Fujitsu’s been perfecting the flat-screen since it was the exclusive domain of the Jetson family, and I thought it odd this past Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to find the company marketing an expensive, twopiece front-projection system in its first foray outside the plasma market. The $25,000 Fujitsu LPF-D711 is a three-chip LCD projector with a full 1920x1080 pixel count, and an accompanying video processor/switcher. If the projector marketplace were Major League Baseball, this Fujitsu would undoubtedly be stepping up to the plate with a stadium-full of high expectations. But is this rookie ready to play ball with the heavy hitters?
This superstar candidate comes in two pieces, a barebones projector and its companion video processor and switcher, the LPF-QSD1. I don’t know what to make of the projector chassis; it is as if Fujitsu spent no more than necessary to cover the internal electronics. This plain-Jane chassis will be available in either white or black matte paint. The black review sample was just right to make it disappear in a darkened theater room. You wouldn’t want to call any attention to the chassis, anyway, until the projector starts to shine. Focus, zoom, and lens-shift adjustments are electronic, operated via buttons on either the remote or the top panel. However, the controls “time out” too quickly, so you must maddeningly mash buttons multiple times to make adjustments. While initial setup took much longer than usual due to this problem, the upside is that it should only have to be done once, at installation.
The projector and video processor are linked with a single DVI cable. This initially seems good for installers, but unfortunately the deeply-recessed DVI jack on the projector makes it nearly impossible to tighten the screws on the DVI plug. As Faroudja discovered awhile back, DVI has cable-length limitations at the 1080p data rate. Fujitsu only sent a twometer DVI cable with the projector, so I tried longer DVI cables from two wire manufacturers— Monster Cable supplied a 12-meter cable, while BetterCables.com sent a fivemeter job. The image broke up into a dazzling array of green and red dots and streaks with the longer cable, proving that 39 feet (12m) was much too far to run DVI at 1080p without amplification. Optical DVI cables work fine for longer distances.
The LPF-QSD1 video processor seemingly houses enough inputs to satisfy even the most adventurous videophile and/or computer integrationist, but closer inspection reveals some curious choices. While DVI and HDMI inputs are included, the DVI input is “for PC use only” and doesn’t include HDCP copy protection—which limits the efficacy of this input. In this day and age to have only one HDCPcompatible digital-video input isn’t enough—people want the ability to digitally connect a DVD player and a settop box, at the least. While only the one HDMI input is included, two analog RGB inputs on 15-pin D-sub are included. Also, there is no 1080p signal passthrough, a serious drawback to those who want direct pixel-to-pixel mapping to their source without any interference from the processing circuitry.
Remote Control, Owner’s Manual, And User Interface
The remote control is logically laid out but provides the least amount of backlighting possible, making it hard to see in the dark to these forty-somethingyear- old eyes. If the remote weren’t so easy to learn, it would be maddening. Even still, putting the off-timer button next to the input selections is not a good idea—I’m not even sure if it is a necessary feature on a unit of this caliber. Although inputs can be directly selected, you must scroll through the multitude of aspect ratios one at a time.
The instructional tome that is the user manual is written in seven languages, but unfortunately none of them is English. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a more Spartan yet useless document, especially in comparison to the quality of the product it attempts to explain.
The LPF-D711 has a complete but confusing menu with the video adjustments listed first. Nothing in my experience in video matches the tangled newspeak of this Fujitsu menu. For example, two contrast adjustments are provided (SIGNAL and DRIVE) with no differences between either explained in the menus or the user manual.
Each input has its own memory, so every source can and must be tweaked for best performance. I found that the factory COLOR and TINT settings worked well with every source plugged into this unit, and the color decoder did its work properly balancing the red, green, and blue mathematics. But SHARPNESS added such severe edge enhancement that any setting higher than “-18” degraded the image.