|NEC HT1100 DLP Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors|
|Written by Michael Levy|
|Tuesday, 01 February 2005|
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First let me get over my usual rant on the remote control. Here we go again. I don’t think they could have made the remote less user-friendly. After the unit has been properly installed, there are really only three buttons that the user will need to use, source, power and aspect ratio. Two of these are problematic. The power button must be held down for several seconds to turn the projector off. This is done to prevent accidental shut-off of the projector. The problem is that, when you want to use a sequencing remote such as those offered by Universal Remote Control or Marantz, most of those remotes cannot maintain the IR command long enough to work. Also, you must hold the remote pointed at the projector until it responds. I recommend a change for the NEC to the system used by many other manufacturers, a double press of the power button, where the first press pulls up a box asking the user to press the button again to shut off the projector. The projector should also have a signal sensing power on option that would turn the projector on when sensing more than ten seconds of input signal, and turn the projector off when sensing more than one minute without any signal.
The aspect ratio button does not access aspect ratios directly, but is sequential instead. This is a minor flaw, but I would be much happier with direct access than having to search for the correct aspect ratio. These are not problems for those who have control systems like Crestron or AMX, because the NEC HT1100 accepts RS-232 commands and all functions are accessed directly.
While the unit does offer some image shifting ability in the 16 x 9 mode, it lacks a lens shift option, and full-sized 4 by 3 images must be angled correctly if you don’t want to use the keystone control. Using the Keystone control decreases detail level in order to achieve proper geometry. It is really a problem if you are using it in a rear-projection set-up as I do. Rear-projection screens need the projector placed at the center for even distribution of light. This is especially true for lenticular-freznel screens (the kind that have small ribbings vertically on the front of the screen). NEC could have used a simple design trick to make the NEC HD1100 convertible to a straight shoot projector. The problem would be solved if the front lens were removable and could be mounted in either of two positions, one for floor or ceiling mount and one for straight shoot. This design idea was used on the projectors made by the now-defunct Projectavision.
A pure white image has a slightly knurled look that is caused by minor light variations from point to point on the chip. It looks a little like dirt on the screen, but it is barely visible and is a very minor problem.
While the native resolution of this projector is relatively high, it is less than the minimum to be considered HD. That name cannot be applied to any imaging system with less than 1280 x 720 pixels in the 16 x 9 format. The NEC HT1100 s pixel count is only 1024 x 576 in the 16 x 9 format. While not usually evident, there are some telltale artifacts produced by the need to downscale HD images to this native resolution. Small images break down digitally. They evidence their component pixel structure, and some angular lines jitter as they move diagonally across the screen. The angular lines on a football field would sometimes show lighter and darker areas due to processing. I was not bothered by the artifacts unless I started looking for them. Using a higher-resolution chip would help, but it wouldn’t remove all of the artifacts, because there are always some digital artifacts at the detail limit and also because most HD material is recorded in the 1920 x 1080 format, with anywhere from 24 frames to 60 fields, and would have to be scaled down to the projector’s native resolution. Any conversion means digital scaling, and there usually are some residual artifacts caused by scaling. The only DLP chips capable of delivering a 1920 x 1080 native resolution are used in new state-of-the-art professional three-chip projectors made for the digital cinema. There are new single-chip projectors that have competitive contrast specifications and use the new 1280 x 720 HD three-chip units available from Texas Instruments, but they come at a hefty premium. The least expensive of these is twice the price of the NEC HT1100.
So, does the NEC HT1100 get to replace my CRT? Yes, for now. The overall image quality is better for my installation. While there are areas where the CRT still outperforms the NEC, considering the difference in cost and need for maintenance, its advantages now outweigh the areas where the CRT excels. The NEC HT1100 has the features and filmlike image quality that easily take it to the head of its class as a home theater projector.