|Samsung SP-A800B 1-Chip DLP Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors|
|Written by Kevin Miller|
|Friday, 01 August 2008|
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Television and Movies
Watching HDTV programming from my Time Warner cable system for weeks leading up to this review, I was immediately impressed with the
800B. The incredible snap and pop in the images indicated excellent contrast ratio, primarily due to the good blacks and high light output of the 800B. As far as color was concerned, skin tones and colors in general were engrossingly realistic-looking, even before I calibrated the unit. New York Yankees baseball on the YES channel in New York never looked better in my theater. It also handled standard-definition signals well. I have the HDMI output of my Time Warner cable box set to native, which means the cable box puts out the broadcast natively, leaving all the scaling and processing to the projector. I also really appreciated being able to select 5500 for those old black and white gems on TCM (turner Classic Movies), as well as for older movies on DVD.
On Blu-ray, I initially watched the opening scenes of Blade Runner: The Five-Disc Collector’s Edition (Warner Home Video), an excellent transfer on Blu-ray, to take a critical look at the 800B’s black level performance. The opening disc is an excellent black level torture test for any type of HDTV display. Blacks were quite compelling and there were no false contouring artifacts and minimal, if any, low-level noise, no matter how dark it got. A few chapters in, when Decker first meets Rachael, I could see the super-fine detail in her black dress even in the darkest parts of the scene. This kind of shadow detail was a real testament to the 800’s excellent overall black level performance. Other scenes, especially the night shots of a futuristic Los Angeles, revealed excellent shadow detail and depth in the picture.
I also sat through a second viewing one of my favorite recent releases on Blu-ray, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Warner Home Video). This movie is muted as far as color goes and very realistically shot, with no stylization whatsoever. The film was rendered beautifully by the 800B and all the subtle nuances were clearly revealed.
For a look at brighter material, I turned to the excellent transfer on Blu-ray of The Departed (Warner Home Video). This disc, which is an exceptionally sharp transfer, showed off the 800's 1080p resolution relatively unmarred, because of the projector’s competent scaling, which was preserved by an excellent lens. Scaling and lens issues are common problems that rob a significant amount of resolution from many projectors that are competitive in this price range. In the beginning scene that takes place in the diner, there is a sharp right to left pan that is an excellent test for a display’s ability to handle 24fps on Blu-ray. This pan, when the young girl comes down the counter to meet Jack Nicholson’s character, was rendered more smoothly and film-like on the Samsung SP-A800B than on any other display I have seen recently.