NEC HT510 - Image Quality
Overall the NEC HT510 puts out a very nice image. Color accuracy out of the box is good, with flesh tones off only sightly. Since the projector doesn't have separate color controls for red/green/blue, using a calibration disk is challenging. In the picture of the four Hobbits the NEC did a very good job of getting the different colored vests right. The image of Johnny Depp from Pirates also looks great. There is no question that the color handling of the NEC results in a different feel than the two most popular LCD projectors around, The Panasonic 700u, and the Sanyo Z3. Overall the LCD projectors have more punch to their colors, but, as is typical of DLP's the NEC seems "smoother" when it comes to color.
When compared to my BenQ 8700+ (which is twice the price), the NEC definitely appears less dynamic, and after trying calibration, I still couldn't get the colors as "right" as my BenQ (or for that matter, the Sanyo Z3). Still the overall effect is most pleasing, making this a very enjoyable source for your favorite HD or DVD. (I only briefly looked at regular TV programming - my screen - 140" diagonal - is so large that watching conventional TV resolution is painful without a good doubler/scaler, etc.)
One plus to the NEC - by virtue of being a DLP projector is that it lacks the vertical banding reported on many LCD projectors. The Panasonic 700u is especially known for occasionally showing subtle banding - particularly on sceens with large areas fairly smooth grayish (or lightly saturated colors). In this foggy scene here from Pirates, there is no sign of banding, but the banding would be definitely visible on the 700u. The banding may drive "perfectionist's" crazy, as witnessed by the great amount of discussion on Home Theater forums. (The Z3's banding is almost non-existant compared to the Panasonic). I guess you could say that the lack of banding is one more reason DLP projectors are generally considered more "film-like".
There are three presets to choose from, one is a very dynamic setting (good for gaming, or if you are fighting too much ambient light), a natural setting, and Black Detail. Out of the box, Black Detail is my recommendation as definitely the way to go for most movie watching. I also preferred it in almost all cases when viewing Hi-Def.
Overall my HD viewing showed well balanced color on daytime photographs. I was especially impressed with the color handling shown on these images from the end of Bulletproof Monk (DVD), Lord of the Rings images (DVD), and the Boat House (HD).
Please keep in mind that all images are captured on a good digital camera (Olympus 740 if anyone cares). Still these one CCD digital cameras have less range than film, and something is always lost on any images I take. Also maintaining the correct white balance is very difficult, especially on scenes with no pure whites, as a result some minor color shifting you see is often the result of taking the picture with the camera, and you might also be seeing other shifting due to your monitor. My commentary reflects what I see, when viewing the source and projector, not what I see on the images captured.
Here you get two looks at the NEC compared to the Sanyo Z3, which does a superb job on color. The Sanyo projector (on the right) leans toward red compared to the NEC HT510. The Sanyo has a more dynamic appearance, the NEC, more subdued.
One of my favorite images to view is the closeup of Arwen - from LOTR. The soft and off color lighting and phototgrapy in this scene successfully captures a surreal feel, and brings out her beauty. I have used this scene in checking out the image of virtually every HT projector I have looked at. The NEC does a great job, although I was able to do a quick compare against my BenQ, and the BenQ just does it better - more alive. (Perhaps due to the higher contrast, the newer (and higher res) DLP chip, and aspects of the electronics.
The NEC did very well on dark scenes too. As I mentioned in the Panasonic AE700U review, that projector uses several techniques that tend to really put extra life in dark scenes (even if it is not 100% natural).
The HT510, by comparison just does fine, but without that extra punch. The sky in the picture on the left shows more stars than either the Z3 or Panasonic - thanks to what appears to be slightly better contrast - despite a lower claimed contrast.. And there certainly is nothing wrong with the NYC night scene, or dusk shots.
The NEC projector did a great job on achieving black (or getting close to black), in this area it does better than the LCD projectors.
I did not check out the NEC projector's handling of computer data, which I regret. As a result I cannot accurately report if this 16:9 projector has any problem handling data from say a wide screen laptop (Dell wide screens output 16:10 - which challenges many projectors). I might note that NEC's business projectors have always been exceptional at working with all types of resolutions. I briefly hooked up my X-Box though, and had no problems at all, although there were moments on very fast action where I could see some "hesitation" because of the color wheel. (Hard to describe) but think this way - a thin vertical line moving from right to left at high speed sort of skips - dissapears very briefly. The NEC has a 2x speed color wheel (like BenQ's entry level HT projector the 5120), and as opposed to my BenQ 8700+ which is a 5x speed wheel, where I do not detect this. Again, this was only apparent on games, not on the movie sources.
While we are on the subject of color wheels, 2x speed wheels are slow compared to the more expensive DLP projectors. This makes the likelyhood of someone seeing the rainbow effect greater, or rather a larger (but still very small), percentage of people will see the rainbow effect. Of course fewer still who can detect it will be bothered by it.
The NEC HT510 produces a good sharp image from DVD (480p), in fact it does a better job of handling 480p than the BenQ 7800, producing a sharper looking image. On Hi Def - 1080i it again was crisp, although no better than the mid-range BenQ. The comparably priced, higher resolution LCD projectors do, however, present a slightly sharper image on the1080i source material, whether from my cable, or uncompressed D-VHS tape.
Visibility of Pixels
If you are going to sit close to a large screen, the pixels are going to be somewhat visible. At 13 feet, on my 140" screen they are definitely noticeable, whereas on the BenQ they are only barely detectable on bright even areas. In fact they are definitely more noticeable than on the Panasonic AE700U.
Don't be concerned, if your seating is more typical. I would suggest, that for a 100" diagonal screen seating of 12' should be sufficient to make pixels insignificantly visible for most, and for the more critical of you, 14 - 16 feet should do it.
Wow! This is a 1000 lumen DLP projector (with 1200:1 contrast ratio). The image does appear very bright, and quite honestly, brighter than the Panasonic AE700U or Sanyo Z3 when they are in their "best" highest contrast modes, with their electronic's dimmed lamps, and closed down iris'es. The combination of overall brightness, and its dynamic mode make it one of the better choices for gaming, sports, etc., if you have to wrestle with some ambiant light.
The projector does a good job of handling bright whites as in the scene above, while still producing good detail in dark shadowy areas. Note that the higher contrast BenQ 8700 goes a little deeper in the shadows before you lose detail and the dark greens stay green rather than losing color. Still these are small, not great differences.