A relative newcomer to the front projection playground, Knoll Systems, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, is better known within the custom installation trade for providing innovative solutions in areas such as multi-room audio distribution, signal handling, and for introducing a line of IR repeater systems that feature DSP signal processing. Conventional analog IR repeaters just boost the signal and send it along, which can often cause mis-operation if the IR sensor is deluged with sunlight (as it might be in a room with large amounts of glass on a sunny day. Knoll’s approach applies DSP processing to separate the infrared codes from the “fog”, which ensures IR signal integrity and reliable operation, even with outdoor IR setups that would be rendered useless with conventional analog IR repeaters.
The HDP1200 projector sent to us is one of two “twins”, the other being their HDP1100. Cosmetically and functionally identical, the principal differences involve lens throw distances—the HDP1200 is the longer throw version—and pricing (the HDP1200 sells for $6798.95 while the HDP1100 sells for $800.00 less).
Consider this projector if: you’d like a competent single chip DLP front projector that includes the latest lamp modulation technology along with a solid projector design with very good optics and excellent video signal processing.
Look elsewhere if: you don’t need a long throw lens option, as Knoll’s HDP1100 is virtually identical (except for the shorter throw), and carries a price tag that’s hundreds of dollars less.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced projectors)
Equipped with a 200W Osram high pressure bulb, the Knoll is also equipped with Osram’s companion Unishape pulse width modulation power control system, which ties the lamp’s specific output at any given milli-second to the exact position of the DLP system’s spinning six segment RGBCYM color wheel. This system is said to provide greater visual dynamic range, better color control, increased efficiency along with the ability to provide specific picture modes suited for home theater as well as data (presentation) projection. Knoll makes a point of noting that this system (which is essentially comparable to the Philips Vidi system) is most often found only on high end (>$20K and up) projectors.
The optics are a cut above the norm, featuring an all-glass Nikon-sourced lens system (many entry and midrange level projectors feature hybrid lens designs with both glass and plastic lenses making up the optical system). As well, the projector features very good video signal processing, including chips from Pixelworks (a popular choice for projectors) as well as the well-regarded HQV Reon Vx chip, which provides top notch standard and high definition deinterlacing as well as noise reduction and detail enhancement, among other functions.
For widescreen 2.35:1 enthusiasts who will have the projector mated to an external anamorphic lens (such as the Panamorph) and a suitably wide screen, the Knoll offers both types of anamorphic signal processing. The first, commonly referred to as Mode 1, provides vertical stretch, and would be used with a movable external anamorphic lens. The second mode provides horizontal squeeze, and would be used when the external lens is permanently mounted in front of the projector’s lens. Most projectors these days provide the vertical stretch mode only.