Not only will this be the first projection system that many will use, for many it is also likely to be their last
Ultra simple, one-box solution
AI side effects
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The premise behind this unusual product, according to Optoma, is that projectors generally have an image of being too complicated and fussy about setup to appeal to first time users.
The DV10 addresses this in various ways - the most obvious that it is, in effect, a complete one-box playback system for DVDs. Add a screen or a painted wall, and you're in business. Plug in, switch on, insert a disc, focus and play - and Bob's your projectionist.
The unit is taller than many projectors, and it has too much shiny white in the plastic, moulded carcass to be completely inconspicuous on your table top. Yet this is where it will have to be placed - the lens has a narrow zoom range and incredibly short throw optics (screen distance: picture width) of 1.27:1, so it can't be used behind the viewing plane.
The DV10's footprint is compact, however, and despite the absence of a built-in handle, it is light in weight and easy to carry - a carry case is supplied. Internally, the DVD player talks to the projector using an 'optimised' digital connection said to be related to DVI.
The DV10 design continues with a minimalist set of inputs and outputs. The only externally accessible video inputs are composite, S-Video and a 15-pin D-Sub VGA input. In addition there is a pair of phono audio input sockets so that external sources can be played through internal stereo speakers, and a 3.5mm audio output sockets so that an extra analogue audio system can be connected, though you'll need a 3.5mm phono adaptor lead as none is supplied. An oversight, surely? There is also the option of a TOSLINK digital output for multichannel audio from the DVD player, which has no on board surround decoders of its own.
The unit's specification is fairly simple. The projector is in fact a DLP unit with a low resolution 854 x 480 pixel 16:9 DMD, which will scale inputs down from 1080i or higher. Where others typically used 6-segment GRB colour wheels, the Optoma incorporates a seventh white segment in the cause of greater brightness, which is not a great idea for the purist DVD user under normal circumstances, but which is good for a 1000 ANSI Lumens output. This is just enough for use in a room that is not properly darkened, or even into a white or near white painted wall - another key element in the ease of use equation.
An essential prerequisite of a one-box solution like this is internal sound, and the DV-10 has this in the form of an internal stereo pair of speakers driven by twin 5W amplifiers. The maker claims that it is comparable sonically with what is normally available from a 'reasonable' TV set. I'll come back to this...
The integrated DVD player is equally basic, but it will cope with all the usual flavours of 12cm disc, including (re)writable CD and DVD media, and most picture and MP3 discs. An HDCD decoder is fitted, a surprisingly high end provision which is of virtually no use in a player of this class, but it was probably fitted as part of the chipset, so there would have been no point in excluding it.
In use, I had some operational issues with the DV10: it refused to reproduce colour through the S-video input from SKY or DVD sources. Composite worked fine (within its inherent limitations, which are severe), and it was possible to use an S-video source by using a supplied adaptor to the D-Sub input.
A second sample supplied by the manufacture behaved similarly, and there was no fix available through the menu system - or from the maker. Other irritants, though these are not faults, included the 'source' selector which insisted on interrogating each input fully when toggling through inputs, a non-backlit remote control and a menu system which though simple, is counterintuitive in certain respects.
The DMD used here is identical to the one in the Screenplay 4805, which is one of the leading budget DLP projectors, but picture quality is not in the same class. Scaling artefacts were apparent with normal DVD - the scaler in the TI DMD chipset used here offers nothing like the performance of the Faroudja processor used by Screenplay and others - and there were all kinds of minor artefacts noticed with scrolling and even stationary text and some picture content. I found it next to impossible to achieve a flat, uniform, focus plane over the whole of the screen.
Colour reproduction however is more than acceptable. The DV10 is not the brightest projector in its class, but it packs more of a punch than the Screenplay (using the Vivid setting, AI switched on - but see our Practical Tip). Whites tended to look rather warm and dull at the default setting, but while it lacks the raw edge and scaling performance needed for films like Once Upon a Time in America, the overall effect was warm and inviting with Amelie, thanks in part to good handling of midrange skin tones, an subject to some low level picture noise.
Sound quality was an all too predictable letdown. It may be the equal of some TVs, but certainly not good ones, and anyway, TV sets are hardly an appropriate paradigm, any more than a tractor is for a Formula 1 racer.
Ultimately, the performance of the DV10 is completely dominated by the projector. The DVD player works smoothly, the discs inside don't overheat, but it appears that its performance is hardly stressed here. The limits are set by the limited resolution, the AI image enhancement and the TI scaler.
Although the DV10 does just what it sets out to do, namely to provide an easy starting point for projection video, without the extra hardware and wiring involved with separate DVD player, projector and audio system, the tradeoffs are just too great. Not only will this be the first projection system that many will use, for many it is also likely to be their last. Alvin Gold
It is, in effect, a complete one-box playback system for DVDs. Add a screen and you're in business
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