NEC HT510 – Overview

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”.

Color Handling

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.

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