DWIN TransVision 3 Plus, review

October 30, 2004

dwin_transvision3I really enjoy evaluating equipment I wouldn’t normally have a chance to try out. After all a dealer can only carry so many brands before it turns into a case of well, what do you really believe in? We picked our current lineup of equipment based on many factors, but no matter how many brands you utilize there’s always another manufacturer that just might grab your attention for a while.

Recently I had a chance to review the DWIN Transvision 3 Plus. Ah the grass is always greener, yes sometimes it really is, but I’ll get to that in a minute. The DWIN TV3, for short, is a 1280 x 720 HD2+ chipset, high definition capable video projector, packaged with DWIN’s TransVision 3 Plus Processor, which is an impressive piece of gear unto itself. First a little more about the projector, the TV3 incorporates a host of impressive features and specifications. Among them are 1200 Lumens, 3000:1 CR, a six segment color wheel, Carl Zeiss optics, 3:2 pull down processing, lens shift, and a light sealed chassis. One feature that caught my attention was the TV3’s lack of a prism in the light path. Many projectors have a prism in the light path to separate the illumination and projection light. This can result in a degradation of black level and contrast. The TV3 uses no such prism in the light path.

The included TransVision 3 Plus Processor was quite impressive. You’d be hard pressed to find a standalone scaler with more inputs or flexibility. The processor includes two in, one out (HDCP) DVI switching, 3 component inputs, two RGB inputs, and a smattering of composite and s-video inputs. When I saw the design of the modified DIN to DVI cable, for use between the projector and processor, I kind of laughed to myself thinking geesh that’s so simple but so handy. If you’ve ever tried to pull a DVI cable through a ceiling and grab it out of an opening 10-20 feet away, you’ll instantly recognize how handy this rounded DVI cable is. DWIN was obviously thinking about the guy who has to run the cable nearly as much as the lucky guy in the owners chair.


The fit and finish of both the projector and processor was top notch. The projector is finished in a dark blue metal flake while the processor is in an anodized black with blue trim, very handsome package for the both. One minor quibble was the remote, it appeared to be a home theater master 8000. Not a bad remote but something a little more befitting the stature of the TV3 would have been nice. I’ll give them this though it was painted the same color as the projector case.

So what’s this thing look like? For warm-up purposes we started out with some hi-def satellite and immediately I noticed how bright this sucker was and how white the uh… whites were. I don’t say this in some insularly way of picking out random details, but in saying the TV3 was noticeably brighter in the sense it was “just right”. Often time I’ll see projectors that are bright has heck but that’s about it. The TV3 seemed to use its lumens and contrast ratio to its advantage, not as a showy ‘look what I can do’ but in a real world ‘this is what video should look like’ manner.

We watched some sort of bizarre HDTV footage of what looked like a motorcycle race, the actual footage wasn’t as important as the overall ‘rightness’ of what I was seeing. Not owning one of these big buck video projectors myself (the TV3 retails around 11k), it’s easy to lull yourself into a “what I own is good enough for now” kind of torpor. Within the first few minutes of seeing the TV3’s video performance all such hopes were dashed. Hmm, where did I put those lottery tickets?… Anyway, yeah back to the review. Alright with the TV3 warmed up and already proving its worth with HDTV material, we moved onto DVD. At least until HD-DVD comes out this is how I still watch at least 60-70% of my movies at home. I was really curious how what I’d already seen would translate into with DVD’s.

The first disc popped into the Denon DVD-2200 was Moulin Rouge. Now I have to admit I’m not familiar with this title, but I do have a pretty fair working knowledge of what color reproduction on home theater projectors looks like, well at least I thought I did. Eye popping isn’t really a strong enough term here. Eye blowing might do it, but that sounds painful. This was anything but. Many of the “better” video projectors I’ve seen can reproduce colorful scenes with general accuracy however they generally tend to favor one color over another, if there are many strong primary colors onscreen at once. The TV3 was unlike any projector I’ve been able to spend anytime with in this regard. There were strong greens and reds on the screen at the same time and both were vivid and fully saturated even down to sub hues. This was the first time I’d seen such color reproduction.

Part of what I was seeing could be attributed to a ‘washing’ away or lack of haze, haze as a descriptor is a hard term to nail down, as if you’re use to seeing It, you may not even be aware anything is out of the ordinary that is until you see something that doesn’t do it. The TV3 without a doubt was as if someone took Windex to my interpretation of video clarity. The benefits of this shouldn’t be minimized, while it would be easy to attribute an overall clarity in video to nothing more than just a ‘sharper’ picture, what really happens is the haze or artifacts actually add their own tint to colors or rather cloud what the actual colors look like. This was most evident in a scene where confetti was falling around McGregor and Kidman as they (cringe) sang. I don’t remember seeing something with a metallic sheen so accurately reproduced. It was as if silver confetti had been carefully placed onto the 110” Stewart Firehawk piece by piece. Might sound a little hokey but that’s what it looked like. As beautiful as the video looked, I could feel the testosterone being sapped out of my body, so I suggested a disc change.

