Given the price of UK houses these days, there are doubtless thousands of people with home cinema ambitions bigger than their small living rooms would seem to allow. It's just as well that talented Norwegian projection outfit ProjectionDesign has answered these spatially challenged movie fans' prayers with a version of its Action! Model Two projector sporting a 1:1 short-throw lens.
In other words, if you place the projector 1m from your screen, you'll get a 1m picture. 2m and you'll get a 2m picture, and so on. Normally you'd need, say, a throw distance of 4-5m to get a 2m picture.
Making the grade
The cinema-grade Fujinon lens making this possible has been specially designed for its purpose by ProjectionDesign's in-house engineers, giving a degree of harmonisation with the rest of the projector's optics that's just not possible where a third-party lens is simply 'bought in'.
The size of the 1:1 lens has a significant aesthetic impact on the Model Two Wide, giving the diminutive projector's body (available in Vanquish Grey, Pearl White, and Maranello Blue incarnations) a truly Cyclopean new dimension.
At the heart of the Model Two's optics sits a 720p DarkChip3 DLP chipset, with an impressive claimed contrast ratio of 4000:1. Maximum brightness is claimed to be 1000 Lumens, the colour wheel is a 7-segment affair, while connectivity includes single DVI, component and PC D-Sub options. A second HDMI would have been nice given the £4,000 asking price.
Unleashed on the Sky HD showing of Kill Bill: Volume 1, the Model Two Wide enjoys all the strengths of its £3,500 'standard' version. The shots inside The House of Blue Leaves, for instance, benefit from some terrific black levels, especially using the projector's Eco mode and Film 1 settings. Outstanding black level profundity and excellent shading gradations produce an impressive sense of the main room's scale.
Colours are impeccable too, handling the vibrancy of the film's Manga animated sequence and the tricky and widely differing lighting conditions and skin tones of the Blue Leaves sequence with equal aplomb.
Horizontal motion dithering is well suppressed too, provided you keep the projector's white level setting very low, and the rainbow effect is seldom detectable.
Our real problem with the Model Two Wide is the price. The £4,000 cost pitches it at the upper end of a very competitive slice of the market, forcing us to be hypercritical of what we might otherwise overlook: a touch of noise in the picture, in the form of general dot crawl and occasional skin tone 'stepping'.
Still, while people with no space constraints could arguably find slightly superior performers for less cash, if you need the 1:1 lens arrangement, the Model Two Wide is pretty much uniquely talented.