There are obviously some seriously impressive projectors around right now that cost less than the Crystal 35. JVC’s X3, in particular, delivers not only outstanding video quality but also decent 3D playback for just £3,500. However, with a brightness output that’s not even half that of the Crystal 35, the JVC only works effectively in an extremely dark environment of the sort usually only achievable in a dedicated home cinema room.
The extreme brightness of the Crystal 35’s images, by comparison, actually makes it a unique proposition for its price point in that it allows you to watch and truly enjoy its pictures with ambient light in your room. In fact, couple the Crystal 35 with one of the Screen Innovations’ Black Diamond, focussed-reflection screens, and you’ve potentially got yourself a 100-200in ‘TV’ without needing to cough up anywhere near the 50 grand minimum required to buy an actual 100in TV.
In fact, this scenario could well be Sim2’s main thinking behind the Crystal 35. Tellingly, according to designer Giorgio Revoldini ‘Crystal lives in the home decor, free of unnecessary formalities. Only when it is turned on, when the lens and graphics are illuminated, does it unveil its true nature’. Decipher this classic ‘designer speak’ and Revoldini’s words suggest that the Crystal is meant to be something you live with as part of your day to day life, in your normal living spaces, rather than something that’s expected to be tucked away in a dedicated, blacked out room.
While we have a feeling the unique properties of the Crystal 35 will appeal to a good many home cinema enthusiasts, though, before you all start trying to scrape together £4,500, we do have to add a word of caution. Or rather, two words of caution: rainbow effect. For as feared, the Crystal 35’s combination of extreme brightness - even in Eco lamp mode - and a single chip DLP system does generate pretty clear evidence of colour striping, especially during dark scenes.
The impact of this reduces if you’re watching in ambient light. But the fact remains that if you happen to be one of those people who’s badly affected by rainbowing (its impact varies from person to person), then the Crystal 35 is not for you.
The Crystal 35’s extreme brightness also causes another couple of less troubling issues, as it kicks out more heat than most projectors and also runs a touch noisily. The noise is very even, though, and the projector’s throw-distance flexibility should enable you to position the projector a suitable distance away from your seating position.
The Crystal 35 is the only projector we’ve tested costing less than five figures that’s been able to produce pictures of real cinematic quality in ambient light. Especially if used with a high-contrast, focussed-reflection screen like the Black Diamond. This gives it a unique, ‘lifestyle’ SP that amply justifies its £4.5k price.
It’s also a ferociously potent projector for a dedicated home cinema room, of course. However, if you’re thinking of buying one for such a dark space - and perhaps even if you’re thinking of getting one for a lighter, more casual environment - we really do recommend that you try and give the Crystal 35 a spin in a friendly dealer’s demo room before you hand over your cash, just in case you find the rainbow issues too overpowering.