom color wheel allows much more accurate reproduction of green hues, which elicits a more sensitive response than other colors in most people. This custom new color wheel achieves and even surpasses the effect of the VP-12S4’s ORCA filter, with a wider color gamut and more accurate colors. To correct the generally weaker red output, Marantz boosts the output of the lamp when the red segment is in front of the light, increasing luminance by 25 percent. A large, high-speed color wheel has the potential for creating a lot of noise. Marantz has effectively dealt with this potential problem by utilizing a fluid dynamic bearing motor, such as those used in computer hard drives.
The cabinet and rear panel are nearly identical to the VP-12S4. My sample was colored a pearlescent off-white, with a dark gray bezel that surrounds the large lens assembly, which is offset just to the left of center. I have been told that black cases will be an option. The cabinet top features the lens shift, status lights and other flush-mounted controls and the back panel has a lit input/output panel that features two HDMI terminals, two multi-scan component video terminals, two trigger outputs, an IEC power cord, remote in and out, composite video, S-Video, RGB/HD (via D-Sub 15 pin) and, lastly, an RS-232C port. The entire cabinet measures approximately 16 inches wide, 19 inches deep and just over six inches tall without the adjustable leveling feet. The VP11S1 weighs in at 28.6 pounds, the same as the VP-11S1. The remote control is a new fully backlit model that I found quite easy to navigate. As the chassis is nearly identical to the VP-12 series, the VP-11S1 will fit the ceiling mount for the VP-12.
I placed the VP-11S1 in the same place my VP-12S4 resided, which was on a high stand between my two couches that brought it to the level of the screen bottom, slightly behind and between the viewing positions. In this position, I was easily able to adjust the projector to obtain a larger image than the one available from my VP-12S4 with the medium-throw lens. The VP-11S1 has no noticeable light spill and was no louder and possibly slightly quieter than the VP-12S4.
I continued to use the screen that Stewart Film Company was kind enough to lend me. The screen I chose was their new GreyHawk Reference, which has a gain of .95. This screen material has a neutral gray material, which helps with reproducing darker images, a traditional problem area for DLP projectors, although I found that when the room light was well-controlled, excellent images were obtainable on swatches of white screen material as well.
Video connections were made both directly to sources and to a Halcro SSP-100 audio video processor (review forthcoming). The VP-11S1 was connected directly to a Marantz DV-9600 DVD player and a Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD player. The DV-9600 was set to output 480i via an Accell HDMI cable and the HD-XA1 was set to output a 1080i signal via a Monster Cable M1000 HDMI cable. The Halcro was connected to the VP-11S1 via Monster Cable Ultra Series THX 1000 component video cables.
I used both Digital Video Essentials and the Monster Cable/ISF calibration disc to calibrate the projector. The Standard setting was very close to what I ended up with and the adjustments were simple to make. Anyone familiar with these calibration discs shouldn’t have too much difficulty in getting the VP-11S1 dialed in short order.
There are 18 picture profiles, three each for Theater, Dynamic and Standard, and nine user profiles. Each profile has five gamma presets and Theater, Dynamic and Standard modes for eight configurations. In addition, there are many fine adjustment menus, including color temperature, aspect ratio, black level adjustment, gamma and more. Marantz will be offering software on its website to create custom gamma curves as well. The professional calibrator will have numerous tools and options available to obtain the best picture quality for any situation.