Projectors

Dream Vision Starlight1 LCoS Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

For all viewing, I sampled the effects of Crystal Motion during portions of some films. Like other frame interpolation systems I’ve tried, the effect was subtle on the Low setting and soap-opera-video-like on the High setting. I saw no artifacts on Low which ranks it a little higher than some others. High showed occasional frame tears and image breakup. Now that this feature is common on many projectors, you’ll be hard pressed to find a model without it. I still have no use for it in movie watching. It does have a positive effect on sports content however. If you want to use your projector to watch the big game, Crystal Motion will enhance that experience.

DreamVision Starlight1

I started my movie-watching with a few catalog titles, the first being the thriller Spy Game. This 2001 film was recently re-released on Blu-ray. The transfer shows moments of greatness but sometimes goes soft or shows excessive edge enhancement. The Starlight showed the bad with the good as it presented a very accurate picture. Fast motion was nice and smooth with no apparent motion lag. Color looked superb throughout and I never saw any indication of the over-saturated green primary. Like any good LCoS, design, the Starlight was truly film-like. I also wanted to try some less-than-stellar content so I put in The Edge and Marked for Death. Both Blu-rays are somewhat grainy and soft; Marked for Death especially so. They also lack the pop of more modern films. Despite this, the Starlight’s deep contrast brought these films up to a very watchable state. The expanded color gamut might have actually made a slight improvement here as the picture looked fairly vivid despite the lack of fine detail and digital scrubbing in evidence.

DreamVision Starlight1

I had seen Avatar in 3D IMAX and was dying to make the comparison to traditional 2D. This review was my first viewing of the film at home. I must say first this is a reference-quality Blu-ray. I expect it will make almost any display look good. That being said, it was truly breathtaking on the Starlight. I experienced far more color fidelity and clarity in my home theater than I did on the big screen. The film had a far greater impact on me in this setting. Again the superb contrast performance gave the image such a sense of depth and realism I literally wanted to reach out and touch what I was seeing. You’ll believe Pandora is a real place after watching a presentation like this.

The 2009 film Tetro presented an interesting challenge for the Starlight as it is shot almost entirely in black & white. When you take color out of the equation, image quality hinges on contrast and film’s lighting. Fortunately Tetro is lit quite beautifully. Every scene is exquisitely crafted to the height of cinematic art. The Starlight’s extremely high contrast showed me a deep and rich image full of detailed blacks and bright but never overblown whites. I wanted to switch to the 5800K color temp as I prefer the warmer look for black & white content. I was thwarted however as Tetro contains some scenes in color. They were so golden-toned; I had to switch back to my calibrated 6500K preset.

Spider-Man 2 was the only title that had me wishing for a color management system. The image on this Blu-ray is very saturated; almost cartoon-like at times. The Starlight’s oversized gamut accentuated this, especially in the all-important flesh tones. Faces looked ruddy and red and sometimes a bit too orange. Detail was preserved nicely with very sharply defined textures. On a projector with this level of optical quality, it was easy to see the crude-by-today’s-standards CGI effects in this 2004 film.

DreamVision Starlight1

A feature I was anxious to try on the Starlight1 was its inverse-telecine ability. With this process, you send an interlaced signal from your player (480i or 1080i) and allow the projector to remove the extra field bypassing the 3:2 pulldown. In theory this will give a 24p cadence from film-based DVDs. In the Starlight’s case, the output refresh rate is 96Hz. Often this is the only way to achieve this since most disc players cannot output 24p from DVD. To activate this feature, the Film Mode control must be set to Film, not Auto. I tried out various scenes from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and A Beautiful Mind. In particular I viewed excerpts that contained horizontal and vertical pans or objects moving against a static background. Results were mixed. For the most part, it worked well but there were occasions when a bad edit broke the cadence lock and a second or two of judder ensued. The Star Wars DVD showed more of this behavior than A Beautiful Mind. Success will depend on the mastering quality of the original transfer.