SIM2’s C3X Projector Review – An Overview
Extremely Bright – the Brightest Home Theater Projector I have tested (there are some commercial/HT projectors out there that are brighter). The C3X provides a slide control for lamp brightness in watts, from 250 watts (full power – equates to their 2500 lumen rating), to 200 (2000 lumens). This of course, is not at 6500K nor calibrated. When I did my measurements, I had the lamp set for 200 watts, and with the Optic One meter (with diffuser), I measured a whopping 903 lumens on the C3X, (not even in highest power mode) by far the brightest I have seen to date, in an HT projector in its best mode. (I should note that lamp hours were approximately 80 when I started the whole measurement process, so the lamp was probably not quite as bright as brand new. Some professional calibrators recommend waitng until a projector reaches about 200 hours on the lamp before calibrating (which would also show a little additional loss of lumens).
This brightness was measured after the projector was calibrated, with color temperature of 6473K (at 100IRE). Also the zoom lens was in its widest position (thowing the largest possible image, which should be slight bit brighter than in narrowest position.
We can calculate from the low power setting, that, at full power the Sim2 C3X should come up with 1106 lumens. I did not do a separate measurement nor check for any shift in color at full power.
Now, compare this brightness with lower cost projectors, particularly those using AI with variable irises and sometimes lamps that dim and brighten frame by frame. Most of these projectors in their best modes produce between the low 200 lumen range and 400 lumens (calibrated), and even in brightest and significantly poorer performing modes, rarely do they even approach 1000 lumens. This C3X is an exceptionally bright projector by any measure.
Since the C3X is a 3 chip DLP, without iris’s and dynamic lamps, etc., image quality, contrast, etc., should remaing consistant regardless of lamp brightness. As a result you have here a projector several times as bright as most less expensive home theater projectors. How bright it is compared to projectors more similarly priced we shall see shortly, as the next high end projector for review, InFocus’s Screenplay 777, is already in transit as I write this.
And it means that in a fully darkened room, the C3X projector can deal with some seriously large screens, perhaps as large as 160″ diagonal or more depending on screen surface. I found the Sim2 easily bright enough with the lamp set for 200 on my Firehawk. The image was very bright.
Important note, I tend to mention that my Firehawk screen is 128″ diagonal. Due to the long throw zoom on the C3X, I could not fill the screen, rather only projecting at about 110″ diagaonal. At full power, it should have filled all of my 128″ with approximately the same brightness.
All this brightness also means that you can have very, very low lighting and still enjoy movies with only slightest bit of loss on the darkest areas – or better still, be able to have significant room lighting and enjoy bright images on more traditional HDTV/TV content, including sporting events. I was able to watch some basketball and other sports with the my full room lighting (recessed ceiling lights none throwing any significant light directly onto the screen) , and enjoy a truly impressive, dynamic image. And with lower lighting – what I call modest – just light enough to read a newspaper, but you would want some more light to do so, HDTV sports looked about as perfect as would need be. I should note that the settings for HDTV are significantly brighter overall, although I did not measure them. If I had to guess, though, with the lamp on full, I wouldn’t be surprised if the projector hit 1500 lumens (cooler color temp for HD helps as well).
I found having all that horsepower, downright wonderful. Some say a projector can be too bright, In my room as I do not yet have dark walls, I never felt that was a problem!
Lamp Life and Replacement
The Sim2 lamp is certainly not a bargain, at $899 retail price. According to Sim2, it has a rated life of 2000 hours at the 200 watt setting (low power), and 1500 hours at the high power (250 watt) setting. This projector, however is so bright, that few users will have rooms and screens large enough to require full power.
The lamp housing is on the bottom of the projector. Sim2 advises that if the projector is mounted, it has to be removed from the mount to properly replace the lamp.
Projection Screen Recommendations
Well I certainly can recommend a 128″ Firehawk, since I used it extensively, and enjoyed every minute of viewing the C3X on it. However, if you have a fully darkened room with black walls, etc., the StudioTek 130 offers the avantage of no hot spotting. It also offers just slightly higher gain. I would say that you would certainly want at least 100″ diagonal, or this projector could be overwhelmingly bright in a fully darkened room. and if your screen is that small, I’d probably recommend a Grayhawk, or equivilent. However, if you are going smaller than 110″, you may just want to save yourself about $4000 and go with the C3X Lite. It is rated at 1500 lumens so at its brightest, it should still produce between 600 and 700 lumens, brighter than the vast majority of home theater projectors.
Screens are trickier to recommend than the projectors themselves as they are so sensitive to the issues in your room (excepting fully darkened rooms with black walls. Location of small amounts of ambient light, the seating position across, and relative distance to the screen, are all factors that can make one screen perfect for your room and another better for an almost identical layout but with a difference in one of these and other issues.
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