|Vidikron Vision Model 50 DLP Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors DLP Projectors|
|Written by Kevin Miller|
|Wednesday, 01 November 2006|
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Vidikron’s Vision Model 50 is a very credible performer in the one-chip DLP projector category. I set up the projector in my theater on my A/V cart in a floor-mount configuration and projected onto my Stewart Filmscreen StudioTek 130 screen. The lens, which is quite good with only minor chromatic aberrations, has a zoom ratio of 1.82 to 2.42:1, which meant I had to position it well behind my ceiling-mounted projector to fill the screen. This is a very flexible zoom ratio and should be suitable for just about any home theater installation.
Color decoding is dead-on accurate, with no dreaded “Red Push” or other anomalies. The gamma implementation is excellent, with a slow rise out of black, and grayscale tracking is superb, thanks to nine grayscale adjustments instead of the average six controls. The red and green primaries are a little off from the reference, but not as bad as with most DLP-based projectors on the market. Red measured x=649 and y=314, with the ATSC reference being x=640 and y=330. Green measured x=343 and y=588 with the ATSC reference being x=300 and y=600. Blue, as is typical with many displays today, is much closer to the mark at x= 153 and y=073, with the ATSC reference being x=150 and y=060.
Grayscale tracking in the color temperature setting of 2 and gamma set at 2.5 was fairly close to the broadcast standard of D6500. It was a bit warm or minus blue at the bottom of the scale, with 20 IRE measuring 6075 Kelvins, and very close at 80 percent of peak white at 6850 Kelvins. Grayscale calibration proved relatively easy, and resulted in a near-perfect tracking of gray up and down the entire scale.
Video processing is pretty darn good on the Model 50, especially considering the price. It has the all-important 2:3 pull-down circuit necessary for the elimination of motion artifacts from film-based video material. The Film sequence on the HQV test disc under Select Single Tests showed the 2:3 pull-down detection to be a little slow. In this scene, a race car speeds around a track; in the background are empty bleachers, which were initially full of motion artifacts, and then suddenly cleaned up when the 2:3 kicked in. However, on the opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection, the best real-world program material demo of 2:3 pull-down, the scene was rendered smoothly and pristinely, with no visible motion artifacts.
The Model 50 uses the older HD2+ dark chip from Texas Instruments, rather than the newer and more expensive Dark Chip 3, to meet its price point. For more money, you can get blacks that are blacker, yet with the Model 50, you get blacks that are superior to those of most LCoS and transmissive LCD projectors in its price range. The projector clips below black at the component input, making setting the brightness properly a little tricky. Fortunately, this was not the case with the HDMI input, which did pass below black. To test black-level performance, I watched a variety of scenes, mostly space shots, from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Star fields looked great and blacks were certainly deep, rich and convincing. This kind of material on a projector that can’t do black well is always distracting to watch, and consequently a lot less involving.
For color saturation and detail, I watched scenes from the excellent DVD transfers of Seabiscuit and Training Day. Chapters 12 and 13 of Seabiscuit in particular looked quite good on the Model 50, with especially natural looking skin tones and excellent color saturation. Deeply saturated reds and greens were convincing, even when compared to my reference rig, the Runco DTV-991 CRT projector, which has superb color saturation and extremely accurate reds and greens, thanks to red and green filters on the CRTs. Training Day remains one of the sharpest transfers on standard-definition DVD to date. Chapter four, when the two cops chase down the kids in the car, really popped with razor sharp detail and clarity. You must own this DVD if for no other reason than to show off your video system.
HD material from my Time Warner Cable HD feed also looked quite good. I watched hours of The Discovery HD Theater channel, which most of the time is one of the best-looking channels on the system. “Miracle Continent: Antarctica,” in particular, looked fantastic, with fine detail visible in the ice and snow. The Model 50 delivered a peak light output of 24 foot lamberts, which as a reference is twice the specification for projected film in a movie theater. This high light output, coupled with good black level performance, made images virtually pop off the screen, an indication of excellent contrast ratio, which I like to describe as the snap of the picture. Dark concert footage on HDNET, another reference-quality station on my system, revealed good shadow detail, a further indication of the good black levels the Model 50 delivers.