LCOS 1400 Remote Control & Calibration
The MAXX LCOS 1400 remote control is about as basic as it gets. No backlight, no direct input selection, and no frills. What it does offer is direct access to keystone functions, menu access, volume and input selections (two buttons for cycling through "PC" labeled inputs or "Video" inputs. The PRESET button should really be labeled "Reset" since that is all it does in the scheme of its functionality. There are not multiple user presets available for color temperature or the display settings, so do not confuse this button for anything having to do with recalling user preset functions.
There are FOCUS buttons on the remote, but they do not function with the LCOS 1400, which has manual-only focus. A HIDE button temporarily blanks the screen and mutes audio. Overall I found the remote to be very simplistic and uninteresting. One of the first things you'll want to do is get the commands into your universal learning remote and set it to the side. For installers this is a given so typically we don't place much weight on the remote control portion of a projector review at this price point.
Advanced Setup and Calibration
The LCOS 1400 offers you the standard Contrast, Brightness, Color, Tint, and Sharpness controls available on most displays. During my calibrations I ended up dropping the Brightness (black level) to -12 in order to get Video Essentials' pluge pattern down to where I felt it needed to be. The same menu that offers you basic video controls also provides a Color temp. option whereby you can select 6500, STD, or User (where you can adjust Red/Green/Blue parameters.) I set the projector to 6500 and proceeded to run some basic calibration tests using the M ilori ColorFacts System.
As you can see from the above results, the LCOS 1400 passed our color balance and grayscale uniformity tests without breaking too much of a sweat. The Temperature Histogram is fairly flat. The luminance Histogram shows a consistent ramp from 0 to 100 IRE. The RGB levels are not quite uniform throughout the luminance range, however they are tolerable, with red tending to dip down gradually as luminance increases. Since we were on a rushed review schedule I didn't even bother attempting to improve the performance of the projector. It would likely take going into the service menu to make further adjustments as RGB adjustments are not readily available as such in the user menu.
The CIE Chart was another good test to run so as to provide a bird's eye view of the gamut of color reproduction capable with this display. As you can see, there is very little the M AXX LCOS 1400 fails to represent accurately. This is the science or testing behind the color comments you will hear later regarding the performance of this projector.
The contrast ratio for this projector is said to be 900:1. We measured a solid 607:1 - which is simply an impressive ratio, though it is primarily due to the excellent light output of this unit and the conditions by which this measurement were taken. Remember, that while a CRT display may have better black level reproduction, it will also likely measure under 300:1 in terms of its overall contrast ratio. In this sense, the LCOS 1400 really has some dynamics.
If you're an old film buff, then for an advanced feature I recommend setting up the single User Color Temp setting to 5500K so that when watching black and white movies you can do it with the warmer, more natural color temperature. On occasion my wife and I will watch an older black and white film, and it simply doesn't look right at 6500K. Dropping the color temperature here will yield that soft, almost Sepia tone that makes up the true look of black and white film as it was seen originally in theaters. It might be tough to pull off without a Colorimeter, but installers can always opt for this functionality if they want to add a nice touch to the installation.
Viewing Evaluation - Where Do You Sit?
We didn't have a lot of time to view the LCOS 1400, so we dove right in and watched several movies and high-definition television programs over a period of 2-3 weeks. For our viewing we found that sitting at a distance of 1x the screen width was actually possible and presented a very satisfying "big screen" effect. While this was possible, and no interpixel spacing was noticeable, we did spend the majority of our viewing time situated at our typical viewing distance of 1.5x the screen width. Remember that there is a ratio, different for each of us, that tells us just what we consider to be "big screen." Here's the formula:
Distance from Screen / Screen Width = Desired Big Screen Effect
That's the math - Now it's up to you to determine what your preference is. I have personally found that sitting 1.5 - 2 screen-widths back from a good LCD or DLP projection screen is ideal - with the exception that I will try to get even further away when watching movies that contain lots of handheld-style camera action, or standard definition content that simply looks "better" from farther away.
With that said, I recommend anywhere from a 1.0 to 2.0 ratio for the M AXX LCOS 1400. If you have an 87" wide screen like mine, that would mean you'd want to sit about 7.25 to 14.5 feet away from the screen (see the preceding formula). This projector truly does produce nicely saturated color with a seamless look. If you want to see pixel spacing you'll actually need to get within a few feet of the screen, assuming you're projecting on less than a 110" diagonal screen.