Samsung SP-A600 - Physical Tour
8/10/09 - Art Feierman
Samsung SP-A600 Physical Appearance
The SP-A600 projector is nicely sculpted and has a shiny black finish. It is fairly small for a 1080p projector, but not particularly so. The zoom lens is recessed with a manual focus and 1.3:1 zoom (a little more range than the average DLP projector's 1.2:1, but still a far cry from the 1.6:1, to 2.1:1 found on most 3LCD and LCoS projectors). Focus and zoom are controlled by trim rings on the front of the lens barrel.
There is a full control panel on the top, but it's all but invisible with the power off, or the LED lights set to off. The input panel is on the rear, as is the case with most projectors.
The lamp door is located on the bottom, so expect to have to unmount a ceiling mounted projector to change out the lamp.
SP-A600 Projector - Control Panel
I tried to photograph the control panel, but with the projector off, it's invisible. When powered up, there are a couple of blue LEDs, but the camera can't capture the labels.
Basically from the front, moving to the back are:
3 LED indicator lamps for Temperature, Lamp, and Standby
There are four arrow keys, with an enter button in the center.
Finally there's the Menu, Source and Power buttons.
All the controls are touch sensitive. Just lightly brushing your finger over the control works to power up the projector, open the menus, or whatever else you are trying to do. A single touch will power up the projector. To power it off, it takes two.
The blue LEDs are moderately bright. Fortunately, you can set the lights to off in the menu system. Mind you, it's not that they are exceptionally bright, but just bright enough that it's likely to bother some folks if the projector is ceiling mounted slightly forward of where people are sitting.
Samsung SP-A600 Inputs and Outputs
No real surprises in terms of inputs and outputs. In fact the Samsung SP-A600 projector is about as typical as it gets. It has two HDMI inputs, a component video input, a computer input (which can double as a second component video input), composite and S-video.
In addition there is an RS-232 serial port for "command and control" from a computer or room controller. It's a strange small connector that looks like a stereo mini sized connector, rather than the traditional traditional HD9, or Din type connectors used for that purpose. Since these units did not come with manuals, I can't tell you any more about the type of connector. No matter, that info will no doubt be in the manual. There is no 12 volt screen trigger, a feature found on perhaps half of all the 1080p projectors out there. No worries though. It's nice to have, but for most, that really isn't an issue, as there are many ways these days to control screens and masking systems (including infra-red, RF, serial...).
Samsung SP-A600 Menus
The menu layout is pretty nice. If I have one complaint its that the main menu opens to the input menu, not the picture menu. Since most people handle their input switching from the remote, and primarily spend their time with the menus in the picture menu, most manufacturers put the picture menu (or image menu - whatever they call it), first, as the one you find yourself in when you press Menu.
Above to the right is the Picture menu. Note that it is only slightly opaque, so with a football field on the screen, it's a little hard to read. Worry not! From the menu you can increase the opacity (three choices of opacity, plus fully opaque). In the menu to the right, I have set the menu to be more opaque. You can also move the menus to different points on the screen. That said, the menu area is larger than most, and it won't let you move it too far to the left, right, top or bottom so I wasn't able to stick it way down in the lower right corner where I normally like to place menus.
The menu immediately above shows the Picture Mode sub-menu with its 5 regular modes, and three user modes.
To the right is the Color Temp sub-menu (off of the Picture menu), which is where you do the gray scale calibration settings. This is where you would plug in the color numbers found on our Calibration page.
Also of note is the Setup menu. From this menu you can set projector orientation (ceiling/floor/front/rear), set lamp brightness, bring up a test pattern, or reset the projector to its factory defaults.
Finally there's the Option menu. This controls a number of the Samsung SP-A600's features, including the menu's position transparency, display time and language.
Other features include Auto Power down, Sleep timer, and LED lamps off or on, as well as general information.
Samsung SP-A600 Remote Control
Arrgh! No backlight! This is the second inexpensive 1080p DLP projector in a row that I've reviewed that lacks a backlight on the remote. (The last projector without was the Sharp XV-Z15000 projector.)
I know many companies are trying to cut costs, but, geez, home theater projectors are most often used in a very dark room, and they should have backlights.
Oh well, it's just one more excuse for getting a nice programmable remote control, to control your whole system.
Other than my bitch'in about the backlight, the remote is a pretty small one. Not a whole lot of buttons, which is a good thing - less to memorize for use in the dark. I will concede that the menu button and navigation arrow keys are easy to find and memorize, which at least partially negates the drawback of no backlight. That they waste a large button on keystone correction baffles me, as everyone avoids using it.
There are separate on and off buttons on the top, and a large Auto setup button between them. On the next line are the Menu and return buttons.
Then comes the four arrow keys in a standard round configuration, with the Enter button in the center.
Next comes two rocker buttons - the keystone, and one that selects Info, or Still (freeze frame). Finally eight more buttons which include direct source selection and direct access to aspect ratio and Picture modes (Movie 1, Vivid, Dynamic, etc.).
All in all, it's pretty straightforward and works well. Range is no problem, but I still don't like the lack of a backlight!
SP-A600 Lens Throw
The manual lens is a bit less limited than most DLP projectors. Still, it is only a 1.3:1 zoom ratio, which is close to the 1.2:1 ratio that is typical of DLP home theater projectors.
This doesn't give you much placement flexibility. For a 100 inch, 16:9 aspect ratio screen, you can place the projector (measured from front of lens) as close as 11 feet, 1 inch, and as far back as 14 feet, 5 inches. That's a workable range for ceiling mounting, and nicely goes back far enough that the projector can be mounted behind the audience in many rooms, depending on how far back you like to sit.
SP-A600 Lens Shift
The SP-A600 lacks any adjustable lens shift. The offset ratio is 125% (I'm working from preliminary specs). That will place the center of the lens approximately 12 inches above the top of the screen surface when ceiling mounting.
SP-A600 Anamorphic Lens
Samsung does not support an anamorphic lens for this projector. Keep in mind, this is a low cost 1080p projector. Personally, I don't think it makes sense to pair a multi-thousand dollar anamorphic lens and sled system to an under $2000 projector. My take is that you would definitely want to spend for a higher quality, typically "ultra-high" contrast projector, for the extra performance, before plunking down for an anamorphic solution.