Samsung SP-A600 Projector – A "First Look"

UPDATE: The Samsung SP-A600 Review has been posted.

Greetings all,

I’m a little late with getting this out, as I’m pretty much done with the Samung SP-A600, except for the writing of the review.

Here’s the scoop.

The Samsung is geared to be an under $2000 projector.  I’m still waiting for the final MSRP.  As of two weeks ago, it was likely to be priced at $1999 or $1795.  Up until now Samsung has pretty well stuck to higher end projectors, with very limited distribution, so what level of discounting we’ll see, is unknown.  That said, if I had to guess (and it really is a guess) – probably online discounts in the $100+ range.  Of course, that may depend on which MSRP they start with.  Some companies are launching new models with a rebate from the start.  Of course the thing that counts is the net price, and of course, the projector’s quality.

So let’s talk about the Samsung SP-A600 home theater projector.

Physically, the SP-A600 is a small, cute, nicely sculpted DLP projector with a shiny black piano finish.  The remote is small, well laid out, but lacks a backlight is a pain.  Home theater projectors’ remotes almost always have backlighting.  Too bad.

The picture quality out of the box is very good, far better than the engineering sample they sent us. Overall, the picture quality is very good, the projector’s image is sharp, typical for DLP projectors.  Black levels were your pretty basic DLP projector quality, with no dynamic iris to help out. The only thing that really stands out, though, is the brightness in it’s best mode (Movie 1).

Post calibration it measured 715 lumens.  Only the Optoma HD806 of all the 1080p projectors we reviewed in our big 1080 Comparison, was brighter, so it should have a target market of those needing the extra horsepower for larger screens, or fighting some ambient light.

I found no overt issues with the SP-A600.  It’s a good, solid projector, but my take is, other than brightness it doesn’t stand out from the crowd, and it’s picture quality doesn’t wow you the way the Sharp XV-Z15000 and BenQ W5000 do.  It may work out to being a bit less expensive than those other DLP projectors.  Because of the brightness, it’s closest competitor among the 3LCD projectors is probably the Epson Home Cinema 6100 which is also very bright (not as bright in best mode, but more lumens at maximum).

That’s a pretty good snapshot of the SP-A600.  Of course I’ll go into more detail and touch on additional points with the review, which I’m really hoping to finish mid-week, but my vacation starts in about 30 minutes, and there’s only so much writing time on a cross country flight.  At latest, August 10th!

Look for the next couple of reviews, most interesting.  The new Optoma $999 1080p projector and I’ve got a surprise for you.  I’ve got a projector coming in mid month, that I can’t even mention due to press blackout, until Sept 9 when they formally announce at CEDIA.  On Sept 1, I’ll be allowed to tell you what it is.  Let’s just say it’s the latest new model of what can only be called a perennial  “major contender.”  I will say it’s a mid priced 1080p.

OK, I’m out’a here!   Bon Voyage! -art

News and Comments

  • Doil

    I’m really interested in Optoma’s new HD20, wonder how it’s compared with its own HD65. No S-Video port is bit of down for me, since I still have some devices which S-Video is best output.

    • Hi Doil,

      I’ve now got an HD20 inbound, arriving probably Monday. Should post the review in two weeks or less. As to the S-video – I understand, but, hey, 1080p for $999, something’s got to give! -art

  • Bjorn

    That sounds like a boring pj by Samsung, what does sound exciting in this post is that new “major contender” you can’t reveal yet 🙂 I’m really looking forward to this years Panasonic AE4000/Epson “7500”/Sanyo Z4000 battling it out, so I hope it’s one of those!

    What I find odd is why there aren’t more LCoS type pj’s coming out (hopefully there are) but it seems most companies are still sticking to the old LCD/DLP standards for some reason?! If there were more competition in the LCoS area, maybe they could finally start dropping in price to more reasonable levels…

    Especially DLP seems to me like a dying format, so if all these companies releasing DLP’s could start focusing on new improved technology like LCoS (or LED/OLED) instead so we can start seeing some real improvements in pj tech!