Next up was the Brotherhood of the Wolf. If you don’t own this one it’s highly recommended, but be sure to get the anamorphic version as the standard ‘widescreen’ versions video is drastically inferior. In the opening scene, where our young maiden is franticly running for her life from ‘the beast’, I couldn’t help but think this grass can’t be right. Grass doesn’t have that iridescent quality to it, but then again it often does in the springtime and then goes slightly darker the rest of the year. What I began to realize was color accuracy is open to interpretation, not in what an absolute color should look like on a ire chart but in what your mind tells you your looking at. Once I relaxed and let go of preconceptions about what a video projector should or shouldn’t be capable of, I took the bright hue of the grass at face value. This allowance was later warranted by seeing another scene in which I had no doubt the color was accurate. So I was basically ‘fooled’ by seeing something so correctly reproduced my mind dismissed it as improbable.

In one particular scene in the Brotherhood of the Wolf, Marianne (Emilie Dequenne) is on horseback wearing a red velvet riding coat. This was the sort of fodder the TV3 ate up and spit out with contempt. Red velvet is typically hard to reproduce as it has a unique color, shine, and texture, which generally confuse most display devices. Not with the TV3, it rendered the uniform as if it could have been grabbed off the screen and worn. Later in the dinner party scene is where I noticed something else the TV3 excels at, depth. In this scene a long table is set with the actors seated around. In a long ever so slightly angled shot down the table, the candelabras are evenly spaced out, the TV3 gave one of the most three dimensional interpretations of depth I’ve seen in any home video display device.

Ok, I’d played around with some material I’d never seen and some I’ve viewed a few times, now it was time to see something that’s spun in my DVD player more times than J-Lo’s been engaged. Moving onto The Fifth Element I was somewhat anxious. All of the previous video clips had bent my understanding of home theater video nearly as far as they could go. How would something I was extremely familiar with look? This was the one part of my time with the DWIN TV3 that was the hardest to figure out, much less put into words. For this section of the review I used the Nuecleolab section in chapter 6. At the risk of being redundant, yeah it was nice to see the incubator cover and the lab tech’s jackets in their true color. Again not to be repetitive, but I’d never noticed as much detail in this scene before, until viewing it on the TV3.

But then I figured it out. That ‘thing’ I hadn’t, until now, been able to put my finger on that was making this projector so enjoyable to watch. It was simply motion reproduction. Motion reproduction is something that in all honesty used to be a bigger problem than it is now, but as so many manufacturers moved to the same chipsets and similar manufacturing methods, we all benefited from an overall “similar” experience. Sure some of us see rainbows or alike, but for the most part unless you really go out on a limb and buy some oddball projector, you’re likely to see similar motion reproduction as your neighbor down the street, who bought a similarly priced projector.

This is where the DWIN TV3 opened the gap between its closet competitors. The whole time I was watching these clips I just kept thinking, this feels fluid and natural. Not thinking about motion reproduction, I wrote it off to just really detailed video. It was during Leeloo’s reconstruction sequence, where the robotic arms start reassembly slowly and then progress faster and faster, I saw it. It was near perfect high speed motion reproduction. Again its one of those things you don’t know your missing until you see it, but this explained the over all sense of ease and enjoyability of viewing video on the TV3.

How to sum up? Hmm, I guess I should give a little background as to what I’d say was in the TransVision 3’s realm of video performance. The first thing that comes to mind is the Marantz VP-12S3, but I’m not convinced that unit has quite the same color saturation and overall accuracy. Sharper maybe, but I’m not sure its better overall. In all honesty, the closest thing I’ve seen to the TV3 was an older Runco CRT running a line doubler. I say this based on the TV3’s fluid motion reproduction alone. So in closing, if you’re searching that upper midrange to high end video projector category, for something that will satisfy your videophile desires, make sure the DWIN TransVision 3 Plus, is on your shortlist. And don’t forget to take some DVD’s you “think” you’re familiar with.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Projector Reviews, Reviews


Comments

  • J.Falkner

    Very detailed review, looking forward to seeing this one myself.

  • J.Falkner

    Very detailed review, looking forward to seeing this one myself.