|Sony Cineza HS-51 LCD Video Projector|
|Home Theater Front Projectors LCD Projectors|
|Written by Jeremy R. Kipnis|
|Wednesday, 01 June 2005|
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Many hours of joy were spent watching the fine films on the Universal HD network such as “Apollo 13” (Universal), with its claustrophobic scenes in the command module. Director Ron Howard’s choice of subtle color shades can be clearly seen to modulate from the clean and bright characteristics at the beginning of the film through to the much darker, brooding character of the finale. Sony’s choice to continue using a 1366 x 768 LCD panel to increase actual resolution with 1080i sources by 6.7 percent over the equivalent DLP 1280 x 720 engine must be commended. Even the untrained eye could see the differences.
A recent viewing of “The Chronicles of Riddick” (Universal) on HBO-HD revealed significant differences between projector engines. The HS-51 looked much sharper and better defined than any comparable DLP, such as the Yamaha DPX-1200 (which I have in one of my reference systems) that shares many of the same features as the HS-51.
Like the Yamaha, the HS-51 also provides “Real Color-Processing” (RCP), which neatly allows you to adjust the color and hue of each target of the projected picture you specify independently. You can thus obtain a picture “more suitable to your taste” as the owner manual suggests. This is a strong set-up feature without question. A professional video calibrator like the ones that are trained by the Imaging Science Foundation can help you manually get the colors even more dialed in. However, this tool allows the everyday mainstream consumer to have a shot at getting the colors closer to perfect. The days of blindly raising and lowering color, contrast and tint controls on your old set are thankfully over for good.
DVDs and HD programs looked more transparent than on most DLP projectors, regardless of price. You need to look to projectors priced in the stratosphere to start to see noticeable improvements like JVC’s HS2U or HD2K projector or the recently reviewed Sony Qualia 004 video projector. Some of these projectors cost as much as $30,000. Considering the price, it is easy for the untrained eye to see that the Sony HS-51 is about the best bargain for its size and cost.
During the great cityscape scene in “The Fifth Element” (Columbia TriStar), where Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) jumps from the skyscraper, it was much easier to spot individual flying cars deep into the image. As much as the added detail improved the immersion factor, the range of colors and subtlety of texture made possible with the three-chip LCD system proved to be very intoxicating. The sense of proper color saturation, even in complex subjects like flesh tones, wood furniture, or green leaves on trees, are some of the best you will find at four times the price.
Great scenes in the Superbit version of HDTV versions of “The Patriot” (Columbia/TriStar) were spellbinding for their distinctive use of color and texture. The cinematographer carefully decided how color and its saturation would play a role in the story. Many exterior battle scenes take on an almost overly gory appearance, thanks to judicious panning close-ups of devoured flesh. “Lawrence of Arabia” (Columbia TriStar) offered similar visual relief by contrasting the lush interior locations that feature rich fabrics and faded wall decorations with the totally stark and frequently barren exterior shots of the desert, even at night. The simplicity required to make a field of sand stand out like you were there was the clearly a strength of the Sony HS-51.