Samsung SP-A800B St. John's NL
May 21, 2008 By David Birch-Jones
Best known for his Digital Video Essentials series of test discs, video guru Joe Kane is often called upon to consult with display manufacturers looking to improve the overall video performance of their products. He also works with the Hollywood film and television industry, and is a singular driving force for better-looking HDTV pictures.
His latest collaboration with Samsung is their new SP-A800B 1080p DLP front projector (he had previously contributed to their earlier 720p DLP model a few years ago).
Previewed at the CEDIA show in Denver in September of last year, the SP-A800B was also on display at the January CES show in Las Vegas, with Joe himself doing the presentations, and the projector putting up some mighty fine images on the demo screen.
Finished in shiny black plastic, the projector’s ovoid curves give it a visual character quite different from other projectors, and the remote control features similar swoopy curves, and is backlit. The large, center-mounted lens features manual focus, zoom and vertical lens shift, and the adjustments aren’t overly sensitive, allowing me to dial in a sharp and properly aligned picture in short order, aided by the built-in test pattern.
The first order of business is calibrating the projector. As we were the first publication to receive a review sample, Joe Kane offered to come to my home to do the calibration with me and show me around the projector’s various features. Unlike other displays, the SP-A800B has a new and innovative calibration function that dispenses with the time-consuming measure, adjust and re-measure procedure that a conventional calibration entails.
Instead, the projector features seven full field test patterns, including D65 reference white, as well as the three primary and three secondary colors. Joe calls up each screen, and I measure each one with my color analyzer, writing down the results (luminance value and x-y CIE chart coordinates). Then, we go to the calibration menu and enter those seven sets of data points. At the push of a button, the set accepts the entered values, and self-adjusts to achieve the ideal color temperature target—D65, or 6,504 degrees Kelvin. The whole process takes only a few minutes, and the after-calibration result is extremely good, with a variance over the entire gray scale of only an insignificant 100 degrees Kelvin or less, tightly hugging the D65 line all the way. The SP-A800B has RGB drive and bias controls that provide additional tweaking capability, but as the accuracy of the set’s self-calibration function is so good, there’s really no need for further adjustment.
I also noted that the projector put out a brighter picture than I was expecting, given that it is rated at 1,000 lumens, while most other projectors that use 300W bulbs claim a higher brightness, usually 1,200 lumens or more. Joe pointed out that the optics in the SP-A800B are a cut above the usual for projecto...