Movie Theater Video for the Masses

Load Up The Dishwasher, Nuke The Popcorn

As is the case with a lot of audio-video equipment, individual tastes can run counter to the logic of more objective judgments based on scientific measurements. And it's hard to make a choice when you're constantly torn between your own preferences and objective analyses made by so-called specialists.

While each type of equipment obviously needs to offer a minimum number of features, each person's senses are educated differently, and everyone doesn't have the same needs. That's why we decided to test our high-end video projectors using two complementary approaches: The first comprises a series of objective tests based on test patterns that show whether each unit has the minimum qualities needed to do the job. The second part of our tests consists of viewing different excerpts from DVD movies that you might be familiar with. Finally, it's important to remember that what a video projector is supposed to do, above all, is to enhance your enjoyment and emotions when watching movies. If the image it puts out keeps you from getting immersed in the movie, then obviously that particular model hasn't served its ultimate purpose.

Objective Tests

Determining what a projector has to offer only involves feeding it test patterns designed to check whether the contrast and brightness are sufficient, if the image geometry is respected and if the image is sharp enough. Then you can decide whether the characteristics claimed by the manufacturer seem coherent and if the intrinsic qualities of each product are sufficient for home cinema use.

The method is simple: Screen the test patterns one after another on each video projector, while always using the same source - which in this case was a Philips 963 SA DVD player connected via a YUV component video or S-Video output. Note that the adjustments of the DVD player are neutral so as not to skew the results. It's important to know that you absolutely must choose a quality DVD player if you plan to acquire a video projector. Think of your DVD player and your video projector as being complementary, with each one capable of making up for the shortcomings of the other and making the most of the qualities of each.