This isn’t just a product review. Famous Players and Cineplex Odeon could very well interpret it as a threat.
A threat, to their $14 per movie ticket price, and to their over-priced concessions. We, (the people) have taken the gouging long enough. They, (the electronics manufacturers) are providing us with better and better weapons. In this case, the weapon of choice is the Studio Experience – Matinee 2HD.
It wasn’t too long ago that a projector that could serve as an acceptable replacement for the movie theatre, was but a mere fantasy in the disgruntled movie loving public’s mind. In fact to get comparable performance 3 or 4 years ago, you would have had to spend well over $10,000 on a DLP projector.
Now, for a fraction of the price you can enjoy a 100+ inch screen size from this LCD projector, and you only need a relatively short throw distance of 10 to 13 feet.
The Matinee 2HD is a native 16:9 widescreen format projector with a resolution of 1280×720, 800 ANSI lumens of brightness and a 1300:1 contrast ratio. This projector has all the specs going for it.
Other notable features include vertical and horizontal lens shift, which allow for great latitude in terms of shifting the image in relation to the projector position. As flexible as this may seem you should not stray to far from the centre sweet spot of the lens. At the extreme ends of these adjustments you will be sacrificing lumen output and uniformity of the image. The lens itself has a manual zoom and focus as well as an adjustable lens aperture that lets you move from greater brightness to greater contrast depending on the ambient lighting and personal preference.
The connection panel, which is located at the rear, consists of 1 DVI input, 1 component input, 1 S-Video input and 1 composite input. A small, but welcome feature is the input auto detection.
So how do you set it up? Easily. In fact we had it up and running in no time, even though our test unit arrived minus the owners manual. The 2HD offers very flexible mounting options – table top, ceiling mounting or shelf mounting. We displaced our Infocus DLP 350 from its customary shelf position and made room for the 2HD (as much as we’ve enjoyed the DLP 350 it was never intended as a home-theatre projector and, resources allowing, will be replaced by the time the current lamp reaches the end of its life). Shelf mounting allows for better use of the sweet spot of the lens. You may not be able to place the projector on a shelf at the rear of large room because the image will be too large. To avoid aggressive use of the horizontal lens shift you may want to use an extension drop.
The only cumbersome aspect of this otherwise light (9 lbs) projector is the menu navigation. It is no very intuitive and requires some getting use to. In fact, what seems intuitive usually takes you to an unwanted part of the menu. That being said it does offer a vast array of picture tweaking options and we eventually figured out the menu navigation.
The remote features a spring-loaded button on the left side to engage its backlight. The most frequently used buttons are grouped together at the top of the remote and are backlit for ease of navigation while watching a movie. Its compact size fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. The four-way directional pad is smooth and allows for easy navigation through the menus (once you have them figured out).
Performance was fantastic. LCD projectors were once looked down upon for having a screen door effect but the SXGA 1280×1024 resolution of the H2’s LCD panels eliminate pixilation and the screen door effect. Finding Nemo was no problem as his colours came out brilliantly as did those of the rest of the fishy crew. Colour saturation was not excessive and troublesome reds/oranges were well defined and separated. Films such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King appeared realistic with natural flesh tones. Colours were natural throughout the spectrum.
Contrast, another notorious weakness of LCD technology, was excellent. Contrast is a key component of image quality. We were once amazed with contrast ratios of 700:1 from LCD projectors. The Matinee 2HD exceeds the 1000:1 prerequisite for obtaining superior image quality – it boasts a 1300:1 contrast ratio. It certainly had no trouble with darker scenes in movies like Underworld. Both the vampires and the werewolves in the movie’s dark underground tunnels and settings had just the right contrast. A projector with a poor contrast ratio would definitely have some problems here.
One of my biggest issues with going out to the movies is rude, loud buffoons in the theatre. By comparison, the 2HD is virtually inaudible! In normal mode, which produces the highest light output fan noise was very low. The minimal amount of noise emitted is quickly forgotten once the movie is under way. A second operation mode is the Theatre Black mode which further helps to reduce the noise from the 2HD. This mode produces a lower light output but still produces sufficient light for home theatre use.
With projectors such as the Studio Experience Matinee 2HD on the market, consumers considering 50″- 60″ high definition displays can now take into consideration a 100″ image for a comparable if not lower amount of money including the screen.
I would like to conclude with my 3 STEP program to join the uprising against the over-priced theatre going experience.
Step 1: Pop popcorn. Step 2: Fire up you Matinee 2HD. Step 3: Enjoy! Viva La Revolution!
MSRP: $2999 (Canadian)
Studio Experience Matinee 2HD projector
Resolution: 1280 x 720 WXGA
Brightness: 800 ANSI lumens
Lamp: 135W UHP
Display Type: LCD
Contrast Ratio: 1300:1
Colours: 16.7 million
Aspect Ratio: 16:9; 4:3 compatible
Throw Distance: 3.9’-20’ / 1.2m – 6.1m
Keystone Correction: +/- 20 degrees
Diagonal Image Size: 31” – 200” / 76.2cm – 508cm
Compatibility: XGA, SVGA, Wide VGA, VGA, Mac
Inputs: DVI-I, component, s-video, composite
Remote Type: backlit
Weight: 9 lbs / 4.1 kg
Dimensions (HxWxD): 3.8”x14.1”x10.8” (9.7×35.8×27.4cm)