Here's what you get with the Cinema 2030: 2,000 lumens of brightness, 3D, HDMI with MHL, USB with networking capability, and a built-in speaker. Here's what you'll have to move up in price for: lens shift, higher quality optics, lower black levels, THX certification, and wireless HDMI. If you're looking for a portable projector that works in a variety of environments, and can connect to any conceivable video source, I don't believe you'll have to look any further! Let's check it out.
For years JVC has produced the best contrast ratios of any home projector thanks to their D-ILA technology. They have been able to manage these stellar black levels despite being the only major company to not utilize any sort of dynamic iris system in their projectors. This year they have added a dynamic iris system to their projectors that promises to provide even deeper blacks than ever before. The JVC X700 also features their updated e-Shift3 that now accepts a 4K signal and offers more control than before. As everyone seems to be clamoring for UltraHD, can the JVC X700 deliver the goods while still using a regular 1080p panel?
At home, acoustically transparent projection screens have been around for years, but have always had flaws. The size of the holes required for allowing sound to pass through are often visible from normal seating distances in the home. Also, much of the light passes through the screen, and this reduces the brightness of the image you will see. A projector you can buy for $3,000 now has more than enough brightness to allow some loss through the perforations. We have also seen the introduction of woven screens that allow sound to pass through, but also have a fine texture that is invisible from a normal distance. One such screen material is the Enlightor 4K from Seymour Screen Excellence. Boasting ISF certification for image quality and said to be acoustically transparent from 100 Hz to 20 kHz, it looks to be a screen material that can give you that movie theater immersion at home.
Looking over Secrets' last few years of projector reviews, it quickly becomes evident that the pricing sweet spot has settled around the $3000 mark. This makes sense since it's only a little more or less than you'd pay for a top-quality 65-inch flat panel. A few years ago, any TV over 50 inches carried a big price premium. When I bought my Pioneer Kuro in 2009 for example, I paid $2,900 for a 50-inch screen. I really wanted the 60-inch model but it was almost double the price at $5,600!
The REALLY BIG screen experience is still only available from front projection. Last year, I got to check out Mitsubishi's DLP, the HC8000D. This time, BenQ sent me their new W7500. For $2,799, it offers some great features and very high performance coupled with tremendous light output. Let's take a look.
Projectors are often described as having a "film-like" image. We are all trying to replicate that movie theater experience at home and so it seems that achieving that look is what we would strive for. The SIM2 SUPER LUMIS has shown me that in a modern projector; film-like is no longer what we want. All our sources now are pixel-perfect digital sources. Ideal projectors are razor-sharp and incredibly bright. We can focus down to a single pixel on the screen. Very little we see in the theater today is film sourced or projected from film, and nothing we watch at home is stored on film. So "film-like" is not what I'm after in a projector. What I'm after is something that shows me every last detail and imperfection in what I'm watching. A projector as true to the source as possible. With that in mind, the SIM2 SUPER LUMIS projector is a machine that is capable of doing just that. Powerful, precise, and utter revealing of everything it projects onto the screen.
Compared to mounting a flat panel TV, installing a projector is a pain. You need to get the screen perfectly level and flush with the wall. Then you have to mount the projector to precisely line up with the screen. It has to be perfectly parallel to the screen or you'll see distortion. Getting the projector perfectly level usually means lifting it up to make small adjustments to the feet, placing the projector down, and checking again. Since I review multiple projectors every year, I do this dance too many. By the time I get a projector perfect it's almost time to box it up and send it back to the company. The PJT40 projector mount from OmniMount is designed to make this easier than before and so I decided to install one in my home theater to find out.
In 2012, Sony produced my favorite projector of the year, the VPL-HW50ES. While many other projectors did certain things a little better, none has the combination of attributes that the HW50ES has. From movies to sports, bright rooms to dark, it managed to excel at everything I asked it to do. In 2013, we some improvements with the VPL-HW55ES, including longer lamp life, contrast ratio, and brightness.
