Norwegian company projectiondesign is relatively new to the AV game. But it's already earning itself a fearsome reputation for quality that we're hoping will remain unchecked by its latest home-cinema machine, the DLP Action! M20.
So can this projector really deliver enough HD Ready thrills to justify its relatively high £3,500 price?
Gadget fiends will immediately be drawn to the M20 by its cool and unusual looks. It's way smaller than most 'serious' DLP projectors, making it a really practical coffee-table or portable option, and its high gloss finish -- available in grey, white or blue -- is cute as can be.
Part of the reason the projector can be so small is its cast magnesium chassis, since this allows the projector's entire bodywork to function as a heat sink, meaning less effort and space has to be devoted to other ways of keeping the projector cool.
At the M20's heart is the acclaimed HD2+ DarkChip 3 DLP system from Texas Instruments (TI), which delivers a resolution of 1,280x720 pixels and a high contrast ratio of 4,000:1. What's more, it's aided and abetted by the first full implementation of TI's BrilliantColor system.
BrilliantColor comprises two elements: image processing and a new DLP colour wheel that adds yellow, cyan and magenta to the traditional red, green and blue colour segments. Some other 720p projectors have the processing part, but the M20 is the first projector we've seen to use the colour wheel as well.
This matters because, as our tests prove, the full BrilliantColor system really does boost DLP picture quality, giving colourful scenes like those in the Blu-ray of Con Air extra dynamism and naturalism.
Indeed, BrilliantColor alone goes just about far enough to justify the M20's rather high price point relative to much of the DarkChip 3-using competition. But the M20 has plenty of other strings to its bow too, including really rich, deep black level response; lots of detail and sharpness when showing HD; and the suppression of almost all kinds of noise, including the rainbow effect and motion dithering problems often associated with DLP technology.
On the features side of things, we do have an issue with the M20 only having a single digital video input. This really does seem stingy for a projector that clearly relishes being partnered with HD sources.
Also, while we appreciate the flexibility made available to you by the amount of picture adjustments included in the M20's onscreen menus, we're concerned about how easy it is to completely cock pictures up if you don't use some of these features with extreme care. The gamma, BrilliantColor and lamp output adjustments in particular can completely destroy the picture quality if you don't get them right.
Next, really fast moving objects can look a touch indistinct and flickery -- a common DLP side effect. But incidences of this generally occur only rarely during normal viewing.
And finally, its £3,500 price, while just about justified, will simply be beyond the reach of many people. Other buyers may alternatively prefer to spend that sort of money on a 'Full HD'model instead.
We had our doubts as to whether the projectiondesign Action! M20 could really justify its £3,500 price in today's competitive environment. But the combination of its BrilliantColor implementation and effortless prowess with other picture areas means that it really is a premium product, if you can live without full HD. Just don't sell it short by not putting suitable effort into getting it set up right.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire