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Samsung SP-A800B review

John Archer

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Reviewed:

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Samsung SP-A800B
  • Samsung SP-A800B
  • Samsung SP-A800B
  • Samsung SP-A800B
  • Samsung SP-A800B

Summary

Our Score:

7

As one of the TV world's most prolific brands, at first glance it seems a little surprising that the SP-A800B is only the second home cinema projector Samsung has ever managed to launch into the UK. But of course, if you think about it, building TVs and building projectors are very different disciplines; being great at one doesn't necessarily make you great at another. Plus the projection market is a notoriously tough nut to crack, especially if you don't have mass projector production facilities in place.

All of which explains three things about the SP-A800B: 1) why it's taken more than two years to arrive after Samsung's home projection debut, the 720p SP-710; 2) why it's not exactly the most widely available projector in the world right now; and 3) why Samsung has turned to a ‘third-party expert' to help it get its pictures right.

That expert is one Joe Kane, the chap who brought us the renowned ‘Video Essentials' DVD, complete with lots of test signals and setup methods for getting the very best out of your TV. He's an internationally recognised boffin in the area of picture quality, so getting him onboard to ‘tune' the A800B's pictures seems a clever move.

Also rather clever is the A800B's design, which does its utmost to make an advantage rather than a brickbat out of the fact that it's really very large by the standards of your average desktop projector. Its prettiness is partly down to its extravagant use of saucy curves wherever it can fit one, and a high-gloss dark finish that's also got a vaguely translucent element to it, so that the projector's power lights and other indicators shine through in almost eerily stylish fashion.

Making the manual controls on the projector's top touch sensitive doesn't harm the up-front elegance, either. Another promising sign is the A800B's lens, which is impressively large for such an affordable projector, and also boasts a decent level of optical zoom to help you get set up.

Further set up help comes from a vertical image shift wheel on the projector's underside, though slightly surprisingly there's no horizontal image shift, nor keystone correction, meaning you won't be able to get the edges of your image looking straight if your room arrangement means you have to position the projector even slightly to the side of your screen.

In terms of connections, the A800B has most of the key bases covered, with two HDMIs, two component video inputs, a D-Sub PC port, the usual S-Video and composite video inputs, and an RS-232C jack for system integration. The only thing conspicuous in its absence here is a 12V trigger jack that could have been used to drive an electronic screen.

Alan Brown

July 14, 2008, 3:03 am

I have spent approximately 8 hours with Joe Kane demonstrating this projector, between CEDIA Expo last September and InfoComm last month. The InfoComm session included 4 hours of installation and setup training. To fully appreciate the value of this display requires an understanding of motion imaging standards and practices, what constitutes genuine image fidelity. If image fidelity is not top priority for a shopper, other projectors will likely have more appeal.





This projector was designed from the ground up by Joe Kane advising Samsung. Joe was not simply brought in to "tweak" an existing product. This is the third generation of this device, with Joe behind the design at each step. In fact, the middle incarnation used TI's DC3 720P chip. Joe is quite familiar with DC3 characteristics.





This projector is intended for critical viewing of video and film programs. Therefore, no digital keystone adjustment, or horizontal lens shift. It's not a business projector, designed for travelling presenters, or intended to appeal to the mass market. The stellar sharpness and detail of its image would be seriously compromised with the use of digital keystone. Horizontal lens shift is an unnecessary expense, since the target market is for permanent installation, preferably by a trained professional, and calibrated by a skilled technician using suitable instruments.





Regarding the price, you will have difficulty finding any projector with competing overall image fidelity for less that many times its price in the UK. Lowering its cost of manufacture to bring down the resale price would likely result in diminished performance.





Best regards and beautiful pictures,


Alan Brown, President


CinemaQuest, Inc.


www.cinemaquestinc.com





"Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"

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