|Madrigal MPD-1 HD-ILA Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors HD-ILA Projectors|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Monday, 01 April 2002|
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One of the most exciting sectors in the audio-video marketplace right now is the realm of the new fixed-pixel digital projectors, powered by technologies such as DLP and D-ILA. For years, analog CRT projectors have ruled supreme for video enthusiasts, but the size, cost and constant need for maintenance made it hard to say "yes" to the devices. The new fixed-pixel projectors use chip(s) and very bright lamps to create a video picture that is exponentially brighter than a CRT by means of a physical projector that is a fraction the size and weight of the old models. The added convenience has made large-scale front-projection video possible for more and more people who are now building real home theaters into their homes.
Madrigal Imaging's MPD-1 video projector is a $26,000 projector based on the D-ILA technology created by JVC. In fact, the MPD-1 is a modified projector from JVC with both cosmetic and performance enhancements. The key difference between the MPD-1 and the $15,000 JVC professional projector is the actual performance of the chips utilized. Believe it or not, the chips themselves are a commodity. The better the chips, the better the picture, especially in regard to the essential issue of contrast (the difference between white and black in video). Madrigal has an exclusive deal with JVC, which supplies the top-performing chips for their projectors, thus the higher price tag of the Madrigal over the JVC unit. The JVC doesn’t always need as much contrast because of its many non-home theater applications, such as conference rooms. In such applications, the D-ILA’s impressive brightness is more important than exacting resolution. People like you and me need both the insane brightness and the resolution, because if you're paying $26,000 for a video projector, who wants to compromise?
Setup for a D-ILA can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be, but one thing is for sure -- making a D-ILA actually function and even look pretty good is so much easier than the same thing is with a CRT projector, it isn’t even funny. The basics of the setup are truly simple. All you have to do is rest your D-ILA on a table about 15 feet or so from your screen, plug in your source (an RGB feed from a video processor, for example), zoom the projector onto your screen and you are making a picture.
For more permanent installations, you will likely want to consider hanging your projector from the ceiling as I did, using a Chief bracket costing about $600. The ordering process was complicated and the installation was quirky. You might look to a company called Haropa Products for a better, more stable mount (see link at the end of this review). Madrigal should make (or order from an external manufacturer) a perfectly-engineered bracket for the MPD-1, but they don’t at this point.
Getting the projector actually installed onto the bracket is a breeze and only requires one person to accomplish the task, unlike a CRT, which can take as many as four strong men or even an industrial wench to lift. Once the projector secure on the ceiling, you will want to consider whether you want to install a new component called a hush box to silence the projector’s fan noise when it is on. The D-ILA fan is quite loud and, depending on where your MPD-1 is located in your system, you will want to factor fan noise into your equation. The Madrigal hush box costs approximately $2500 installed and uses whisper fans to disperse heat while keeping the projector quiet. The hush box can be painted to match your décor and does a good job at physically hiding the projector, which is really cool in systems like mine that use roll-down automated screens.
The next level of setup, once you have your projector installed and making a picture on your screen, is using a setup disc such as the AVIA disc or the upcoming (late Spring 2002) Digital Video Essentials setup DVD so you can calibrate black levels, work with contrast and set your brightness.
Screens For a D-ILA Projector
I have written an entire article on the topic of screens for digital projectors, The key here is to understand that D-ILA projectors have tremendous amounts of light output, so you need to calculate the specific needs of your environment, so you’ll want to consult an expert system designer before you place your order because using the right screen can make or break the contrast of your picture.