SIM2 Nero 3D-2 Projector - Image Quality
All of the SIM2 Nero 3D-2 screen image photos below are from either Blu-ray or HDTV source material.
In truth, virtually all projectors, including this Nero 3D-2, will look a lot better projecting on to your screen, than in these pictures. Although the images can reveal some things and support some points I make, they are mostly for "entertainment" for the following reasons:
These SIM2 Nero 3D-2 projector images come to you, through a Canon 60D dSLR camera, software, browsers, your computer's graphic card, and even your monitor, all with their own color and contrast inaccuracies. There are color shifts, saturation differences, etc. Take them all, "with a grain (no, make that a kilo) of salt".
I report when I notice a visible shift in the colors compared to what is on the screen. In this case the camera did a really good job. If there is any shift at all, it's mostly a smidgen too much yellow, but these images - at least on my MacBook Pro, are pretty good as these things go.
12/18/11 - Art Feierman
Due to all of the points above, the images of the SIM2 Nero 3D-2 are provided to support the commentary, but keep in mind all these major limitations when trying to compare images from the Nero 3D-2 with other home theater projectors, when it comes to color accuracy.
Nero 3D-2 "Out of the Box" Picture Quality
No one is likely to view a Nero 3D-2 projector that is uncalibrated, except the folks selling one to you. With that in mind, I didn't bother to spend any real time viewing the uncalibrated modes. The Native mode was visibly the brightest, yet looked pretty good without any serious color imbalances. It would be the one you might use if you need every last lumen. Again though, your dealer will no doubt set up more than one calibrated or optimized mode.
Nero 3D-2 Projector - Skin Tones
Ahh, the Nero's skin tones are about as believable as I've seen. Even the photos here look great. Mike did a fabulous job of calibrating the Nero 3D-2, although he did say it was rather easy.
Skin tones were just symptomatic of overall color handling, once calibrated. The Nero looked particularly right in terms of color, be it skin tones, or grass, or the colors on a flag.
Above and below, from Lord of the Rings: Gandalf, Arwen
Here is our usual collection of Daniel Patrick as James Bond in Casino Royale. The point is that his skin tones look very different in each picture because the different lighting: sunlight, fluorescents, and filtered sunlight:
Below, Lucy, from Narnia: The Dawn Treader
Leeloo, of course, from The Fifth Element
Immediately below are some additional images we typically use in reviews, that should give you a good feel for overall skin tone handling:
"Rhodey" in Iron Man 2:
Nero 3D-2 Black Levels & Shadow Detail
Black level performance is not a real strength of this Nero model. With a 30,000:1 contrast claim and a Darkchip4, one expects at least very good blacks, and that, folks is what you get: Very good blacks. They are extremely neutral (lacking any color shift), but not overly black. This is an ultra high contrast projector, but it's not a match, say, compared to the $10,000 Sony VPL-VW95ES we reviewed immediately before this SIM2.
If I had to provide my take on what it's comparable to in terms of blacks, it might be the Panasonic PT-AE7000. I'm not convinced it can beat, for example, the Optoma HD8300.
OK, let's look at some screen images, practical for considering black levels. And, as usual, we've provided the same image from a number of other projectors.
If two images have the starships equally bright, but one has blacker blacks in the letterbox, that projector is the one with the better blacks. Alternately, and logically, (since the exposures do vary a bit): If two projectors have letterboxes equally black/gray, then the one with the brighter starship, has the better blacks. It's that easy. The hard part is the brightness variations from one image to the next. Even a 1/3 stop difference in exposure is rather significant.
Here we again start with the Nero 3D-2, and the Sony VPL-VW95ES. Note: We will be converting most recent "starship" images to grayscale to remove the distraction of varying colors. I also have side by side images which will be posted on the competitor's page.
Mitsubishi HC9000D (uses Sony LCoS panels):
Sharp XV-Z17000, This Sharp was the first single chip 1080p DLP projector to hit the market under $5000.
Epson has reigned for years as the "black level champ" in the under $3500 price range, and can compete in blacks, rather easily with most over $5000 projectors.
That said, it can't quite compete with the SIM2 Nero 3D-2, which is simply better at doing blacker blacks. It would seem an improvement over the 90ES last year, as I don't recall it being quite so remarkable at handling black levels.
JVC RS15: Has been replaced, officially, by the RS45 (not reviewed)
Finally, a little side by side imagery. On the right is the Sony VPL-VW95ES (which has truly excellent black level performance), on the left is theSIM2 Nero 3D-2. In the images below, you can easily see that the letterbox on the SIM2 is a lot lighter than on the Sony, indicating blacks not as dark.
Let's say black level performance is basic ultra-high contrast, but not a match for quite a few projectors. While the SIM2 has a number of real strengths, black levels isn't one of them.
Shadow Detail Performance
No problem with dark shadow detail. While not the best, the SIM2 does an impressive job.
