All I want for Christmas is a 3-D projector. I know, it’s 101 degrees out and it’s only August, but I can start dreaming, dreaming of watching Avatar in 3-D on my 161″ diagonal 16:9 screen. With movies like Clash of the Titans and Tron: Legacy available in 3-D Blu ray, I can hide away in my theater with bags of popcorn for hours on end.
You no longer have to be limited to 55 or 65″ 3-D televisions, as you can watch 3-D movies on screens up to a 300″ diagonal, depending on the image size that can be projected by the brand of projector that you select.
Not all projectors are capable of projecting 3-D. In fact, many cannot. Even some projectors that are cited by its manufacturer as 3-D ready or 3-D capable do not process 3-D well. Some models cannot project 3-D images from a Blu-ray player, but only from a PC that has 120 Hz output.
Most of the 3-D projectors require active shutter glasses that are compatible with the projector brand. In fact, the only 3-D projector that uses passive glasses is the LG CF3D. The CF3D uses LCoS technology (liquid crystal on silicon), which produces video that surpasses DLP and LCD with superior images. LCoS is a reflective technology that uses liquid crystals instead of the mirrors that DLP uses. Just like DLP, the light is either reflected or blocked.
The CF3D has a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 with a contrast ratio of 7000:1 and a MSRP of $9,999.00. It has a vertical sync of 120 Hz for smoother high-def images. The passive glasses technology is the same as what you would find in commercial 3-D theaters and are very low cost.
DLP has a special synchronization system built into a 3-D projector, which links the glasses to the projector without any special emitters or transmission devices for an amazing 3-D experience.
If you are looking for an economic 3-D projector, check out the Viewsonic PJD6531W, which is Blu ray compatible. This DLP 120 Hz projector is bright at 3200 lumens and can be used in the economy mode in a dark room, thereby extending the lamp life, which is rated at 4,000 hours.
The PJD6531W has vertical keystone correction, but no horizontal correction. Because of the wide angle lens, this projector has a short throw distance, which is good if you are viewing in a small room. The three year warranty is the best in the industry. The projector has a street value of under $700.00, but the active shutter glasses are an accessory and will run about $109.00 each.
To get setup for 3-D viewing, you will need a 3-D capable projector with a minimum vertical sync of 120 Hz and 1080p resolution. Before buying a 3-D projector, check to see if the glasses come with the projector or as an accessory. If they are an accessory, your total cost will be much greater than you expected. The higher priced projectors usually come with two pair of active shutter glasses. The projector must also have HDMI inputs for connection to Blu ray DVD players.
If you want to project 3-D movies, be sure to buy a 3-D Blu ray player, as a standard Blu ray player will not playback 3-D.
Check the cables that are supplied with the projector, as most models only come with a VGA cable. You will need a HDMI cable to connect to a 3-D Blu ray DVD player to view 3-D.
The HDMI cable is used to transmit 1080p or HD video, and audio from your player to your projector.
All quality 3-D projectors have 1920 x 1080 resolution. There are some 1280 x 720 projectors on the market, such as the Acer H5360, but I would stay away from this resolution. The price is enticing at under $500.00, but these projectors do not have many of the basic features of the higher resolution projectors, such as an air filter, which can cause a buildup of dust and might lead to a system failure. Some of the low priced 720 projectors utilize a DLP color wheel with a low speed of 4x, causing a “rainbow effect,” which is disturbing to many people.
DLP projectors flicker parts of color to make the image appear complete, whereas LCD uses three panels (one of each primary color), which are projected at the same time. Because of the flashing of the DLP mirrors, some people have a problem seeing artifacts, which appear as a rainbow, when looking at images from a DLP projector that uses a single DLP chip with slow speeds. This effect disappears on the DLP projectors that use 3 chips with speeds of 5x or 6x.
LCoS technology is also known as SXRD, which was developed by Sony or D-ILA, which was developed by JVC. A SXRD projector has 1080p resolution with a contrast ration of 3000:1 or better and a 5ms response speed.
