I must admit, onboard video and audio have come a long way. It used to be that they were just a line item on a features list. Now both are far more capable. Compared with what you can get as a separate card, though. . .well, let's say it's not worth comparing (although I did, of course).
Based on the short French film La Jetée, 12 Monkeys follows poor, hapless convict and time traveler Cole. He is tasked with preventing a plague that wiped out most of humanity. Time travel not being an exact sport, he is tossed around a bit, and everybody thinks he's insane. Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam directs one of the best science fiction movies of the 1990s. Bruce Willis plays poor Cole, while Brad Pitt is truly incredible as nutcase Jeffrey Goines.
It has been interesting to follow the development of the 7200 Series from InFocus. Two years ago, I reviewed the 7200, the first high-end home theater projector from what was, up to that point, a company primarily known for business projectors. A year later came the 7205, which had some updates, including a new chip from Texas Instruments. It was brighter, had a better black level, and was cheaper. Now, a year after that, the 7210 follows this same progression.
Extras: 2 House of Flying Daggers is, in many ways, similar to many other martial-arts movies you've seen (most notably, the crazily popular Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). It has all of the action and incredible fight sequences we've come to expect from the best Hong Kong exports. From a visual standpoint, though, it has more in common with the stylized color works of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. And what visuals they are. In Hero, director Yimou Zhang used massive amounts of color. Sometimes entire shots would be one color. Here, that is rarely the case, but color is no smaller a tool—just a more finely honed one. The story is of a love affair between an assassin and a policeman as a war builds around them.
I like to think of myself as a do-it-yourself kind of guy. I'd like to think of myself this way, but, in reality, this is not the case. I don't change my own oil (you want me to go under where?), I'm on a first-name basis with my mechanic (honestly, what Ford owner isn't?), and I call my landlord when the kitchen sink leaks (hey, that's why I pay rent). The two things I do myself are haircuts (thank you, King C. Gillette) and computers (sorry, no funny joke). I've been fascinated with computers since my parents bought me an Apple IIc in the mid-1980s. Since then, I've been modifying and building my own. A few months ago, some part of my brain came up with the idea to build a home theater PC from scratch—and make it silent. Keep in mind that this was the same part of my brain that thought it would be a tremendous idea to build a 13-foot-long subwoofer. Thanks to the deluge of e-mails I received after that piece (one—thanks, Mom) and the difficulty in finding a company that makes an HTPC (last count at CES, there were only 13,002 or so), I figured I'd design and build Home Theater's HTPC, the ugliest and quietest ever.
There is something to be said for 1080p. It is, after all, the so-called holy grail of HD. As far as the mainstream end of the market is concerned, there are only three displays available now that support it: This Sharp, the "mine's bigger than yours," 1-inch-larger Samsung LCD, reviewed in the April 2005 issue, and the Sony 70-inch LCOS (sorry, SXRD) rear-projection TV. If you have money to burn, there are several front projectors that are 1080p and cost more than a Camry—and a couple of plasmas that cost more than several Camrys.
There is a reason why we say a display product's color temperature should be 6500 kelvins. There is a reason why we say color points are "off." There is a reason video has set parameters that define what it is supposed to look like. The reason is that people a lot smarter than us figured out what looks the best and wrote down what a display should do to look that way.
As a reviewer, my life is hard. I have to sit in air-conditioned rooms watching movies all day long. It's a tough job, but I labor through it just for you, our fearless reader. A bad day could be one where the product is cranky, doesn't calibrate well, or, even after a fair amount of tinkering, still only looks OK (or worse). Writing those reviews is "fun." Then there are the days when I get to sit down with a product like this one. This means day after day of coming to work, enjoying a few movies and TV, all on a display that, out of the box, looks fantastic.
Take a minute to look at the measurement box. Keep in mind that this is an LCD-based product. At 0.003 foot-lamberts, the VPL-HS51 is only 0.001 ft-L higher than the Yamaha DLP projector that's also in this issue. Not bad for a projector that's less than a third of the Yamaha's price. And did I mention it's an LCD? Impressive.