For most people, twenty three grand is a lot of money. The sort of cash needed to buy a decent 4x4 family car, or build an extension. Yet Sim2 expects you to cough up this extreme sum on something ostensibly rather less ‘essential’, namely its C3X 1080 home cinema projector.
With decent projectors now available for under £1,000, Sim2’s C3X 1080 proposal at first looks pretty absurd – maybe even indecent. But having spent quality – and we mean, quality – time with this projector, we’ve suddenly found ourselves obsessively trying to come up with get-rich-quick schemes so we can join the exclusive C3X 1080 owners’ club.
Looking the part
Some really high-end AV gear can look bizarrely bland, as if so much thought has gone into its innards that nobody stopped to consider such ‘shallow’ stuff as aesthetics. But the C3X 1080 is a sight for sore eyes, boasting a truly luscious, gloss finish worn over some of the most dangerously attractive curves in the AV world.
It doesn’t do the C3X 1080’s immediate appeal any harm, either, that it’s available in black, red, gold, and gunmetal grey colour options, and is also the smallest three-chip DLP projector around. We’re not talking a portable product here, or anything, but it certainly doesn’t overwhelm your room as much as many rivals.
Three chips are better than one
If our mention earlier of the C3X 1080’s three-chip DLP nature meant precisely zilch to you, you should know that it’s really a killer feature.
Most DLP projectors only have a single DLP chipset, with colour provided via a fast-spinning colour wheel arrangement. But this causes an artefact known as the rainbow effect, where stripes of pure red, green and blue can be seen over stand-out bright image elements, or in your peripheral vision if you flick your eyes around the image.
Colour wheels are also notoriously noisy, and can cause dithering noise over fast horizontal motion, especially where skin tones are concerned.Putting in separate DLP chipsets for the red, green and blue parts of the picture, however, removes the need for a colour wheel and all its attendant picture and audio noise problems. It also tends to boost brightness and colour saturation, with the only downside being that the cost is relatively expensive.
Work those colours
Other justifications for the C3X 1080’s price are widespread. For instance, it’s got 10-bit video processing, and can deliver a typical 10,000:1 contrast ratio that actually appears to be a genuine figure, rather than the rather optimistic figures boasted by many projector rivals.
The DLP chipsets inside are the latest 0.95in 1080p DarkChip4 types, meanwhile. But what really makes the C3X 1080 special is how customisable its pictures are – ideal for the projector’s target custom install market.
The single most significant aspect to this is its extraordinarily potent colour management system. The installer of our model spent hours with the projector hooked up to his laptop so that he could use an astonishingly flexible and precise colour management software suite to tweak colours to within an inch of their lives. Or rather, to within a millimetre of perfection.
Obviously ‘perfection’ isn’t a word we use lightly in a review, but the C3X 1080’s colours really do justify it. For having got them looking almost exactly the same as the reference levels provided by the external colour management software, this extreme accuracy translates every bit as well as we’d hoped to actual video viewing. We’ve simply never seen a projector produce a colour palette as wide-ranging, accurate and infinitely subtle.
This inevitably gets pictures off to a stunning start, but it’s just the tip of a quality iceberg. For instance, as well as looking totally authentic, colours look extremely bright and vibrant - not least because the amount of brightness the projector pumps out is exceptional.
Review continues after the break…
The light fantastic
In fact, this brightness is arguably one of the most immediately obvious differences between the C3X 1080’s pictures and those of a more mainstream projector. And it means the projector could be used to comfortably drive a much larger screen than a more normally priced machine.
The C3X 1080 also handles motion utterly effortlessly, capturing perfectly - that word again – when watching Blu-ray the same sort of experience you’d get while watching a film in a commercial cinema.
The 1080 bit of the C3X 1080’s name shows that it has a full HD resolution, and it uses this – together with its exceptionally subtle colour shading – to make sure HD pictures look supremely sharp and detailed.
Underpinning all the exceptional picture strengths described so far is yet more excellence, in the shape of a terrific black level response that finds dark scenes looking totally natural and contrast-rich. Even tricky scenes combining bright and black material look punchy and dynamic.
If the C3X 1080 has any weakness at all, it’s that its standard-definition pictures could perhaps be slightly sharper. But surely if you’ve spent twenty three grand on your projector you’re not going to waste it on anything less than the best the HD world has to offer, right?