|Sim2 C3X DLP Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors|
|Written by Kevin Miller|
|Monday, 01 May 2006|
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Overall, the performance of the C3X is a disappointing one for a projector in this class. It is extremely bright, and therefore capable of driving very large screen sizes of at least nine to 10 feet in width. As far as clarity and resolution, it is quite good, but it falls short in the area of color accuracy due to the incorrect colors of red, and especially green, which in turn will affect the accuracy of the secondary colors of cyan, magenta and yellow. Color decoding is good particularly on red, but not quite perfect on green. I would also like to see better gamma implementation, which would improve grayscale tracking and shadow detail. The grayscale before calibration from 20 to 100 IRE was pretty good. However, at the component input, it was extremely green from just above black all the way to 50 IRE, or the middle of the grayscale. Post calibration measurements revealed a flatter, more linear grayscale, and the visible green cast was removed.
The lens on the C3X is excellent. I had the short-throw version, due to the limitations of my 18-foot-long room. Chromatic aberrations are normally worse on short-throw lenses, due to the light path being spread out toward the outer edges of the lens, but the CX3’s short-throw lens had only very slight aberrations. These so-called “chromatic aberrations” appear as blue and/or red fringing around white lines, similar to a CRT projector slightly out of alignment. In any case, detail and clarity were excellent on the C3X, due in large part to the excellent choice of lens.
The video processing in the C3X, while it does have auto-detect 2:3 pull-down for film sources and 2:2 for video source material, is fairly noisy. I saw a lot of low-level noise in some HD content on my Time Warner cable system, as well as on my reference interlaced DVD player, the Panasonic RP91. I also noticed some significant “false contouring” or “solarization” artifacts when looking at 480i DVDs from the same player. Significant edge enhancement is also present and undefeatable. The sharpness control and the filter control both seem to affect edge enhancement. When both these controls are set to minimum, the edge enhancement is nearly gone, but the loss of detail is significant and the image becomes unacceptably soft.
Black-level performance is quite good. Blacks are deep, rich and inky in really dark material. This is largely due to the fact that the C3X utilizes the current state-of-the-art HD2+DC3 or Dark Chip 3, as it is called, from Texas Instruments. A good black-level torture test is a variety of scenes from the excellent DVD transfer of “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” The opening scene in particular is very telling, as it all takes place in space with a star field and complete black in the background.
The beginning of the opening scene is rendered well, but a couple of minutes in, as the camera pans on the underbelly of the spaceship, false contouring artifacts become readily apparent, and the poor gamma rears its ugly head as well. It looked like that, below five or 10 units of white, the grayscale had gone magenta or minus green. A subsequent pan of the planet shows both of these anomalies as well. Because of these issues, I recommend mating the C3X with a high-quality video processor like the DVDO VP30. This will help with the low-level noise issues, and will also help clean up some of the artifacts in dark material as well. At the very least, you should use a good scalable DVD player with this projector, like the Denon DVD3910 run at 720p. In fact, when I switched my Panasonic RP91 to 480p, most of the false contouring artifacts were eliminated.
On bright material, the C3X fared much better. One of my reference DVDs, “Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King” (New Line Home Entertainment), looked pretty good on bright scenes. However, the opening scene, when Smeagol finds the ring in the river, reveals the extremely yellow primary of green when you look at the grass at the edge of the river. The inaccuracy of the green becomes painfully obvious when you see things like grass in a field or certain kinds of green fruit that you are familiar with.
HD performance was better, but certainly not as good as it could be with this technology. Again, bright material looked mostly good with excellent color saturation and detail. I was pleased to find that both the component video and HDMI inputs cleanly delivered all the resolution in a 720p HD resolution test pattern. Color saturation was awesome, which is one of the major benefits of a three-chip DLP projector design with good color decoding. On the Discovery HD channel, “Fantastic Festivals of the World” had excellent color saturation and people’s skin tones looked quite natural.