Samsung's projector division is primarily known for their line of high-end home cinema projectors. Projectors such as the SP-A900, reviewed a few weeks ago, make it clear that Samsung projectors can set a very high bar for performance. However, with the release of their new SP-A600B, they now have something to offer consumers on a budget as well. The SP-A600B is a compact 1080p projector that retails for $1795. It offers 1,000 ANSI lumens, respectable 3000:1 contrast, and accurate color in a package that's affordable. While it's not the least expensive 1080p projector on the market, it does offer decent performance for a reasonable price.
Samsung SPA600B Features:
Lumen output. The SP-A600B packs a punch despite its small size. Its brightest mode, Vivid, produces 883 lumens on our test sample -- good for HD sports with the lights turned on, which makes it easier to see how much beer you have left. For cinema applications, Movie 1 mode has much-improved color when compared to Vivid, and still produces an excellent 570 lumens in high lamp mode. This is more than enough for a 120" diagonal screen in a light-controlled room, or even one with some ambient lighting, and could power a 100" diagonal screen in a room with plenty of light.
Low lamp mode extends the life of the lamp from 3,000 to 4,000 hours and cuts lumen output by 25%. This brings Movie 1 mode to 428 lumens, which is still sufficient for a 120" screen in a light-controlled theater. Vivid mode produces 662 lumens in low lamp mode, and is great for use with your child's video game system.
Contrast. In the age of projectors with 100,000:1 contrast and better, your initial reaction at a 3000:1 contrast ratio might be "Why would I buy that" Taking one look at the Samsung SP-A600B's picture ought to satisfy your doubts. The projector has a black level that is more than sufficient for home theater, and competitive with other 1080p projectors under $2,000.
The SP-A600B is capable of displaying a good, solid picture that really looks great with high-contrast material like Blu-Ray movies. When the SP-A600B was placed next to its big brother, the SP-A900, it was surprising how good the little A600 looked. This is not to say that the two projectors are in the same league - they aren't - but that the A600 looks higher in contrast than you might assume.
Sharpness and Detail. The SP-A600B has a smooth, film-like, natural picture that is flattering to any content shown on it. Fine details in HD content, like the texture of a shirt or an actor's beard stubble, are resolved clearly and cleanly. At the same time, the image is not over-sharp, and there is no evidence of artificial edge enhancement.
Color performance. One of the SP-A600B's strong suits is accurate, natural color. Out of the box, color needed some adjustment to remove a green bias and some over-saturation. But give it a little fine-tuning and you're in business. Furthermore, black-and-white buffs will appreciate Movie 2 mode, which defaults to 5500K. This is a good approximation of the color temperature used to project black-and-white films, and produces a warmer, more inviting tone when watching these movies.
Quiet operation. The SP-A600B produces almost no fan noise during operation. If you are planning to use the projector in a coffee table mount, this will come in handy - the projector is so quiet that it will not cause any distraction to anyone, even if they're seated right next to it.
Connectivity. The SP-A600B has a spartan, uncluttered connection panel that still includes all of the connections commonly used in home theater. Featured are two HDMI 1.3 ports, a set of YPbPr component inputs, a VGA port, composite and s-video connections, a 12V trigger, and a 1/8" RS-232C connection. The 1/8" RS-232 is something not often found on projectors -- but RS-232 is a standard, not a connector, and it should be interoperable with all of your other RS-232 compliant equipment.
Remote control. The SP-A600B's remote is a small affair which fits in the palm of your hand. It is roughly rectangular, but rounded on the edges, and in the dark it is easy to accidentally grab it upside-down. It has basic controls, such as direct access to the different inputs and a way to get in to the projector's menu, but that's about it. There is no backlight, so reading the remote in the dark can be difficult until you've learned the layout.
Image noise. The SP-A600B has a noticeable degree of image noise, which can be distracting on occasion. Image noise tends to manifest in areas of mid-tones, such as solid areas of the same color. Some people are not bothered by this artifact, but others cannot get past its appearance. The projector does have a noise reduction circuit, which removes a good portion of the image noise, but it does not remove it completely. It also reduces image sharpness slightly, so it is up to you to decide whether you'd like the picture more with the filter on or off.
Placement flexibility. The SP-A600B has a 1.3:1 manual zoom lens with a fixed throw angle offset of 10%. This gives you a small amount of leeway for installation - if you accidentally place the projector too close to or far from the screen, you won't have to take the projector down and re-mount it. The throw angle offset is fixed at 10% of the image height - meaning that for a 100" diagonal image, the bottom edge of the picture will appear 4.9" above the centerline of the lens. While features like an extended zoom range or some form of lens shift are always welcome, they are rarely seen on this class of DLP projector, and thus it is no surprise that they are absent from the SP-A600B.
Samsung SPA600B Specifications:
Weight: 10.3 lbs
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (HD)
Color Wheel: 6 segments
Lens Shift: No
Lamp Life: 3000 Hrs
Warranty: 2 year
Connectors: S-Video, Composite, Component, DVI Digital Input, HDMI 1.3 (x2), RS232
Video Formats: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p/60, 1080p/24