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Home Entertainment Projectors - Rough Around The Edges

Some manufacturers are getting lazy, others have been so.  Time to motivate them to fix their erring ways. Therefore, it's time for me to bitch about my most hated feature or rather:  lack of feature.   This issue is something that affects many of the lower cost projectors, notably Acer and Optoma but others have been "here" with some improving their products. I'm talking about projectors without Savable User settings. Gawd, I hate working with them.  It is a huge headache for a reviewer who adjusts, tweaks and calibrates projectors compared to some owners who just want to "turn on a projector and watch".  The thing is, many, if not most home projector owners, go projector because they love the watching "the big screen", and therefore tend to want to get the most out of the picture quality.  Most of us, I believe, want at least one mode that's great and accurate for movies, and another that can be used with ambient light present, that's bright enough to cut through the light, even if color accuracy in't as good. Well, I'm talking about projector that don't allow that second situation.  I've just reviewed two in a row, the Acer H6510BD, and I'm finishing up the Optoma HD25-LV review now.  I was writing about this in the review, and decided to "kvetch" to a larger audience - you folks, rather than just those interested in that one projector. BTW Kudos to Viewsonic.  In the past we've reviewed a Viewsonic low cost projector with this issue, but their brand new PJD7820HD - a $699 1080p crossover projector has addressed this.  It has two User modes, and both are savable.  Manufacturers can learn from past "mistakes."  That's encouraging. What's the Problem?   Let's say you have one of these projectors.  In our case, we recently calibrated the Optoma HD25-LV. That meant lots and lots of changed settings.  (Figure 5+ minutes to make all the changes if I was working from a list of settings I wrote down.  I'm talking abut all the settings you would find on our calibration pages. Back to the projector.  OK, I end up with a calbrated HD25-LV with some pretty good color accuracy and picture in general. - The Hunger Games looked really good.  But Saturday is sports day, I've got a game I want to watch with friends.  That means ambient light - a goodly amount.  Great, so I am gladly willing to sacrifice color "perfection" to get an extra 20 - 30% more brightness.   My current settings would be in User, because whenver you edit settings in these projectors, the mode you are in (Bright, Cinema, Photo...) changes to User. Now I want to put on that sports.  I select a mode other than user.   15 minutes in my watching I decide that I'll have a better viewing experience by increasing the Brightness setting by 2.  I go in, adjust the brightness by two (or change any other setting). Bingo, all those calibration settings are now lost!   If you didn't write them down, you could always hire another calibrator for a few hundred dollars to recalibrate.  All because you changed a single setting in a mode other than User!   Turn Brilliant Color ON, or OFF, that will do it, as will pretty much every color / image / picture setting. In the course of trying different things out, in the last week, I've had to reinput all of the HD25-LV's calibration settings more than a half dozen times.  Arrgh!   What a waste of anyone's time on earth. From now on, any projector that does not have a User savable setting, that won't allow you to modify another mode without wiping out your custom settings will officially be: A Rough Around the Edges Projector! I decided that's catchier than:  "A projector you can grow to hate."  Although the later would probably drive more traffic to my site. And there will be a price to pay for manufacturers that continue to fix this User Unfriendly lack of feature.  Going forward, any projector with this User issue will likely be penalized in terms of receiving awards, and the additional exposure that the "best" projectors get, at least on our site. Last year we gave the Acer H9500BD a Best In Class award - our highest in the under $2K price range, despite being "Rough around the edges".  That award won't likely be going to any projector that is Rough Around the Edges in the future.  Oh, if it is otherwise a great projector, we'll let you know, and it might win an award, but it won't win any top awards. Going forward it will always be addressed in home projector reviews. It might also result in a projector that otherwise is deserving a Hot Product Award, to instead receive a Special Interest Award.  Keep in mind our Special Interest Awards are for really good projectors, that might be great for some, but ones that aren't necessarily a good choice for most owners.  In this case, that "Special Interest" Award would be sort of: "This is a really good projector, but only if you never use your remote control for anything but turning the projector on and off, once it's set up" Award. I want to hear back from you folks.  Am I out of line?  Do you not care if that's a trait of your next projector - single mode operation only (without headaches). BTW this problem affects few projectors, many brands offer multiple savable user modes, in fact a number of projectors offer 5-10 or more.  Personally I'd like to see a minimum of 4 or 5, especially if the projector is 3D capable. OK, back to reviewing the Optoma.   Thanks for "listening" to me bitch.  -art

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