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The Pro8100 is big. Really, very quite big. (insert Douglas Adams joke here). This is not the occasional projector you pull out of the cupboard and plonk on your coffee table. At a width of almost 60 centimetres this fella needs his own home: ceiling mounting or a high shelf would be best.
The projector comes in black as standard, but you can also buy three other coloured skins to suit your living space: grey, white and burgundy. However, given how huge this thing is we think that most installers and users would rather hide it in an enclosure than draw attention to it with a bright, burgundy covering.
The remote itself has similar proportions to the new iPod nano, being quite short and squat. It fits well in the hand, though. The remote is backlit and comes with several pictographic buttons for most settings, such as aspect ratio and keystoning.
The projector is a 1080p model and comes with a 3LCD chipset, which is unusual in these days of DarkChip4 DLP designs. The projector is capable of a 13,000:1 contrast ratio, which we suspect is a dynamic rating given this is an LCD model. Also setting the Viewsonic apart from the crowd is the Silicon Optix HQV video processor, which has yet to break the mainstream like the Faroudja DCDi chipset has, but is the better option nonetheless. Further HQV post-processing can be applied and tailored to the content you're watching: eg, detail enhancement, film mode detection, and advanced noise reduction.
The projector also features a motorised 1.6x zoom and lens shift (250 per cent vertical, 120 per cent horizontal) as well as a significant amount of keystoning capability. For connectivity, the Pro8100 features two HDMI terminals, a pair of component-video and a VGA port.
Lastly, it's rated at 23dB and while it makes no claims about a specific "whisper mode" we were surprised by how quiet this projector actually was — especially given its size.
Setting up the Viewsonic was a breeze due to the combination of motorised zoom, lens shift and the comprehensive remote. After a small degree of calibration, which was made simpler by the small but easy-to-use menu, we were able to start cracking open our tests.
We began with some broadcast television, and David Attenborough's excellent The Life of Mammals series. The cinematography looked especially rich in high definition and there was an absence of artefacts such as jaggies. During the night sequences, we did find that the dynamic iris could be a little distracting, but it was usually sufficiently quick not to be noticeable. You can always turn it off, of course, at the sacrifice of some "true" black levels. Standard-definition TV was also very good.
Blu-rays showed faithful colour reproduction and an eye for detail. The projector's support for 1080/24p meant that both Mission Impossible III and the Fantastic Four showed a reduced amount of judder than the usual display.
For an LCD, we were impressed by steps the Pro8100 went to to disguise the image's lattice structure. Much more impressive in this regard than our previous favourite, the Panasonic PT-AE2000E. It was only when standing a foot away from a three-metre projected image that you could see any flyscreen effect at all.
As you'd expect given the HQV engine on-board, the HQV synthetic tests were also impressive. All of the "jaggies" tests were smooth, though the HD Noise test was a little buzzier than some other systems we've tested recently.
It was only on DVD that the Viewsonic showed any sign of letting up. Black levels weren't as impressive as we'd seen on Blu-ray discs, and the preset "Cinema" mode made our King Kong DVD too yellow. The more accurate "Professional" mode was better, though greens still seemed unnatural. Noise suppression, on the other hand, was excellent and there was a lack of ringing on contrasting edges.
We also tested the projector's capabilities displaying a PC desktop, and this presented no problem. We were able to view up to a 1,980x1,080 resolution with no scaling or scanning issues.