Sagem HD-D45H G4 T DLP TV Review
- Review Price: £1145.00
There’s no doubt about it: rear projection has an image problem. Ask about down your local high street what people think about rear projection TVs, and nine times out of 10 they’ll recall with a shudder those hulking behemoths found in pubs in the late 1980s, with a picture quality so bad you often couldn’t tell which side was which during footie matches.
So we’re here today with Sagem’s latest 45in rear projection TV to resurrect the technology’s sullied reputation. For as we’re about to discover, things have come on a heck of a lot in the past 15 years or so.
For starters, compared with the grim, black, plasticky monsters of rear projection past, Sagem’s HD-D45H G4 T is an exercise in TV chic, blending a surprisingly slender, lacquered piano-black screen frame with a wonderfully bold silver, concave pedestal. What’s more, the design cunningly makes the TV look like it’s a flat panel set if you view it from the front.
Even when you get round the back you’ll probably be surprised at how little bulk the D45H packs. Sure, you couldn’t realistically wall mount it like you could an LCD or plasma. But it only sticks out around 37cm, making it comfortably less bulky than your average CRT TV.
While we’re concentrating on the TV’s rear, we might as well run through the abundance of connections to be found there. Especially pleasing is the provision of a pair of HDMI sockets – a rare future proofing touch that could, for instance, allow you to simultaneously connect two forthcoming HD sources like Sky’s HD receiver and an HD-DVD deck.
These are joined by component video inputs for analogue HD and progressive scan duties, plus three SCARTs (all of which, excellently, can take RGB signals); a 15-pin D-SUB PC jack; and even a multimedia card slot you can use for directly viewing digital photos on the TV’s king-sized screen.
In terms of features, we should probably first get into the technology at the TV’s heart. For unlike the original rear projection sets, which used CRT technology, this Sagem uses a digital system known as Digital Light Projection (DLP). For those of you not familiar with this, it’s a system developed by Texas Instruments where pictures are made by bouncing light off a panel of tiny mirrors fixed on the back of a controlling microchip. Each mirror represents a pixel in the final picture, and the microchip angles each mirror individually according to what the picture dictates that pixel should look like. The resulting light is then bounced through a fast-spinning colour wheel that introduces the right colour tone before the light arrives on your screen.
Moving on to other more D45H-specific features, we find it completing its HD Ready quest with a native resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, and compatibility with the necessary 720p and 1080i high definition formats. It’s also nice to find the set equipped with a built-in digital tuner, especially as that tuner is fully supported by a 7-day electronic programme guide, and memory for storing up to six timer events selected from the EPG listings.
Next on the list of goodies is something Sagem calls Crystal Motion image processing. This is designed to make colours appear more vibrant and natural, enhance contrast and brightness levels, and make the picture sharper. That’s not the end of the image processing either, as the set also carries the so-called DCDi de-interlacing system from Faroudja – a system designed to do away with the jagged edges pixel-based technologies often exhibit.
The only remaining feature worth mentioning that there’s a subwoofer built into the TV’s pedestal, which combines with Virtual Dolby 2.1 processing to enhance the bass in its audio performance.
Within microseconds of settling down to watch the D45H in action, those horrible memories of ‘pub rear projection’ melt away like a snowball on a bonfire. Especially impressive given CRT projection’s problems in the same area is the Sagem’s superb colour performance. Colours invariably look punchy and dynamic, but also maintain a superbly natural tone, even where skin tones – always tricky to get right – are concerned. Even more significantly, edges in a picture look clean and sharp, suffering none of the colour bleed problems associated with CRT rear projection.
The TV’s black levels are also outstanding, enjoying a depth and clarity that leaves nearly all LCD TVs and many plasmas trailing. You can thus get drawn into the depth of the picture rather than having to squint through the grey mist associated with low-contrast screens.
Perhaps one of the most surprising strengths of the Sagem’s picture is how sharp it is. You’d think the process of projecting an image might soften that image out, but actually the D45H never looks less than pin-sharp, especially with high definition. In fact, we’d argue that on the evidence of the D45H, DLP rear projection can look better with an Xbox 360 than plasma usually does.
The picture isn’t completely perfect, though. One issue with DLP technology is that its dependence on a fast-spinning colour wheel to add colour means you can sometimes make out strips of pure colour popping up for a fraction of a second around the periphery of the picture – and this does sometimes manifest itself with the D45H. But we found it very easy to live with overall – and some people can’t even see it at all!
Aside from that, the only minor issues we have are that horizontal camera pans can appear slightly jerky, and if you’re watching in a very light room, the TV tends to pool a faint reflection of that light in the centre of its screen. But again, neither of these issues comes close to overwhelming all the TV’s good work.
It’s a very respectable audio performer too. Some TVs sound more aggressive and powerful, perhaps, but the D45H makes up for this with impeccable clarity and finesse.
Unless you really are fixated on getting a flat TV as your partner for the new high definition world, you write Sagem’s new DLP rear projection model off at your peril. After all, where in the flat panel world would you be able to find stunning 45in pictures – not to mention features and connections galore – for under £1200? Exactly…
How we test televisions
We test every TV we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9
Sound Quality 8