ViewSonic Precision Pro8100 projector

With the cost of going to the cinema rising, does it make sense to bring the cinema to your home? We sit down with a bag of popcorn and the latest home cinema projector from ViewSonic to find out.

Priced just under £3000, the ViewSonic Precision Pro8100 projector promises full HD 1080p quality up to a mammoth 300-inches with a native 16:9 aspect ratio.

Not the smallest projector going, its 543 x 156 x 388mm measurements mean it's something that you're going to need installing in your living room rather than something that you'll carry in and out.

That said its mammoth size - roughly that of a banana box - isn't actually that heavy, so mounting it on a ceiling shouldn’t be too much of an issue although that size is going to stop you hiding it away unless you use some clever Changing Room-style MDF covering box work.

However, realising that this projector is likely to end up in the homes of the style conscious who want something that doesn't look like a business projector in their living room, ViewSonic offers different top covers in a range of colours (white, grey and burgundy) to suit your décor, although these are optional; out of the box and its classic glossy piano black.

Size and design aside, around the back there are plenty of connections for your image sources. The Pro8100 features 2 x HDMI 1.3a, 2 x Component, 1 x S-Video, Composite, PC-VGA, and a USB in should give you enough connections to get your content on the big screen.

There is also an RS-232c connector so you can link it up with other remote controls although those looking for an audio solution as well will be disappointed. Luckily the ViewSonic Pro8100 forces you to do sound properly, rather than half-heartily try and cram in some speakers, so audio connections are absent.

You've wired it in, repositioned your entire lounge to make use of the one blank white wall, so what about the quality of the picture? One word. Wow.

Day or night the projector offered an amazing picture when we pumped through high-def content. We primarily tested the projector with Sony's PlayStation 3 giving it a good run for its money with Blu-ray titles, DVD upscaling and of course games in high-definition.

Regular SD content was good, but clearly at that size imperfections and poor quality was clear to see. This isn't really a unit you want to watch EastEnders on.

Our test area (read lounge) wasn't big enough to test the unit at the full 300-inches however at over 200-inches we feel we got a good enough measure of the performance.

The throw range of the projector starts at 1.2m for a 40-inch screen and goes up to 15.4m for the full 300-inch experience.

Playing Burnout Paradise the viewing area is bigger, and some might say crisper, than your own car windscreen was certainly mind blowing. Likewise Casino Royale on Blu-ray (the crane scene is amazing) and Sunshine on DVD and then back to games all made anyone we showed want to stay for more.

The performance is down to a number of tech on-board including a C2Fine 3-LCD panel that enhances brightness and boosts colour accuracy to new levels and a Silicon Optix Reon video scaler with HQV (Hollywood Quality Video) to deliver top quality, noise free high-definition movies, videos and TV.

If you want more numbers to shout to your partner to justify the purchase it's also got 10-bit colour processing rendering over 1 billion colours for super-fine colour graduation and a contrast level of up to 13000:1.

If the picture wasn't enough to blow you away, it really is that stunning, then it's quieter than an Xbox 360 and on ECO mode will last you around 5000 hours before you have to replace the lamp (£235).

In normal mode ViewSonic state you'll get around 2000-3000 hours, enough to watch roughly 1500 movies or play games for 17 weeks straight without break in standard mode.

Other noteworthy elements are that the Pro8100 comes with powered zoom and focus including motorised H & V lens shift so its very easy to setup as well - all of which can be done via the console on the side of the unit or the remote control.

Verdict

Okay so it's not the smallest or most practical projector you've seen, and at almost £3000 (RRP is £2899) it won't be the cheapest. However, if you've got a white wall, enjoy your movies or video games and want to bring the cinema into your home this is certainly one way to do it.


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