It's entirely possible that many of you only know Marantz as a hi-fi brand. And it's certainly fair to say that we've never featured a review of a Marantz product before in our ‘TV' section. But the reality is that Marantz has a well-established and venerable video side running alongside its hi-fi stuff, with one of its video projectors, the high-end (10 grand!) VP-11S1, managing to attain a near-mythical status among the AV cognoscenti.
So when we get our hands on a Marantz DLP projector that appears to deliver much if not all the spec of the 11S1 at barely half the price (£5,995), it's fair to say our interest is well and truly piqued. Cue the VP-15S1.
The 15S1 appears from the outside to be every inch a serious bit of kit. Which isn't an entirely positive thing, as it weighs a ton (something to bear in mind if you're thinking of ceiling mounting it), is very large, and is perhaps a touch more ‘utility' in its design than downright gorgeous. The huge distance the lens juts out from the front is particularly unnerving.
But most of the things we've just described, plus the fact that the chassis is made from die-cast aluminium, do at least hint at some quality innards - and that's all that truly matters at this sort of price level, right?
Focussing in on the 15S1's rear, it covers all the key bases you'd expect of a mid-range projector. Which is to say there are two HDMI inputs, two component inputs, a D-Sub PC port, an RS-232 port for system integration, the usual S-Video and composite video fallbacks, two 12v trigger outputs, and in/outs for hardwired remote control. What's more, the HDMIs are both built to the latest v1.3 specification, for Deep Color compatibility.
The DLP system at the 15S1's heart is also up to mid-range speed, utilising as it does Texas Instruments' Full HD DarkChip 3 chipset, with its promise of faster response times and deeper black levels than the DarkChip 2 system it supersedes. Marantz has managed to eke out a very promising claimed contrast ratio of 10,000:1 from this chipset, too, while the projector also promises a high maximum brightness of 1,000 ANSI Lumens.
The video processing driving the 15S1 also ticks the right boxes, utilising as it does the GF9351 VXP Video system from acclaimed third party outfit Gennum, along with TruMotion HD and FineEdge systems for improved progressive images; Chroma Error Compensation (CEC) technology for improving sharp edges; and something called ‘Reality Expansion' to boost the perceived colour range.