Hitachi has had a good record with high quality home theatre projectors in the past. When we heard they had a new model coming out (the successor to the popular PJ-TX100) we jumped at the chance to put it through its paces. Thankfully, it's a fairly good projector, although we were let down by a few key areas.
- Nice design, Short throw distance, Good image quality.
- Very hot, Potentially hazardous power connector.
The Hitachi PJ-TX200 is not the best projector on the market but it is certainly a very good projector for those who value image quality and design.
Price$ 3,299.00 (AUD)
The first thing we noticed when looking at the projector was the rather striking design. This is not an offshoot of the boardroom data projector brought into the living room. The PJ-TX200 is a unique design, an almost alien and biological aesthetic that could have been pulled off the back of an F-14 fighter jet.
The projector is dominated by its huge lens which beams bright images at a short throw distance. We were able to get a 100 inch image at about 2 metres, which is fairly standard for a home theatre projector. On the whole the image quality is quite good but there are some aberrations that cause it to stumble. The biggest problem we encountered was the dot pitch. The pace between each pixel was too large causing a "fly-screen" effect. From a distance this isn't quite as noticeable but from anything less than 3 metres, it becomes problematic. We were enamored by the ability to shift the lens both horizontally and vertically to suit our viewing area. There have been far too many projectors come through our test centre that relied on average keystone as a fix. The PJ-TX200 has two scroll wheels dedicated to lens shift and they work perfectly.
The Hitachi is ready to go with just about any AV source you can imagine. It doesn't support DVI formats but it does have connections for HDMI, Component Video, Composite Video, S-Video and PC input via 15pin D-Sub. Each connector is auto detected so it's as simple as plugging it in, selecting the source and you're away. We did have some trouble with the power connector though. We found that the socket wasn't deep enough for us to insert the provided power cable causing it to precariously sit without enough grasp on the three internal prongs. This resulted, on numerous occasions, with what sounded like an electrical short causing the unit to power down. We cannot be sure if this is a serious problem with this model or if the cable we received was not a standard cable but beware of this issue as it has the potential to be hazardous.
While the image quality was quite good, an excellent projector is more than just the image it projects. Heat distribution and image customization are also two very important factors. The heat that emanates from this unit is excessive. After using the unit for only half hour, the room became uncomfortable and after the film we were watching was over, we needed to go outside for some fresh air. This was with a window open too. While most projectors pump out heat like crazy, we felt this was a little too extreme.
We tested the image quality with our standardized testing methodologies and found it to be quite good with only a few minor problems. All Digital Video Essentials tests for Component and HDMI passed with flying colours. The only problem that we found in these tests was a very slight pixel fluctuation noise in green and magenta and a slight green/magenta discolouration on mid-tone greys. There were no problems at all in any of the motion tests or colour block tests.
When we connected the unit to a PC via DSub we noticed the same green and magenta discolouration in mid-tone greys. We ran our DisplayMate Video Edition tests and discovered that the greyscale tests performed impeccably on the light and dark ends of the spectrum but had that slight discolouration in the mid range. However, the PC tests revealed a few other problems as well. While the geometry and distortion tests were perfect, the sharpness and resolution tests revealed serious Horizontal pixel fluctuation noise in vertical line resolution tests. This was the most severe on the diagonal resolution matrix which was abysmal. These tests show that the unit has trouble correctly drawing pixels in a vertical line causing mis-registration and therefore affecting how the pixels land on the screen. For the most part, you will probably never notice this when watching a movie, but it is in the detail that a superior projector is judged and as such these results are enlightening. On the up side, the colour block and coloured text on block colour tests performed brilliantly with no problems to speak of. In fact, the colour reproduction on this unit is quite exceptional with very realistic and rich blacks.
This is not the best projector on the market but it is certainly a very good choice for those who value image quality and design. The power connector could be a potential problem and the heat problem restrict where you can use the PJ-TX200.
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