Cigar Aficionado

SIM2 C3X Grand Cinema

Remember the first time you saw a large-screen projection television? A huge box with three lenses (one for each color shade) sat on the floor and cast its image onto a weird curved screen that showed a weird curved image that was typically blurred and, unless the room was totally dark, faded. Well, forget that and get acquainted with the state of the art in projection video represented by the SIM2 C3X Grand Cinema, the smallest three-chip, DLP-based projector in the world.

The Grand Cinema combines a compact and slick Italian-designed package with the Texas Instrument DLP (for digital light processing) technology usually found in much larger projectors. SIM2 created a system it calls ALPHA-Path to fold the light path within the unit with fine prisms that maintain clarity. The result is an amazing 6,500-to-1 contrast ratio, or, in laymen's terms, an exquisite picture. The DLP system boasts a capability of 35 trillion colors (eight times that of film) and in the C3X each one seems to pop with brilliance even while the black is dark and solid. Even in a lighted room it was easy to see. Picture size seems governed only by the size of the room and the screen you project on. Zoom in on video of a waterfall and you'll swear you're watching every molecule cascade and glisten off the rocks. Standard television and DVDs get a huge boost when piped through the C3X, but it's with high-definition video that your retinas will be blown out of your eye sockets. I found myself glued to public television just for the chance to luxuriate in art documentaries as the camera pored over oil canvases. It was hard to keep from licking the screen image of a certain confectionary fruit bowl still life.

The unit connects with simplicity straight out of the box. The many jacks on the rear panel support all major input types, including composite video, S-video, RGB/YPrPb, Graphics RGB and HDMI. SIM2 also offers a choice of lenses. In addition, the unit can control your retractable projection screen. But you'll need an audio unit. (A high-end surround-sound system is the obvious choice.)

While the price may seem stratospheric at $15,990, it's a significant reduction from other comparable technology and even SIM2's own prices. Other value-oriented features include future-proof inputs: USB and RS232 ports on the C3X allow you to download the latest control software as it becomes available.