Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity

Home Projectors

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Runco LS-10i 3-Chip DLP Projector

Runco LS-10i 3-chip DLP Projector for the Home TheaterI am often asked when recommending projectors why some models cost upwards of $20,000. The simple answer is – light output. You can get a state-of-the-art projector for $8000 and have a superb image, as well as excellent build quality. But you won’t be able to fill a 180-inch screen from 25 feet away and achieve 20 foot-Lamberts. For this you need a high output model, preferably a 3-chip DLP like Runco’s new LS-10i. But, you will need that $20,000.

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Runco Q750i DLP Projector with LED Illumination

Runco Q750i LED Projector Since the first LCD units were pressed into service as home theater displays, digital projection has suffered from one limitation, the bulb. No matter the technology – DLP, LCoS or LCD – all digital front projectors use(d) either a UHP (Ultra High Pressure) mercury or xenon lamp as a light source. The use of LEDs as the light source in projectors is now emerging. Here, we review Runco's Q750i projector which has a single DLP 1920 x 1080 chip with an LED light source.

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Optoma HD20 Single-chip 1080p DLP Projector

Optoma HD20 One of the difficulties in writing a series about affordable front projectors is deciding what constitutes “affordable.” A few years ago, that would have meant anything under $5,000 for a 1080p projector. But advances in technology, manufacturing efficiency and market demand have caused the prices of entry-level front projectors to plummet. Soon a 1080p front projector could be had for $3,000; only a year later there were $2,000 (street price) projectors that put out a surprisingly good picture. Surely $2,000 was the floor for a 1080p projector?

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Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 8100 Projector

Epson Powerlite® Home Cinema 8100 Projector Even as an audio guy, it’s hard not to be seduced by the amazing video demonstrations sprinkled around the main shows like CES or CEDIA. I think it makes me admit I’m just as much a movie fan as I am music. An offer came my way to review an entire in-wall speaker package so I thought it a perfect opportunity to add a projector and screen to my otherwise exclusive two-channel space. My hunt was on for an affordable projector, Epson immediately came to mind. They’ve proven over the last several years that they could design and manufacture not only value packed projectors, but actually very well performing units. For this review, we selected the Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 8100.

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Optoma HD8200 Single-chip 1080p DLP Projector

Optoma HD8200 DLP Projector It seems every year projector prices fall a little more. The $4999 Optoma HD8200 single-chip DLP 1080p projector offers features and image quality that would have cost you over $10,000 just a few years ago. Though it has some stiff competition from JVC and Sony in this price category, Optoma has met this challenge with some unique motion processing and image enhancement features.

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Dream Vision Starlight1 LCoS Projector

DreamVision Starlight1 Dream Vision, an emerging brand in America, has been developing and marketing high-end models in Europe since 1996. In 1999, they became available on this side of the Atlantic when they introduced, with the help of Audio Plus Services, the world’s first consumer-targeted DLP projector, the DL500. Today their DLP and LCoS designs offer cutting-edge features and most importantly, high performance. They’ve also made some of the most stylish projectors I’ve ever seen. Created by leading French industrial designers; their chassis’ make a bold statement as a centerpiece in a modern media room. With unique options like fixed anamorphic lenses, Dream Vision has projection systems to suit a wide variety of home theater installations. In this review, we cover the Dream Vision Starlight1, which is a three-chip LCoS projector.

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Samsung SP-A900B Single-Chip 1080p DLP Projector

Samsung SP-A900B DLP Projector What if a videophile were given total control over the design, production and distribution of a projector? You would expect a high degree of color accuracy, great optics, easy calibration for different screens and environments, no unnecessary features, consistent quality and of course a stunning image. Samsung has answered this question with the help of Joe Kane. The result of this collaboration has been a series of DLP projectors, the latest example being the SP-A900B.

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Optoma HD8600 Single-Chip 1080p DLP Projector

Optoma HD8600 DLP Projector My favorite reviews are those of flagship products so I was understandably excited when the opportunity came to test Optoma’s new HD8600 DLP projector. The HD8600 includes all of Optoma’s latest features and advances. Topping the list is a special set of controls called PureEngine which include enhancements for detail, color and motion. This projector has joined its competitors in offering smoothing technology to eliminate the judder and motion blur inherent in 24 frames-per-second film content. Coupled with Pure Detail and Pure Color, you have at the call of the remote the means to add extra vividness and sharpness to picture if you wish. If accuracy is your goal, as it is mine, the HD8600 offers extensive adjustments for gamma, grayscale and a color management system.

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Sony VPL-HW10 LCoS Projector

Sony VPL-HW10 front projectorThis is the third in a semi-regular series looking at affordable front projector systems, particularly projectors that don’t require a dedicated theater space. So far, we’ve looked at Sanyo and Mitsubishi projectors. Until recently, I had not considered Sony’s SXRD front projectors as candidates, for a couple of reasons. First, Sony projectors were not what I would classify as “affordable,” with MSRP’s typically starting at $5,000. Plus, the Ruby and Pearl models were really designed for dedicated rooms; they have limited lens adjustments and are not known for exceptionally bright output.

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Runco LS-5 Single-Chip 1080p DLP Projector

Runco LS-5 Projector When one thinks of home theater, it’s difficult not to think of Runco. Since 1987, Runco has been at the forefront of home theater video technology. Founder Sam Runco is even credited with coining the term “home theater. ” They are one of a handful of companies that concentrate solely on video products. Their product line includes LCD and plasma displays, DLP projectors and even two new LED projectors. They also market a video processor and an in-wall rear projection system. Runco’s current line of front-projectors includes 13 models that cover every kind of installation. The LS-5 reviewed here is designed for small to medium theaters with screens ranging from 72 to 120 inches. It has full 1080p resolution, via a single DLP chip.

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Flagship Home Theater - Part 1: Anthem LTX-500 LCoS Projector and SI Black Diamond II Screen

anthem-beauty-small-fig1Flagship Home Theater.  The very words evoke the highest quality in audio and video reproduction.  Anthem, a well-established maker of high end audio products has just released their first display, the THX-certified LTX-500 LCoS Projector.  Like their audio gear, Anthem is marketing this unit as a reference quality piece.  In their own words, “A full HD 1920x1080 ‘Reference’ point of view… brings the scale and excitement of the Cinema experience home.”  Have they achieved their goal?  Boy did I ever have fun finding out! In this review, which we call Flagship Home Theater - Part 1, I take a look at Anthem's top of the line projector, and also an SI Black Diamond II projection screen.

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