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SIM2 Home Cinema Projectors CEDIA 2011

By Art Feierman
SIM2, it seems, has a lot more home theater projectors than I remember. They've been very busy launching whole new series of projectors. I expect I will be doing at least one SIM2 projector review this fall. Meantime, Here's a look at the SIM2 projector lineup from top down. More than a dozen new projectors bring the full lineup to over 30 different projectors. SIM2 considers itself to be a high quality, high end line of home projectors. Their business model is committed to providing owners with the whole high end experience, great projectors supported by trained dealers and quality support programs, to their generally very stylish designs. Even their product catalog is beautiful. SIM2 competes against other high end, support oriented companies such as Runco and Digital Projection. Let's take a peek.

SIM2 Projectors: Background

I have always perceived SIM2 to be a high end Italian manufacturer of home theater projectors. This fall, I'll be doing a SIM2 projector review for the first time in more than four years. The last was the 3 chip DLP, 720p, C3X projector, which seems to have spawned several series of projectors that share it's slick styling. For 2011, SIM2 offers single and 3 chip DLP projectors, for a total of 15 different, new projectors in 2011! Several of each are 3D capable, although consider these all, first and foremost, to be 2D home projectors. SIM2 isn't big on specs. Or rather they focus on the value, and experience.

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To my understanding, the C3X Lumis has long been the core product group or platform of SIM2. Over the years it seems SIM2 has expanded to fill just about every mid to high end niche you could think of, resulting in these many new series, most with two to five projectors in them.

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The SIM2 Projector Line-up: New Projectors only

  • Cinema Platform - Two large screen 3 chip DLP projectors, with dual lamps. Up to 10,000 lumens with their High Brightness lenses (range from 7000 lumens). Starting price: $90,000 (not for the feint of heart - or wallet)
  • Lumis 3D platform: Four 3D capable projectors - three with active 3D, and one designed for passive 3D. Prices start at $38,000
  • Nero 3D platform: Four single chip DLP projectors with 3D capability, from $19,990
  • Crystal platform: Two single chip DLP projectors, from $7000.

In Addition, SIM2 also offers these home projectors:

  • Grand Cinema Teatro
  • Grand Cinema C3X Lumis - SIM2's core line of 3 chip DLP projectors
  • Grand Cinema Mico - LED lightsource
  • Grand Cinema HT
  • Domino - SIM2's lowest cost single chip DLP projectors

Let's take a quick tour of the new series, with a brief focus on certain projectors. Remember, that the core C3X Lumis series are their mainstay 3 chip DLP projectors. Since I'm so enjoying playing with 3D these days, I'll start with some of their 3D capable projector lineup. I don't often get to work with 3 chip DLP projectors, so let's start there: 3 chip and 3D capable:

SIM2 Lumis 3D-Solo

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The 3D Solo projectors are the latest in the core Lumis C3X line-up, and add 3D to your party. There are three different 3D Solo projectors that support 3D using active glasses, and one projector that uses passive glasses - which is actually a two projector setup. The Lumis 3D-Solo is the base model in this group, so I take it to be the model priced at $38,900. For your almost $40,000 you will receive a well endowed projector.

The 3D Solo has a dynamic iris and creative frame interpolation. They claim 144hz processing of 3D, which I take to be tripling the 24fps, for each eye. That I believe is similar to some 3D cinema projectors. (Don't quote me on that.) Of course there's HDMI 1.4a. From a brightness standpoing, SIM2 publishes "up to 2600 lumens in 2D". That folks is healthy, and should guaranty some respectable 3D brightness on average sized screens. SIM2 talks about their Alphapath optical system, which they claim is the key to making nice, small 3 chip DLP projectors, a good deal smaller - and therefore less noticeable, than their competition. (Besides that, they do look cool!). I'd like nothing better to bring in one of these new 3D capable 3 chippers. With luck SIM2 will spare me one for review, any from this series will do. I still remember the old C3X projector, as my first 3 chip projector review and how I was taken aback by the brightness and depth (and color)...

