(Editorial Note: This review was published on 12/17/2010, and updated on 12/30/2010 with the addition of a Manufacturer's Comment, which appears at the bottom of the review.).
Just as light emitting diodes are rapidly replacing fluorescent tubes as the backlighting technology of choice in many LCD flat panel displays, we’re now moving in that same direction with front projectors (albeit more slowly it seems). The most common front projector lamp technology comes in the form of an ultra high pressure (UHP) bulb, which is essentially an arc lamp driven by a pulse width modulated square wave current (with some very high end projectors, including many large venue commercial models, the lamp employed is a DC-driven Xenon arc type).
Over the years, UHP technology has improved, especially in terms of lamp life. It’s not uncommon to see rated life approaching 5,000 hours, which is an improvement over earlier bulbs that had lifespans of 1,500 hours (or less). But even with extended lamp life, drawbacks still exist. From the moment a bulb-driven projector is first turned on, lamp output begins a slow, inexorable decline, and by half of the bulb’s rated life, light output drops similarly to about half, and the spectral characteristics also change, producing a color shift over time that you can see in the projected image.
Enter high output LEDs, first used in select rear projection models (NuVision offered them, as did Samsung) some years ago. High output “PhlatLight” LEDs are sourced from Massachusetts-based Luminos, and they produce far more light output than had previously been possible from light emitting diode technology. They are now found in select front projector models such as the NuVision ProVu P2 under review here.
Consider this projector if: you’d like an HD front projector that is virtually maintenance-free, compared to bulb-powered projectors.
Look elsewhere if: you’re looking for a projector that provides a proper range of image adjustment capabilities.
• Overall picture quality (HD): 8
• Features: 7
• Connectivity: 7
• User interface: 6
• Value: 6
At the heart of the ProVu P2 is the trio of high output PhlatLight LEDs, each generating one of the three primary colors (R,G,B). Compared to conventional UHP bulbs, the three LEDs employed here provide a slew of advantages. The operational lifespan of the projector’s LED-powered light engine is five to tens times that of conventional UHP bulbs, and while there is some decline in light output over time, it’s a much less of a decline, perhaps only about 15% or so. Given the lifespan of the LED light engine is in the tens of thousands of hours, users will save literally thousands of dollars in bulb replacement costs over the life of the projector.
Unlike traditional bulb-driven projectors, where the bulb is always energized and producing light output that can’t be variably dimmed, LEDs don’t have that limitation, which leads to better real world contrast, producing blacker blacks and higher perceived contrast. With single chip DLP projectors, a spinning color wheel is employed, which can produce moiré artifacts, and which reduces color light output somewhat in the process. With LED-driven projectors such as the ProVu P2, no spinning color wheel is necessary, so color light output can be the same as white light output, which provides for a brighter looking picture with actual images, even though the rated lumens spec might not make this apparent. And, over time, the quality of the image doesn’t degrade or shift as it does with bulb-driven projectors.
Another benefit is lower thermal output as the LEDs, which produce some heat in operation, generate far less heat than a traditional UHP bulb, so that with the ProVu P2 the fan noise is much quieter compared to conventional projectors. It’s somewhat noticeable in a dead silent room, but once there’s any amount of sound coming from the room’s loudspeakers, the fan noise is completely masked and is effectively inaudible.
The P2 features a good array of connection options, about what you’d expect of a projector in this class. NuVision expects that a number of these will go into existing installations to replace older obsolete projector models, so the input complement is designed to provide compatibility with existing signal wiring. There are two HDMI inputs, and two component video inputs, one of which features BNC connectors. Composite and S-video inputs are provided, along with an RGB PC input which provides for full 1920 x 1080 input resolution. There’s a serial port for external control, along with two 12V trigger outputs for screen and external lens control.