The first thing we noticed about the F10M’s performance was indeed its brightness. For its 1,000 lumens output actually looks rather brighter than the outputs from many similarly specified halogen LCD/DLP models. The brightest parts of the picture really leap out, even on a neutral gain screen more regularly used for testing dedicated home cinema projectors.
This is about as far as it’s possible to get from the washed out, drab pictures associated with the majority of the affordable LED market to date.
We should clarify here that the sort of punchiness we’ve just been talking about only really applies if you leave the F10M in its high brightness mode; nudging things down to the Eco output definitely reduces overall brightness quite a bit. However, if you want to watch any video on the F10M, we’d actually recommend that you use the Eco mode, despite the loss of brightness it incurs.
There are three main reasons we say this. First and most importantly, the F10M’s colours look massively more natural for video with the bulb set to Eco output than High. In High, many tones - especially rich reds and greens - appear as if they’re being pushed far too aggressively, producing a picture that looks unnatural and unbalanced. Though it should be said that even in Eco mode the colour tones remain clearly data- rather than video-biased.
The F10M’s fans also run vastly more quietly using the Eco output setting. And finally, in Eco mode the projector is far less inclined to ‘bleach’ very bright areas of the picture, leaving more subtle detailing and colour shifts intact.
It is, of course, a shame when using the Eco mode not to be getting the maximum use out of the F10M’s high brightness ‘killer app’. Especially as the projector’s Eco brightness level brings it more in line with rival LCD projectors - even some slightly cheaper ones. But it’s important to stress that the image still looks punchy, and it’s comforting to know that the Bright mode exists if you want to give added visual drama to PC presentations - especially if you’re having to contend with ambient light.
It does no harm to the F10M’s sense of dynamism that its general black level response is slightly above average for such an affordable, data-led projector. Sure, there’s much more greyness and much less shadow detail around during dark scenes than we’d expect from a projector designed with home cinema in mind, but there’s not the complete ‘grey out’ of blacks so often seen with budget LCD projectors.
Wrapping up the eminently respectable performance detailed so far are a striking lack of visible pixel structure when watching the F10M on a 100in screen; clean motion reproduction; and a dearth of technology-related video noise.
While it’s hard to rave about the F10M, it’s also pretty hard to seriously fault it. For basically, aside from some rather hit and miss colour tones, it produces data LCD-like performance levels for only a small cost premium while delivering all the usual LED benefits - including, most notably, that ‘one bulb for life’ boast. All of which means it’s surely only a matter of time before we start to see LED lighting having a go at the affordable home cinema market too.