Top positive review
32 people found this helpful
For home theater...really cool unit, small, but has one flaw...
on March 5, 2012
(Writing this strictly with a long-term, "permanent" home theater install in mind. Not looking at portable use, business use, etc., as for those applications I would highly recommend this unit as it is incredibly small, light and bright for it's size. For "permanently installed" home theater use, read on...)
After seven years of doing the "projector shuffle" (i.e. buying lower-end projectors like my last two, the Infocus X1 and Infocus IN24+), and then once their bulb dies, realizing a whole new projector that's newer with a new warranty, etc. can be had for maybe only $50-60 more than buying the bulb, I decided SURELY there must be some LED projectors on the market by now, and I was not completely disappointed (not as many as I thought, and not as popular as I imagined, but certainly available).
Typically the projectors I've been buying have been in the $300 - $350 range, so I aimed to stay at about that point, and the FAVI Entertainment RioHD-LED-4 XGA (1024 x 768) Portable Projector caught my eye big time. The price was right, the resolution was HUGE, and the thing had the HDMI hookup I needed (missing from my old Infocus) to be able to get the most out of my Western Digital WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - WDBHG70000NBK-HESN.
With very very little information on this projector "out there," I was nevertheless intrigued by the whole LED bulb thing, offering a decade plus of (my kind of) viewing.
I was looking at the FAVI Entertainment RioHD-LED-3T Home Theater Projector (for it's "traditional size" and made-for-home-theater designation) and then this one, the FAVI Entertainment RioHD-LED-4 XGA (1024 x 768) Portable Projector. I ended up going with the LED-4 due to it's XGA (double the 3T) resolution.
I got it, paired it with my brilliant Western Digital WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - WDBHG70000NBK-HESN and...well, the first thing I noticed once it was hooked up was that it shoots "straight on." I cannot find the technical term for this, but basically when it projects, if you want to project a perfect square (and thus not have to use keystone correction), the unit has to be dead center in the picture.
(EDIT: found the term...it is OFFSET...for ceiling mounted, or low-to-the-floor/coffee table projection of a "flat" and NON-keystone distorted image, you want a higher offset. My Infocus X1 was around 61% and was great, and I just found out that both the FAVI Entertainment RioHD-LED-3T Home Theater Projector and the Optoma's ML500, WXGA, 500 Lumen, Mobile LED Projector both have offsets that are higher than 100%, meaning that they are QUITE ok for overhead mounting or for sitting on a coffee table without having to suffer through ugly keystone correction "low-rez'ing." This projector's offset is set at 0%, meaning projector must be dead center of the screen to project a "perfect" flat and non-keyston distorted image).
Now, I am sure there is some low-hanging position you can put it in (and run into it as you walk across your home theater room) that will get a perfectly flat position for the projected image as well as be ceiling mounted, or perhaps some tripod or other stand you could put up in the middle of the floor and watch from elevated seating, but most "proper" home theater projectors project the image UPWARD (i.e. if the unit is on or near the floor, the bottom edge fo the projector roughly marks the bottom edge of it's image, but the top of the image is well above the top of the projector...or vice-versa for ceiling mounted, where you just tell the unit in the settings to flip the image).
This one poses obvious logistical problems for my (required) ceiling-mounted position. I have HDMI, power, etc. run to the ceiling, so it needs to work.
To make the LED-4 work, I had to mount it as low as possible and then even still tilt it pretty drastically. As you may well have guessed, this makes a "keystoned" image that has to be corrected...AND THEREIN LIES THE RUB...
The projector makes a very sharp, nice image, an easy upgrade in resolution from my just-sold Infocus IN24+...BUT as soon as you turn on keystone correction, even just one "degree" of it...it instantly blurs text, icons and the picture in general to the point where it is no better than (and maybe even slightly worse than) an 800x600 projector....meaning, if the FAVI Entertainment RioHD-LED-3T Home Theater Projector DOES do the "naturally angled up" projection as you really need for proper "installed" home theater use (as opposed to portable use), then I likely would have been better off just paying the extra $49 for that. The "downgrade" in resolution actually would have been an UPGRADE because no fuzz-creating digital keystone correction would be needed, making it's 800x600 display crisper and better.
This unit performed OK but not great in a brighter room. Heavy fluorescent lighting washed it out 70%. Warmer (and fewer) incandescent lights let it still show it's defined borders and perform well enough.
Next, brightness: this unit was *just* not quite bright enough to watch (and enjoy) darker movies like Dark Crystal or any given Harry Potter...almost but not quite. I could turn it on to the "TV" mode and it would brighten up, but the fan would run noticeably louder, which was not acceptable for me.
That's another thing - fan noise...it is not without fan noise. I was looking for a projector that would not heat up my small, poorly ventilated media room, and this is GREAT for that, but I was also looking to cut down on fan noise. It definitely cut it DOWN from the Infocus IN24+ (by half or more in sheer subjective decibels), but it certainly does not do away with it. I was a little disappointed by that, but understand any projector is going to have some fan noise, LED or not.
IN ANY EVENT...I returned this this as it was just not going to work for me in a home theater environment. If I was a business traveler or needed something I could easily set up and then spirit away, I'd definitely keep it, because it appears to be one of the very best "all around" for that purpose.
I think if your budget is a solid $300-350, you will want to go with the FAVI Entertainment RioHD-LED-3T Home Theater Projector for sure. It appears to be the best available, matching the resolution specs of $600+ LG units, and nearly meeting the brightness requirements (and of course, being half the price).
I, on the other hand, ended up talking my wife into paying TWICE as much as this unit to get the Optoma's ML500, WXGA, 500 Lumen, Mobile LED Projector, which is both highly reviewed and has plenty of YouTube videos showcasing it's native widescreen, high resolution and bright-room ability to not be completely washed out (far from perfect, but better than many). I was not thrilled about venturing so far outside of my "usual range" in price, but I figured we would treat ourselves for once. Hopefully that is the end of the line for me, as I am ready to sit down and watch some movies finally.