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Planar Xscreen Monaco 80 - Xscreen Monaco 80
Now it's time to turn the lights on and - ta da - amazingly Xscreen's claims prove to be true, as our Munich HD broadcast still looks eminently watchable.
Seriously, the amount of light the Monaco 80's screen just seems to soak up and hide away has to be seen to be believed. And the brightness of the picture still comfortably overwhelms the brightness in the room.
Naturally there's a limit to how far you can take this; while pretty much any daytime shots or decently lit interiors are constantly easy on the eye even when viewed in ambient light, some of Munich's darker scenes do start to look rather faded and flat. But of course, the chances are that the stuff you'll predominantly want to watch in ambient light will actually be daytime TV, most of which is ludicrously bright and so will hold up just fine on the Monaco 80's remarkable surface.
There are a couple of areas where you have to accept small compromises in return for the Monaco 80's daylight talents, mind you. As I hinted earlier, the screen's black level response isn't as profound as that of a high quality fabric screen. Plus although I enjoyed it, I can imagine that some people might not warm to the picture's almost luminous quality, preferring instead something a little more flat and neutral.
While the compromises I mentioned at the end of the review might be enough for a real movie purist to dismiss the Xscreen Monaco 80, that doesn't alter the fact that it is, in my opinion, a work of genuine genius. It delivers on its revolutionary ambient-light-use claims spectacularly well, and looks divine into the bargain.
I guess another potential stumbling block could be the Monaco 80's price; at £1,400 (or £2,300 with a scaler and TV tuner) it's hardly cheap by 80in projection screen standards.
But even here, if you consider how its ‘daytime' design opens up the possibility of the screen in conjunction with a projector becoming a genuine replacement for your TV, the price suddenly doesn't look so bad. After all, couple an 80in Monaco with, say, the superb InFocus IN78 projector, and you're looking at a total spend of £2,900 (or £3.8k with the optional media box) - a price which actually compares very favourably indeed with what you'd currently have to pay for an 80in plasma or LCD TV.
Scores In Detail
- Image Quality