|SIM2 Grand Cinema HT200 DM DLP Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2002|
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My reference theater system typically consists of a Sony VPH1270Q seven-inch CRT video projector, which I run through a Faroudja NR Series Scaler. My theater is a dedicated room with no windows, allowing for complete darkness, which is the best possible viewing condition for a front-projection system. I recently hung a 90-inch Stewart Filmscreen Studiotek 130, an excellent 1.3 gain screen for use with a CRT projector of this caliber. Once final plans to review the HT200 DM were made, Stewart Filmscreen provided their Greyhawk screen, the industry reference for DLP projection because of its lower gain of .95, texture and color all of which optimize the performance of a DLP projection system.
Setup of the SIM2 HT200 DM was incredibly simple, compared to that of my CRT, which requires an apprenticeship in video projection and a couple hundred hours of practice to perform even the simplest of tasks. The setup simplicity of the SIM2 was a welcome treat. The HT200 can either be ceiling-mounted or table-mounted, depending on your room requirements and desires. Because of my room constraints and because I have my CRT mounted on the ceiling of my theater, it was decided that we’d place the HT200 DM on a sturdy table behind the viewing positions. As with any DLP projector, it is advised that for best viewing, seating positions should be at least two times the diagonal measurement of your viewing screen from the picture. In my case, I was running a 90-inch 4:3 screen, so the recommended viewing distance was 180 inches or 15 feet. However, out of necessity I was forced to be positioned about 12 feet from the viewing screen. For a digital source, I used the recently reviewed Kenwood DV-5700 DVD player, with its impressive Faroudja DCDi deinterlacer and video enhancement technology. I found that this $1,500 video source provided an exceptional digital source for this review. For setup, we ran through a series of onscreen menus that were as easy as a simple DVD player setup. Within minutes, we were off to the races.
I started with Santana’s "Supernatural Live" (Arista)(DTS), a music DVD that I often use for video evaluation as well, due to its intensely colorful stage and other visual details. I started with the tune "Smooth/Dame Tu Amor," which uses the vocals of Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas. I quickly recognized the difference between this video technology and my CRT projection. The colors are incredibly vivid with tremendous brightness when compared to my CRT. I found in particular that reds are opulently rich and had great contrast. Colors have depth and seem to want to jump off the screen. There is much greater detail in images such as Santana’s red and orange tiger patterned Paul Reed Smith guitar as well as fine detailed skin textures in close-ups.
I watched this summer’s animated masterpiece "Shrek" (DreamWorks Home Entertainment) the day that I received the HT200 DM for review. This film showcases many of the HT200 DM’s strengths. One of the negative aspects experienced with CRT projectors, both front and rear projection, is the lack of brightness and the tendency of colors to become washed out in rooms that are not completely dark. This has improved in recent years, with rear-projected CRT screens, but even the brightest CRT front projection devices can suffer. The HT200 DM is bright and provides great color depth. In the scene where Shrek attempts to cross the bridge to enter the dragon-guarded castle, the reds in the molting lava are absolutely brilliant. Colors from Shrek's green skin to the blue surrounding sky are radiant. Brightness and color contrast are significant strengths of the HT200 DM. As explained earlier, DLP provides images by reflecting light off micro-mirrors on the DLP chip. When projected onto large screens, each mirror is visible when viewed very closely. This is why the recommended viewing distance is as great as it is. If you walk up to the screen, in my case a 90-inch diagonal screen, you can see little squares of information with tiny gaps between. In my case, these squares measured about an eighth of an inch. When viewed from the recommended distance, these squares will disappear, but remnants remain in the form of jagged edges. This effect is most obvious on smaller images like distant objects. In the case of "Shrek," I found the images exceptional in most aspects but they can lack three-dimensionality, as the edges of an object are most responsible for depth. This is not a negative aspect of the HT200 DM, but rather a byproduct of DLP technology. It must also be understood that 90 inches makes for a very large picture and smaller pictures will only serve to reduce this effect. I did play with de-focusing the projector, as some prefer to run DLP in this mode. I find that it makes the picture more filmlike, eliminating some of the jaggedness from the image edges, but it also eliminates a positive aspect of the HT200 DM in its superb detail. In its perfectly focused mode, I could see textures on walls and skin textures on faces, which is very engaging. I ultimately could not justify defocusing.
I used the movie "A Few Good Men" (Columbia/Tristar Home Entertainment) to further evaluate the HT200 with non-animated information. As with other movies, the SIM2 HT200 DM provides a picture with great detail and color accuracy. The many flesh tones in the courtroom are very lucid and perhaps lustrous with its rich detail. This movie also provides an adequate stage for evaluating the projector’s ability to reproduce both black and white information. DLP falls short of CRT technology in its ability to reproduce deep black information. As mentioned earlier, Stewart Filmscreen manufactures a screen specifically for DLP applications called the Greyhawk. This screen is designed to improve detail, color, and provide greater contrast between black and white. Its off-white surface fools the brain into seeing blacks as being much darker than they are, maintaining the brightness of the whites. After viewing the DLP projected on my Stewart Studiotek 130 and also on an inexpensive conference room screen, I would highly recommend that you complement your DLP investment with an appropriately matched screen, such as the Stewart Greyhawk.