Studio Experience 43" LCoS TV
- Good Price, Innovative Technology.
- Enormous number of visual aberrations, Poor Performance, Excessive rainbow effect
While the price is right for this television it is so poor that we can’t in good conscience recommend it to any of our readers.
Price$ 2,999.00 (AUD)
No doubt you have heard of DLP, LCD and Plasma, but there is a dark horse in the industry capable of so much more but seldom used due to its low yield rates and manufacture cost. LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) is a hybrid of DLP and LCD technology, using the same liquid crystals as LCD, but in a reflective array like DLP. The technology requires three LCoS chips which are calibrated to meld at the lens point to create an image.
LCoS are renowned for their image quality and are revered as one of the more impressive technologies on the market. They generally have issues with reproducing blacks, making them look too green but this tends to be the only complaint with LCoS. It has the ability to project to insane sizes, just like DLP, but avoids the rainbow effect which plagues DLP projectors.
We had never heard of Studio Experience when we stumbled upon their 43 inch LCoS television and we were understandably excited to get it in for review. Our excitement was short lived. This is by far the most horrible television we have reviewed to date. There were so many problems with this unit that we were left wondering why it was made in the first place.
The first thing we noticed when we fired up the TV was the painful headache inducing rainbow effect which mockingly clawed at our retinas. Naturally, we were puzzled. LCoS, by definition, has no colour wheel and as such cannot possibly have rainbow effect. After much bewilderment we came to realise that this was, in fact, a single chip LCoS television. This is an unheard of technology and we believe it to be a world first. Until now, an LCoS chip could not move fast enough to produce an image on its own. Three chips were required to create the image. Using three chips avoids using a colour wheel in the projection process therefore eliminating rainbow effect. In this television set, it seems that Uneed Systems (the manufacturer) has essentially replaced a DLP chip with an LCoS chip but still used a projection array similar to DLP.
Even the most innovative technologies can seem inept when poorly implemented. While this LCoS chip is an incredible feat, it seems that it may well have been created for the wrong reasons. LCoS can create incredible pictures if implemented well but in this case the quest to create a single chip LCoS chip appears to be a product of cost-cutting rather than innovation. DLP technology is owned and patented by Texas Instruments. If you want to use it in your television, you have to pay them a fee. By creating this LCoS chip, Uneed Systems have avoided this fee rather successfully allowing them to create a much cheaper alternative. Perhaps it is more a case of first generation technology not quite making the grade, but in our tests, this single chip LCoS television was below par and performed far below the standard for a television of its size and price point.
From a design and aesthetics standpoint, the Studio experience also falters. The build quality doesn't seem sturdy and the unit itself isn't terribly attractive. This may well be a matter of subjectivity but of the units we have reviewed this one looked rather basic - definitely a matter of function over form.
The unit sports a range of connectors for AV sources including composite, SCART, DVI and D-Sub as well as two component inputs. However, like the Metz, one of the two component inputs does not accept signals over 480i. This is rather limiting and in opposition to most users preconceived suppositions that all component inputs are high definition. The analog tuner does the unit no favours either with images that look less than impressive. While using a HD set top box does improve the overall image, the limitations and faults of the unit cannot be ignored.
Like every television that comes through our test centre, we performed extensive tests on the Studio Experience. We look at all the connections it offers and performed extensive tests, both formal and informal. In the informal component tests we ran the Lobby Scene from The Matrix and the T-Rex attack from Jurassic Park. These scenes are perfect for testing televisions as they both have intensive elements that are a challenge to reproduce. The Matrix was a shoddy experience to behold with random discolouration, pixelisation, excessive image noise, inaccurate blacks and discolouration and stepping on skin tones. This is not one problem, or a random aberration that can be explained away as a minor fault with the unit. These are major image problems that shouldn't occur in a television set at this price point. When viewing Jurassic Park we saw many of the same problems with respect to noise and pixelisation which we can only assume is a product of poor scaling algorithms.
We also connected the Xbox 360 game system to the unit and ran it at 720p. It looked a little better but the discolourations, image noise and colour stepping were still present. The Xbox 360 is a great AV source to determine the true High Definition capabilities of a unit since it outputs true HD without any scaling.
Our formal component tests using Digital Video Essentials revealed many things, most noticeably the fact that the Studio Experience struggles with all shades of grey. Since this is single chip reflective technology it relies on greyscale to create its image which is then colourised via the colour wheel. The Studio Experience displays heavy noise across all greys progressively getting worse the darker the shade. There were also quite a few block artifacts and magenta and cyan discolouration on the greyscale tests as well as poor pixel and colour definition on the SMPTE colour bar test patterns.
Disheartened by the component performance we moved on and tested the PC input only to discover it was far worse. The desktop image seemed out of focus with no definition on any either the graphics or text. Our formal tests with DisplayMate Video Edition were a terrible mess and failed in most areas, including the geometry and distortion tests. No TV we have tested since we introduced these procedures has failed the distortion test until now. The vertical lines on the distortion test were concaved and the rainbow effect during these tests was extremely painful. The greyscale tests and colour block tests confirmed what the component test revealed with heavy noise on dark greys and dark colours. Many of the tests in DisplayMate were almost automatically failed by the Studio experience due to the general lack of definition in the image. We thought that this may have been cabling issue but two separate cables garnered the same results.
It is very unfortunate that we have to give this television the rating it has earned. This is an exciting use of LCoS technology and one that has the potential to be quite good in future generations. Unfortunately, the implementation of this new technology was not done all that well in this television and in all good conscience we can't recommend this TV to our readers. The price is good for a 43 inch television but not one that performs as poorly as this one.
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