The alphabet soup of video projection technologies should by now be familiar to most Sound+Vision readers. There’s LCD, LCOS (also known by the brandcentric acronyms D-ILA and SXRD), and DLP. While all three are capable of creating great-looking images, LCOS has an advantage in that its “native” contrast ratio tends to be signifi cantly higher than LCD and DLP, both of which depend on a mechanical iris to help boost contrast — something it does by limiting the intensity of the light coming from the projector’s lamp. While an iris adjustment can help to boost contrast in an otherwise challenged projector specifi cally by deepening black levels, it also has an effect on the other end of the spectrum by limiting brightness.
Resolution used to be an issue with projectors when 1080p models cost substantially more than 720p ones, but now that 1080p models can be had for under $1,000, such considerations have disappeared. If you want to see the full picture detail level contained in Blu-ray Discs and HDTV programs on satellite or cable, a 1080p projector is the appropriate choice.
Projectors with 4K “Ultra HD” resolution are also available from Sony and a few other makers, but at present such models are extraordinarily expensive. (Sony’s VPL-VW1000ES sells for $25,000.)
There’s also a content problem with 4K: Sony is making a server loaded with Sony-produced movies available to people who buy its Ultra HD projector and LCD TV, but there currently is none available on a disc-based, mass-market format like Blu-ray. Also, its visual benefit in a setup with an average-size screen viewed at an average viewing distance is questionable. So, while 4K is coming down the pike, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend holding out for it.
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