Canon Realis SX60
Nov 1, 2006 12:00 PM, BY Jeff Sauer
Versatile LCoS projector delivers crisp text, graphics, and video.
Last spring, Canon debuted three new AISYS projectors at NAB — the Realis SX60, SX6, and X600. (AISYS is Canon's “Aspectual Illumination System” version of liquid crystal on silicon, or LCoS.) Together, those three models represent not only Canon's second generation of LCoS, but also an affirmation of LCoS itself. Considered about two years ago to be on the brink of technological death, LCoS is now gaining market share and consumer favor through products from JVC (known as D-ILA in those products), Sony (known as SXRD), and Canon, among others.
LCoS has always had a great reputation for achieving high native resolutions, and the new Realis SX60 continues that trend with a native SXGA+ (1400×1050) resolution that yields sharp and crisp images. The challenge with LCoS has always been price/performance, but the SX60's price of $5,999 is about as good as you'll find for SXGA+. If you're looking for a projector that can deliver nice, clean business text and presentation graphics, as well as good-looking video, the Realis SX60 is a real value.
Of Canon's three newer models, the Realis SX60 is the most direct successor to Canon's initial AISYS model, the Realis SX50 (still available for $4,999). The Realis SX6 ($6,999) is brighter at 3500 lumens, while the Realis X600 is more affordable ($3,999) and has an XGA resolution. By the basic specs, the SX60 may not seem like much of an upgrade over the older SX50 because it has the same native SXGA+ resolution and the same brightness and contrast specs of 2500 lumens and 1000:1, respectively.
Yet, of the three new projectors, it's the SX60 that best tries to find a balance between high-quality presentation materials and accurate color and video. An awkwardly-named “Home Cinema” mode (this is designed as a business, not a home theater, projector) shifts colors from bright and penetrating, as would be desirable for business presentations, to much closer to the CIE 1931 reference. Home Cinema mode also pushes the contrast from the normal 1000:1 up to 2000:1.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
The SX60 actually has five presets for color settings — Standard, Presentation, Movie, sRGB, and Home Cinema — and each can be individually adjusted. Somewhat surprisingly, all but Home Cinema push greens and reds toward yellow for more brightness, although the Standard and Presentation modes do it the most. Standard and Presentation modes also push magenta far toward blue and cyan toward white, again for higher brightness and more vibrant presentation graphics.
However, the Home Cinema mode moves green, red, magenta, and cyan much closer — indeed, very close — to the 1931 reference, as does sRGB, although green and yellow stay too close together. The caveat is that the Home Cinema mode also dramatically reduces brightness to a mere 368 ANSI lumens down from the SX60's standard brightness, which I measured as 2104 ANSI lumens across the entire image. (In Presentation mode, the SX60 gets up to 2317 ANSI lumens.) Of course, if you're watching video in a light-controlled environment, that 368 lumens could very well be bright enough. But it's not ideal for showing video in a brightly lit conference room. For that, you'll probably select either the Movie or sRGB presets, which lower the brightness by only about 20 percent from the Standard mode.
The SX60 does an excellent job with contrast ratio, although it's highly dependent on the mode. In Standard mode, I measured full-on/off contrast at 766:1, and ANSI checkerboard contrast was a very strong 279:1. In Home Cinema mode, the SX60 is even more impressive. My full-on/off measurement shot up to 1870:1 and ANSI checkerboard to a marvelous 420:1. The other modes' contrast ratios generally reflected an inverse relationship to brightness. Even better, the SX60's LCoS light engine does a much nicer job at retaining detail in darker grays than typical DLP-based models — the LCoS engine adds about 10 IRE to the visible range of grayscales.
There are some other improvements moving from the SX50 to the SX60. Oddly, the new chassis for all three of the new Realis projectors is between 1.5lbs. to 2lbs. heavier than that of the SX50. It's also a little narrower side to side, but longer front to back. The larger chassis is probably designed to aid the cooling of the brighter 270W NSH lamp in the 3500-lumen SX6, but it might have also helped allow Canon to reduce the lamp wattage from the 200W of the SX50 to the 180W of the SX60 without losing lumens.
Connectivity in the SX60 is about the same with DVI, 15-pin RGB, composite, and S-Video. As before, Canon supplies a 15-pin to DVI cable to allow two analog computer sources to be connected simultaneously and a 15-pin to 3xRCA component cable for video inputs. Canon has added an optional 15-pin to 5xBNC cable for component video or RGBHV.
Most importantly, the SX50 I tested more than a year ago (see svconline.com/mag/avinstall_canon_realis_sx) clearly had a preference for digital inputs. Thankfully, that is no longer the case with the SX60. There is no more of the noise and sync problems of the older model's analog inputs, and the sharpness from both analog and digital computer sources is very good. I did notice some rather overt moiré effects on 1×1 pixel test patterns and resolution charts from an Extron VTG 400 test pattern generator, but for the most part, the SX60 did a very good job scaling video from a variety of resolutions. Interestingly, the moiré patterns did not go away when the Extron fed a 1400×1050 analog signal to the SX60.
Overall, the SX60 delivers excellent sharpness, particularly on data like spreadsheet and document text and computer graphics, and it's a direct result of the added pixels of the LCoS imaging. That pays off in video images, as well, but the SX60's 4:3 aspect ratio is evidence enough that Canon is targeting business usage more than video.
Still, the Realis SX60 reflects Canon's realization that just delivering sharp text and presentation slides isn't enough anymore for a lot of users. Whether that means showing video material as part of business communications or having business people take a projector home on weekends to view movies or sports, today's projectors need to display both text and video. That's where the Realis SX60 is at its smartest.
Company: Canon www.usa.canon.com
Product: Realis SX60
Pros: High native resolution for sharp text and graphics, presets quickly adjust settings for video and other material.
Cons: Not native 16:9, Home Cinema preset is only 368 lumens.
Applications: Business applications where good video is desired.
Projection Type: Three 0.7in. LCoS
Brightness: 2500 ANSI lumens
Native Resolution: SXGA+ (1400×1050)
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Compatibility: Component, S-Video, composite, DVI-I; 1080i, 720p
Noise Level: 27dB (silent mode)
Audio: 1W mono
Zoom Lens: 1.7X, powered with autofocus
Digital Keystone Correction: ±20° vertical and horizontal
Screen Size: 40in.-300in.
Projector Weight: 10.4lbs.
Dimension: (H×W×D) 4.5"×8.9"×13.2"
Warranty: Three years