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SIM2 MICO 160 Projector: LED Light Source and 3D Capable

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Since many of the new SIM2's are 3D capable, The MICO 150 and 160 are 3D, and green. The Mico series (the image to the right is of the existing MICO 60 projector), sport LED light sources. The new MICO 160 offers a 30,000 hour LED light source for illumination, and combines it with 3D capabilities. and single chip performance. The Mico 160 (and also the 150) are 25% brighter than the lower models in the Mico series, with a published 1000 lumens spec. This should do very well in 3D on smaller screens, perhaps to 100" if their rating is realistic. Of course there's plenty of lumens for larger screens in 2D. Contrast is up to an impressive 100,000:1. Remember, a big advantage here, besides not having to change the lamp, is it will be many years before the lightsource does any signficant dimming.

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SIM2 Nero 3D-2

The Nero line-up is in a different case than the Mico projectors. Nero projectors are also single chip Darkchip 4 DLP based projectors, but use conventional lamps rather than LEDs. The starting price is about $4000 less, but the Nero of most interest to me, would be the 3D-2, with 2000 lumens claimed, and a >30,000:1 contrast. As it's name would indicate, it is 3D capable. I'd expect a great 2D projector, and just enough lumens for respectable 3D on small to medium sized screens. It sports a 2000/3000 hour lamp, and has vertical lens shift. Need more brightness? There's also a 3D-HB, which still claims the same contrast, but offers 3000 lumens. On paper, SIM2 says the 3D-2 is a Darkchip4, so perhaps the Nero 3D-HB is using a lower native contrast DLP chip. The 3D-1 is the entry level Nero, with the lower contrast, and lacking, I believe, the dynamic iris.

SIM2 Nero 235

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This one is worth mentioning separately? Destined for a good 2.35:1 widescreen, and no letterboxes, without going anamorphic lens? The Nero 235 is your ticket. And it delivers constant image height. I love how they accomplished this. The heart of the Nero 235 projector is not a 1080p chip or slightly larger (2K), but rather a much larger DLP chip with a 2560x1600 chip. As a result it can use any use the full width, by as much height as it needs, depending on the content resolution. Until manufacturers start cutting 2.35:1 aspect ratio chips and panels for us, this is a clever way to handle the problem. The Nero 235 is a 2D only home theater projector, claiming >10,000:1 contrast, and 2000 lumens.

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Affordable SIM2 Projectors: Crystal 45 and Crystal 35

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The relatively "plain Janes" of the SIM2 line-up, these two projectors are in good old fashioned rectangular boxes. They seem to both be available in black or white, however, many SIM2 projectors can take on a finish to match rooms, or football team logos. Starting at just under $8000, the Crystal 35 is a serious single chip projector with a lot of lumens. Like many of the more expensive SIM2 projectors, the Crystal 35 claims >30,000:1 contrast. I pushes that out with up to 2500 lumens, according to their brochure. The Crystal 35 may be 2D only, but bright projectors intrigue me. 2500 in a single chip DLP isn't something that shows up here, very often. That has my attention, but I won't ask for the Crystal 35 to review. Rather, I have my sight's on bringing in the Crystal 45. It claims the better black levels with their >50,000:1 claim, so let's see what the better one can do. I certainly hope it would at least give the competing Runco projectors a run for the money. We've reviewed a couple of Lightstyle Runco's of late, and this could prove interesting!

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SIM2 Projectors for 2011: Conclusions

If your goals and budget put you more into the higher and high end, then you are likely to be seeing SIM2 as you speak with installing dealers, and weigh your options. In the US, there is likely a SIM2 dealer in most major markets, and upscale locations. You will find SIM2 in similar type dealers that you would expect to find Runco, but I doubt you'll find any dealers that carry both. We don't review enough of the higher end projectors to provide real guidance, but I can say that it would seem that SIM2 creates a wide range of models, essentially offering more fine tuned choices than the competition. We'll know more if we can review two to three SIM2 projectors in 2011-2012. By my take one advantage SIM2 may offer over the competition, are its 3D entry points. They start at under $20,000 for a single chip DLP projector and under $40,000 for a 3 chip. That's still well below the 3D entry point for, say, Runco.

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