Projector Reviews

Planar PD8150 Home Theater Projector Review: General Performance-6

Planar PD8150 Projector: Audible Noise Levels

Overall, the Planar is on the noisy side of average, in terms of audible noise from the fan and color wheel. Planar claims 29 db, which I will assume is in Economy mode. I would say that the PD8150 is about average among DLP projectors, and significantly noisier than most 3LCD or LCoS projectors.

At one or two points during normal viewing in my theater, with the projector placed about four feet behind my captain’s chair, I was aware of the fan noise. I mostly attribute that to the quiet passages in the movies, combined with the noise output being slightly higher pitched than most other projectors, making it a touch more noticeable.

In Economy mode, the noise levels should satisfy just about everyone, but, as with many projectors, if you are really noise intolerant, in full power mode, it is a little bit noisy, probably around 32 db, which is still 2-4 db quieter than a number of DLP projectors out there.

Bottom line: The Planar is going to make far less noise than your central air, or forced air heating system, but still has enough to bother those who demand virtual silence.

Planar PD8150 Projector: Screen Recommendations

The very good black levels are further enhanced by using a high contrast gray surface. I spent the bulk of my time watching movies and sports on the Planar, on my Firehawk G3, and found I preferred it to watching on the Carada Brilliant White. The Carada (similar to the Stewart Studiotek 130 which is considered the industry standard, by most), had more pop, but with a projector in this class, I’m assuming as a top of the line single chip DLP, that owners have paid the bucks for, among other things, pretty black blacks. The Firehawk G3 really helps. Subjectively, using the Firehawk, compared to a white surface screen, lowers black levels, and, ultimately gives you a more “higher end” projector feel, than watching on a white surface.

Of course factors like your room ambient light (and where it comes from), as well as screen size comes into play during your decision making process.

I think, the real issue here, is that with a bit over 600 lumens in best mode, it has the power to handle my Firehawk, filling all of its 128″ diagonal, something more than half of the home theater projectors we review just can’t do. And with that screen, blacks while not the very best around, are very respectable.

Still, unless you have a compelling reason, I’d recommend sticking with some level of high contrast gray surface, whether something like the Firehawk G3, or perhaps a lighter gray surface, such as found on some Elite, Da-lite, Draper, and other screens.

Planar PD8150 Projector: Measurements and Calibration

First of all, the basic part of our calibration came up with these settings (numbers in parens are the default settings):
Contrast 99 (100)
Brightness 111 (100)
Gamma Film
Color Temp 6500K
Lamp Mode Standard (unless noted otherwise)
Iris Off (for measurements) On (for movie viewing)
Brilliant Color off
Dynamic Black off
Adaptive Contrast off

Zoom at mid-range, All other settings at default.

For those curious here are the actual color temperatures measured for the different Color Temp settings

Color Temperature measurements at 100 IRE (white), for the five different Color Temp settings:
5500K 5512K (ideal for viewing black and white movies)
6500K 6422K
7500K 7370K
9500K 8949K
Native 6818K
For the same 6500K setting we used when calibrating here’s the full range of color temperatures we measured:
White (100 IRE) 6422K
Light gray (80 IRE) 6358K
Medium gray (50 IRE) 6285K
Low gray (30 IRE) 6212K

As you can see from the numbers, the Planar, out of the box, is almost dead on, for white, but shifts slightly towards warm (red) as the gray levels get darker. Overall, this is pretty good for out of the box numbers, but a good calibration can result in even better color accuracy.