A year ago, 3D was thriving due to an enormous amount of buzz generated by the support of high-performance video companies like SIM2.
Now a year later, the buzz has cooled, but that doesn’t mean the technology has faded into irrelevancy. In fact, it’s just the opposite. 3D products are improving and becoming more affordable and more applicable to a wider array of home systems.
Converging all of these trends is SIM2’s LUMIS 3D Solo Projector. A year ago, this product would have been priced significantly higher than where its $50,000 price tag sits. What’s nice about this three-chip DLP unit is that it is a state-of-the-art projector that uses active 3D technologies to allow installers to use traditional screen materials that play better with 2D content.
The 3D Solo includes Texas Instruments’ DLP 1080p DarkChip4, as well as other features such as two HDMI 1.4 inputs, SIM2’s proprietary PureMotion image processing, 3D PureMotion triple-flash motion processing, Pure Movie and SIM2’s AlphaPath light engine, which it says enables the projector to produce “superb color depth, exceptional brightness and [an] excellent contrast ratio.”
SIM2 also says the 3D Solo can be configured with a choice of lenses to accommodate short- and long-throw distances, and installers can order the projector in a choice of colors that includes gun metal, white, black or red.
After unpacking the projector, I hoisted the fairly lightweight unit into place and immediately connected HDMI cables from my cable box and Sony 3D Blu-ray player and plugged the unit in. Buttoning up the physical connections, I took the supplied cable for the active 3D IR sync box and connected it to the projector and plugged in the wall-wart power supply.
Forgetting about the idiosyncratic nature of SIM2’s remotes and GUIs, I became increasingly frustrated because I couldn’t power the projector up. After pulling the manual out, I read that not only do you have to press power, but you also have to press a numeric key on the remote. After finally getting the unit to power up, I began work on the unit’s image focus, alignment and zoom. Surprisingly, the unit doesn’t have remote controllable lens shift options, so I did that manually.
With the basic image parameters set, I checked out a re-broadcast of a Red Sox game and found the image to be highly detailed, deep and probably pretty close to calibration specs.
Later, due to the 1.4 gain on my 100-inch SI Black Diamond, I found that I needed to make adjustments to the color space, white point settings and more basic things like contrast and black levels. To permanently save these settings, I created a “user” setting in the menu.
I watched a ton of 2D content, as well as 3D versions of “Tangled,” “Tron” and “Despicable Me.” Watching Red Sox games and network broadcasts such as AMC’s airing of “The Matrix,” I was struck by the clarity, smoothness and color depth the 3D Solo produced. Small things like the wool texture of the navy blue Red Sox hats were presented like someone removed a filter from my video system. Dark details that are a major part of the green-tinted Matrix were in full display.
Shifting to 3D content, I found the glasses simple to use. To engage you just press the button that’s on the glasses. I entertained family and friends with compilation discs from SIM2 and the aformentioned titles. Viewing content like “Despicable Me” and “Tron” highlighted the projector’s ability to produce noise-free images that didn’t suffer from crushed grayscale and overall dull-looking pictures.
I found its field of depth to be much deeper than passive solutions. Most importantly, it did this without sacrificing resolution, which sometimes happens with passive technologies that eliminate noise at the expense of detail.
SIM2’s engineers program an automatic operation mode that amps up the bulb’s output, changes the imaging processing, gamma and color settings when its 3D options are engaged.
As a complete package that includes its industrial design, feature set and included technologies, SIM2 has nailed it.
In terms of its looks, picture quality with both 2D and 3D, and its ability to work with standard screens, the 3D Solo is a giant killer that’s sure to force its competitors back to their collective drawing boards.
My only complaints with the unit involve its awkward remote and GUI. The 3D Solo has struck a nice performance balance of merging the best of traditional 2D and active 3D into a step-up product that serves dealers as a flagship product, even if it’s not priced as such.
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Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.