In contrast to Voecks’ room, my two-seat theater is quite small, with a viewing distance of eight feet, a throw distance of 81 inches, and a Screen Research ClearPix2 woven screen measuring 60 inches wide. As a result, I was very glad to learn that the DPX-1300’s short-throw lens could fill the screen under these conditions. I closed the iris to its minimum setting to achieve the lowest possible black level on such a small screen.
After setting the white and black levels again, I was amazed to measure the same black level as I did on the larger screen, while the white level almost doubled to about 15.5fL (nearly ideal for a dark room), leading to a peak contrast ratio of almost 2600:1, which is exceedingly good. The grayscale was no longer perfect, though it still wasn’t bad. I was able to calibrate it to near-perfection, and quite easily thanks to the superior calibration controls offered by the DPX- 1300. I also adjusted all primary and secondary colors to their optimum values, which was also made simple by the excellent controls.
Watching a variety of high-quality content from a variety of high-quality sources, the picture was always a joy to behold. All over-the-air HD programming, from The Tonight Show and The Late Show to the Winter Olympics and the Academy Awards, looked spectacular. We had a few people over for the Oscars, and upon seeing the picture from the Yamaha, one guest exclaimed, “It looks better than live!” I had to agree: the detail was stunning, the colors were vibrant yet natural, and the depth and dimensionality were positively palpable.
Test patterns from an HD signal generator revealed that the HDMI and DVI inputs had noticeably better high-frequency response than the component inputs with a 720p signal. With 1080i, both were significantly rolled off at the highest frequency, component more so than HDMI. This was borne out with program material: images from my Dish Network HD satellite receiver/DVR (component, mostly at 1080i) were not quite as crisp as DVI from the HP z556, which converts everything to the display’s native resolution (720p in this case).
Still, component HD signals did not look bad by any means; in fact, without a direct comparison, I doubt anyone would notice. As if to illustrate this point, I came across a satellite-delivered HBO HD presentation of The Chronicles of Riddick, a truly awful movie full of dark, detailed scenes that looked so good, I was mesmerized into watching the whole thing.
Moving on to DVD, I started with the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark disc, which presents a series of clips that test various aspects of the video processor. As you might expect, the projector’s HQV processor passed these tests with flying colors when presented with a 480i signal. The only exception was the detail test, which I thought was only okay. The DPX- 1300’s noise reduction was especially good, vastly improving the noise level is large, dark areas, reportedly a common problem for DarkChip3.
Playing DVDs on a Denon DVD- 5910 from its DVI output set to 720p was a beautiful thing. The inky black of space in the Star Wars and Star Trek movies was deep and rich, and the riotous colors of Moulin Rouge and Topsy-Turvy were glorious. Flesh tones were rendered faithfully and shadow detail was excellent. Animation was no less spectacular, from the relatively simple colors of The Simpsons and Futurama to the more subtle shades of Ghost in the Shell. Mixed animation and live action, such as Blue Man Group’s “Sing Along,” was very effectively rendered by the Yamaha. DVDs are clearly not high-definition, but this system got them as close as can be.
With all material, I did notice the socalled “rainbow effect” a bit more than usual. I’m not very sensitive to this color-wheel artifact, which manifests itself on bright spots in otherwise dark scenes. You should definitely determine if you are sensitive to it before buying any single-chip DLP display.
One common criterion for a high-quality high-definition picture is the impression that you are looking through a window to a real world beyond, and the Yamaha DPX-1300 easily meets this challenge. I was repeatedly struck by the depth and three-dimensionality of the image from HD sources, not to mention the color fidelity, black level, and processing. Like most front projectors, any ambient light easily washes out the picture, but in a completely darkened room, it is magnificent.
My only concern is the high price, especially considering that prices for other 720p projectors are falling fast as picture quality is improving overall. For example, the new Samsung SPH800BE uses DarckChip3, an 8-segment color wheel, and 10-bit processing for a list price of $7000. If it’s as good as its predecessor, the SPH700AE, it will give the Yamaha a run for considerably less money. I hope to review that projector soon.
All of that aside, I can’t imagine that the Samsung—or any other single-chip 720p projector—can produce a significantly better picture than the Yamaha. If you’re looking for the best such projector you can buy, the DPX- 1300 is a top contender.