Crystal View CV-HD720P DLP Projector Reviewed

Published On: April 15, 2004
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Crystal View CV-HD720P DLP Projector Reviewed

The new CV-HD720P from Crystal View has much you need to know about it in its model number. As in, it's 720p. What you might not be able to tell is its their first DLP projector. We test it out deep in the archives

Crystal View CV-HD720P DLP Projector Reviewed

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For decades, buying and owning a video projector was a lot like owning an exotic car. Like a Ferrari, they can be pricey, temperamental, but resolutely high-performance. The advent of inexpensive digital projectors based on Texas Instruments' Digital Light Processing chip radically changed the landscape, making buying a projector a lot more like buying a PC. Where once a handful of companies offered projectors, now there are dozens, some with seemingly very little difference between models.

Additional Resources
• Read more modern 1080p front video projectors on this resource page.
• Read a collection of the best in video screens, screen technology and video screen materials on this resource page.

Buying the chip at the heart of today's best DLP projectors, the "Mustang" HD-2, is kind of like buying a Pentium 4 what you surround it with will probably determine how happy you are with the device. Go cheap and, well, you get what you pay for. Because building a good projector is more difficult than building a good PC, the margin of difference, in terms of performance and how easy it is to use, is a lot bigger.

That's why the first digital projector from Crystal View immediately got our interest. Unlike some of the mass market PC companies selling data-grade projectors kludged into a home theater product, these guys are old-time cathode ray tube projector guys -- a specialty that is every bit as much art as it is science. The first big tip-off that this is not a refugee from WalMart is the fact that it has a real outboard video processor: the CV-NNR1. It converts your video, be it from DVD, cable satellite or wherever, to perfectly match the projector, instead of an inexpensive circuit board inside the projector.

Unique Features - One glance shows you the most obvious difference between the CV-HD720P and most other DLP projectors: it's sexy. While the gorgeous Ferrari red unit pictured here is distinctive, our test unit was a sleek black--a better fit with my Imaging Science Foundation training anyway. Darker exteriors are always better for video performance in terms of gear that appears in your theater. While most units will probably end up black, Crystal View will make one in virtually any color you want. Just send them a color swatch and they'll match it.

But like the beauty queen with an Oxford degree, there's a lot more than just cosmetics going on with this impressive enclosure. Unlike some projectors, this one is quiet and doesn't leak light all over your room. At a claimed 28dB (I never could get it that loud in my theater, maxing at a near silent 27dB), it's the quietest DLP projector I've ever tested--impressive considering how many moving parts DLP projectors have. Think whirring color wheels, fans and the like.

One other geek note: the color wheel (a spinning disc used by a DLP chip to create color) has been specially modified to address a chronic problem with such displays: difficulty in reproducing deep, rich reds. Because of the changes, the CV-HD720P is actually able to meet broadcast studio standards for color reproduction. That means, if properly calibrated, this projector can reproduce colors exactly the way the director intended.

Read much more on Page 2


Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
Installation was quite easy. This projector has a built-in rack for ceiling mounting, but can also sit flat on a tabletop or shelf.

Setup was also minimalist, in part because Crystal View calibrates their displays before they ship, so they are extremely accurate out of the box. I measured the display with my Sencore CP 5000 and, while I might have given it a very slight tweak, if someone had paid the normal $400 ISF calibration fee (if only to earn my keep) it was better out of the box than a number of displays I've tested in the same price range after more than a hour of calibration.

The CV-NNR1 video processor works well, although you may find you need to buy BNC to RCA converters if the included six-foot cables aren't long enough. While the model we tested lacks a DVI output to the projector, an upgraded version of the unit with such an output should be out by the time you read this. Unlike a lot of video processors, this unit offers classic five-wire BNC output or standard component output, which is what I used.

There are a lot of options in terms of installation, including adjustable lamp brightness (you can use less power and extend your lamp life if you have a small screen). It was plenty bright for me on my 96-inch Stewart FireHawk screen.

The menus are clear and well designed and, while there are a lot of options, nothing is so complicated that the average user is going to get lost, as can be the case with some projectors. One other nice touch: a back-lit remote, despite the fact that the projector offers full RS-232 support for high-end system controllers, such as the Crestron.

Final Take
Having a reviewed a number of projectors based on this chip, I know going in that the baseline of picture performance is pretty good. But the difference between pretty good and excellent can seem like a gulf if you're stuck with pretty good. As CRT guys, Crystal View understands that paying attention to detail can make all the difference, something that shows in the performance of this display.

Using some of my favorite torture scenes, the video processor and display combined for a well-above-average performance in this class. Using the notorious "haystack" scene from Star Trek: Insurrection, there is none of the shimmering one sees from a number of displays. The only noise I could see was from the original DVD encoding, with virtually no error upsampling the 480 progressive video from the disc to the chip's native 720 progressive display. I'd like to see it head to head against the best "name" video processors on the market because I think it would hold up quite well.

I was also impressed with the color saturation and deepness of blacks, an issue with DLP projectors since the first models came on the market five years ago. While still not able to reach the black levels one finds from old-school CRT projectors, Crystal View seems to have inched the standard even closer for DLP.

Detail from HDTV sources, especially native 720p programming from ABC, was clear, deep and dimensional.

Considering this is Crystal View's first DLP product, the sophistication it offers is impressive. Right off the bat, Crystal View has come out with a product that is competitive with the best in the category and better than a lot of well-known brands. With its plentiful features, ease of use and installation, excellent (and very quiet) performance, and cool style, the Crystal View CV-HD720P DLP projector
(and CV-NNR1 outboard video processor) should be on your short list for mid-priced home theater equipment.

Additional Resources
• Read more modern 1080p front video projectors on this resource page.
• Read a collection of the best in video screens, screen technology and video screen materials on this resource page.

Crystal View CV-HD720P DLP Projector
CV-NNR1 video processor
Display resolution: 1280 x 720
Native aspect ratio: 16:9
Contrast ratio: 2300:1
Lens throw ratio: 1.75 to 2.25
(optional 1.01 lens for short throw installations)
Projector inputs: DVI, Din-15 RGB, (2) component,
(1) S-Video, (1) composite, (2) 12-volt triggers,
(1) IR port, and (1) RS-232 control port
Video processor inputs/outputs: (4) Y/C BNC
inputs, (2) five-wire BNC RGB inputs, (2) BNC
style component inputs, (1) switchable five-wire
BNC RGB/component output, and (1) RS-232
control port
Projector dimensions: 6.75"H x 14"W x 16"D
Video Controller dimensions: 10"H x 17"W x 3.5"D
Warranty: 1 year, limited
MSRP: $14,995

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