If you want to put a number on all the Crystal 35’s optical efforts, then how about 30,000:1; a claimed contrast ratio that’s way higher than we’d usually expect to find with such a bright projector at the Crystal 35’s level of the market.
So far we haven’t talked much about the Crystal 35‘s inevitable compromises. So let’s get to the two biggest of these right now. First, the projector doesn’t carry Sim2’s patented and brilliant AlphaPath optical technology. Second and most significantly, it only uses a single-chip DLP system rather than the triple chip DLP or LED engines found in Sim2’s usual high-end projectors.
This inevitably means that the Crystal 35 needs a colour wheel. And wherever there’s a colour wheel, there’s the potential for that DLP problem known as the rainbow effect, where stripes of red, green and blue appear in your peripheral vision or over very bright parts of the picture. Furthermore, experience suggests that the rainbow effect can be emphasised on high brightness projectors, so this is definitely something we’ll have to look out for during our testing of the Crystal 35.
Setting the Crystal 35 up finds it sporting a pleasingly flexible 1.62-2.43:1 throw ratio, along with manual optical vertical image shifting. There’s a degree of gamma and colour management at your disposal too, including range and saturation adjustments for the RGBCMY colour elements.There’s nothing like the flexibility that you get with the Live Colours software system supported by Sim2’s premium projectors, though.
It's also worth stating that some of the Crystal 35’s presets are rather unhelpful by Sim2’s usually exacting standards, making a little time tinkering with the available settings in one of the three provided ‘User’ preset memory slots well worth your while.
Thankfully it’s possible to end up with some very good looking colours indeed, which combine natural tones with exceptional blend subtlety for a £4.5k projector. Even better, the predominantly natural look to colours is combined with levels of vibrancy that are nothing short of spectacular for the sub-£5k market. This is, of course, a direct result of the way the Crystal 35‘s massive brightness levels combine with what’s clearly a very impressive contrast range.
Black levels get much deeper than they’ve any right to on a projector with so much light at its disposal - yet the brightness ensures that there’s never any shortage of shadow detail during even the darkest scenes.
It was at this point that we realised we were actually only using the lamp in its eco mode. Which meant that the already stunningly punchy images we were looking at could be made even more dynamic. This was probably the closest we’ve come to a real life ‘but this one goes to 11’ moment, and actually left us with a picture that felt a little overpowering.
Switching back to Eco, we were also able to wallow in the phenomenal amount of detail the Crystal 35 managed to resolve from a selection of Blu-rays - all delivered without a hint of noise beyond any grain that might be in a transfer (so long as you don’t activate the noise-inducing BrilliantColour option, which has to rate as just about the most unnecessary feature we can remember seeing on any product in recent times given how vibrant the Crystal 35‘s images are in their ‘natural’ state).