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Samsung SP-A800B - Samsung SP-A800B

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

To be fair, how you react to the A800B's black levels is potentially a matter of taste. For while I personally like my blacks to look a bit deeper than those on offer here, I could certainly anticipate that some people will prefer to see slightly more background detail during dark scenes, even if the general tone of those dark scenes is a tad grey.

It should be said here that the black level findings we've just reported were recorded with the DynamicBlack feature turned off, since we found that turning it on caused a) some noticeable brightness ‘stepping' in the picture following certain cuts as the iris adjusted itself, and b) a marginal reduction in the integrity of the colour tone.

And believe me, you do not want this projector lose its colour integrity. For that, without question, is the A800B's greatest strength. Here you really do have to hand it unequivocally to Joe Kane, as his tinkering with the projector's tuning has reaped genuinely outstanding results.

Rarely indeed have we seen skin tones, in particular, that look so completely credible and subtly varied as those delivered by the A800B. But it's not just skin tones where the colour accuracy makes itself felt; there's an extra level of authenticity to pretty much everything, from the varied green shades of the trees of the Apocalypto Blu-ray's jungle setting to the subtle blue variances in the sea during Casino Royale's Bahamas sequence. Awesome.

The picture is also to be commended on its sensational level of fine detailing, as it goes about revealing extra subtleties of texture in clothing and faces that you've no right to expect on a sub-£3k DLP projector, even a full HD one.

Even better, this extreme clarity and sharpness is produced without any serious amounts of grain. In fact, the only ‘grittiness' in the A800B's pictures is always entirely what's present in the source; the A800B adds any dot noise of its own, even when portraying people moving across the screen (something that can still cause a few DLP models to show dithering and dotting noise).

At this point I realised that throughout my tests, I'd never once become aware of the A800B's running noise. It really does run superbly quietly for a DLP model, and in this respect puts many far more expensive projectors to shame.

While these strengths all do more than enough to persuade me that Samsung owes it to us as well as itself to persevere in the projection marketplace, however, I do have a couple more little flaws to report.

First, perhaps again because of the DC2 chipset, fast motion can look a touch blurred and indistinct at times, especially if there's a camera pan to contend with. And second, I found myself more aware of the DLP rainbow effect than I'd ideally like. Which is to say that extreme points of contrast in the image can flicker with red, green and blue stripes, especially if you move your eyes over the picture - something you will often find yourself doing if you're watching on a really big screen.

Verdict

There's a lot to like about Samsung's A800B. The brand's connection with Joe Kane has certainly helped the projector stand out from the pack in the shadow detail and colour tone departments, and the design is both practical (in that it's terrifically quiet) and pretty enough to embellish any room.

Now if Samsung could just see its way to pushing the A800B's price down to around £2k, or else deliver a new projector with a slightly deeper black level response and less rainbow effect, it would have a truly special proposition on its hands. Fingers crossed…

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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