TESTED: DreamVision Dream'E 3-panel LCoS projector

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DreamVision Dream'E
TESTED: DreamVision Dream'E 3-panel LCoS projector

From DreamVision of Paris, France, comes the Dream’E 3-panel 1080p projector, featuring LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) imaging, which blends both transmissive (LCD-like) and reflective (DLP-like) technologies. Distinctively styled, the gently swoopy enclosure is available in either black or white gloss plastic, and DreamVision provides a custom color option (at extra cost, though).

A key benefit to the Dream’E is the availability of an optional anamorphic lens setup, which includes an OEM’d Panamorph lens, a customized lens hood which spiffs things up nicely, and a custom mounting plate. This solution will appeal to custom installers and do-it-yourself types looking to put together a true, cinema-grade widescreen front projection setup.

OVERVIEW

Consider this projector if: you’d like to get the full widescreen cinema experience. DreamVision’s optional Panamorph-based anamorphic lens system is custom-tailored for good looks and easy installation. At the highest lamp and aperture settings this projector puts out sufficient light to handle big screen sizes, while the low lamp mode and aperture adjustability allow dialing in just the right amount of light for smaller screens.

Look elsewhere if: you’re seeking a projector that has a precise color palette that matches the HD video standard, as the Dream’E color gamut adds extra color emphasis that can’t be tamed. Some very odd quirks with the picture adjustments also indicate that this current Dream’E version isn’t fully cooked.

Ratings

  • Overall picture quality (SD):  7
  • Overall picture quality (HD): 7
  • Features: 7
  • Connectivity: 7
  • User Interface: 6
  • Value: 6

 

Features

DreamVision touts the Dream’E’s all-glass lens optics along with the availability of a turn-key anamorphic lens setup and has equipped the unit with an efficient LCoS imaging engine that provides both high contrast and high output. Indeed, at the highest lamp and aperture settings, the projector puts out a lot of light, making it suitable for screens in the 140-inch range (16:9 diagonal, matte white assumed). The lower lamp mode still puts out enough light that standard 100-inch screens can get more than enough light for a bright picture, with the benefit of extended lamp life thrown in.

A multi-step aperture adds further light control, allowing the user to dial down brightness to get the best overall contrast and deepest blacks. While the Dream’E has useful (but mechanical, not motorized) horizontal and vertical lens shift, the thumbwheel controls are themselves tucked away in a small opening on the chassis bottom, making adjustment difficult for tabletop or shelf mounting scenarios. The Dream’E is equipped with the HQV Reon video processor, a proven performer that provides excellent deinterlacing capabilities, both with SD and 1080i HD sources.

Connectivity

With 2 HDMI inputs, and single component, S-video and composite inputs, the Dream’E connectivity is about average. An RGB input is provided for a PC, but that input only allows up to SXGA resolution, a downer for hard-core PC gamers who want to get the full widescreen HD gaming experience. Two 12V trigger outputs are handy for external motorized controllers. The connection ports run down one side of the cabinet though, and not on the back panel as is usually the case with front projectors.

User Interface

On Screen Display

Colorful and legible, the OSD features adjustments that stay on screen long enough to be useful when setting up and tuning. However, the Contrast control (a critical first adjustment) behaves badly, pushing the black level way out of line (which shouldn’t happen at all). Curiously, in the next sub-menu, White Level and Black Level adjustments are provided, which serve to replace/duplicate the Contrast and Brightness controls.

To properly adjust the Dream’E, I had to leave the Brightness and Contrast at their middle (default positions) and use the White and Black level adjustments instead. Here again, the Dream’E misbehaves though, as turning a control “up” actually causes the reverse of the intended effect (and vice-versa). Very odd behavior indeed.

While the product literature touts Mosquito, Block, and Temporal noise reduction modes (which can be useful with highly compressed and visibly noisy sources), they’re not user-adjustable (they’re hidden away behind a passcode-protected installer mode), for absolutely no good reason that I can imagine. Plus, the literature also incorrectly states that these modes work on both SD and HD sources, but that’s not the case with the current generation Reon chip, as these modes only work at the SD (and not the HD) level.

Remote Control

Featuring soft red backlighting, the remote features dedicated source selector buttons, as well as six picture modes (three preset, three user-defined), which should be enough for most. Discrete power on and off buttons are a big plus for external system control (or via a unified system remote).

RECOMMENDED SETTINGS

  • Color: 45
  • Tint: 50
  • Sharpness: 50
  • HD size (pixel-to-pixel): Overscan Off
  • Color Temperature: Medium
  • Gamma: 4

 

PERFORMANCE

 

Blu-ray Evaluation: Bolt

Detail: Crisp and clear, the Dream’E features tight convergence so individual pixel elements are well-defined with minimal color fringing.

Color: That extra dab of color intensity noted earlier gives this animated movie lots of color pop, but not excessively so.

Blacks: Good deep blacks are a hallmark of LCoS imaging technology and here the film displays very good deep blacks. Use the economy lamp mode if you can, to further improve deep blacks (and extend the lamp life at the same time).

Shadow Detail: A scene in a darkened video control room has easily discernable studio elements along the darkened back wall and ceiling.

Artifacts/Noise: None noted.

 

Broadcast HDTV Evaluation: Kings (NBC)  

Detail: As with most episodic television, this new series is shot on film and then converted to HD. NBC/Universal didn’t skimp on production values, as the Dream’E puts out a solid, sharp as a tack image.

Color: The emphasized color palette tends to give skin tones some extra “blush,” something that can’t be tamed by turning the color control down (a malady by no means unique to the Dream’E). 

Blacks: Here again, LCoS technology helps to provide very good deep blacks, and the Dream’E low lamp mode and variable aperture let me dial down the overall brightness to get even better blacks.

Shadow Detail: In a car garage, the two actors are only partially lit, and the darker background elements are easily visible. 

Artifacts/Noise: None noted.

BOTTOM LINE:

Once you get past the quirkiness of the picture adjustments noted earlier, the Dream’E puts out a satisfyingly bright picture which will appeal to users who want to have a front projection home theater system but don’t have a dedicated light-controlled room. The range of brightness that the Dream’E provides via the two lamp settings and multiple aperture opening choices means that the projector can be tweaked just right for a wide variety of screen sizes and types and desired light output.

The availability of an optional turn-key anamorphic lens setup is a major plus and will certainly appeal to movie buffs who want to see films in their original aspect ratio without annoying black bars. That the anamorphic lens, customized mounting plate and custom hood trio together add only $4,300 to the price (keeping the total under $10K) is another plus. But DreamVision will have to fix a few flaws if they want to really satisfy the true purist.

SPECS & PRICING

DreamVision Dream’E

Pixel resolution: 1920 x 1080
1:1 Mode: Yes
Video inputs: 2 HDMI, 1 component, 1 S-video, 1 composite, 1 RGB PC (up to SXGA)
Other connections: 2 12V trigger outputs, 1 RS-232C serial port for external control
Dimensions (WxHxD): 20.5” x 7.6” x 20.7”
Weight: 37.5 lb.
Warranty: 1 year parts & labor (6 months/500 hours on the bulb)
Price: $5,295 (projector only), $9,595 with anamorphic system

AUDIO PLUS SERVICES (North American distributor)
(800) 663-9352
www.audioplusservices.com

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