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NEC HT1000 ProjectorGreat for presenters and home theater enthusiasts
Even though the NEC HT1000 retails for $4,995, it can be found on the Web for less than $3500 including shipping. That adds up to a tremendous value for the money, because what you get is a projector that can give you the best of both worlds. Since the projector delivers native SVGA video at 1024x768, your computer screen will be shown in the same shape you see it on 4x3 monitors. Then when you want to see an HD signal from, say, cable TV, you're looking at a picture that has the same number of pixels across, but a few less on the top and bottom (1024x576). Making this even better will be the upcoming anamorphic lens, which as of this writing in late September 2003 isn't available. But as soon as it is, you won't have to waste the pixels on the top and bottom of the frame -- they'll all be used when your 4x3 picture is stretched out to 16:9 by the lens.
How does this work ? Well, the video is squeezed into 1024x768 by the projector, which uses all of those pixels to pump out a squeezed frame, which is immediately spread back out by this anamorphic lens. It's the optical equivalent of video compression. NEC promises to send one to us as soon as it's available, so look for that follow-up soon here on Digital Media Net. So, this HT1000 isn't a true 16x9 projector like those much-more-expensive models, but its picture is so crystal clear that that's not really a loss. In fact, it's a big plus to be able to select RGB or DVI and then there's you computer on the screen -- using the same projector with which you watch HDTV.
Of course, like all projectors, that lamp inside gets awfully hot, so it must be cooled down by a fan. But in our testing, the sound of the HT1000's fan rarely interfered with the proceedings. While presenting a PowerPoint presentation in a quiet boardroom, the fan was hardly noticeable, and when watching DVDs the whisper of the fan was only audible during the quietest scenes. And with Monday Night Football's spectacular HD coverage, the fan noise wasn't detectable at all. And, if the fan noise really bothers you, switch the unit into eco-mode, where you sacrifice 20% of the brightness, but then the thing gets to be quieter than a church mouse.
The gorgeous pictures evident on live Monday Night Football broadcasts weren't only due to ABC's pristine feed, either. The HT1000 delivers video that's so crisp and clean it's probably better than your eyesight. Really, I don't think more sharpness would even help, because the HT1000 is able to deliver super-fine resolution that can pass even the most stringent of tests. Using DisplayMate Multimedia Edition, a PC-based test suite, we set up the projector according to its guidelines, and ran the video into both the DVI and RGB input of the HT1000. At the same time, we used the new Digital Video Essentials DVD to adjust and then test component output. For brightness measurements, we used the projector's presentation mode and projected a 60-inch-diagonal image for measurement, projecting a nine-point ANSI light output image. The brightness was fairly consistent across the screen, with the hot spot on the bottom middle section at 644 lumens and the dimmest section at the top right at 479 lumens. This is not quite the quoted 1000 lumens NEC quotes on its specs, but I must emphasize that the screen looks evenly white to the eye. In all this testing, what impressed me most was the smooth ramps this projector is capable of displaying. The colors look vivid, and the blacks were not completely black but close. In some progressive-scan DVD scenes, the blacks don't get quite dark enough to be called perfect, but they're is quite close. And the RGB computer output was remarkable, with the computer desktop looking as clear as on any monitor. You'll be proud to use this baby for any presentation.
There are more features included in addition to the great picture. The HT1000's "3D Reform" feature is a highly useful capability that we found ourselves using without hardly any quality loss. It allows you to place your projector in a place that's not perpendicular to the screen and then digitally adjust the keystoned picture until it looks square. It works like a champ, albeit with slight loss of quality as a trade-off. But it's not too bad -- our light meter showed us that part of the frame closest to the projector was always measurably brighter than the further-away parts. For example, our test of 3D reform had the projector about 10 feet away from the screen with the projector about three feet below the center height of the screen. Our light meter measured 320 lumens at the lower left part of the screen, while measuring 231 lumens at the upper right. But that's all on paper, because when looking at the screen, it was still evenly bright, sharp and clear to the eye.
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