Video processing is also good, especially 3:2 pulldown, which was immediately apparent in the opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection from my Panasonic DVD player’s interlaced component output. The image was reasonably clean with few visible artifacts.
As is often the case, the color fidelity of this projector is an issue. For example, at the component input, the color resolution is way down from what it should be, more closely resembling composite or S-video at best. The full-signal resolution is also truncated at the component input, lopping off about 20% of the horizontal resolution from a 720p resolution test pattern. Thankfully, both color and black-and-white resolution are not rolled off at the HDMI input. Therefore, I recommend using the HDMI input for both DVD and HD sources. The easiest way to share the projector’s single HDMI input is by using one of the newer A/V receivers with HDMI switching or a standalone HDMI switcher.
Color decoding, another key component in color fidelity, is excellent, with no “red push” whatsoever, and green is also decoded accurately. As mentioned earlier, the projector offers selectable color spaces for properly decoding both SD and HD material, which is somewhat unusual, and I applaud Hitachi for including this beneficial performance feature.
The actual colors chosen for the primary colors of red and blue are reasonably close to where they’re supposed to be. On the other hand, green is way off from the HDTV spec, making grass look neony or limey, too intense, and unrealistic.
With the GAMMA setting at HIGH (which produced the best and slowest rise out of black), the IRIS set to 5 (in the middle of the range), and the color temperature set to 6500K, the grayscale was distinctly too red in hue. To get closer to the broadcaststandard color of gray without a professional calibration, you might want to try the 7500K setting instead.
To subjectively evaluate the blacklevel performance of the projector, I spun up Alien: The Director’s Cut on DVD, and watched some of the dark shots in space. In the beginning, with the Nostromo traveling through space, the HDPJ52 produced decent blacks, particularly for an LCD projector. They were a little on the darkgray side, but reasonably deep, and mostly free of low-level noise and contouring artifacts, which plague many other LCD projectors. The Superbit version of the awesome DVD transfer of Vertical Limit looked crisp and sharp with good color saturation and very naturallooking skin tones.
HD material looked pretty good from my Time Warner cable feed. Even dark concert footage on HDNet, another black-level torture test, looked quite good on the HDPJ52. The picture on HDNet and Discovery HD had a crisp snap that indicated a good perceived contrast ratio with good color saturation and excellent detail. Shots of the grass on a football field did give away the limey, neon-like choice of the primary color of green.
The HDPJ52 is a solid performer in most regards, and definitely one of the better 1280x720 LCD projectors I have reviewed recently. Blacks are not as good as I would like, but they are certainly better than many LCDs, and this is only a serious issue to a real nitpicker like me in the darkest of material. I still prefer 1280x720 DLP projectors because of their superior black-level performance and the superior color fidelity they generally exhibit.
However, it is difficult to find a better projector overall for $3999. The HDPJ52 is definitely superior in performance, aesthetic appeal, and setup flexibility to the similarly priced Panasonic PT-AE900U LCD projector (reviewed on page 94).