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The more observant of you will have already noticed that the VMC1080 from British company Isol-8 doesn’t look much like a TV or projector. And there’s a good reason for this, namely that it isn’t a TV or projector!
What it might be, though, is your TV or projector’s new best friend. For according to Isol-8, the VMC1080 can single-handedly have your video display device delivering better colour, detailing, contrast, and motion handling - all while simultaneously protecting it from those frankly terrifying critters known as 'mains-borne spikes'. Yikes.
If the VMC1080 can deliver on even some of its promises, it might just turn out to be the best £179 you’ve ever spent. Especially if you’ve got a particularly large TV or a projector, where any improvements to your picture quality will be that much more obvious.
At which point we’d probably get on and actually say what the VMC1080 is. Namely, a Video Mains Conditioner.
And yes, we can already feel the waves of cynicism washing over this review. For we’re only too aware that many normally mild-mannered and genteel AV folk suddenly explode into uncontrolled anger - red faces, sputtering, clenched fists, the works - at the merest suggestion that using expensive cables or electrical filters can actually make a significant difference to video performance.
Actually we have a little sympathy for this feeling ourselves - up to a point. For we really do question if some of the truly esoteric cabling out there, with prices of many hundreds of pounds for a few metres, can really outperform something much more affordable from the likes of IXOS or Supra. But at the same time, few people seem to doubt (again, up to a point) that superior cabling can improve the performance of high-spec audio gear, so why shouldn’t it be the case with video too?
After all, there are actually more elements to a video feed that could be improved by better cabling than there are elements in an audio feed (cue a legion of hi-fi lovers lining up to shoot that argument down!).
Also, let’s be fair, at £179 the VMC1080 isn’t exactly megabucks by the standards of the premium interconnect world. So let’s just take a deep breath and give it a chance, shall we?
We should start, obviously, by stating exactly what a mains conditioner does. Basically, it sits between the mains supply and the power inlet to your display device and 'cleans' the incoming power, so that the flow is more stable and less polluted by noise - including the noise that can be added to your mains by other electrical devices in your home. This should result, the argument goes, in better picture quality. Plus, of course, the VMC1080 can take the hit rather than your display if you’re unlucky enough to get hit by one of those sudden high voltage mains spikes we hear about.