|Marantz VP-12S2 DLP Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors|
|Written by Augie Bettencourt|
|Friday, 01 August 2003|
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This projector can operate in either native progressive scan mode or can up-convert video sources, depending on the signal source. The VP-12S2 can display a native 720p progressive scan image, HDTV set-top box or computer up to XGA resolution, or an upconverted image from any NTSC source, as well as 480i and 1080i images. It also has the ability to display a high definition image. However, with my HD receiver on the blink, I was limited to DVD viewing.
First I tried the “Moulin Rouge” DVD (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), which I have always found visually astounding. Although there are certainly lots of scenes you could pick in this film, Chapter 4 is my favorite. This chapter epitomizes the film’s dizzying, psychedelic rollercoaster ride with richly colored sets and costumes that seem to pop off the screen. The Marantz VP-12S2 never missed a beat as I was treated to some of the most lush, saturated colors I have ever seen through a digital projector. Images were smooth and filmlike, but also had adequate detail without having a digital appearance, surely a testament to its excellent scaling and Faroudja DCDi processing circuit, which eliminates motion artifacts, such as jagged edges seen on moving angled lines. One of the benefits of a 16:9 DLP projector is that there is no light spray above and below the image when watching widescreen movies. Light spray can be very distracting when viewing movies and in my opinion is extremely annoying. There are some LCD projectors that also use 16:9 panels, but no DILA projectors do so at this time. Chapter 8 is a great scene to check the Marantz VP-12S2’s ability to display black levels. I viewed the different shades of black in the lapels of Christian’s tuxedo and was amazed at how you can differentiate between his lapel and the tuxedo itself. This level of black detail was once reserved for CRT projectors, further proving how much digital projectors have really improved over the years. It wasn’t quite CRT-quality black detail, but it was substantially better than any LCD or DIL-A projector I have seen and should satisfy all but the most die-hard CRT fans.
I then moved on to “Spider-Man” (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment) and cued up Chapter 7. In this slow motion look at Peter Parker’s heightened spider senses, we see a paper airplane zip by, a hovering fly and a spitball, frozen in mid-air. The image was clear, sharp and detailed, with excellent depth and contrast level. In the past, I have seen some DIL-A and LCD projectors that offer a higher level of brightness and detail than the Marantz VP-12S2, but their images appeared flatter and less three-dimensional, with grayer black levels.
“Shrek” (DreamWorks) is an amazing direct-digital transfer. In Chapter 6, as Shrek and Donkey trudge through a field of sunflowers, lesser projectors will have the field crawling with noise and motion artifacts. I watched for character outlines against the blue-sky background and saw no jagged lines on the characters’ outlines. I saw an incredibly clean, crisp and clear image that was not marred by grain or any other imperfections. Colors were vivid and perfectly saturated, with no noticeable noise or motion artifacts. Blacks were also rock solid, with excellent contrast across the entire gray scale, and the level of detail was stunning without an edgy appearance.
“Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (New Line Home Entertainment) is a wonderful cinematic experience. Take a look at Chapter 21, the exciting scene where Liv Tyler’s Arwen is being chased on horseback with the near-dead Frodo (Elijah Wood) on board for the ride. This edge-of-your-seat scene offers majestic camera sweeps through fields, then forests and then through fields again with trees whipping by. The Marantz VP-12S2 handled this fast motion scene without any obvious motion artifacts, a testament to the scaling quality and deinterlacing circuitry. Color reproduction was rich and vivid, with near-perfect flesh tones and wonderful and lush greens.
Regardless of what you think of the movie, Chapter 22 in “Pearl Harbor” (Touchtone Home Video) is visually tantalizing, with plenty of whizzing planes, dropping torpedoes and explosions. I’ve never seen such smooth, filmlike images in my viewing room before. This DVD is a sparkling print that is clean as a whistle, with terrific blacks and excellent contrast. Colors were vivid and the film has a shiny, glossy quality that is rich with detail, especially the outdoor scenes, which are wonderfully lifelike. Once again, the Marantz shone, with some of the smoothest, most filmlike images I have seen so far in my home theater. With the Marantz VP-12S2, you are essentially getting a state-of-the-art, HD2/Mustang, 1280 x 720 DLP projector with many of the best features of a $5,000 Faroudja Native Rate Scaler thrown in. The beauty of this is, it’s an all-in-one, easy to use package.
I was impressed by the fact that I could see differences in DVD players when viewed through the Marantz VP-12S2. The Krell DVD Standard offers wonderfully vivid, lushly saturated colors with a smooth, filmlike quality. On the other hand, I was also impressed with the picture quality when viewing it through the Sony DVP-ES999 player, but for different reasons. Its picture quality has nice contrast and punchy colors with sharp detail, but the added sharpness can look slightly edgy on occasion. Overall, I found the Krell DVD Standard to have the best picture quality when matched with the Marantz VP-12S2, adding up to the best-looking combination my home theater has ever seen.
The Marantz VP-12S2 replaced the Marantz VP-12S1, which was available just one year ago. DLP technology is changing so rapidly that technological improvements are happening virtually every year. In comparing the two projectors, the improvement in contrast and black levels was instantly apparent. The first thing I noticed in comparing the two projectors was increased depth in images, as well as improved detail, sharpness and better saturated, lusher colors. Surprisingly, although these two projectors use the same bulb and have the same brightness rating, the newer Marantz VP-12S2 also appeared slightly brighter. Unless you compare both models side by side, you may not notice the difference, but I was impressed by the improvements made in just one year.