    • Yes, I guess you could translate my “solid performer” as boring. Certainly it lacks great black levels, but is well balanced, with no significant flaws. As to DLP, LCD, LCoS. Well, at this point, there are only a few manufacturers of LCoS, and none are like Epson, or TI, that is, really interested in mass marketing the chips to all the other manufacturers. Still, Sony and JVC are formidable companies, and Sony at least has brought their HW10 down into the sub-$3000 range. While Sony doesn’t seem to be even doing any real OEMing of their projectors to others, JVC, of course has, but usually to higher end manufacturers, so there are a couple of “RS10, RS20, RS2 clones out there. The late great Kuro from Pioneer is the JVC RS2.

      As to which is superior, well, JVC, so far, seems to be the only player out there with LCoS or 3LCD that really produces better black levels than the DLP chips. Everyone else is accomplishing their black levels with dynamic irises, including Sony. And of course DLP single chip projectors cause some of us to see rainbows, but as I’ve been commenting (and I am rainbow sensitive) TI, primarily with Brilliant Color, seems to have significantly reduced the amount of RBE that those of us sensitive, can see. To the point that I rarely see rainbows on some of the newer DLPs.

      Also, the single chip design generally results in a sharper image since there are no 3 panel (chip) alignment issues causing mis-convergence, and with it some softness.

      Ultimately, it seems to be not which technology, but how well the “whole package” performs. I’ve owned all three technologies, and there are always trade-offs. I’d love, for example, my RS20 to be sharper, but I can live with the softness. Still, put my RS20 up against, say the InFocus IN83, and the sharpness difference (especially on 1080p digital source material) is evident to very evident. To bad the IN83, for example doesn’t have a dynamic iris, that would be something. InFocus has a new HT projector baking in the oven, and I believe it does have a dynamic iris. Looking forward to seeing it, because it should be a really impressive DLP. It may still not do better black levels than say the JVC RS10, but if it gets that good or real close, a lot of folks will prefer the DLP. (and there’s still some “magic” in the DLP look and feel (example, I really loved the Sharp XV-Z15000 low cost DLP.) -art

  • reikoshea

    Can’t wait for this review. I’ve been looking at the 6100, but I’d prefer a DLP in the same price point. Details, art. We need details. Vacations are for wimps (and people who…..ENJOY….being sane).

  • Bjorn

    Thank you Art for your lengthy reply, much appreciated!

    I agree it does seem in part as if the “complete package” is just as important to the end result as the technology itself, but at the same time it also seems like properly implemented, few if any pj’s can come close to the black levels and overall PQ that the LCoS JVC RSX0 pj’s have.

    Regarding DLP, it just seems to me that with the huge advanced that LCD projectors have made in the last few years, not the least of which being inorganic panels, and the rainbow problems of DLP (which both me and my wife are very sensitive to) DLP technology just doesn’t seem to have any real advantages anymore, many lacking in the most important aspects of HT, black levels, contrast and colors.

    Is LCoS that much more expensive to manufacture, or heavily patented that manufacturers like Epson and TI can’t or don’t want to enter that arena? It just seems like the natural progression to make…

    • Greetings again Bjorn,

      Well, I generally concur. That’s why I bought an RS20 as my own projector for my larger feature. Still, no projector “has it all”. The JVC, for example, could be sharper, and could be brighter, at least in “brightest” mode, where it still is only about 900 lumens (with a new lamp).

      DLP’s still have something about them that people like. (Including me!). But, my feeling is that we now have 3 technologies out there (DLP, LCD, and LCoS), and each have their own strengths. I don’t believe any of the three is truly superior. Things like dynamic irises, more precise calibration (and the management system to do it), optics, and many other things come into play to make one projector better than others.

      Thus, I stick with my guns – don’t shop for a technology, find the best projector to meet your specific needs, and whatever technology it uses – that’s the best one for you, now, Next year, who knows!

      As to LCoS and pricing. Well, in LCD space it’s pretty much just Epson – Sony still makes their own panels, but no longer sells them. Thus Epson is providing the panels for almost all LCD home theater projectors. On the DLP side, of course it’s Texas Instruments building and selling all the DLP chips. On the LCoS side, there are three main manufacturers, Sony, JVC and Canon, and probably several smaller ones (China, Taiwan?) None of them seem to be interested in OEMing their designs to a whole bunch of other companies. As a result, the total number of LCoS projectors built and sold is tiny compared to the other two technologies, and that is the primary reason the pricing is higher. (Keep in mind, that, for example, LCoS doesn’t guaranty great black levels. JVC does amazing things in terms of blacks, without using a dynamic iris and still has the best. Sony uses a dynamic iris and have very good blacks, but still shy of JVC, and for that matter the best of the 3LCD and DLP projectors, depending on the Sony model. (The HW10 had good black levels, but couldn’t match the Epson 6500UB, or the DLP based Planar 8150, etc, and is roughly comparable to the BenQ W20000.

