Samsung SP-A600B projector
While home cinema projectors are hardly "all the rage", if you find an affordable model you can live with the prize is irresistible; huge Full HD images that give games and movies a whole new feeling.
Unlike a telly, a projector is only half the story, but if you've already got a home cinema sound system - and a screen or big white wall - something like Samsung's entry-level SP-A600B could be just the ticket. Sitting just above the entry-level, the well-built SP-A600B's small size and good looks make this a step-up product for anyone after a serious, long-lasting bit of kit.
Its specs include 1,000 ANSI Lumens and 3,000:1 contrast ratio, neither of which is particularly impressive on paper, but the shiny black SP-A600B impresses nevertheless. Some of its key successes - with colour, detail and a true rendition of black (which in a projector is all about an absence of light) - are down to its reliance on DLP 1080p technology and a six segment colour wheel.
Such tech is renowned for its skill at reproducing the contrast-heavy elements of movies, and it's effective once again. DLP's disadvantage is something called "rainbow effect", whereby some people see a spectrum of colour across the screen as a direct result of the spinning colour wheel inside the projector. It does occur on the SP-A600B, but it's far less of a problem that we expected - don't let it put you off.
The SP-A600B's got plenty of ins and outs. Two HDMI ports is average return for projectors these days, but we do wonder if a third should be the default - a Blu-ray player is likely to be the main attachment, but what about a games console and a HD set-top box?
Setting up the SP-A600B is not as easy as it could be. There's no manual lens shift lever - as you'll find on other projectors, notably from Epson and Optoma - so you have to rely on some vertical keystone correction to get the geometry correct.
After a tweak or two to the colour temperature settings, the SP-A600B provides a perfect palette and some stunning contrast that gets the best from Blu-ray, though we did notice some judder. What's missing from the SP-A600B is a frame insertion, or film mode, that's becoming increasingly common on both TVs and projectors.
There's also a modicum of picture noise in some backgrounds, though it doesn't dent the SP-A600B's reputation as a seriously impressive beamer. What might annoy is the noise levels of the SP-A600B. For while it's far quieter than projectors were a few years ago, the casing is simply not big enough to funnel away all that hot air; what's left is a drone that could irritate if you plan to sit close to the projector during movies.
For all its cinematic goodness, nice styling and ease of use, Samsung's SP-A600B is stuck somewhere between the real bargain Full HD projectors and the high-end. As such it's a step-up model for those who are after something more solid and dependable, though a lack of flexibility and its high price takes the edge off what is an overall very enjoyable DLP performance.