In our standard night train image from Casino Royale, with plenty being revealed in the shrubs behind the tracks on the right, and in the woods.
Our major comparison uses the night train scene from Casino Royale. Look to the trees and shrubs on the right, especially just above the tracks. The first image is the SIM2 Nero 3D-2, followed by the Sony VPL-VW95ES. Unlike the side-by-side above, these were taken at separate times. They are followed by the Mitsubishi HC9000D, then by the less expensive Sony HW30ES, fifth is the Epson Home Cinema 5010, followed by the JVC RS25, and the last one is from the Runco LS-10d projector.
SIM2 Nero 3D-2 Projector:
Below Mitsubishi HC9000D (last year's Best In Class winner, $3500 - $10,000)
Here are images from additional projectors:
Sony VPL-VPL-HW30ES ($3699): This lower cost Sony projector is respectable on detail, but can't match the 3D-2 on blacks.
Epson's Home Cinema 5010:
Runco LS-10d (a very nice 3 chip $27K projector with very good shadow detail)
SIM2 Nero 3D-2 - Overall Color & Picture Quality
The SIM2 vs Sony images below also appeared in the Sony review.
The side-by-side image below shows the Nero on the left, and the Sony on the right:
That extra red down there shouldn't be, but two things keep me from being concerned. First, it's slight. You probably wouldn't notice unless looking for such things, and perhaps more to the point, I don't expect to see the deep red on those full production projectors.
Here are a couple of additional:
Below, on the left is the Epson 8700UB - a projector with the best black levels of pretty much everything under $5000. If a projector can best the Epson, its black level performance is excellent. In side by side viewing, the blacks of the Sony are definitely better than the Epson! Below, note how much brighter the whites and bright areas are, compared to the two projector's similar blacks. In this case, the blacks look a touch brighter on the Sony, but the image is far brighter overall. An impressive "win" for the 3D-2.
For your consideration: Here are additional images, some of which can be found on other reviews:
The bottom line on overall picture quality:
Pre-calibration, very good. Post calibration, great. Other than the tendency of oversaturated colors, which reducing the color saturation tends to address, there's really nothing to complain about. I've got over 50 hours now, logged, watching the Nero 3D-2 in 2D, and I've enjoyed all of it. Oh my old JVC can do better blacks still, but at the moment, my JVC is underpowered if I want to watch a movie filling my full 124" diagonal 2.35:1 screen, whereas the Nero 3D-2 handles it no problem, in terms of brightness!
SIM2 Nero 3D-2 Projector: Performance, HDTV and Sports
Other than having twice as many lumens (2000 thousand instead of the 1005 maximum we measured), I'm perfectly happy with sports on the Nero 3D-2. Colors are dynamic, the CFI works nicely and smooths motion. Shadow detail and black levels really aren't an issue for sports as sports is rarely dark. The abilities of the Nero 3D-2 come into play for other HDTV content, be it concert videos (I'm a huge fan), or travel and education type material from the likes of Discovery HD, History HD, SyFiHD, Nat Geo HD, and so on.
Below a mix of NFL images, music videos, and other images:
Bottom line for HDTV on the SIM2 Nero 3D-2 Home Theater Projector
The Sony may lack the more precision sharpness of a first class single chip DLP projector, but it's right up there for good sharpness with any of the 3 chip LCoS or LCD projectors. It converges very well, and still looks very sharp on digital content. I watched a few concerts, some Smithsonian HD, plenty of sports (football mostly), and more, when it comes to 2D digital content.
In my theater, I can have all my rear recessed lights on (7 down facing LED lights - each about 50 watt equivalent), and even sports viewing is more than bright enough in 2D, with the low ambient light. While there isn't a huge difference in brightness between the Sony's various modes, filling a 100" screen (16:9) even with the ambient light in any of the modes, works great in my theater. I never really needed to go to "brightest mode" except for 3D, or if I chose to partially open a couple of my shutters to let in a little sun light.
Which reminds me! Sports in 3D can be really great. I've recorded a couple of college football games, boxing (not my thing, normally), X-games, and so on. Very cool in 3D on the Sony. There sure isn't a whole lot of content yet, but more is coming... including for the second year, the BCS championship game.
Content like the two Stephen Lowe "productions," Tahiti 3D: Ultimate Wave, and Legends of Flight, are just downright awesome in 3D. (Image above from "Flight).
This works for me. Mind you, if I was trying to use this projector in a room with off white walls and ceilings, I'd be running out of lumens much faster, but in the theater type situation the Nero 3D-2 is normally being used in, sports and HDTV should be just fine, even with lots of company and a fair amount of controlled ambient light.
If you are placing the 3D-2 in a lighter room, pay particular attention to your choice of screens. If a siginficant amount of any ambient lighting is coming from the sides, a really good high contrast gray screen can really help.