Projectors can be classified into two broad categories on the basis of function - for official presentations and home theater entertainment. Nowadays there are quite a few brands out there that specialize in both, and the distinction between the two applications is blurred, mainly because all types of projectors need to do one job well; that is focus a sharp, accurately colorful, and bright enough image to the viewer. The projector model we have today - D825MX - is a new model by Vivitek, and falls generically under the professional category. It's packed with features and is just screaming for a review, so lets check it out for both professional and Home Theater applications.
Design and features
The unit is of the ultra portable kind thus it's lightweight, weighing at less than 6 pounds or 2.59 kg to be precise. But I have to say that it's not the lightest projector out there, subjectively speaking, rather it's a medium sized and medium weighted unit. The form factor is simple and straightforward, with a complete gloss black finish for the chassis. The shape of the latter is more or less rectangular with a slight trapezoidal contour on the top panel. This is more of a design element and adds a little nudge to an otherwise basic look. The Vivitek logo is printed in white, near the bottom edge. It is quite conspicuous due to contrasting white print on black. The buttons are arranged in a column like vertical placement, near a side edge on the top face of the projector. The front panel has the lens covered by a detachable lens cover, while the bottom panel has the regular mechanical lever to raise the projector in height. This is controlled by a push button on the front panel.
This unit is of the DLP family, and uses a DLP chip made by Texas Instruments (who else, its patented by them). DLP is a technology mainly adopted in front projectors and DLP rear projection TVs (not too common in India). The other technology is LCD which we all know about. This unit also has the proprietary BrilliantColor feature which basically uses secondary colors as well as primary colors in the DLP chips circuitry, thus in a nutshell it can produce better color reproduction. The contrast ratio is 2200:1 and brightness is 2500 lumens, which are decent readings. The native resolution is XGA (1024 x 768), and inputs wise too this unit has 1 VGA (15-pin D-sub), 1 Composite, S-Video and a Stereo 3.5mm Jack for audio input. The speaker of the projector unit is a mere 1 watt. The throw ratio is .94 ~ 2.16:1
We performed our regular ritual of calibration and a few brightness and color tests. Then we watched 300 and I Am Legend. The projector was hooked up to our HTPC via VGA, and we were viewing in 4:3 in the native 1024 by 768. Our throw distance was little less than 20 feet, and we got a nice 150 inch diagonal image. Now the first good point of the projector is its straight forward ease of setup manually. There is a wide range for zooming digitally, though we stuck to zero zoom. Focus and mechanical zoom does not take too long, and keystone adjustment were easily accessible via the well laid out remote. The preset to use best was sRGB and our room was dark, i.e no ambient lighting at all.
For the test data junkies, the 3 luminance and color graphs are on the next page. Here I would like to state subjectively that the most impressive part of the image was its deep blacks. In this price range, its tough to get accuracy in black to white levels, though the D825MX was suitably impressive. Both at the extreme lowest black (0 IRE) and highest white (100 IRE) the projector was quite neutral and decent looking. Then we have color which can be set to 6500, 9300 and 10500 K. We obviously kept it at the neutral 6500 K setting (this is where grays look best and natural). The menu allows extensive tweaking and setting of each RGB component, thus again we were satisfied with the color setting we got (before calibration the colors were all over the place). The image was vibrant and colors looked quite accurate and sober, no extra saturation. On testing we found about 10%-20% inaccuracy in color levels but these are tolerable and it doesn't look bad at all. The image was not too bright overall, but works well in a dark room.
The D825MX costs Rs. 45, 000 and comes with a 2 year warranty. It's priced reasonably according to me, as these days LCDs that cost this much do not have such good blacks, plus of course the screen size being 3 times more is a definite bonus. It's just that this needs to be played on a PC, due to lack of HDMI. I liked this projector overall. It has very good blacks and decent color representation. It's not too bright, and works well in a dark room. The menu is extensive and every aspect can be tweaked and set.
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