HDMI 1.4a is the latest and greatest standard. What is particularly important about HDMI 1.4a, is it called for if you want to run Blu-ray 3D. Older 3D capable projectors (typically 720p) can now run Blu-ray 3D by virtue of several HDMI 1.4a 3D Converter boxes - we reviewed the Viewsonic VP3D1, but the real trick is to have HDMI 1.4a capable devices.
ISF, THX Certification
OK, you've got a new home theater projector and you want to get the most out of it. Some of you are hard core enthusiasts, you'll tweak your projectors constantly trying to improve the picture. Many of you will do this with end user calibration discs, some of you even own light meters (the really hard-core), but many of us, to maximize the investment, will seek out a professional to calibrate their projector and often related other gear.
Today, you see many projectors now sporting an "ISF Certified" label. ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) is an organization of professional, certified calibrators. The projectors that bear that logo, have two things. 1. Sufficient color controls to allow a professional calibrator to do their job properly, and, 2. Two additional saved setting modes, password protected, for the calibrators (ISF Day, ISF Night).
THX is a name you are well familiar with from audio. Just over a year ago, they got into the certification game as well, with their own standards of performance. The first THX certified projectors were $30,000 and up. Today, in this report, we see the under $10,000 THX certified projectors, the JVC DLA-RS25 and RS35. For even less money, the Epson Home Cinema 8500UB, and the Pro 9500UB also are THX certified. At least in the case of the RS20, there is a THX mode pre-calibrated picture mode (and while not perfect, in my opinion), that preset mode is comparable to the best examples of "out of the box" color accuracy.
Is it critical that a projector be ISF certified? No, not at all, there are fully excellent projectors that aren't. In fact, the lack of ISF certification is intentional with some manufacturers. Take Epson for example: Their Home Cinema projectors (6500UB and 6100) are not certified. Thos projectors are sold online. To provide "extra value" for their Pro series (7500UB, 7100) which are almost identical, the Pros have ISF certification, while the Home series do not. Considering even the Home Series has 10 presets What is important, is that you realize that there are things you can do to get the most out of your projector, and one of those is to hire a calibrator, or a dealer who has or works with one.
Click to Enlarge.So close
While ISF certification pretty much guarantees a color management system for a calibrator to work with, THX certification indicates that you have a specific mode that is pre-calibrated - not the individual projector but based on the performance of the model. We have yet to see a THX mode in any projector with one, that didn't look great, and wasn't really close to the ideal 6500K grayscale.
Above, good contrast projector on the left (Epson 8350), and ultra-high contrast projector on the right - Epson Home Cinema 8700UB. The image is intentionally overexposed so you can see the dark shadow detail, and also the additional dynamic look, thanks to superior black level performance of the 8700UB.
Click Image to Enlarge
There are several types of viewers: Those of us who have 3D capable projectors and really enjoy the experience any time it's done well, and not just gimmicky. Hugo, Avatar, Ultimate Wave, Revealing China...
Then there are those who are watching occasional 3D on their LCDTV's
Of those without... some have only seen 3D in the theater.
Others by looking through those nailed down glasses at some forty or so inch LCDTV at Costco, or Best Buy, or...where-ever, and can't see what the fuss is about.
And those that for one reason or another have just decided 3D isn't for them - a fad, a gimmick.