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Although we've previously looked and liked a couple of DLP projectors from US brand Planar, they hardly prepared us for the PD8150 before us today.
For while the PD7010 and PD7060 were surprisingly cheap and, dare I say it, cheerful models considering that Planar's stuff is predominantly aimed at the premium custom install market, on paper the PD8150 looks like a true cutting-edge home cinema thoroughbred.
For starters, as you'd expect of a £4,400 machine, it sports a Full HD Dark Chip 3 Texas Instruments chipset - this being pretty much the state of the art in DLP terms until the first DarkChip 4 projectors start to arrive.
Then there's the PD8150's very impressive 15,000:1 contrast ratio claim, which promises black levels of rare depth and naturalism, together with a high (by video projection standards) brightness output of 1000 Lumens, optimised for video use.
The projector's two HDMIs, meanwhile, are built to the latest v1.3 standard, with full Deep Color compatibility. Those are joined by a D-Sub port for dedicated PC connection; not one but two 12v trigger jacks; as well as IR and RS-232 ports that will doubtless prove invaluable when it comes to fitting a PD8150 into a wider home cinema system.
So far, the PD8150 hasn't put a foot wrong. And we haven't even got into all the technical wizardry it's got going on in the image processing department.
Kicking this off is a custom-tweaked version of the acclaimed GF9450 video processor from third-party image guru Gennum. This should work wonders on such matters as reducing video noise and enhancing the quality of the projector's picture scaling.
Also potentially very important is something called DynamicBlack. As its name suggests, this is a processing engine aimed at improving contrast. In fact, Planar reckons its incarnation of DynamicBlack actually triples the PD8150's contrast performance.
It works by studying the level of brightness of every single frame of the incoming picture; then expanding the picture's brightness range to match that of the Digital Mirror Device at the DLP engine's heart; and finally closing an iris to one of 200 possible positions so that the final image's peak brightness is the same as that of the original source.
This clever process is also claimed to combat DLP's old dithering-noise-over-motion complaint, and since Planar's application of DynamicBlack uses an exceptionally low-mass actuator and operates at the same frame rate as the incoming video signal, it should keep other image artefacts to an absolute minimum.
The PD8150 carries TI's BrilliantColor system, too, designed to give colours more punch and contrast, as well as making skin tones look more like they would in the ‘real world'.
As if all this wasn't enough, the PD8150 can adjust its lamp brightness for each separate segment of the DLP colour wheel; an approach which is claimed to improve colour toning without reducing colour saturation. And as an extra touch, the PD8150 drops the lamp brightness by 50% twice during each colour wheel rotation to counter DLP's common problems with dithering noise in dark areas and the so-called ‘rainbow effect', where stripes of pure red, green and blue flit around over bright image components, or around the periphery of your vision. The rainbow effect should also be reduced by the PD8150's application of a six-speed colour wheel.
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