Sony developed SXRD technology to produce a true HD picture image that is close to movie theater properties. Sony has managed to pack 2 million pixels into an image area smaller than .8″ diagonal. SXRD chips reduce dust, which has been a problem with LCD panels. The Sony VPL-VW90ES 3D projector uses a 240 Hz SXRD chipset, designed to deliver the sort of ultra-fast response time that 3D needs. It has a 350,000:1 contrast ratio, but loses a little brightness with only 1000 lumens. It has lens shift with both vertical and horizontal keystone correction. It comes with two pair of active shutter glasses, which are included in the $10,000 MSRP. The three year warranty isn’t too shabby either.
D-ILA, which stands for Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier, is a proprietary form of LCoS developed by JVC. (See diagram) The pixels are tightly spaced and liquid crystal blending gives a film-like image that no other technology can replicate.
There is no difference between LCD and 3LCD. Both have 3 LCD panels. 3LCD is a marketing tool created by Epson. LCD projectors are more affordable but many LCD projectors do not have the contrast ratio as high as SXRD or DLP projectors do. LCD had an advantage over DLP’s earlier projectors, but that has changed with DLP 3-D being a better choice for 3-D.
1920 x 1080 Pixels
Another issue for 3-D is the resolution. To get a crystal clear picture, you will need 1080p (1920×1080). The term, 1080p, means that a16:9 image has 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high. You will still see some 3-D projectors with a 1280 x 800 resolution. More pixels mean a better quality image. The “p” stands for progressive scan, whereas an “I” means interlaced. An interlaced image displays alternate lines of images, for which the eyes compensate, making the viewer see a single image. A progressive scan image shows all lines of the image at the same time, thereby presenting a much better image, closer to the natural image that our eyes see. Movie film is progressive in nature.
Panasonic has just introduced its new PT-AE7000U home theater projector. It is the world’s first 3-D projector to use transparent LCD panels driven at 480Hz, which is the highest sync rate in 3-D. The Hz has to do with the refresh rate of the image. This is not a major concern except when images on the screen are moving quickly, such as in sports or Bruce Willis movies. The faster the action, the more difficult it is for lower Hz projectors to keep the action smooth.
The PT-AE7000U has an outstanding 300,000:1 contrast ratio. The contrast ratio is the number of steps from white to black. The higher the contrast ratio is, the better the image details in shadows.
At a MSRP of $3,499.00, this projector is a winner. Panasonic has worked with the developers of 3-D Blu ray Discs, who have set the standard for 3-D. Some 3-D projectors have crosstalk between the two images, but Panasonic claims to have eliminated crosstalk. The active shutter glasses are an accessory at $150.00 a pair, but they can also be used if you have a Panasonic 3-D television. Switching between 16:9 and 2.35:1 is possible on this projector. 2.35:1 is the image ratio seen in movie theaters. It has both vertical and horizontal keystone correction. The new 200 watt red-rich lamp has a life of 4,000 hours and with its advance circuitry the projector reduces the main power consumption by reducing the level of brightness, depending on the image displayed. Look for this projector in September.
We can’t always get what we want, but here are the features to look for in a 3-D projector. Buy a projector with as many of these specifications as you can afford.
LCoS or SXRD
1920 x 1080p
DLP Response speed
5x or 6x
3000:1 or better
> 2500 (More if there is a lot of ambient light)
At least vertical
120 Hz minimum
< 25 dB
The following are other native 1080p resolution projectors to check out:
JVC DLA X7
Sony 30 ES
A good 3-D projector is also an excellent 2-D projector, and some 3-D projectors will convert 2-D to 3-D if this conversion is desired. So don’t think that 3-D projectors will only display 3-D.
This article contains statements of personal opinion and comments made in good faith in the interest of the public. You should confirm all statements with the manufacturer to verify the correctness of the statements.