Yamaha has never been among the most prolific of projector producers, nor are its products the most keenly priced, but it does have another quality that many other brands aspire to and rarely possess, and it's all summed up in that single word: watchability. This is an attribute that previous DPX models have had in spades, and the DPX-1300 is a chip off the old block.

To look at, this new iteration is a spitting image of the preceding DPX-1100 and 1200 models. It comes in a large carcass in the usual cream and black livery, but it puts the extra internal volume to good use.

There is no light leakage from the box in any direction, and fan cooling (apparently using technology from motorcycle exhaust design, which Yamaha knows a thing or three about) is low in level and innocuous in character.

The DPX-1300 is a high-definition projector, but it is limited to 720p rather than full-on 1080p. Which maximum resolution you'll go for must be a personal decision based, in part, on your viewing patterns, video source components and expectations - but remember that the higher figures do not necessarily translate into better pictures, and the differences may be very subtle.

In every other respect, however, this is an ambitious unit. The principal building block is a DLP DarkChip3 16:9 DMD optical processor whose native resolution is 1280 x 720 pixels, coupled to a seven-segment colour wheel - the seventh segment being a neutral-density green.

This is supported by some fancy digital signal processing, including Silicon Optix HQV (Hollywood Quality Video) which provides pixel-by-pixel de-interlacing, with full sensing of film-based, animated and TV cadences. Image processing of the Yamaha is 10bit throughout.

The lens has a wider than average 1.6x zoom range with fully-motorised adjustment, including vertical lens shift amounting to 50 per cent picture height. Zoom, focus, iris settings and keystone adjust in both planes are also motorised, which makes this an easy projector to adjust when mounted inaccessibly - on the ceiling, for example.

The long zoom ratio means that projector placement is less critical than usual, and a variable iris trades light output against contrast ratio. In a room which is not well blacked-out, 800 Lumens is on tap at a claimed 2500:1 contrast ratio, but in a well blacked-out room, where a lower light output is supportable, the lens can be stepped down and an impressive maximum contrast ratio of 5000:1 is claimed at 400 Lumens.

Once again, however, it is not the published numbers that are the final arbiters of quality here, but the way that the near blacks are processed, using a combination of technologies that Yamaha collectively describes as Natural Black, allied here to some very versatile and intuitive colour space adjustments.

Connections include HDMI and DVI-D, both HDCP encrypted, which means two digital inputs, one for a disc player, and the other perhaps for a set-top box, with no need for an AV amp to combine the two. RGBHV and D4 (a Japanese standard) component inputs are also included, plus fallback video inputs.

It would be difficult to dispute that the DPX-1300 is a flexible, high-quality package on paper, but does it live up to the billing in the real world? The answer is a resounding yes, because in some respects, this projector's vital statistics understate what this model can do...

It is not the most powerful PJ around. With the iris stepped down to either of its lower settings, the picture can look rather gloomy projected at a screen two metres wide or greater, though, paradoxically, turning the lamp down to 80 per cent barely impacts brightness, and has negligible effect on colour balance thanks to the Yamaha's excellent electronics.

Leaving the iris fully open doesn't have too much effect on handling of contrast, which is particularly punchy, and subtle in the near blacks, which, unusually for any projector, DLP or LCD, is chock full of almost imperceptible graduations of black, noticeable in hair tones, clothing, shadow detail and the like.

That blocky, undifferentiated grey you see too often from lesser projectors is simply not there. One up for Natural Black!

The other really impressive feature of the Yamaha's picture is its unprocessed character. Even when adding the burden of noise reduction from the internal electronics, the Yamaha is clean, colour is richly variegated, and there is a near complete absence of video noise.

Moving elements are handled progressively and smoothly. The only trace of jerkiness was instantaneously removed when switching firmware modes in the setup screens. Even fast, scrolling title sequences failed to unsettle the Yamaha's fluid way of handling motion resolution.

The DPX-1300 is at its best with 720p material, which for this audition was supplied from a Sky+ HD box. But it is also good at upscaling the output of ordinary definition video from the standard broadcast channels, and of course from DVD.

It is hard to overlook how impressively the projector dealt with very ordinary material, including an episode of Emmerdale that I blundered into; there was fine handling in the near black part of the spectrum, and the picture was solid and three-dimensional on screen.

The Yamaha DPX-1300 is far from cheap, and it's not difficult to find models with an even more powerful specification, but I'd wager that this projector doesn't disappoint. Make an effort to hunt it down and it'll reward you.