Finally, we get to the summary! I'll start by again saying it is the best high end projector I have reviewed to date. More importantly the image produces is nothing short of spectacular. It is the first 3 chip DLP home theater projector I have reviewed, but several more are planned soon, with the next one being the InFocus Screenplay 777, which is on its way in. That should be a very close competitor. Previously I have reviewed several other higher end projectors:
Last year I reviewed JVC's HD2K, at that time a $30K projector, which I now believe is at a similar price point to the C3X. Of the two, I would have to say the Sim2 is superior almost across the board, and as impressed as I was then with the HD2K, I know the black levels and brightness of the C3X are way beyond the HD2K's abilities. The pop and depth of the picture should be in a whole different class. Marantz's highly regarded single chip DLP, the VP12S4 is excellent and about two thirds the price. Again, I believe this is a real step up product.
There is very little not to like about the C3X itself, and what it does absolutely best is put an amazing image on your screen. I would have to say that a C3X in a well laid out room should make going to a typical movie theater, a real dissapointment.
A brilliant (as in bright) image, deep neutral blacks, accurate colors (after calibration), truly excellent contrast, and an overall stunning image are the things that make you go wow, and the C3X does them all beautifully.
Let's look at the strengths and weaknesses:
- Rich, dynamic colors
- Excellent contrast
- Extremely bright projector can handle almost any room and screen
- Blacks that are as close to true black as I've seen; neutral, not inky blue, or tan leaning or reddish
- Lens shift (although more range would have been better)
- Good control of image from menus
- Great looking "Euro" styling
- Good warranty
- Two lens options - should work in almost any room, even for shelf mounting
- Venting allows for shelf mounting
- Virtually no light leakage, and none facing forward
- Dual screen triggers
- This is a physically very small projector for a 3 chip design, and that can be really nice.
- The manual - And I thought manuals from Taiwanese projector companies were weak. This needs major work. For example it doesn't even tell you how to replace the lamp. Doesn't go into enough depth on many things, some typos, and even a graph labeled in Italian. For a projector in this class, its a sad thing.
- The projector's color grid system for adjusting color is too coarse to get it right. This means service level adjustments, which should only be for professionals to access. NOTE: Anyone buying this projector should have it professionally calibrated anyway, so I don't consider this a problem.
- Projector must be unmounted to replace the lamp.
- A 2nd HDMI input would have been nice
- Image noise in dark areas could have been a bit better
- Cost of replacement lamp ($899 retail)
- Remote control - layout is a bit unusual (no "enter key"), and not a lot of direct access buttons so more menu dependent, but the backlight is nice and bright - it's easy to tell what you are doing.
- Noise levels
- Lamp life
I'd kill for one of these. Alas, it's not likely to happen. I'll have to skip a generation and wait three years and get the 1080i resolution future version, when prices come down. Meantime the only real dissapointment in working with the C3X was taking it to FedX to ship it back.
I highly recommend this projector for anyone with the cashflow and the desire for the very best. It will make the core of a home theater system to die for. On top of that, it has the brightness to light up a room so you don't have to watch football (or Jay Leno, or Discovery HD) in near darkness, but rather in rather moderately well lit rooms. Sim2 proclaims this is the hottest selling projector in its market segment (home theater and commercial screening, I presume) according to Quixell Research.
The best news for some, is that for those with well controlled rooms - light wise, and more limited budgets, the C3X Lite, will save you a whopping $4000, and should produce an equally impressive image.
The word that keeps coming to mind: Superb!
If anyone has a spare one they're not using, email me, and I'll give you my shipping address. -art