The DreamVision Starlight1 projector arrived at my home theater with very poor timing.
By coincidence, it followed my review time with the Anthem LTX 300v, which employs the same LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) light engine rebadged from JVC. I also tested the Starlight1 right around my visit to the annual CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) Expo, where high-performance projector demos populate the show floor.
Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give the Starlight1 is that during this projector blitz, it held its own and then some.
I had thoroughly enjoyed the Anthem unit and the Starlight1 delivered detail and sharpness a tad better. This leads me to believe that for $6,995 the Starlight1 is a good value relative to its impressive performance.
Setup and operation were a snap. The DreamVision projector is plug-and-play, and features the same simple, backlit remote control and onscreen menu to command the motorized lens. After only a few minutes of zooming, horizontal lens shifting and focusing, the Starlight1 was aligned on my 92-inch Elite Screens EZ-Frame display. After the Starlight and Anthem units, I’ve come to appreciate the automated lens operation that is often a big reason for a projector’s jump in price from say, $2,000 into the $4,000 to $6,000 range.
I connected a Kordz HDMI cable to a Cambridge Audio Blu-ray player as well as component video cables to my cable box. Like the Anthem, the Starlight1 includes ports on the side of its chassis—convenient when the projector is next to my A/V gear, and also for flexibility if mounting near a rear wall.
The chassis is one area where French manufacturer DreamVision nicely differentiates itself. You can choose standard glossy white or metallic black finishes, and custom colors are available. French designer Antoine Beon, who also works with speaker company Focal, created the stunning black metallic chassis.
But the real visual pleasure came from the picture quality. DreamVision calibrates its projectors at the factory so they’re very solid out of the box.
The projector also offers eight preset picture modes, as well as the usual sharpness, brightness, contrast and other adjustments. I found that the settings on the Cinema 2 mode produced the truest pictures and most natural skin tones during close-ups of baseball and golf.
HD cable content such as CBS’ Criminal Minds, college football games and Food Network programming looked stellar, especially with closeups of facial features and clothing textures. The noise reduction of the built-in HQV (Hollywood Quality Video) processing reduced artifacts typically seen on ESPN, whose signal gets compressed and blocky through my cable pipeline.
Blu-ray and DVD movies were gorgeous. For standard DVDs, I watched a couple of older movies—Gandhi and The Outlaw Josey Wales—to see how the Starlight1 handled landscape and color. From the brownish Western hues of ‘Outlaw’ to hundreds of saris in the opening funeral procession in ‘Gandhi,’ the cinematography absolutely popped.
Blu-ray scenes from Up had so much texture and depth that at times it didn’t seem like animation. Beauty and the Beast revealed the prowess of the projector’s 32,000:1 contrast ratio, delivering crisp images of drab backdrops shown against the vivid characters in Beast’s castle. And in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which challenges displays with its many night scenes, the projector maintained both sharp detail and smoothness throughout. It was fitting for a product named Starlight.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.