Well worth auditioning if space and funds are at a premium
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Contrary to popular opinion, war isn't only good for absolutely nothin'. Take the war between DLP and LCD. If these rival projector technologies weren't at each other's throats, we'd never have enjoyed surges in quality and plummeting prices.
And no 'soldier' has played a more heroic role than Hitachi's PJ-TX10. Just when DLP was on the verge of kicking LCD into oblivion, the LCD PJ-TX10 redefined the quality you could get for around £1,000, kick-starting a whole new round of LCD vs DLP carnage. Now the TX10's eagerly-awaited successor, the PJ-TX100, is here. Will it be an LCD standard-bearer, or has it been demoted to cannon-fodder?
The new model certainly doesn't show any outward signs of war wounds. In fact, the smooth, glossy finish and voluptuous sculpting make it more catwalk supermodel than front-line grunt.
It follows orders perfectly, letting you get it fully primed for movie action within minutes. It's also unusually flexible for such a budget-priced projector, with an impressively short throw lens, manual horizontal/vertical lens shifting and keystone correction.
The PJ-TX100 doesn't carry a Scart socket - which would have been nice at this price - but it does have component video inputs able to take high-definition and progressive scan, plus an unexpected digital DVI jack.
Naturally, we chose to use a war movie to test the Hitachi - US Civil War epic Cold Mountain, to be precise. This fairly demanding transfer showed the PJ-TX100 to be good, but it didn't quite achieve the medal-winning heroics we'd hoped for...
The star of the Hitachi's show is its sharpness. Hugely detailed shots, such as the opening scenes that show hordes of troops in the trenches, look immaculate - superbly textured, full of depth and completely unfettered by forced edges or haloing.
Bright, rich scenes meanwhile, like Nicole Kidman's sun-drenched arrival at Cold Mountain, benefit from the PJ-TX100's impressive colours, as it portrays all the tricky nuances of skin-tone and shade with ever-believable aplomb.
Bright and beautiful?
Compared with DLP projectors, the Hitachi favours brightness slightly more than contrast, which means dark scenes can look a touch flat and short on background detail. But compared to most budget LCD projectors, the this is actually pretty good with black levels.
It does have a key weakness however - the chicken-wire effect. This is where the LCD panel structure becomes visible in the picture, particularly when there's an expanse of a single colour, such as one of Cold Mountain's crisp blue skies. As long as you don't try to make the picture too bright, this problem isn't intolerable but, given the improvements we've seen on some rival machines recently, it is sufficient to bring the TX-100 up short of a Best Buy.
That said, while the PJ-TX100 might not quite rate as a super soldier in the LCD/DLP dust-down, it's well worth auditioning if space and funds are at a premium.
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