When I first saw the Yamaha DPX-1300 at last year’s CEDIA Expo, I was seriously impressed. As the fourth generation in a line of wellrespected 720p DLP projectors, each better than the one before, the DPX- 1300 looked like it was going to be the best yet. Since then, I’ve been chomping at the bit to review it, and I finally got one to test. I’ll tell you up front, it was well worth the wait.
The DPX-1300 uses Texas Instruments’ latest 720p DMD with DarkChip3 enhancements, a 7-segment color wheel, and 10-bit processing. Placement is very flexible thanks to motorized zoom, focus, and vertical lens-shift functions, along with the short-throw lens that accommodates screens as small as 60 inches. Horizontal and vertical keystone correction is available, but I recommend placing the projector so its axis is perpendicular to the screen to avoid using them; keystone correction generally diminishes resolution. Internal test patterns can be called up at the touch of a button, which is a big help when positioning the projector.
Connections are also very flexible, with one HDMI, one DVI, and two c o m p o n e n t / RGBHV inputs (one with separate BNC connectors— a nice professional touch—and the other on a DB15/VGA connector). Also present is a D4 connector that accepts a component signal. One S-video and one composite connector round out the inputs. Other connections include RS232, 12V trigger, and wired-remote in and out. Two infrared (IR) remote sensors, one in front and the other in the rear, allow the use of an IR remote.
Yet another example of the projector’s exceptional flexibility is its calibration controls, which are available in the main menu. I don’t recommend that untrained users try to fiddle with these controls, but they make it much easier than usual for a technician with the appropriate test gear to dial in a near-perfect grayscale and color-primary points. Not only that, the color secondaries (cyan, yellow, magenta) can also be dialed in with equal ease, an exceedingly rare capability that can significantly enhance the overall picture quality.
One important feature is the incorporation of Silicon Optix’s HQV video processing, which has always impressed me greatly. Offering superb deinterlacing, scaling, and noise reduction, HQV takes picture quality to the next level, and it is used to excellent effect in the DPX-1300.
The user interface is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The remote is uncluttered and well organized, with most of the important functions (including direct input selection, aspect ratio, and lens setup) available from dedicated buttons. However, it does have a few minor quirks; for example, a thumb lever activates the remote’s illumination, but only a few of the buttons light up. Also, there’s an INPUT button, which calls up a menu of inputs, but this is entirely redundant with the direct-access buttons.
The menu system is also well designed and intuitive. In addition to the full menu, which can be moved to any location on the screen, each picture control (BLACK LEVEL, WHITE LEVEL, HUE, SATURATION, etc.) can be called up individually at the bottom of the screen. This makes it easy to adjust them while looking at test patterns and other images.
I started my evaluation by taking the projector to the home theater of Kevin Voecks, director of products at Revel, Harman International’s highend speaker company. His huge theater has a 10-foot-wide Stewart Studiotek 130 screen. I placed the projector about 18 feet from the screen, adjusted the lens, and set the white and black levels (which are called by those names instead of the more common but obtuse CONTRAST and BRIGHTNESS).
With the manual iris wide open, I measured a black level of 0.006fL (very good) and a white level of about 8.5fL (a bit low but understandable on such a big screen and quite comfortable in a completely dark room). These numbers lead to a peak contrast ratio of over 1400:1, which is very respectable.
I also measured the grayscale tracking with the STANDARD colortemperature preset selected, and it was so close to perfect that even video guru Joe Kane thought there was no need to calibrate it. We watched some HD and DVD material, and all agreed the picture looked great. In particular, Kane thought the red, green, and blue primaries were correct when viewing his own footage from Digital Video Essentials Pro.
On test patterns, we did notice some minor problems. For one thing, the lens exhibited some chromatic aberration away from the center of the image, but this was never more than than one pixel wide, which, according to Joel Silver of the Imaging Science Foundation, is acceptable for reasonably priced projectors. (Interestingly, Silver reports no chromatic aberration in the unit he has.) Another lens problem was a geometry error in the lower portion of the image, and sharpness and focus dropped off slightly at the outer edges. Also evident was some horizontal and vertical ringing (fringes around single-pixel transitions), even with SHARPNESS minimized, which Kane identified as a problem in the DMD chip. But I found that none of this visibly degraded the image of real program material.