Projectors

Samsung SP-A900B Single-Chip 1080p DLP Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

I installed the A900 on a shelf that put the lens axis just below the top of my screen. The vertical lens shift allowed me to center the image nicely. Most DLP projectors at this price point and below have few or no lens shift options. There is however, no horizontal shift. This was not a problem for me though as my shelf is quite wide. The zoom range is 1.72 to 2.24 (screen width to throw distance). Focusing took a bit longer due to the manual control but when finished I was quite impressed with the edge-to-edge sharpness of the image. This is obviously a very high-quality lens.

Calibrating the A900 is a little different than other display types. Bulb-based DLPs use a color wheel to create the primary and secondary colors. Setting the color parameters is a simple matter of measuring the raw values from the color wheel using internal test patterns then entering those values into the service menu. The projector’s software does the rest. In addition to the Rec 709 (HD) color space, there is SMPTE-C (SD) and EBU (Europe) available. I measured these to verify them and they were indeed spot-on. The projector also calculates the white point from the color values. The color temp presets are labeled in Kelvin values and they also measured exactly to spec. The 5500K setting is perfect for black & white movies. The warmer sepia tone is meant to match the color temperature of the lamps used in theater projectors of the past.

After color calibration I tweaked the grayscale tracking to perfection. The peak output with the iris fully open was over 19 foot-Lamberts; too bright for my black-hole of a theater. I first tried lowering the contrast control. This worked fine but it made the grayscale a bit more difficult to adjust accurately. I then tried the different iris options. Besides off (fully open) you can set it to Auto or Manual with 101 steps, 0 being fully open. I settled on 73 which gave me a peak output of around 13 fL. I am not a fan of auto irises because they have a negative effect on gamma and grayscale tracking. I found if I wanted to use the auto setting, I had to re-calibrate grayscale. I also could not achieve flat gamma tracking. Though this projector doesn’t quite have the contrast performance of the latest high-end LCoS models, it does just fine without using an auto iris to artificially pump up the dynamic range. To its credit however, I did not observe any brightness pumping or hear any noise when it was in operation.