Overall, I was exceedingly pleased with the picture quality of the SP-H710AE. HD programming looked especially beautiful, with spot-on colors, excellent shadow differentiation, and sharp picture detail despite the woven screen. Everything from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to The Closer on TNT HD to Sunrise Earth on Discovery HD Theater was rendered with aplomb. I was particularly impressed with the HD broadcast of 2001: A Space Odyssey on HDNet Movies, which offers many opportunities for false contouring (the sun from Jupiter, reflections off the monolith, Dave Bowman’s psychedelic journey); I saw very little contouring from the 710.
I used the Samsung as the main display in my review of the Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD player (see Issue 69), and it did not disappoint. As I mentioned in the Toshiba review, the player’s 720p output was very poor, but the 1080i output looked fantastic. The projector’s Genesis processor did a great job of deinterlacing and scaling the 1080i output from the player, rendering an image that was tack sharp and clean as a whistle.
Standard-def material looked great for the most part, especially DVDs. I watched a variety of titles, including Star Trek: Insurrection, The Fifth Element, Moulin Rouge, and Topsy-Turvy, and I saw nary a hint of trouble with any of them. The 710 uses a Faroudja DCDi processor to deinterlace standard-def material, after which the Genesis processor scales the image to 720p. I saw virtually no signs of artifacts on any of the test material I threw at them, including the HQV Benchmark test DVD from Silicon Optix.
I did, however, see some crosscolor artifacts in fine detail on some SD broadcast material. For example, the wind-screen mesh on a remote-location news microphone showed some rainbow artifacts, as did the fine herringbone pattern on certain sports coats, especially in black and white material.
Another minor problem was some chromatic aberration that was most evident on crosshatch test patterns. It was worst on the right side of the image and present at the center of the screen. But even at its worst, it was much less than one pixel wide, and it never interfered with normal program material.
At $12,000, I was concerned that the original SP-H700AE was too expensive, especially with lowercost 720p models nipping at its heels. Samsung met that challenge beautifully with the SP-H710AE, producing an equally good projector for $4000. At that price, it bests the Yamaha DPX-1300 (a superb 720p, single-chip DLP projector that lists for $13,000; see the review in issue 68), providing 80% of the picture quality for less than a third the cost. Granted, the Yamaha exhibits superior blacks, with less than half the black level of the Samsung on the same screen (0.006fL vs. 0.014fL), but it uses DarkChip3, so no surprise there.
Overall, the Samsung SPH710AE delivers a wonderful picture, with spot-on colors, good black level, and excellent detail. It’s definitely a best buy in my book. TPV