      PS. Epson sticks to their vertical approach. They have never shown interest in technologies they don’t build from the ground up. They will probably be the last company on earth, for example to sell a product with a DLP chip inside. By comparison, many big names – Mitsubishi, Panasonic to just name two, have both DLP’s and 3LCD projectors in their lineup. Sony, of course has LCD and LCoS (SXRD) -art

  • Bjorn

    Thanks again for your detailed reply! It’s really nice to see that readers comments like mine are not only read but given a thoughtout reply, kudos!

    This has definitely grown into my favorite website for projector news and reviews since I found it about a year (?) ago now, and I really like that you go into so much detail in your reviews which really helps when trying to make this kind of $$ purchase decision.

    I only have one request: It would be GREAT if you could put some higher resolution screenshots in your reviews when comparing between other projectors. Yes, I know you can’t just go by screenshots, but it’s the only tool we have to judge for example black level without seeing it in person and sometimes the screenshots are so small it’s very hard to do that. If it’s a bandwidth issue I would appreciate if you could make at least one higher res (closer to 1080) image per comparison, like one for black level, sharpness, shadow detail etc.

    My “ultimate” pj right now would probably be a new Epson model with the sharpness, black level and pop of the 6500ub, and the 16:9/2.35 memory mode and the better frame rate interpolation of the Panasonic AE3000 so hopefully that will happen this year as I’m looking for an upgrade from my trusty old Sanyo PLV-Z4 😉

    • Hi Bjorn,

      You’re welcome.

      Now, you have me confused – you asked about higher resolution images. Are you already clicking on the photos in the reviews? With few exceptions, (such as product shots, menus, and some images that, say, compare brightness of different modes), clicking on most photos does bring up a high resolution image. The standard size, (in the reviews themselves are 420 pixels across. Clicking on them, you get the same image with 1000 pixel across resolution, which is pretty good, for something on the web. -art

  • Bjorn

    Yes, I’m clicking on the images in the review, and obviously I’m not asking for full HD pics on menus and product shots etc but if possible one or two higher res images per category would be nice, using a 1680×1050 22″ monitor even 1000px wide by 397px high turns out pretty small…

    Let me try to give you an example real quick, looking at your review of the 6500ub. There’s a comparison of black levels between the 6500ub and the rs1 ( it’s very hard to distinguish any differences in that image, with 1000px total width between the two.

    Overall though great job on your reviews, and I’m looking forward to reading about the soon-to-be-announced 8500ub and the ae4000 😉 Fingers croosed the 8500ub will have the anamorphic memory feature of the ae3000 🙂

    • Ahh, such demands!

      Yes, at 1000 wide, the side by side images are still pretty small, although going to 1600 or so, won’t make a drastic difference. On the sample you provided, I don’t think it would tell you more about the differences in black levels, than the 1000 pixel wide, would. And then there’s the fact that most people don’t have as large a monitor as you do. The “po folk” with XGA, or even WXGA, or even SXGA+ and WSXGA, would all have only between 1024, and 1440 of maximum width on their screens, then they wouldn’t be able to see all of both projector images in a side by side.

      If, however, I were to pick an image or two for larger still, I would tend to pick one that is a dark scene, and a second one that’s an average to bright scene with a good skin tone example.

      Well, don’t expect any change over the next month or so, too slammed, but I will be thinking about it. -art

  • Bjorn

    Well that’s all I can ask 😉

    Maybe another suggestion on those side-by-side comparisons would be to put those images on top of eachother instead, which would make them a lot easier to compare without increasing the width…

    Oh, and happy birthday to you Art 🙂

    • Hi, thought of that, but I’ll need a new testing room before that can happen, and yes, it would be a better solution. Hope to move in the next 12 months. If that comes to pass, I will definitely try to rig it up vertically, or I also have a plan B, even if I can’t. -art