Do you call that a review?

Today I embarked upon a begging mission. I wrote to eight different purveyors of projectors and asked if they’d like to lend me one for at least several months. Odd behaviour? Here’s why.

I shall henceforth be writing four HD DVD or Blu-ray disc reviews for each edition of ‘Sound and Image‘ magazine. The focus will be on the technical quality of the titles, rather than the attractiveness of the content. But there’s a problem.

To do a really good job I need a HD DVD player, a Blu-ray disc player and a true high definition (1,920 by 1,080) projector. None of which I can afford to purchase. I have already successfully prevailed upon Pioneer to lend me its new BDP-LX70 BD player (1080p24 output, networking capability) as soon as it comes in. I am working on a HD DVD player. And today I started working on a projector. Thus the eight emails. I have reviewed all but one of the projectors I enquired about, and the other one I will be reviewing within the fortnight.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that hopeful. But within a couple of hours Epson had come back to me offering to lend me the EMP-TW1000 projector for four months. Brilliant!

But I did have one concern to settle before I said ‘yes’. While I reviewed it several months ago, at the time I did not have access to a 1080p24 source device, so I couldn’t be certain it could handle that preferred signal standard. So I decided to google up a few reviews.

I eventually found a decent review at Projector Central (apparently they use a different model name in the US). And this confirmed that the projector does, indeed, handle 1080p24 signals. So I said ‘yes’ to Epson, and that’s the projector I’ll be using for these movie reviews.

But along the way I found a wonderful example of how not to review product. I commend it to your attention. We have here a home theatre projector, full high definition, for review, and the reviewer plugs it into a … laptop! The opinion is expressed that ‘[a]ny white wall is fine for projection’ (oh yeah, a high gloss one?) and that Screen Goo ‘is highly reflective’, as though that’s some kind of virtue. A mirror is highly reflective, but doesn’t make much of a projection screen because it burns holes in your retinas. A projection screen reflects nearly all (preferably all) the incident light, but in a diffuse manner. I imagine Screen Goo does this as well.

And the real killer:

Obviously, for maximum clarity it is best not to set up the projector in an extremely bright room. For testing purposes, however, I did, and though the colours weren’t as vivid it still looked fine.

Huh? One of the selling points of this projector is a claimed contrast ratio of 12,000:1 thanks to the dynamic iris. That’s totally wasted with any ambient light in the room at all.

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