Samsung premiers the Samsung Premier – two new laser 4K smart TV projectors

Laser TV projectors are the next big thing as big-screen entertainment options in a COVID movie theatre-less world. Samsung Premier, LSP9T ($10,999) and LSP7T ($5,999) both with optional screens at extra cost have joined the fray.

As we are unlikely to review this product, we have dived a bit deeper for the announcement, including a thorough analysis of international reviews.

Now before you get excited at 100″ or more screen GadgetGuy is not ready to give any projector brand the ‘tick’.

Why? Because 4K laser projectors do not substitute for an LED/LCD, Quantum Dot or OLED TV. They are for specific use cases in media rooms or areas where you have excellent ambient light control.

When they are equal to, or better than TVs for general use, we will let you know.

But as long as you know what to look for then, we have done our job.

Brief comparison – Samsung Premier Laser TV

ITEM LSP7T LSP9T
Cost $5,999 plus screen $10,999 plus screen
4K Yes, fixed focal length lens Same
Screen size support 90-120″ nominally 100″
16:9 format
100-130″ nominally 120″
Minimum distance from screen for 100″ image 303mm (415mm for 120″) 113mm (240mm for 130″)
Light source Single blue Laser 60Hz
Estimate 20,000 hours at 50% brightness
Eye protection mode
Triple red, green, blue laser
Same
Colour type DLP Texas instruments with RGBY colour wheel DLP Texas Instruments 0.66 DMD – no colour wheel used
Peak Brightness* 2200 ANSI Lumen or 640 nits 2800 ANSI Lumen or 817 nits
Maximum Contrast 1000:1 1500:1
Modes Dynamic, Standard, Movie, Film Maker Mode Same
Gamut Not published but tested to 83% DCI-P3 147% DCI-P3 106% BT2020
HDR** HDR (decodes HDR10+ signals but SDR) HDR10+ certified (decodes HDR10+ to display at the brightness capabilities of device)
HLG support when TV transmission adopts this
Colours/tones 16.7m 16.7m
Sound*** 30W 2.2 channel
Left, Right tweeters 5W each
2 woofers x 10W each
40W 4.2 channel
Same .
Plus 2 acoustic beam tweeters 5W each
Comms Wi-Fi 5, Ethernet, and BT 4.2, USB-A 2.0, Optical Same
HDMI 3
It supports eARC on one HDMI so is likely version 2.0
Same
Tuner Single DVB-T2 with Freeview support Same
Power use at nominal 50 cents per hour 320W
Approx. price 16 cents/hr
420W 21 cents/hr
Voice support Bixby or Alexa Same
Remote Samsung Smart Remote BT Same
Size 532.0 x 132.7 x 342.0 mm x 9.1kg 550.0 x 141.0 x 367.0 mm x 11.5kg

Brightness *

We believe it is flawed for any projector maker (and most do) to quote ANSI Lumens, particularly where reflected light from a passive screen is concerned. Nits are a better indication when compared to a TV.

Nits (approximate)

  • Dark <50
  • Dusk to early Night 100-200
  • Daylight indoor shade to overhead lights 200-500
  • Ambient indoor under office lights 400-500
  • Indirect sunlight (in the shade) 500+
  • Task lighting 700-1000
  • Outdoor daylight >1000

Samsung defaults to 50% brightness (you can increase that) to increase laser lifespan to 20K hours. That is about 320/400nits (from 640/817). As you can see any projector struggles when ambient light is higher than the projector brightness.

We quote Projector Central,

The projectors use the ANSI lumens brightness parameter, which is not equal to the classical Lumen. Although it does not matter, projectors up to ANSI 4000 lumens are designed for use in rooms without bright external lighting. Simply put, Samsung projectors are for use in a darkened room.

Contrast

Samsung quote contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1. It has no real-world relevance apart from to look spectacular. Similarly, the contrast figures are measured in a <100 nit dark room at 100% brightness.

Samsung uses the flawed theoretical FOMO (Full on/Full-Off at the light source) – as do many other projector makers.

The real contrast is, at best, 1000:1 and 1500:1. Some international reviews have tested this and max out at 860:1 and 1100:1 respectively under real-world tests.

Picture and HDR **

The LSPT7 has insufficient nits and contrast to adequately display High Dynamic Range (HDR – one step up from Standard Dynamic Range). Instead, it can decode HDR/10/+ and display it to the device’s capabilities. It discards any scene-by-scene metadata and sets static tone mapping at the beginning of the content.

