If you’re thinking at this point that the HD950 sounds way too complicated and sophisticated for you to get your head round, we have a couple of bits of good news for you. First, the HD950 has been endorsed by the THX organisation, to the extent that it actually ships with a THX picture preset that gives you what THX deems to be the best settings for video the projector can achieve. Personally I still found myself marginally tweaking the colour settings from the THX levels, but that’s probably because I’m the sort of person who really ought to get out more…
The HD950 is also endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation – to the ISF C3 level – meaning that you can get an ISF engineer in to professionally calibrate your projector to take into account the subtle specificities of your room set up (assuming this wasn’t done when you first had the projector installed, of course). This ISF support was conspicuously absent on last year’s HD750.
I’ve been so wrapped up in the HD950’s more sophisticated features that I’ve so far failed to cover some of its more basic – though still key – bits. So: connections include two HDMIs, a 12V trigger output, an RS-232 control port. There’s also a D-Sub PC port – something you won’t find on the cheaper HD550.
Installers will be relieved, too, to find that the HD950 permits shifting off the image optically as much as 80 per cent in the vertical domain, and 34 per cent horizontally, meaning that a perfectly proportioned image should be obtainable in almost any room layout without resorting to the dreaded image-distorting antics of digital keystone correction.
The lens supports an excellent x2 level of optical zoom, moreover, with other general features worth mentioning including a solid though not inspirational brightness output of 900 Lumens, and onboard HQV Reon-VX processing. This latter system consistently delivers some of the finest interlaced-to-progressive processing around without spending megabucks, as well as providing solid scaling and full 10-bit 4:4:4 processing.
Finally settling down to watch the HD950, I’m quickly immersed in the wonderfully satisfying experience that seems now to be almost inevitable with any D-ILA product.
As usual, leading the charge of good picture points is the HD950’s terrific black level performance, which finds dark scenes enjoying black colours of a naturalism and profundity that’s unprecedented at the HD950’s price point.
What’s more, since the HD950’s ultra-efficient Optical Wire Grid system can achieve these black levels natively, without having to continually adjust the image’s brightness, dark scenes enjoy seemingly complete stability, with none of the brightness jumps or flickering you get with projectors that have to use dynamic irises to achieve good black levels. Where dark scenes contain bright elements, moreover, the HD950 is able to deliver a huge and dynamic contrast range, since it doesn’t need to reduce the brightness of the overall image to keep its black levels intact.