Marantz VP-12S1 High-Defintition DLP projector Page 2
The VP-12S1's neatly laid-out rear panel includes a multipin RGB connector for a computer or set-top box such as RCA's DTC-100 (which has RGB outputs), an RS-232 port, a single component-video input, plus composite and S-video ins. Marantz obviously figures that buyers will do their video switching via an outboard processor. If you have a DVD player such as the Ayre D-1, which includes RGB with horizontal and vertical sync outs, you'll need to get an adapter to run it into the multipin input. But what do you do if you also have a DTC-100?—an important consideration for some. Another important consideration for future compatibility is a DVI connector. Like most other projectors, the Marantz has none, nor does there appear to be any connectivity protocol, making the inclusion of the jack meaningless. If you're putting off buying a projector or HDTV until DVI is included, you might be waiting at least another year.
An IEEE 1394 input allows you to connect your DV camcorder's digital output and have it displayed onscreen in the digital domain. Coax and TosLink digital outs are provided so you can get the digital sound to your receiver or preamp-processor. This is a neat feature for DV camcorder enthusiasts. I hooked it up to the IEEE 1394 output of my Panasonic D-1000 D-VHS deck, but it didn't produce a picture. This connector appears to be configured strictly for DV camcorders.
If you're going to mount the VP-12S1 on the ceiling, be sure to have your installer run IEEE 1394 wire to a convenient location for camcorder hookup and digital audio cabling from the projector to your audio system. Two 12V trigger outputs are provided. One offers voltage when the projector is turned on so it can operate a powered drop screen, the other powers up when you change aspect ratios for remote control of powered screen curtains. A neat gray-blue glow illuminates the rear panel at the throw of a small switch, but the controls you're more likely to want access to are located atop the projector, where the light doesn't reach.
Set It and Forget It!
Setting up any DLP projector is a dream, and that included the VP-12S1. When the projector is set up on a tabletop, the image height is adjusted via two front feet that can be screwed up and down for fine adjustments, or dropped in a hurry at the push of a button. The Lens Shift control on the top allows final vertical image positioning without moving the projector. A Zoom ring on the lens casing lets you adjust image size while another ring sets the focus, which is particularly easy to accomplish thanks to a black-and-white grid similar to a convergence pattern. This appears and disappears at the push of the Focus buttons on the projector body and remote.
I began the installation by placing the projector atop the same steel record rack I'd used with other projectors, which put it about 15 feet from the 92-inch-diagonal, 16:9, 1:0 gain Da-Lite Da-Mat screen I'd used previously.
On firing up the Marantz, I was surprised to find that I couldn't get the image small enough to fit the screen. A look at the Throw Distance chart in the manual showed why: The VP-12S1 has an extremely short throw distance, meaning it can produce a very large image from a short distance away. This is great in some circumstances, but not in others. A Marantz representative told me that two lens options are being made available, one of which should work for virtually any room configuration. I moved my rack about 5 feet closer to the screen, and even then, there was a bit of bleed off the screen. If you buy the VP-12S1, be sure to carefully measure the throw distance from where your projector will be located to where your screen will be located before choosing a lens option. The Marantz's minimum and maximum diagonal image sizes are 40 and 250 inches, but I wouldn't bank on it putting out sufficient light to project a satisfactory picture at the larger size.
Dan Miller, the Marantz projector specialist who helped me with setup, suggested that, instead of using the electronic keystone adjustment to correct a small geometric error, I raise the projector slightly. (Horizontal and vertical electronic keystone adjustment are provided.) This good advice reminded me that a fixed-pixel device is exactly what its name implies, and that messing with the geometry electronically would cause a loss of resolution.
Now that the image was focused, geometrically correct, and fit the screen, it was time to use the Video Essentials test DVD to set Color, Contrast, Brightness, and Sharpness. (Tint is not adjustable when using the component-video inputs.) Using the blue gel, I noted that the color decoder was extremely accurate. Dan Miller and I ended up with Contrast set almost to the top of its scale. The handy "White Crush" test included on new THX-mastered DVDs features a series of contiguous white and off-white boxes and demonstrated that we were not clipping white levels at that high Contrast setting. We also set the light output to its High setting, the Black Level to 0 IRE, the Cinema mode to Auto (for correct handling of 3:2 pulldown on filmed sources, though the manual doesn't explain what that means), and the Lamp mode to High. (The manual doesn't explain the difference between the High and High Bright settings, or suggest which settings give the most accurate picture.)
Four video modes are available: Full, Normal, Zoom, and Through, with Full being for both anamorphically squeezed DVDs and 16:9 HDTV images. Full also can be used for 4:3 images to fill the screen, as can Zoom, which enlarges the image horizontally and vertically. The VP-12S1 can input NTSC PAL and SECAM analog, as well as 480p, 540p (DTC-100), 576p, 720p, 1080i, and even 1035i, a Japanese Hi-Vision format.