Sadly, we're not all lucky enough to have rooms big enough to accommodate a projector. Or are we? For thanks to Norwegian projector specialist Projection Design, you can now buy a classy projector, the Action! Model Two, equipped with a highly unusual short-throw '1:1' lens.
When we say '1:1' in this context, we're saying that if you plonk the projector 1m from your screen you'll get a 1m picture. Or put it 2m from the screen and you'll get a 2m picture. And so on. This is compared with a normal projection throw distance of, for instance, around 4-5m to enjoy an image of 2m.
The lens is made by Fujinon but it's actually engineered by Projection Design's own engineers, so that its optical properties better match the Model Two Wide's internal optics than if the company had simply bought in a third party lens.
The lens also gives the Model Two Wide a very distinctive look, looking disproportionately large compared with the rest of the actually remarkably diminutive bodywork. Talking of which, its chassis unusually functions as a heat sink to relieve some burden from the projector's cooling fans. And it can be had in any of three colours: Vanquish Grey, Pearl White and Maranello Blue.
Could be a model
As you'd expect of a £4k projector, the Model Two employs a DarkChip3 chipset from Texas Instruments, here giving a claimed 4000:1 contrast ratio along with a 1280 x 720 native resolution.
There's also a 7-segment colour wheel, which should reduce DLP's rainbow effect problems, and connections include a DVI input, component jacks, and PC D-Sub options. We wouldn't have minded a second HDMI on a £4k projector, but them's the breaks.
Our Superman Returns HD DVD looks for the most part very good on the Model Two Wide. Black levels in particular make a great first impression, as the projector handles dark scenes with aplomb like Superman's night flight with Lois in terms of both the black level depth and shadow detailing.
Also impressive are the Model Two Wide's colours. Bright scenes like those aboard Luthor's flash boat look extremely vibrant, but also enjoy very natural tones by DLP standards. Even better, this toning prowess holds up during the film's many dark scenes, and survives director Bryan Singer's fancy for stylised colour filters.
More good news comes with the Model Two Wide's suppression of those common DLP nasties of fizzing noise over moving objects (Superman's flying form stays pretty clean looking no matter how fast he goes!), and the rainbow effect. The latter is seldom seen under any circumstances, while the motion fizzing only becomes an issue if you set the projector's white level option high. So don't.
However, if we had to be hypercritical of the Model Two Wide - something we actually feel entitled to be given its £4,000 asking price - we would have to say that the picture can look a bit gritty, and sometimes shows a little colour banding (rather than smooth blends) over the mug shots seen displayed in Superman Returns.
Overall, we have to say we have our doubts whether the Model Two Wide does enough in terms of performance to justify its £4k price tag.
But there again, if you happen to be in the market for a high quality projector that is designed to function in a particularly small room, there's really nothing else out there that fits the bill so well.