If you want a monster display, but your family or flatmates are against the idea of adding more complexity and another remote to the home theatre setup, try pitching this all in one DVD player and projector to them. It can even be used for presentations and console gaming.
Because it’s designed to be used on a coffee table, the beam is projected at a very steep angle through a very short throw lens. The upside of this is that one or two pizza boxes in front of the lens won’t obstruct the picture. This is indicative of its design philosophy, as it’s not made to be part of a permanent installation, and is better suited to portability and user-friendliness.
It’s extremely bright, despite the 1000 lumen bulb. Even when projecting its maximum 120 inch diagonal picture in a dimly lit room, the image was still viewable. This is due to the 4,000:1 contrast ratio, and the fact that many of the colour settings tend to scale towards superwhite, where the rainbow effect of the DLP chip becomes more noticeable.
If you pull the contrast levels down this disappears, so it’s fair to assume this has been done to make it easier to view on walls, instead of screens. Nonetheless, in a dark room with the contrast pulled back, the quality of the image is excellent, except that the relatively low resolution of the image makes it look pixelated at full zoom, and gives rise to the noticeable screen door effect.
There are composite, S-video and VGA inputs on the back of the machine, and a VGA to component converter is included. The native aspect ration of the DLP chip is 16 x 9, with a resolution of 854 x 480. Although that’s lower than HDTV, and almost all PC resolutions, VGA sources are still displayed after being scaled back from a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024.
There is a single pair of RCA inputs for audio, so you’ll have to juggle some connectors if you want to switch between multiple sources. There are two audio outputs though, one analogue 3.5mm connector and one optical output, which is connected to the DVD component of the machine.
Despite the plug and play nature of the unit, we recommend using external speakers. The built in ones simply don’t do the image justice, because despite being loud they are also tinny and scratchy. We are still yet to be impressed by any speakers built into any projector though.
In fact our only problem with the unit was with the audio. You can’t mute the speakers during playback, even when you plug in a 3.5mm headphone cable. The volume of this audio output is also linked to the volume of the internal speakers, so unless you use the optical output when playing back DVDs from the unit, or bypass the audio inputs and send them to an external sound system when using an external input, you’ll be doing an injustice to the picture.
But at less than $2000, and the audio being the only notable fault with the unit, it’s a bargain. Just plug in some speakers and turn them up as high as you can without distortion, then turn the projector’s speakers down. It should drown the onboard audio out.