There are a lot of aspects of the SP-H710AE's functionality and performance to consider. Below is menu that will allow you to jump to any of the topics in this section.
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Samsung SP-H710AE Projector Brightness
finally, you say! What about brightness? The Samsung is definitely not the brightest star in the heavens. In fact, its brightness is a little below average (despite its claim of only 700 lumens (making it - on a claim basis, one of the dimmest.) In fact, the brightness is comparable or even a bit brighter to most of the LCD home theaters that people have been buying the last couple of years (I make exception to the new - extremely bright Panasonic PT-AX100U, and the Epson Cinema series projectors. On the other hand, it is slightly dimmer than most of the DLP home theater projectors from last year's crop, and significantly less bright than some newer entries. Enough perspective, here are some measurements. Note, I have heard for a long time that the Samsung was definitely not bright, and was pleasantly surprised with the brighter than expected measurements and performance that I actually witnessed. With the projector in its best (and darkest) mode for movie watching - Movie 1 preset, with Light Setting set to Theater, the Samsung still managed to crank out 416 lumens. I also did measurements in the Samsung SP-H710AE's two brighter presets - Dynamic and Standard. Surprisingly Standard (the best color quality bright mode produced 572 lumens, when set to Theater, but when set to Standard, and Bright, I measured an impressive 753. Dynamic, interestingly, didn't measure quite as bright, but it's different color/gamma/etc. settings allow it to plow through a little bit more ambient light. Dyamic/Bright measured 654 lumens. Lastly, using Movie 1, and Bright, for the brightest of the Best mode, provided 562 lumens. Not bad at all. Note, the projector I reviewed was brand new, and of course, like all projector lamps, it will start dimming as a couple hundred hours get put on it. The zoom lens was set just slightly wide angle of neutral. In widest angle (largest image from a given distance) it will be just slightly brighter, and in furthest telephoto, a bit dimmer. The difference between Bright mode and Theater mode measured almost exactly 24%. That is, Theater mode put out 74% of the brightness of Bright mode.
Virtually none. You can see some light in the vents, but there is no spillage even out the front, that would be visible, under anything considered normal usage.
Audible Noise Levels
Quiet in Theater mode, claiming 28db, and that seems reasonable. No one should have an issue here (OK someone will!) This is the range that almost all consider very acceptable. In Bright mode it sounds like an extra 4-5 db. This won't be quiet enough for those completely noise-o-phobic, but it did seem a bit quieter than many others in their brightest modes (Optoma HD72, HD7100, Mitsubishi HC3000). Most LCD home theater projectors are a notch or two quieter than the Samsung. Again, the noise levels should be acceptable to almost everyone.
Lamp Life and Replacement
Sorry, you do have to unmount the projector to change the lamp, if you have it ceiling mounted. Other than that, it looks straightforward. Samsung provides one lamp life rating - that of 2000 hours. (Typical)
Samsung SP-H710AE Projector Screen Recommendations
OK, now things get interesting! It's been a while since I have worked with a projector that I really believe may work best with a darker gray high contrast screen. Well, this is the first in a while. I viewed it primarily on my light gray (high contrast) Firehawk screen, and I found that overall, it was an excellent match.
However! The fairly bright letterbox "blacks' I found to be a distraction, from a projector, whose overall picture performance was otherwise pretty sensational. I therefore expect that going with a darker gray, such as the Grayhawk from Stewart, or other darker gray surfaces (Elite CinemaTension dark gray), Da-lite HC Da-Mat, etc. I have never worked with the dark gray Carada screeen surface, but I understand that it is one of the darker, so I would think it would also be an excellent match up.
Let's not forget brightness though. On my Firehawk (128" diagonal), I found the brightness in Movie 1/Theater to be not quite enough, so I did much of my watching reducing the diagonal size to about 106 - 110 inches. Much better. Kick on Bright mode, and then the projector could just cope with the full 128", but many might still find it a little dim.
My personal opinion is that this projector would match really well with a 86" - 100" diagonal dark gray screen. Larger than 100" unless you have a theater with very dark walls and no ambient light, I think you'll run out of horsepower with a dark gray surface over 100". Thus, a screen like the Firehawk, would be a good choice from 100" - 110", or, a little more if your taste for size is stronger than your taste for brightness.
For larger screens, I think, for the SP-H710AE, you would need to go with a white surface, with some gain, but overall, I don't think that end result will be the best match for this projector. Unless, you get a masking screen, which solves the whole problem! If you do have a masking screen, so that you won't see the letter boxing grays, then I'd stick with a Firehawk type as my first choice, and would definitely consider a higher gain white a good match for larger surfaces!