|Optoma H78DC3 'DarkChip3' DLP projector -
the first 'Dark Chip' DLP projector under $4,000
by Adrian Biffen
AeroHOST Web Systems
November 20, 2005
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next generation of DLP DarkChip3 projectors has arrived ... If you've been
following my article series, you'll know I chose the BenQ PB 6200 DLP
front projector about a year and a half ago as the centerpiece of my
'dream home theater system'. I've never regretted that decision, and it
is still an excellent buy, even today. We have logged over a thousand
hours of viewing time on it, and have enjoyed it immensely - and still
||Optoma H78DC3 DLP||Canon SX50
||800 lumens||2500 lumens|
||720p (1,280 x 720)||SXGA (1400 x 1050)|
||16:9 native||4:3 native|
I'll give you my
opinion, such as it is, but please keep in mind that these performance
issues are highly subjective, and you should always see the
display, or something similar, before you buy it. Your sense of what
constitutes a good picture could be entirely different from mine, and
neither of us would be wrong.
First and foremost, to me this is a shootout between brightness and contrast; I'm talking about DVD video here, not presentation graphics. From my experience of choosing the BenQ PB6200, I definitely found that the contrast ratio is much more important than brightness (assuming you can control your room lighting). I saw no point in watching a bright, relatively washed out picture.
I'm not saying the Canon IS washed out, however (I've never seen one), but the Optoma DarkChip3 is the clear winner, going by the specifications. After all, TI didn't emphasize the contrast ratio with the 'DarkChip' moniker for no reason. Nevertheless, the Canon lumen rating is so high, there's plenty of room to reduce the brightness in favor of contrast. I have also heard that the color saturation is excellent, so that will also be a factor to consider.
Resolution is another tricky subject. Going by the specs, the Canon appears to be the clear winner, but I have read that it has a 'bleed over' effect from one pixel to the other that makes the picture softer than one might expect. My BenQ DLP projector produces a very sharp picture, and I presume that the new DarkChip is even more so. It will be interesting to see if there is really much difference between these two units from the picture clarity point of view.
Also, since the Canon is native 4:3, if your primary viewing is wide screen DVD, then some of those pixels at the top and bottom will not be used, further equalizing the resolution difference. However, if you need to do a lot of presentation work with your computer, I would say the Canon would definitely be the better choice, especially in brightly lit rooms. It was clearly developed with this kind of use in mind, whereas I think it is safe to say the Optoma design is geared more to home theater use.
So the jury is out on this competition, and I'm sure we'll hear more about this topic in the months to come. I'm certainly going to do my best to see a comparison first hand, and if any of you out there do, please feel free to contact me.
Neither of these units is capable of producing a 1080p native image, like the new Toshiba/Canon SED flat panel displays can, and this is another area I'll be following closely. Then again, I've heard others say that on some units 1080i interlaced displays actually look better than 1080p. Again, seeing is believing!
Let's also keep in mind that until the new HDTV DVD format emerges, the best we can do for home movie viewing is to use an upscaled 480p source, like my Zenith DVB 318.
So is one of these going to be my new 'dream home theater system'? Let's wait until I actually see one and start drooling uncontrollably ...
* * * * *
For the sake of clarity, here is a repeat of some acronym and terminology definitions relating to the various display technologies, used in the other table below to compare the various screen types:
The following table provides a quick comparison of the display types; "pixelation" refers to the ability to see individual picture elements (pixels) at normal viewing distances (note that all the types below can contribute to the YADR index). Please note that these products are being constantly improved and not all manufacturer's models may be subject to the disadvantages listed below:
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