A well connected projector that can transform DVDs into an involving home cinema experience
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Sim2's latest Grand Cinema model boasts a stylish design and brand new technology. It's the first to use Texas Instruments' DarkChip3 system to improve DLP greyscale quality and boost contrast to 3,800:1.
The HT300 has a native 16:9 wide XGA-resolution HD2 imaging panel for high definition TV compatibility. It also adds an HDMI port for the best performance from DVD players and forthcoming HDTV receivers. For DVD playback or game playing, there's built-in progressive scan conversion too.
The projector features motorised zoom and focus controls, though it doesn't have a short-throw lens, so you need a fair distance to get a really big image. The throw angle is low, too, so be prepared to place the unit on a high shelf. It's also ceiling mountable and if wiring is an issue, the £11,000 E-Link version adds an external AV processor with 12 inputs and a single fibreoptic digital connection to the projector, which can be up to 500m away.
If you're using the HT300E's analogue component ports, the factory setting is not ideal, so you have to delve through some tricky menus to set the correct mode for full progressive scan. It produces gorgeous results but HDMI is the real star. The digital connection pulls immense detail and rich textures without looking excessively grainy.
Contrast is consistently strong - witness the crisp whites of the mountain tops or moody interiors in The Return of the King. Soft fades can look digitised but Peter Jackson's sweeping camera movements are retained with fluidity and grace. Digital movies like Shrek 2 are spectacular via HDMI, while less FX-heavy movies, such as Tony Scott's Man on Fire, have a smooth cinematic look that makes you forget about the technology, which is what home cinema gear should ultimately achieve.
If you choose a digital connection then image tweaks are reduced to contrast, brightness, sharpness, colour temperature and gamma correction, but the source is clean so there's less need to fiddle about. You can adjust more elements of analogue images, though the advanced parts are complex, and Sim2's colour management software seems trustworthy enough.
The HT300E is not totally immune to rainbow artefacts as it only uses a single DLP chip. However, it's better than most and if you are susceptible to the effect, don't sit too close and this will lessen its impact. Finally, to its credit, fan noise is low. Whether it's worth spending the cost of a small car is up to you, but it's a superb machine with excellent connections and an enchanting picture quality.
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