Electrons Are Out, Photons Are In

Our custom made PC based "media center" just got its new replacement screen: Dell 2300MP Projector! Short review: It rocks and totally worth it (especially playing PS2 games wired with 5.1 sound system and WinAmp Visualizers on a big screen). And here are more tidbits for you geeks:

  • Dell 2300MP is new line of DLP projector which (I guess) came out in Oct 2004. It has whooping 2300 lumens and 2100 contrast ratio and cost me $1165 including shipping. It's native resolution is 1024X768 which exceeds many plasmas. Projector of this class used to cost almost twice a year ago.
  • PS2 even with S-Video connector gives pretty cool quality. Through 5.1 surround sound system with games like Grand Theft Auto and you can hear cars passing by around you as if you are on real road.
  • This projector doesn't have DVI connector (for digital video from PCs) and component video/RGB connection (for high resolution DVD movies or 1080i HDTV format). That means you can only go as good as S-Vide. Also it has only one S-Video port. I don't think this is a huge disadvantage because more resolution offered by these connectors can't be displayed by projector anyway.
  • It comes with lots of wires (though short in length) and a slick case. Remember projector wiring and screen is a significant portion of total projector cost. A 25ft VGA cable alone can cost easily over $50.
  • One big limitation of most projection system is that you can project only a specific size picture from specific distance. So say if you have have 85" diagonal area available project on be able place projector at around 10-12 ft from the wall. No more no less. And yes, you must buy enough long wires to hook up all your PS2s, cable TVs and PCs.
  • This projector is super bright and it looks terrific even on our direct white wall projection without using any screen at all. It’s so bright that we don’t even feel needed to turn off our lights. On the daytime, if you have really bright room (no curtains on big glass wall), picture would appear washed out – not good enough for DVD quality but still pretty good for talk shows like quality.
  • Because of high lumens and contrast, the most suitable screens for this projector are matt white screens with the gain 1.0 or even lower. This eliminated need for high gain screens means you get wide viewing angle just like usual TV set and uncompromising colors.
  • Many people complained about circular "rainbows" that appears when watching B&W movies. It doesn't seem to appear so far with us but I guess it might popup if you are watching high contrast black and white movie for a long time.
  • Because of high contrast, darker scenes in the movie would feel darker. You will need to mess around with settings for this for a while (Dogma=3 works for us pretty well). BTW, we run at only 40% of its maximum brightness.
  • When projector is not placed right at the center of screen but on lower or upper side. You get a distortion called keystone. This projector has built-in key-stone elimination feature which works great but it doesn't have any way to shrink picture horizontally or vertically or compensate for horizontal center-off alignment. If you are planning to project on for more than 100", you should consider exact center ceiling mount.
  • If you still don’t think projector is a best bet for a screen, do a math on movie tickets. And even then if you don’t get convinced, go watch Step into liquid on 85" screen projected by this little toy! It's brilliant!