Thomson's CRT-based projection TVs have traditionally won favour with the critics of Home Cinema Choice. But now the brand has junked CRT for a DLP-based light engine. The benefits are enormous, bringing the set squarely into the high-def-compatible universe.
The DLP engine comes from AV specialists InFocus, with Texas Instruments' latest Mustang HD-2 chip at the heart of the operation. More ticks in the right boxes come with the inclusion of a DVI input, speakers that are configured for Virtual Dolby Surround Pro-Logic II, and a massive 61in screen.
It seems Thomson, however, is most pleased with the physical achievements made on the set. At only 18cm thick, the unit is thin enough to hang on the wall, making it a viable alternative to plasma and LCD technologies.
Otherwise, the 61DSZ644 can stand on its own, nicely understated base, with the socketry located on a single bank underneath a removable panel. The remote control is superb, with an ability to control six devices. The buttons might be small and it won't have everything on there for more advanced equipment, but it'll work for everyday use and gather some admiring glances in the process.
It's only when you turn the television on that the side effects of the television's narrow profile becomes evident. In order to make the screen as thin as possible, a new Total Internal Reflection system was developed. The horrible result of this is that, unless you are viewing the screen straight-on or from below, you can actually see the DLP lamp light flickering on to the screen.
This is obvious on movies of a 2.35:1 ratio. As you watch The Matrix, and the Warner Brother's logo is shown, you can clearly see a smaller version of it flickering on to the screen.
Switch to television, however, and the characteristic is vastly reduced. Because most terrestrial programming fills a wide screen, the light intrusion is covered up (though errant colour flashes can be seen), and you can appreciate the quality of the display.
Thomson's Hi-Pix processing produces a judder-less image through the analogue tuner. Detail resolution is outstanding and the colour palette exceeds that of plasma.
Through its high-definition component video input, extreme resolution is possible. But the best results were through the set's DVI input. It provided cinematic results that were slightly ahead of component in terms of quality.
The speakers are optimistically rated at 80W. With analogue television, the sound distorts at around the 50 per cent volume level, while movie sources feel a little underpowered. However, the detail is excellent especially if you keep away from the faux-surround effects of the virtual Dolby sound system.
By embracing DLP, Thomson has produced a razor-sharp next-generation projection TV, but unless you're very careful with the viewing angle, you could find the light intrusion issues outweigh the benefits of its ultra-thin chassis.
Screen placement is crucial - so you should at the very least plan on placing this set on an AV stand to improve the viewing angle, but when you're buying this kind of cutting-edge tech then you shouldn't have to make any compromises.