If you have a plush flat in the Docklands, it'll look great with the Philippe Starck lamp shades
strong colours and deep blacks
The dreaded rainbow effect
No HDMI or DVI connections
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There's no doubt that Sim2's experience with projectors is exhaustive and has garnered many a top quality DLP (the Domino20, HT300DG and even the older HT200 range).
Now that know-how and technology has been applied to a 55in projection TV, allowing those of us without much viewing space to reap the benefits Sim2's DLPs can offer.
You will, however, need a pretty sturdy floor. The Grand Cinema RTX55 is heavy. When I say heavy, I mean it weighs the equivalent of a bus-load of American wrestlers... with elephantiasis.
Possibly a minor exaggeration, but it does make a mockery of my usual rule of 'if it costs the same as a car, and it weighs the same, it must be a car'. Let's just say it took four of us to move it to our test room.
But density aside there's something extremely elegant about the design. This is certainly a display that will look at home in a high-concept showroom, possibly in London's Docklands - varnished wood flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows, Jackson Pollocks on the wall, that kind of thing.
Either that or sitting in pride of place as the viewing panel in a B-grade sci-fi flick, I'm still undecided.
Unlike the RTX45, which comes with a separate media box attached via fibre optic cabling, the TV-style RTX55 offers a whole range of connections on the backside of the tapered casing.
Scart me up
Leading the way are two Scart sockets, with one of them RGB-enabled. There are also component inputs for a prog scan feed. The set is PAL and NTSC progressive - essential given the proliferation of DVD players flooding the market with that option.
Confirming that this isn't a run-of-the-mill rear-projection TV, there's also a VGA input. I'm a big proponent of media PCs and their addition to modern entertainment setups, but normal TVs without VGA or DVI just don't display the images these machines deserve.
There's no worries here though - the RTX55 is more than capable of satisfying all computer needs, including sharp internet pictures with legible text, although it's not quite as perfect as LCDs or plasmas.
Sonically the set is adequate. There's a phono stereo input for the speakers ranged across the base of the screen, as well as a subwoofer output (which takes a simple crossover from the stereo pair). The result is better than many integrated TV sound-systems, if only because of the width of the stereo soundstage.
There's also quite a provision for tinkering, with a large amount of presets and adjustable options. This choice is indicative of the menu screens generally. There's almost too many options for picture tweaking and feed fiddling. They're all lovingly presented, but it can take a while to get to the actual function you want to access.
The set could definitely do with a more intuitive user interface. I suspect that if anyone other than the resident tech-head tries to delve into the menus they will be severely challenged.
Even when auto-tuning analogue TV channels you can be faced with several mildly confusing options to begin with.
But the picture quality of those channels is worth waiting for. Although the tuner is analogue rather than digital, picture quality is top dollar. There's little fuzz or artefacting around edges and colours are almost retina-searing.
Even better is the DVD image via the component feed. Thanks to the Texas Instruments HD2 chip, contrast levels are superb; blacks are deep and there's no white burn-outs during well-lit scenes either. Very pleasing.
However, there are some picture foibles. Unlike the images from similarly priced DLP projectors, some fine details seem lost. The RTX55 is extremely cinematic in nature, thanks to its projection status, but there is a little bit of DLP dot crawl and this becomes more relevant the closer you sit to the screen. Another DLP trademark, the rainbow effect, can be spotted, although it's not particularly intrusive.
The HD2 DLP chip used here has a resolution of 1,024 x 768. It's high-definition compatible, and when fed an assortment of high-definition images from our resident D-Theater VCR, the screen comes into its own. Definition and image depth is outstanding.
Which brings us to what is perhaps our only major criticism. For 'political reasons', Sim2 told us, the RTX55 lacks DVI or HDMI digital inputs. This is a pity, because you won't get the best from suitably-equipped DVD players (or, for that matter, high-def set-top boxes like the Quali-TV QS1080i sold for use with the Euro1080 service).
The leap in quality, achieved by sidestepping superfluous analogue-conversion, can be outstanding. Interestingly, Sim2 sells a tunerless RTX55-H version that does have HDMI. Overall, though, the RTX55 is an impressive alternative to fixedpixel flatpanel displays.
If you're looking for a real cinema feel to your viewing but have no space for a projector and screen, the RTX55 is more than capable of fulfilling your needs. Similarly, if you have a plush flat in the Docklands, it'll look great with the Philippe Starck lamp shades.
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