Proxima 5600 Projector 

It's Big and Small.

Words and pictures: Marcus

Model: Dina Marie 

So, you say you need a big TV? "Big" is a relative term. Lets talk the biggest TV you can buy. "But I don't have the space." You cry. "Yes you do." I say. The problem is that a 60" or larger rear projection TV takes up a lot of floor space and is a pain to move (200 lbs at least.). What is the alternative you ask? A front projector T. V. There are now a number of small projectors on the market. These things are terrific! They weigh between 6.5 to 20 lbs. (the 5600 weighs about 18 lbs.) and can project an image of up to 33 feet in diagonal size. Of course few people have a wall that big but a 9 or 10 foot screen is doable in most dinaProx1b.jpg (487143 bytes) homes. Just think about that for a second, a 108 inch television that you can carry in one hand. Dina Marie is carrying one to the left there.  The minimum size is about 3 feet before the focus become impossible. The Proxima 5600, like most projectors, can also accept standard 15 pin computer video connectors. This allows the projector to be used as a giant monitor with an 800 x 600 resolution. I wish I could invite all of you over to experience a demo of Grand Prix Legends or Alien vs. Predator. All video games become much more  immersing when you are looking at them 7 feet tall. There is also a muchdinprox2s.jpg (71002 bytes) more group environment when 5 or 6 people are sitting around the living room taking turns playing the game. It might be the super-nerdy women I hang out with, but when I have a dinner party it's the women that want to play the driving games rather than watch a movie. This never happened before the projector. One more thing about immersion in video games. If I stand up beside someone playing Colin McRae Rally and watch the screen, I find it hard to keep my balance. No joke. I have also had guests become very ill at the size and motion of the screen.

Dina Marie here is 5'8" and with her 4" heels on that makes her 6' even. You can see the scale of the screen.dincool4s.jpg (55549 bytes)


Getting on to movies. All I can say is Wow! Movies are meant to be shown large and this is the closest you can get to having your own theater. On a standard 31" T. V. I was annoyed by the black bands on the top and bottom of the screen that watching a letter box movie caused. But when the screen is 96" wide I don't mind at all.

The 5600 uses 3 LCD's (one for each; magenta, yellow and cyan) to display the image. Of course this image won't be seen unless light is passed through it. So a very bright and very hot light is broken up three ways by a prism and piped through out the projector. Once the light passes though the LCD's it gets recombined in to a single beam. This light stream is then sent to a final combination electric zoom & focus lens where it is spit out onto your view screen or wall. (As you can see the projector can project onto anything or any one.)dinaprox5s.jpg (55540 bytes) The Proxima uses magnesium chassis to make sure there is no movement of any of the LCD's, but during initial assembly if the LCD's do not line up perfectly, you will be able to see the miss alignment. This is shown by a color ghost around high contrast objects. Make sure you can send back any projector you buy. That tremendous amount of heat that the light creates has to be removed and the Proxima uses a fan to do it. A rather noisy fan. The last ln focus brand projector I tried, the 720, had a much more quiet fan. but the picture was 150 lumens darker and it wasn't 800 x 600 res. so the trade off is worth the noise. The fan noise is drowned out by the sound system any way. I'm not talking about the pitiful built in system that the Proxima comes with, that thing is useless. No, I'm talking about the cheap radio shack home theater system that is a minimum requirement to enjoy the projector. I'm not an audiophile by any means but sometimes when you increase stimuli to one of your senses, the others scream for attention. I tried watching a movie once with a boom box supplying the sound and it just wasn't much fun. I don't think you should even waste your time trying.

One more thing about the temperature problem. I mount the projector on my ceiling to get it out the way and since heat rises, the ceiling gets pretty toasty in the summer time. So much so that on a few hot days the Proxima would reach it's thermal limit and shut down. Another thing you can do is cut a hole in the wall just large enough to fit the lens of the projector (about three inches in diameter.). That way the noise and heat that is created is left in some other room and the viewing room gets the image. The projector is also great as a television as long as you use your VCR as the tuner, the Proxima doesn't have one on board. One small thing I have to mention is the large size of the screen shows any flaw in the cable signal.

Like a beautiful high maintenance woman, this projector will cost you. And just like the woman, the projector will make you the envy of all your friends. In my opinion, no matter what the projector costs, it's worth every penny. This is a great product despite the small heating and noise problems. You can buy them used too. About $2000 will get you a used Proxima 5600. That fancy light bulb that makes the whole thing work will cost proxlamp1s.jpg (37177 bytes) you $300 for every 2000 hours of use. (There's a picture of it to the left.) I guess some of you might find that an excessive expense, but you really have got to see it for yourself. Besides 2000 hours really means that you will have to change the bulb about once a year. You can also spend more up front on a new projector ($3000 for a Proxima UltraLight SVI) that gets twice the lamp life. This is a product I'm sure you'll enjoy, go get one now.