What I like best about the DreamVision Starlight2 LCoS projector is that it’s hard to get anything less than a really, really good picture out of it. Just turn it on and you’ll see pictures with amazing contrast — with or without calibration. You’ll get color that will blow away almost anyone. And you won’t hear fan noise unless you put your ear close to the projector. The fact that I could watch with this rig for hours upon hours for days on end and never once be distracted by a picture flaw says it all.
Color temperature (TH-Pro mode before/Cinema 1 mode after calibration):
Unlike some similar projectors, the Starlight2 isn't THX-certified-but like a THX-certified projector, it has a mode designed to set the projector up for a "by-the-book" picture while locking you out of many adjustments. DreamVision's name for this "proprietary" purist mode? TH-Pro. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) TH-Pro delivers the most accurate color temperature of all the available picture modes, averaging 6,672 degrees Kelvin. Through calibration of the red, green, and blue offset and gain controls, I was able to get the projector to track very close to the 6,500 Kelvins standard from 40 IRE (light gray) to 100 IRE (full white)— although I couldn't prevent it from diving into a slightly reddish color temperature of 5,899 Kelvins at 20 IRE. The best average color temperature I could get was 6,403 Kelvins. Regardless, the picture looked quite good on my Stewart StudioTek 100 neutral white 1.0-gain screen, either in TH-Pro mode or in the Cinema 1 mode I calibrated.
One problem I did encounter when running the measurements is that green was obviously undersaturated, both to my naked eye and to the Photo Research PR-650 colorimeter. Fortunately, the Starlight2 offers extensive color calibration capabilities, letting you adjust hue and saturation of all primary and secondary colors. I was able to get green dialed in just right. However, I noticed in the menu of the Blu-ray Disc of The Fifth Element that yellow was now undersaturated. No problem—I went back into the color calibration menu and tweaked it up by eye. That's the great thing about this feature: You can easily adjust the colors to your liking without worrying that you'll mess up the projector, because all of the color-point calibration is assigned to Custom modes and doesn't affect the factory settings.
Color decoder tests through the HDMI and component inputs revealed some errors. With HDMI, green was down -25% and blue was pushed up by +5%. With component, red was -15%, green -20%, and blue -5%.
With the iris (lens aperture) adjusted to a setting of -7 on a scale of -15 to 0, the contrast ratio measured 29,360:1 after calibration. That's about as good as it gets-and it's all done without the annoying level fluctuations (or "pumping") that an automatic iris mechanism often produces. The projector offers five gamma presets: normal plus A, B, C, and D. Three user-programmable gamma settings are also available. DreamVision recommends gamma B for movies, and I agree-the setting gave me a punchy, contrasty picture without crushing blacks or whites. This setting also looked pretty good for digital TV.
Overscan measured 0% on all sides with HD signals. A 2.5% overscan can be set for SD signals. The mask mode offers 2.5% and 5% settings, both of which crop the edges of the screen without magnifying the picture. A test pattern showed all of these adjustments perform according to their labeling. Brightness and color uniformity looked great at high, medium, and low signal levels, and I saw no convergence or focus errors.
The Starlight2 displayed 1080i/p and 720p test patterns with full resolution through its HDMI and component-video connections. The sharpness control offers levels from 0 to 100; I found that a setting of 20 delivered crisp edges with no artifacts. Settings of 30 or above produced phony-looking edges and a grainy picture. Detail enhancement settings from -50 to +50 are offered; I experimented with this control and ended up leaving it at the default of 0, which produced an exceptionally detailed image.
Three adjustments for noise reduction are provided: sliders for digital NR and mosquito NR, and an on/off switch for block NR. The noise reduction feature can be used only for SD signals-a limitation that greatly decreases its utility. Even so, its effects were barely noticeable even at the most extreme settings.
Effects of the Crystal Motion anti-judder processing were unusually subtle in both the Low and High settings. With 1080p/24 material such as the Casino Royale and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Blu-ray Discs, I still noticed significant amounts of judder during scenes of fast motion. However, the "video look" was less pronounced than with most anti-judder algorithms. Normally I can't stand the look of anti-judder processing, but I was able to watch entire movies with Crystal Motion set to High and was only occasionally and fleetingly bothered by the look. With 1080i material—the Best of UFC disc I mentioned in the review-motion was again only subtly smoothed. I would have preferred that DreamVision turn up Crystal Motion's effect a few notches for 1080i material, and I suspect some of the fans of anti-judder processing would prefer a stronger effect on 1080p/24 material.
Performance on all of the video artifact tests from the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the HQV Benchmark disc was excellent, the only flaws being some mild aliasing on a 480i "jaggies" test, and somewhat slow recognition time (about 1 second) on the 2:3 cadence on the 480i Film Detail test on the HQV Benchmark DVD.
Fan noise is very low-this might be the quietest projector I've tested.
Mounting the Schneider lens without recalibrating the projector reduced contrast to 22,445;1. After recalibration of lens aperture and contrast on the projector, contrast improved just slightly to 22,605:1. Picture distortion was approximately 0.5% at top and bottom of the picture, the image bowing in slightly. —B.B.
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