OK, the crew at Viewsonic sent me back the same Pro8100, after a firmware upgrade. The new upgrade relates to the issues reported with the dynamic iris. In the original version, the iris was first of all, slow, so you could often see it in scene changes, and even within scenes as brighter objects moved in and out of the scenes, or even just became larger or smaller. This dynamic iris issue is, at least, to the casual viewer, apparent from time to time – you don’t have to go “looking for it”. The other related issue, is that the auto iris seemed to overshoot the desired setting then backtrack, giving the scene a sort of yo-yo up and down in brightness – again, not great, but easy to spot on many scenes.
Now, to the updated version. This version of the Viewsonic Pro8100 has a new auto iris setting as its default. It is much faster, and performs as one would expect a good dynamic iris to perform.
Bottom Line: Viewsonic has nicely solved the issue, and it is no longer a concern. This makes the Viewsonic Pro8100 a better projector than the first version we tested, and therefore more competitive than before.
A note on the new configuration: The menu system of the Pro8100 still has only the choice of Auto Iris On, or Off. The old setting, and, I believe, one other new version, are still in the projector, but not easily accessible. Viewsonic advises that those other auto iris modes can be accessed with a string of entries from the projector’s control panel. Viewsonic also advises that in the next generation projector (whenever that hits the market), that all choices will be on the menus. I don’t see the lack of those other settings on the menus as a problem with the current Pro8100, as the one you want, is the one it now defaults to when Auto Iris is engaged.
More important to know, is that the Viewsonic Pro8100 has user upgradable firmware. If you already have one, you can download the new firmware from Viewsonic, and install it, rather quickly. I imagine that many Viewsonic Pro8100s in dealer stock, at this time, do not have the new firmware, so, if you are buying one, check with your dealer about the firmware, as they should be able to do the upgrade for you. At worst case, if it comes with the older firmware, you can upgrade it yourself. Of course, this is early August, and probably, within a month or so, all the Pro8100′s in the field will have the new firmware.
How to select the other iris settings: Go to the control panel (with menus not opened) and hit this button sequence:
up, down, left, right, down, up, down, up, menu.
The bottom line, on all of this, is that the auto iris detracted from what was otherwise, a pretty impressive 1080p home theater projector. The Viewsonic is well priced, and has the advantage of being, I believe, the brightest of the 3LCD 1080p home theater projectors (in best mode). The one exception to that, is the new Mitsubishi HC5500, which is under review and is about the same in brightness as the Viewsonic. I’ll be commenting on how they compare in the forthcoming Mitsubishi HC5500 review, in about a week, as I haven’t spent enough time with the Mitsubishi yet.
As noted in the review, after a basic calibration, the Viewsonic has excellent color, and it’s black levels, while no match for the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, are still comparable to other projectors in it’s price range. Note: I’ll be adding some of this, and additional comments in a supplement to the Viewsonic Pro8100 projector review, also in the next week or so. That’s about it for now! -art