The LSP9T is HDR10+ certified, but that usually requires 4000 nits and 8-bit (16.7M) colours.

Samsung and Amazon introduced HDR10+ in 2017 as a ‘license-free’ alternative to Dolby Vision.

Reviews state that it cannot reach that level, but it can decode dynamic metadata that allows scene-by-scene dynamic tone mapping.

It is not Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos capable – it downmixes to the device’s capabilities.

Picture modes

While it sounds great to have modes – Dynamic, Standard, Movie, Film Maker Mode – each has its compromises. We have not seen the projector, but we understand

Dynamic Mode (default): Maximum brightness and oversaturated colours that are far less accurate and lead to a shorter laser life. Ideal higher levels of ambient light (say 400-500 nits) content colour accuracy and contrast are less important such as SDR television, sports, cartoons and video games.

Standard Mode: More natural colours, e.g., colours are not blown out or details crushed in the blacks as Dynamic Mode does.

Movie mode: Far less bright than Standard Mode with far less vivid colours. It is a more accurate DCI-P3 mode without the enhanced vibrancy found in Dynamic or even Standard Mode.

Film Maker Mode: it presents in 24fps, disables motion smoothing, noise reduction, sharpening, and other image enhancements to preserve the filmmakers intended aspect ratios, colours, and frame rates. Only for use in darkened <100 nit rooms.

Sound ***

Again, all brand TV/projector makers quote total Watts RMS. The figures sound impressive, but this simply means that 2.2 (four) or 4.2 (six) amplifiers will generally produce a maximum of 75-80dB in a typical lounge room. International reviews report noticeable distortion at approx. 75% of volume. They also report no <100Hz bass as a ‘woofer’ is not a sub-woofer.

Despite the website claim, ‘You’ll always get epic sound to match the epic visual experience’ the fact is you won’t get any better than a TV with a similar RMS rating.

Neither support Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos (or passthrough to a soundbar). Both support Dolby Digital Plus DD+ sound up to 5.1 channels – Left (L), Right (R), Centre (C), Left Surround (Ls), and Right Surround (Rs). It does not have any spatial height characteristics like Dolby Atmos.

If a DD+ sound stream is via Netflix or a Blue-ray each unit downmixes to stereo Left/Right 2.0) speakers. The LSP9T has two acoustic beam tweeters (also Left and Right) that help to widen the sound stage a little – they are not additional channels. Caveat – these also need sidewall to bounce off to really achieve that.

Our advice. You are likely to need a 5.1 non-Atmos soundbar for an immersive experience and <100Hz bass. Don’t waste money on an Atmos soundbar. As it is non-Atmos, you can use Optical out to save an HDMI port.

Mounting

All ultra-short-throw projectors suffer if mounted at standard sideboard height of 500-750mm.

To put that in simple English. If you sit on a lounge chair, your eyes will be between 900-1000 mm from the floor. A 100″ 16:9 screen has dimensions of 2214 x 1245mm high (plus any bezel). If the screen is in the correct viewing position, the bottom will be about 300-350mm off the floor, and the laser needs to be below that. Ideally the cabinet it sits on should only be a maximum of 150mm high for proper on-angle viewing.

Samsung Premier

Screen

The prices do not include a screen. Samsung states that you can use a flat white or bright monotone wall in a dark room without setting up an added screen.

Well, you can, but you won’t get near the brightness, contrast and experience of using a screen. And it picks up every minor paintbrush defect too. To quote Projector Central

Although Samsung states that viewing is possible on any white wall, the quality will be poor.

Samsung recommends an Aeon CLR (Ceiling Light Rejecting) projection screen from Elite Screens (sold separately). These are specifically for ultra-short-throw projectors.

Samsung Premier

Aeon CLR

  • Double the contrast enhancement over standard matte white screens (flat white)
  • .6 gain (reflects more light than the laser provides)
  • Rejects ambient light from above
  • Increases viewing angles slightly
  • Has an LED backlight edge LED kit and remote

Prices exclude delivery, assembly and install

Model Number Nominal Diagonal Aspect Ratio View Height (cm) View Width (cm) Gain Screen Material RRP
AR100H-CLR 100″ 16:9 124.9 221.8 0.6 StarBright CLR $2999
AR120H-CLR 120″ 16:9 149.6 265.6 0.6 StarBright CLR $3499

Note that there is no 130″ screen.

