If you heard rumbling last summer, it may have been the collective applause from loyal fans of sister brands Anthem and Paradigm. In July 2009, the Canadian manufacturer announced its first front projectors, the LTX 300 and LTX 500, under the Anthem logo, thereby creating a one-stop theater shop: Paradigm surround-sound speakers, Anthem amplification and processing, and Anthem projection. Anthem has since added a Blu-ray player and A/V receivers.
The first thing to note from the LTX 300v projector, updated earlier this year, is that the unit will undoubtedly generate comparisons to acclaimed projectors from JVC, from which it has been rebadged. The projectors use Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) light engine technology. (JVC’s is known as D-ILA.) And in this case, such comparison is a good thing, as JVC’s images are among the best, especially for the value bucks.
Second, it takes very little time to install the LTX 300v. I dove right in without leafing through the manual. Using the remote to operate the motorized lens, it took less than five minutes to scale, shift and focus the image on my 92-inch Elite Screens EZ-Frame display. You can do this with or without an image on the screen, as the latter option gives you a green laser-like grid and frame to match to your screen, and you can use the remote’s up/down arrows until the word “focus” comes into clearest view.
Then calibrate till you’re cross-eyed. Working through the menu brings the usual video adjustments such as basic sharpness, contrast and brightness, as well videophile tweaks like gamma correction and individual color management, which can both be saved for up to three presets. The included remote makes life very easy, and even features a button to back-light itself, which comes in handy when the theater lights are down.
Color fidelity from the LTX 300v was outstanding and lifelike, especially with sports. Out of the box very little had to be adjusted. The realistic colors were notable during the NBA and NHL finals that I was fortunate to watch while having this Anthem projector this summer. The LTX 300v produced the truest rendition of Laker purple, Celtic green, Blackhawk red and Flyer orange I’ve seen. All those colors can be easily scorched or washed out, but Anthem’s LCoS engine got them just right.
Several other features are noteworthy as well. Side-panel rather than rear-panel inputs/outputs make life easier if you need space behind the projector. An automatic lens cover keeps out dust when the unit is turned off. A usage meter measures hours, so you know how much mileage you’ve put on the lamp. And a quiet 19dB fan operates in normal mode; placed within two feet of my ears, fan noise was nonexistent, a very pleasant surprise considering that my review setup leaves space for a projector that isn’t exactly aesthetically friendly or practical like other dedicated home cinemas would.
Performance improved as the projector logged more time. Using a Vizio Blu-ray player and Toshiba HD DVD players, high-def discs such as Transformers, 300 and Chris Botti in Boston were very smooth and crisp. The projector delivered detail in dark scenes quite well, and shined when rendering clothing textures such as the suits worn by Botti, Sting or ESPN SportsCenter anchors. Landscape detail on the sixth season of Lost via my Charter cable connection, hooked up with component cables (no HDMI on my HD box) appeared rich and natural.
Of course, I also had the good fortune of testing out the images in tandem with processing from Anthem’s highly acclaimed Statement D2v pre-pro. The 1080p material received an extra boost that I noticed further improved the picture during fast-action sequences in Transformers, while standard-def DVDs such as Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith looked so good that you’d think they were high-def.
The only knock on the LTX 300v is the roughly minute-long boot-up time—especially as you anticipate the eye candy to come.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.