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Samsung SP-A800B - Samsung SP-A800B

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


Turning our attentions to the A800B's innards, we find a 6-segment colour wheel that should, hopefully, keep a lid on DLP's rainbow effect noise; a slightly more powerful than usual 300W lamp; a very respectable claimed contrast ratio of 10,000:1; and, um, a DarkChip 2 DLP chipset.

Why the ‘um' concerning the DarkChip 2 chipset? Because these days we're accustomed to all but the most entry-level projectors using Texas Instruments' newer DarkChip 3 system, with its improvements to black level response and motion response times.

It's tempting to see this use of a rather aging chipset as a side effect of Samsung's apparently vast lead time in putting the A800B together. But Joe Kane has a different spin to put on it, namely that he believes the DarkChip 2 system delivers better shadow detailing than the newer chip. Obviously this is something we'll be on the look out for during our review…

Features within the projector's nicely presented onscreen menus, meanwhile, include a digital noise reduction routine; a 1080p/24fps mode; overscan removal; colour patterns and various test signals; the ability to adjust the lamp between ‘theater' (darker) and bright modes; a series of thematic image presets; colour temperature and gamma adjustments; and DynamicBlack, which can automatically adjust the projector's iris to reduce/increase the light output of the projector during dark/light scenes, for enhanced contrast and black level performance.

In light of the DarkChip 2 revelation mentioned earlier, inevitably the first thing I really looked at during the projector's test phase was its black level response and shadow detailing. And rather to my surprise, I have to admit that Kane possibly has a point when he suggests that DarkChip 2 might be better than the newer chipset when portraying shadow detail.

During a particularly dark scene, such as any of those in Mrs Lovett's basement in the Blu-ray of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd, there really did seem to be a touch more texture on show in the room's walls, and the suggestion of a bit more human dismemberment evidence to go with it!

However, impressive though this shadow detailing undoubtedly is, it's also undeniable that the Samsung's pictures don't go quite as deep in the black level department as those of good DarkChip 3 projectors. This means that for all their extra detailing, dark scenes can also look a touch grey.

What's more, the lack of real punch to the picture's black levels means that images in general don't look quite as dynamic and aggressive as I'd like. Take, for instance, the opening free-running sequence in Casino Royale. This is a predominantly bright, sunlit scene, but thanks to the slightly flat feel to its dark picture elements, such as shaded areas, the image just doesn't seem quite as rich and cinematic as we've seen it looking elsewhere.

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.


"Advancing the art and science of electronic imaging"

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