The NEC V801 Is 80" HDTV Extravagance
We’re not sure that NEC expected us to treat the V801 like an HDTV, but we just couldn’t resist. It’s really not the sort of display you would run productivity apps on, but it’s just begging to be used as the centerpiece in a home theater. It used to be that only a projector could provide that immersive experience movie buffs crave. Now, we can consider a large-format LCD as a worthy projector replacement.
At over $9000, the V801 isn’t for everyone (even its lower street price is prohibitively expensive). But if you've been dreaming about a truly large HDTV or monitor, and your significant other thinks you've behaved exceptionally well this year, well, there isn’t much else out there at this screen size. Time to start dropping some holiday hints. If you want to go bigger, you’ll need a projector, and that comes with its own challenges. For most media rooms, an 80-inch screen provides plenty of immersion while still allowing you to keep the lights on.
Of course, NEC markets this display as a commercial/professional product. And it is extremely well designed for that purpose. With rugged construction, tons of inputs, and easy integration into video walls and other large-space applications, it’s hard to imagine a better-suited monitor. But we think it performs equally well in a home theater.
The benchmark numbers, especially those for contrast, place the V801 in elite territory among both HDTVs and computer monitors. We gave it the toughest possible competition in the form of a Pioneer Elite PRO-111FD and it acquitted itself well against that iconic screen. Not only is its contrast ratio far higher than any desktop display we’ve tested, it beats the vast majority of HDTVs too. Fortunately, its color, grayscale, and gamma accuracy are also among the best. Its tremendous dynamic range is also impressive. With a max light output of almost 460 cd/m2, it displays a bright saturated image in any environment. But throttle back to around 170 cd/m2 and you have a high-contrast home theater screen.
We only found two flaws in the V801. First, its black field uniformity was not the best, mainly due to its large size. Even the Pioneer plasma turned in poor numbers there. The second issue, which could be fixed fairly easily, is its inability to match refresh rates from the source material. For computer-based content, this isn’t a big deal since everything is 60 Hz. When playing film-based content, however, it’s a real plus when a display can match its output frame rate to a multiple of 24. Our PRO-111FD switches to 72 Hz for this purpose, and most consumer LCD panels can operate at 120 Hz. The V801 is stuck at 60 Hz, and even though it accepts a 24 Hz signal, the conversion process creates brief stuttering artifacts. Perhaps a firmware update would address this?
If you’re in the market for a video wall, the V801 has all of the necessary functionality to make that happen. While it’s hard to imagine, you can connect up to 100 of these screens and have them display a single image. At that point you’re in scoreboard territory. The resulting wall would be over 60 feet diagonal with a 1500-foot screen area.
Whatever your big-screen dreams are, the NEC V801 can satisfy them. As a home entertainment display, it qualifies as a luxury for sure. But when do you ever regret buying the best of the best?