BenQ PE8720 Darkchip3 DLP Home Theater Projector

Moving to the Star Wars DVD, the BenQ is just loaded with stars. You can see first one image shot of the BenQ PE8720 projector, and then, four side by side images. On the side-by-side images, the BenQ PE8720 projector is on the left. The first side by side image (planet, stars, ship) compares the BenQ home theater projector with the low cost Panasonic PT-AE900u, the second (Phila., boat house), is the Optoma H78DC3, and third one (Chrysler building at dusk), the Marantz VP-12S4. (It sure is nice to have all three of those available for this review!).

Further down, this BenQ PE8720 projector takes on the less expensive HD2+ BenQ PE7700 and you can see a huge difference in the star scene – you will have to get close and look hard, but the difference is large when you do!

On the shot from the clone factory (immediately below), the sharpness of the BenQ projector becomes apparent, compared to the Panasonic, also you can see more detail in the vertical light columns on the right side of the images.

Lastly are a couple of shots from the Hawaiian Tropic Hi-Def. The stage shot (vs Marantz) is challenging because of bright whites, and lots of dark areas, and the BenQ manages to handle it very well. Lots of shadow detail, without the whites getting crushed (loss of near white detail). Unfortunately, my digital camera has less dynamic range than these projectors do, so a single image can’t reveal both. (This also true for the Sin City shots.)

One more image of note between the BenQ projector and the Panasonic. This night shot from Star Wars on Tatooine, shows a real difference. Look at the cliff face on the right side. The BenQ (left) produces plenty of detail, which is lost on the Panasonic (this despite the claimed 5500:1 contrast ratio on the Panasonic. Don’t get me wrong, the Panasonic is one truly impressive projector for around $2000, but despite some conjecture out there about it’s ability to take on the much more expensive Darkchip3 DLP projectors, it’s just not up to it.

Most importantly, the BenQ provided the best image I have yet had in my house from any single chip DLP or 3 chip LCD, with the possible exception of the Marantz, and there I found that the BenQ produced a slightly higher contrast but more dynamic looking image (which I prefer), with the BenQ projector looking better on most scenery, but the Marantz having a slight edge on flesh tones.

Let me put it this way. Don’t be surprised to read in a month or so that I have chosen to replace my PE8700+ with the PE8720 projector. I had planned on the Optoma H78DC3 (which would require moving my ceiling mount – no easy feat with a 19.5 foot ceiling, to accommodate the different lens throw.) I have been waiting for the PE8720 figuring I could get a Darkchip3 projector with a similar throw range to my PE8700+. So, I have waited. Well, turns out, the PE8720 has a throw similar to the Optoma, and therefore also requires the same reworking of my ceiling installation.

At this point, if there are no surprises, it looks like the PE8720 is going to be my choice. The extra few thousand $$$, I think is worth it, especially in light of my large screen (128″ motorized Firehawk), and close sitting distances (11 feet to the front seats, 20 to the rear). The difference in sharpness is visible even on DVD, but especially on HDTV. Even at 11 feet, the high def, is razor sharp!

Bottom line. The production PE-8720 should have have the settings closer to ideal. There is, however, little doubt in my mind that the image quality the BenQ PE-8720 produces, makes it a value in the $5000 – $15,000 DLP projector range.

Please note, that this main review offers a great deal of information not found on the update, including the “physical tour”, image quality, performance, and warranty information. The Summary, Pros and Cons link below has been updated to reflect the updated review.

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