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I have to say that after a long weekend spent walking in the countryside trying to use fresh air to get rid of a seemingly never-ending cold, being able to get the HC6500's picture perfectly positioned and focussed on my screen without having to shift my sorry butt off my chair was pretty much a dream come true.
The onscreen menus are packed with the sort of tweaks reviewers, installers and people who need to get out more absolutely love, too. Thematic gamma presets, Mosquito noise reduction, block noise reduction, ‘random' noise reduction (!), colour transient improvement, auto iris on/off/specified level, two lamp level settings, video and film modes, overscan reduction/deactivation, the facility to adjust the image settings to suit an anamorphic screen, and even a degree of colour management to the red, green and blue colour elements via a gamma curve interface… all this and more is possible via the HC6500's onscreen menus.
It's actually a good job there is so much flexibility, too. For I have to say that in its ‘from the box' state the HC6500 didn't really do a lot for me. Colours just looked a bit peaky, somehow, the image felt a little unstable, and there also didn't seem to be quite the dynamism to pictures that I was expecting. In fact, for a few minutes I was even thinking to myself that if this rather flat, jumpy picture is the price you have to pay for a practically silent projector, I'd rather have the noise back!
Fortunately a good 20 minutes or so in the company of a test signal generator and all those picture tweaks I just went to the trouble of listing had improved things no end.
The biggest area of improvement came with the projector's colours. For with their rather cold, clinical and forced ‘edge' taken off, they actually start to look very nice. Skin tones in particular get to a point where they're exceptionally good for an affordable LCD projector, combining natural tones with outstanding blend subtlety, ensuring that there's none of the patchiness or striping seen on weaker machines.
Colours also manage to get a satisfying sense of richness after our tweaks without compromising that all-important naturalism, and enjoy an impressive degree of balance. By which I mean that no single tone - red, green, blue, whatever - tends to look too dominant.
Another string to the HC6500's bow is its terrific sharpness. The full HD resolution is put to immaculate use in bringing out every little joyful HD detail from high quality Blu-ray fare such as the recent release of Mamma Mia. Bought by my wife, obviously…
Every pore on faces, every ripple on the sea, every little spot of spittle sent flying as the stars murder Abba tunes… it's all there in mesmerising, noise-free, pin-sharp detail. At least if you make sure you've got overscanning deactivated. This projector isn't just HD's friend, either. It's actually also pretty accomplished at turning standard def TV shows into something its full HD native pixel count understands - thanks, no doubt, to its use of the seemingly ever-reliable HQV video processing engine.
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