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Texas Instruments .66 DMD chip

There is a fair bit of controversy over this chip. In fact, it only has 2716 x 1528 or 4.15 million mirrors (pixels) where true 4K needs 8.3 million (3840 x 2160 pixels). The chip pixel shifts via optical diagonal off-shifting of the pixels on sequential refreshes so that there is a partial overlapping of the pixels on the second pass.

Or to put it in English

There is a single optical element (lens) “wobulating” the whole image to get the shift. In 1/120 sec the chip’s 2MP projects the first image and the next 1/120 sec they make another complete 2MP image and the optical actuator shifts it diagonally to complete the 4MP in one refresh interval of 1/60 sec.

Samsung Premier

Now before you condemn Samsung, it is how most 4K projectors work. Many others have to quadruple the count (using the .47″ DMD) from 1080p.

In other words, at typical 100″ viewing distances of 4-5 metres, it tricks your eyes into believing its 4K – or at least a semblance thereof. If you use real 4K content it still only has a 2K DLP downmix.

Compared to a quality 4K TV with 8.3 million real pixels, the difference is most obvious when viewing fine lines or textures like hair or fabrics.

The LSP9T uses three lasers, and the lower cost LSP7T uses one with an RGBY colour wheel. Ironically the lower-cost colour wheel apparently delivers slightly more crisp images than three converging lasers.

Gaming mode

No lag figures are published, but we understand they are around 90ms (normal) and with games mode enabled for 53ms.

TV interface – Tizen

It provides most of Samsung TV smart TV features. And we assume that it includes the 720/1080p upscale to 2K and then pixel shifting to 4K equivalent.

GadgetGuy’s take – 4K projectors like the Samsung Premier series suit specific use cases.

Whether its Samsung, LG, Hisense, Epson, BenQ, Sony or others don’t be overwhelmed by marketing hype. The facts are that ultra-short-throw projectors only work in rooms with good ambient light control – not the typical Aussie open plan living spaces.

Having said that the LSP9T seems to be one of the better ultra-short-throw projectors around.

In typical use, both models compare quite poorly to standard LED/LCD, Quantum Dot or OLED TV for brightness, colour saturation and impact.

Put them in a dark media room or man cave, and they are fine.

Before you buy a projector, ask yourself what you want it to do?

  • Do you need Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (mandatory if you are a movie aficionado)? If you want the above, these do not passthrough Dolby Atmos sound to an Atmos soundbar nor display Dolby Vision
  • Can you adequately control the light from overhead, side, windows, and doors? If your lounge light is around 400 nits (typical office light) or has LED/Halogens overhead (up to 2500 nits) then forget it.
  • And take it from a reviewer – every projector needs the right screen! So be prepared to invest in a screen, projector, low cabinet, soundbar and blackout curtains if you really want a 100″ plus immersive experience.

Options

Obviously, screen size, not picture quality, is the driver. On paper, the LSP7T compares with any SDR TV and the LSP9T with any HDR TV.

A quick visit to JB Hi-Fi shows 75″, and above TVs range from $1,995 to $15,995.

In fact, Hisense has 2019 100″ 100S8 TV at $12,995 which has to be the large screen bargain right now. It is Dolby Vision/Atmos/HDR, 1.7 billion colours, 100% DCI-P3, and you can use it a bright lounge.

Or its 100″ Laser TV 100L5F 2020 (review here 4/5) but it uses the .47 1080p DMD chip.

Or if you want the connoisseur’s TV

  • Samsung have the 84” Q80T ($6,495), 82” Q800T ($8,995) and 75” Q950T ($10,995)
  • Sony has the 77″ A9G OLED ($7995 superb)
  • LG Nano99 75″ 8K ($5,995 and so tempting)
  • LG Nano91 86″ 4K ($5495 and probably the lower cost premium TV on the market)

Just shop around – you may do even better.

Pro

Samsung Smart TV OS features including a Freeview Tuner (requires Internet for streaming)

Limited keystone adjustment means recalibration every time you move it

The LSP9T is the one to go for as it is HDR10+ certified

Con

No Dolby Vision or Atmos passthrough or display

Not as good in >400 nit lighting

Stereo 2.0 sound system (regardless of what it is called) and apparently distorts at 75%+ volume

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