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SIM2's C3X Projector Review - Image Quality

Posted on October 5, 2013 by Art Feierman

Seriously, as mentioned at the beginning, this is the best I've worked with so far. I have InFocus's 777 arriving in a couple of days, which should be worthy competition, but I'll comment on the differences between the two in a separate article after I'm done with both reviews.

The only other 3 chip projector I have reviewed so far is JVC's HD2K, about a year ago. I was extremely impressed at the time, but the JVC as is typical of LCOS (D-ILA, SXRD, etc.) is that they cannot match the black levels of the DLP projector

Flesh Tones and Color Accuracy

For a $20,000 projector, the out of box color accuracy was not as wonderful as I hoped. But then, I realize anyone installing a projector of this caliber, should be having it properly calibrated. (More on that later). I will also point out that the color controls on this Sim2 are easy to use, but shockingly, didn't solve my problem. I was unhappy with the default color settings, which provided fleshtones with too much green in them, and a cooler color balance than the 6500K desired. The color controls allowed me to improve the color but not get it quite right. When I took out my Avia Pro calibration software and my light meter, I

quickly discovered that I still couldn't get the correct color temperature with the main color grid control. Ultimately, this required me to use the more extensive color controls inside the service menu. That's not an area for normal users. This goes back to the concept that you would have a professional calibrating this projector, so its not a problem.

Now the good news. After calibration, the results were everything I had anticipated. Flesh tones were right on, etc. I have provided a series of images, starting above with Awen, from Lord of the Rings, Samuel L. Jackson as a Jedi, and LiLu below from The 5th Element.

some of the naturalness of the flesh tones from several movies. In addition, blacks were neutral (not blue black or brown black...) and grays stayed neutral through out the brightness range, and it didn't really matter what I threw at it, I was always pleased with the results. The best DVD content I viewed such as The Fifth Element - Superbit verison, looked right on. Anything I viewed that didn't look pretty much perfect, I will tend to fault the production quality on the DVD, rather than any weakness of the C3X..

As noted, the Sim2 does exceptionally good blacks, jet colored without. For those of you into specs, you may have seen on the first page that the C3X claims 6500:1 contrast. In the past, contrast was the best indication of good black levels, but no more, thanks to various technologies often dubbed "AI", we see some wild contrast ratios, but not necessarily really good blacks. Right off the bat, in projecting onto my Firehawk, even with the lamp at full power and, casting about a 110" image, there wasn't much light hitting the screen in the

letter box areas. I would say no more than my BenQ PE8720 (which claims 10,000:1).

My BenQ, though, fills the whole 128" diagonal, and is only rated 1000 lumens vs 2500! (And the difference in brightness in best modes is even greater. So, my point is,expect truly excellent blacks and with it, great shadow detail. You can see that in these images, including a space scenes, an image from Sin City, and the night scene on Tatooine from Star Wars II.

Color Depth and Impact

The C3X shines here, image just jump off the screen. The most spectacular content I viewed was a space scene from Starship Trooper. I specifically bought the DVD for this

demo, remembering that they used it at CEDIA to show of the C3X. I was not dissapointed. And its time for a brief story.

I suspected what was going to happen, so first I viewed the segment desired of the ship being hit, and fire, on my BenQ. Boy did it look great. Then I switched to the Sim2. Boy was I wrong. The Sim2 blew it away. Now the BenQ is good, but in this case, the advantages and dynamics of a 3 chip DLP vs. single chip, the significantly brighter image from a brighter projector, and all the extra "magic" you would expect a manufacturer to pour into a $20K projector, are overwhelming. The best way I can describe the difference is this:

You are watching something - a movie, or football game, in full Hi-Def, and you hit the button on your remote and go to the same content on a non-HD channel. Color saturation dies, definition goes bye-bye, depth goes away, and the overall image looks washed out and dull. Well, that's what happened. Sure, the BenQ's image remained sharp, but everything else just collapsed.

I will say at this point, that I cannot ever remember being as blown away at a movie theater watching any scene as watching this sequence at home with the C3X and my

Firehawk. (And I did see Starship Troopers in the theater when it came out). I'll concede that it's still DVD, and not as high a resolution as we would like, but the impact was phenomenal.

There, I think I've just run out of superlatives, so I'll try to calm down a bit.

This next image is from the DVD Sin City. The C3X brings out the suble shading that less projectors tend to make look just black and white (and gray). Some of the highlight details are lost due to the digital campera, but the shadow details in her face are notably more revealing than the same image on my BenQ single Darkchip3 projector.

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