Planar PD8150 Saint John NB
Saint John, NB
July 11, 2008 By Geoffrey Morrison
Color from Glossy Black
Whatever you do, don't touch the PD8150. This is not, as you're certainly expecting, because it will bite you. Once your installer mounts it and wipes it off, leave it alone. This is because the stylish, gloss black case attracts fingerprints like a Hummer attracts scornful glances. There's even a handy cloth in the case to clean it. But once it's up there (out of reach), the color that comes out of it is something to behold.
There is something to be said about a company that creates a product with the mindset of “lets make this thing accurate." There are many tricks to fudge the numbers game that is the projector market, and none of them start with being accurate. Yet this is just what Planar set out to do with the PD8150.
From the beginning, Planar wanted to have the PD8150 be as accurate as possible out of the box. Few companies design products this way, even though most enthusiasts will agree that an accurate display looks far, far better than an inaccurate one. Of all the displays I've measured over the years, only a handful have had accurate color points out of the box. One such display was the InFocus 777, which probably isn't too surprising as many members of that product's design team are now at Planar.
This isn't to say that you shouldn't have the display calibrated, different screens have different color shifts, but it does mean that it’s natively a lot closer to accurate than most other displays. Colors will appear natural (and they do), skin tones will be realistic (very), and the overall image just seems realistic. Less like you're watching a display. I watched it for a few days before calibrating it, and it looked great, but after calibration it looked a little better.
Based on the latest generation of DLP chips from Texas Instruments the PD8150 sports the now-normal 1,920 by 1,080 resolution. Like many of its brethren, the PD8150 sports an auto-iris, here known as DynamicBlack. This feature looks at the incoming video signal, and then opens or closes a shutter in the light path to dim the light in dark scenes, and open up for bright scenes. This helps the overall contrast ratio, making very dark scenes appear darker, and bright scenes brighter.
Normally these types of auto-iris systems don't do anything to the actual contrast ratio within any given scene (as in the streetlights on a dark street). DynamicBlack, on the other hand, runs the bright areas of an image a little hotter, potentially increasing contrast in a scene as well. Personally, I found that this system tracked the signal a little too closely, causing some pulsing of the brightness. I tend to be over sensitive to auto-iris functions, so you may not notice it at all. Even so, with DynamicBlack switched off, I found the contrast to be on par with other DLP projectors, which is to say good, if not great. Light output was also good, though not as bright as some. Black ...