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Planar Xscreen Monaco 80 - Xscreen Monaco 80
In fact, so confident is the Monaco 80 about its ability to be used in a typical living room environment that it even offers a (£900 extra) ‘TV' option comprising an additional AV ‘hub' or switching box that's either external or built into the screen.
This hub has its own built-in TV tuners, and sockets for attaching your AV source gear. Then a single cable can carry video from the switchbox to your projector.
An extra benefit of the TV box is that it allows you to control potentially your entire AV system via one remote. What's more, impressively the switchbox comes equipped with Pixelworks video processing, so that you can scale the image it outputs to suit your projector's resolution.
So much for the theory: does the screen really deliver on its outrageous ambient-light promises? You know what? It really does.
I actually started off my tests, though, by checking if the Monaco 80 was actually any good as a ‘proper' screen running in a darkened room. And I'm happy to say it is. I was hugely impressed by the white balance and colour tone it produced with a Sky HD broadcast of Steven Spielberg's Munich, for instance. In fact, at times the image took on an almost luminous quality that really reminded me to an uncanny degree of the experience of watching a film at a real cinema.
The Monaco 80 also showed a perfect touch with detailing, especially as it avoids the common trap some (especially PC oriented) screens fall into of overcooking the sharpness until the picture looks noisy or bitty. It's clear already that the Xscreen is made by film enthusiasts, for film enthusiasts.
Also remarkable is how little unwanted ‘bounce-back' the screen puts out. With many screens, the light from the projector can be refracted out from over quite a wide angle, causing bright reflections on your walls and ceilings, which can really reduce the black levels you see on the screen - unless you happen to be a Goth-head with a complete black felt-covered room. But the Monaco 80 somehow manages to keep the reflected light remarkably focussed straight back out at you, rather than spilling it all over the room.
This helps the Monaco 80's picture look exceptionally bright for a dedicated home theatre screen. Yet crucially this extreme brightness has seemingly been achieved with only the slightest compromise to black level performance.