I've reviewed a lot of Blu-ray players now and don't often get surprised. So when I took the Toshiba BDX6400 out of its shipping box I was a bit taken aback. I knew it was coming, but I expected a standard size black box. Instead I found a tiny little player that's even smaller than a Nintendo Wii. The tiny size made me instantly attracted to the BDX6400. Blu-ray players can only output HD content over HDMI now, so there really is no reason every player is a large box. A smaller unit like the Toshiba BDX6400 still has every connection you likely need, but is easier to store away. So just how much does this little player manage to pack inside?
Reviewing the Samsung UN85S9AF 4K UHD TV is far from a simple task. The entire construct requires around 4 people to stand upright. This 85" behemoth is a self contained home theater experience – it stands on its own and although it can technically be wall mounted, this really breaks from its design statement. Apparently, Samsung discovered that many of its customers prefer to use the built in stand – which is why they've invested a great deal in the built-in stand designs. When Samsung first showed off this design at CES in Las Vegas, I really didn't like it. From afar, it looked like a folding beach chair or scissors. However, when the UN85S9AF is right next to you, the feeling changes. The design is elegant and looks much better in person than it does on the Vegas show floor or in pictures.
Samsung made a big show of their updated Smart Hub interface at CES this year. For many people the important distinction between Blu-ray players now is the quality and variety of streaming content available and not the disc playback itself. The last player I tested from them had some very innovative search features at that time, though sometimes the results weren't fully accurate which reduced the usefulness. As that was close to two years ago, Samsung has had plenty of time to remedy the issue. With the heavy push towards streaming, and Samsung putting a lot of emphasis there on this new player, I was very hopeful for a nice online experience as I opened up the BD-F5900.
Last time I looked at a Blu-ray player from Panasonic it was their DMP-BDT210 model. It had almost everything I wanted in a Blu-ray player: perfect image performance, fast loading times, and a good deal of streaming content. I liked it enough that I bought one for the bedroom, where it was used happily until it was gifted to the in-laws, and allows them to watch movies and streaming content in their motorhome. It also got our award for Best Blu-ray Value Player that year, which it richly deserved. Because of the success of that model, I looked forward to seeing if the DMP-BDT230 maintained that excellence, and simply added a few tweaks to the formula as more streaming content became available. The only way to know was to put it through its paces.
It now seems our once indispensible couch assistant, the venerable remote control, has fallen out of favor. Previously impossible to live without, new options for controlling our TV and devices have sprung up to take its place. iOS and Android apps for our smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, with every manufacturer having one now. Some devices have moved beyond that, with cameras and microphones to let you control it with actions and voice commands. LG also falls into this category, shipping their Magic Remote with their high-end displays and Blu-ray players, including their high-end Blu-ray player for 2013, the BP730. Black and sleek in the hand, it works much like a Nintendo Wii controller, directing a cursor around the screen. Does this provide a break-through in control for streaming content and movie playback, or is it just a feature trying to distinguish itself from a pack of non-descript boxes?
Last year, Sony's Blu-ray players did a great job of hitting these goals. Their initial firmware had an issue decoding Blu-ray discs to RGB that we discovered, but that was quickly remedied and after that the players performed very well. Sony elected to keep the BDP-S790 at the top of their lineup this year, and it remains one of my favorite Blu-ray players, but the other models have been replaced. One new model is the BDP-S5100, which replaces the BDP-S590 model that I looked at in 2012. Has Sony kept with their winning model from last year, or have updates brought us changes?
With their updated e-shift technology, a full-featured CMS, and black levels that are untouched by other projector manufacturers, the new JVC X55 projector is capable of some truly stunning images. The kind of images that will likely have you painting that room, covering the carpet up with a dark rug, and putting electrical tape over the LEDs on your system components to prevent any little thing from entering the room to distract from its performance.