Viewsonic Pro9000 Home Theater Projector Review
Pro9000 LED/Laser Light Engine
This is the highlight feature of the Pro9000. Very few solid state light sources have made it to home theater projectors. This is one of the first, at least in the sub $10,000 range.
But, understand, you are paying a significant up front premium for that lightsource. If you plan to keep this projectors for years, and are a fairly heavy user, there should be an impressive payback down the road.
How long you plan to keep the Pro9000 is going to be a key decision for you, because, in reality you are paying roughly $1000 for the light source. The similar, but conventional lamped Pro8300, has well lower performance for home theater use, but, sells for around $1000.
From that we conclude that you won’t begin to recover that extra cost, if you are only going to keep this projector a year or two and sell it off. Folks looking for a projector that will last them years, should consider the Viewsonic Pro9000. Those looking for a one or two year stint before upgrading, should probably stick to conventional lamp projectors for another couple of years.
Keep in mind, though, pricing issues are not the only ones. As touched on briefly above, an Led/laser light source offers a number of advantages in your theater environment
Conventional lamps fade over their life – if you have a 3000 hour lamp, expect it to be half as bright by the time it’s got that 3000 hours on it. Theoretically, it will take years before the Pro 9000 loses significant brightness. Another benefit is green efficiency. Viewsonic rates its total draw at a maximum of 186 watts. By comparison, most single chip DLP projectors for home draw 300 to 400 watts. 350 is about typical. If this saves you an average of 160 watts when in use, look at the potential savings on your electric bill. The US government uses 11 cents per KiloWatt hour. You see numbers based on that, when you look at a refrigerator for its annual cost, or even when buying light bulbs. Well, at 2000 hours a year, that’s almost 400 KW in savings, or about $40 a year in savings. It adds up…
But not in California, and other states and places with expensive electricity. Here in California, there are tiers, and most of us are paying at least some, in the highest tiers, where electric costs over 3 times that national average of $.11. If you are already in the higher tiers, then that same lower consumption can yield you a savings of $120 a year or more…
One other benefit lies in that the color shifts over time with conventional high pressure lamps used in conventional projectors. A enthusiast with their own calibration gear likely is checking calibration and adjusting every 500 hours or so, for they can measure / see slight changes.
Some of that apparently applies to a solid state light source like this one. My understanding is that similar slight changes to the color balance occur by over much a longer time frame.
As a person who has owned, and sold at least a few projectors I’ve owned, believe me, that trying to sell a projector with only a couple/few hundred hours left on the lamp takes at least a couple hundred dollars off of its resale value.
The dynamic of cost of ownership aside, the lightsource itself was not in any real way, different looking than conventional light sources. A few years back, hybrid light engines that included lasers tended to have a “laser” look to them, sort of a gossamer shineyness. The only time I really noticed, I would say was in Bright mode, which, while sharing a heavy green yellow trait with many other projectors in their brightest modes, this one seemed a little bit different feeling, more of balance, though than Laser / LED magic.
Picture In Picture
Not an overly common feature on projectors in general, and particularly home projectors, it’s still a nice feature for many. I did use PIP a few years back with BenQ projectors I owned. They had the limitation, though of only allowing one hi-res source, and one low res. Truth is, not much has changed in the last five years, but this projector has moved the bar a bit.
The Viewsonic Pro 9000’s PIP offers a choice of a small window (you pick the quadrant you want it in), or an even smaller window. This PIP will only allow one HDMI source, but will allow the second source to be Component Video as well as S-Video…(It won’t let you do HDMI and a standard VGA signal however, or two HDMIs, but then, I’m not sure I’ve encountered a projector yet that allows two HDMIs with PIP, and that, these days, would be a desireable option).
The PIP window is small enough that you are likely to use it more of a way to keep an eye on the other source, than to actually be watching any real detail
Pro9000 Projector 2D Only
Sort of strange listing 2D only as a “special feature”, or so it seems. Still, this Viewsonic Pro9000is a roughly $3000 street priced projector. In that price range, most of the new home theater projectors to hit the streets between $2000 and $5000 offer 3D, making the Viewsonic Pro9000 a “Special” exception.
And that’s fair because if we mentally adjust for the cost of the light source, the Pro 9000 competes with mostly under $2000 projectors where there’s a pretty good mix of 2D only, and 3D capable projectors.
Viewsonic Pro9000 Color Management System
Yes the Pro 9000 projector has one. Here’s the story. There is a full ability to calibrate the individual colors: RGBCYM, for Hue and Saturation.
There is also the usual Color Temp area, but here, the Viewsonic, at least this pre-production Viewsonic Pro 9000, has a little less control than most projectors, and is one of the improvements we are looking for in final production projectors.
While most (definitely not all) projectors offer two adjustments (Gain/Bias, or Brightness/Contrast, or… depending on what each manufacturer calls them). This Viewsonic projector has but a single control to cover the range from black (0 IRE) through gray, to white (100 IRE). As a result, Mike could never get a really good calibration.
In the final release version, we are hoping for one of two changes. Adding a second control for the RGB Color Temp, (which is unlikely, considering the limited time between when we looked, and first real shipments), would be very nice. We will however be happy with single controls, as long as Viewsonic improves the default color tables, which should be very doable. Right now, green is off enough that the single control doesn’t get you to great color, but with some improvement of the color table, no reason why this projector can’t look great. This is really, the one thing I’d really like to see improved from our sample projector.
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