Projector Reviews

1080p Projector Comparison Report-11

Or those willing to wait and see.

When it’s projector purchase time, then it’s time to get off the fence and make a hard decision.  There are usually three possible outcomes:

1) Buy a projector that’s particularly good at 3D…reasonably bright, etc.

2) Buy a projector that has 3D, but can’t deliver the “whole package” perhaps too dim, or perhaps fairly poor color…with the idea that 2D is what you want to focus on, and a little 3D for fooling around is cool.

3) Buy a 2D only projector, or buy a 2D and 3D capable projector, knowing you’ll never put on the glasses.

BTW, if you’re running a family operation, those kids are probably more interested in 3D than many adults, and do remember, most new animated films are coming out in 3D, not to mention Disney seems to be dying to bring out all the old classics again, this time in 3D.  And don’t forget the boxed set of now available in 3D:  Cars, and so on.

While there can be various issues with 3D, the first thing that’s important to consider is familiarity.  If you see a movie or two a year in 3D, your brain – you – see it mostly as a gimmick.  Perhaps a logical evolution perhaps, but your brain isn’t naturally wired for 3D the way its being delivered in this case.  3D’s getting pretty second natured for me now.  I don’t think much about it, beyond when seens look really great.

What I’m saying is that I think a lot of people might get to watch just a couple of things in 3D, and remain very skeptical.  But I suspect those that stick with it, have watched dozens of hours or more, are aclimatized to it and get to enjoy it even more for not being something relatively “wierd”.

Crosstalk varies (DLP projectors mostly are the best), but brightness, I believe is the single main issue.  I’ve had plenty – many folks, pass through my home theater to watch various programming in 3D, to have learned that a dim picture is the number one complaint.  Oh, yes, I’ve had a small percentage of people who really don’t like watching 3D – it bothers them, but mostly, people quickly get at least a bit comfortable with the watching of 3D.

Per those folks at the SMPTE  (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers), the minimum brightness standard for 2D movie theaters should be 12 ft-lamberts.  Don’t worry about what those are, just note that they also set the minimum standard for 3D as only 2.75 ft-lamberts – less than 1/4th as bright.  I suspect the low number was due to that being all the early 3D digital projectors could produce on say, a 40 foot wide cineplex screen.

Well, most people coming through here, are not happy with 2.75 ft lamberts, or even 4 or 5.  I agree. I’d love to be watching 3D at 12 ft lamberts but that takes about 1454 lumens to start with based on the assumption right below.

I work with the assumption that between the technology and the glasses, only an average of about 25% of the total light hitting the screen makes it to your two retinae.  Here’s the numbers for a 100″ 16:9 screen:

1000 lumens results in 33 ft-lamberts.  (That’s the top end of the recommended theater range by the SMPTE).  On the other hand if we’re losing 75%, then bingo, now we’re down to about 8 ft-lamberts.  Keep in mind a 100″ diagonal screen is on the small side of average!

In 2D, most of us have 400 to 1000 lumens (calibrated) to fill our screens, with a fresh lamp.  Even with 400 lumens that’s a bright enough 13+ ft-lamberts.  Now, though, in 3D, it would take about 1600 lumens to do what the least bright projector can do with 400.  This is why we tend to favor the few very bright 3D projectors – Mostly Epsons and the Panasonic, and a few DLP projectors.

None of the LCoS projectors so far, gets much above 1100 lumens under ideal conditions with a brand new lamp, with almost all under 1000 lumens.  My math says that mostly, therefore, with a brand new lamp, they will be capable of only about 8 ft-lamberts, and have less than six after a few hundred hours of use… Not exactly blinding.

And for that reason, brightness tends to be the signel biggest factor in our consideration of 3D abilities.  You can compensate with high gain screens, but there are trade-offs.

Bottom line:  3D as far as I’m concerned, and more than half the folks who have watched it here, is something to behold.  At it’s best it can add temendous impact to the content. Hugo is a good example.  Even if the actual production qualities aren’t exceptional, watching Hugo in 2D after seeing it in 3D has to be a major disappointment.

So, give 3D a shot… You just might like it, and your kids almost certainly will (if you haven’t traded them in for the new projector).