The best home theaters are the ones that make you scoff at the very notion of going to an actual theater.
The key ingredient: a pro-grade projector, something that bathes the dark end of your living room in such jaw-dropping color and clarity, you’ll routinely find neighbors at your door holding popcorn and candy.
The M-Vision Cine 230 is among the few projectors to accomplish that without the need for a second mortgage. Digital Vision’s big, homely black box relies on a single chip, so it costs significantly less than most three-chip models. But you’d never know that from the eye-drenching colors it splashes on the screen.
The big screen, that is. The Cine 230 pairs nicely with 10-footers — its bundled 1.85-2.40 lens offers plenty of zoom variety to help with placement. The company also offers substitute lenses if you need shorter or longer throws.
Your installer will especially appreciate the ample horizontal and vertical lens shift, which is adjusted manually using a special wrench. You probably won’t need to fiddle with these settings more than once, but obviously it would be easier if you could control them using a remote rather than an easily misplaced tool.
The 1080p, 1,000-lumen Cine 230 has all the connectivity basics covered, though it comes with just two HDMI ports. This is a potential problem if you plan to venture beyond, say, your TiVo and Xbox. Sure, you could always hook up an overpriced switch box, but this projector’s hulking shell could easily have accommodated two or three more ports.
Just for kicks, I paired the projector with a cheapie Insignia Blu-ray player and a not-so-cheap ZVOX Z-Base 575 for audio. Watching Toy Story 3 with this setup was enough to make me weep — and not just because Andy turned out to be such a great kid. The color saturation was spot-on enough to please a Pixar animator.
Other demo movies, including Inglourious Basterds and Star Trek, looked equally bedazzling, though the latter revealed the Cine 230’s only real shortcoming: even with a 3,000:1 contrast ratio, it can’t do really deep blacks. The void of outer space looked more like the void of outer dark-gray.
Only the most persnickety videophiles will care or even notice. For everyone else, the Cine 230 offers cinema-quality images for a matinee price.
Photo courtesy of Digital Projection