Planar 7060 - A 720p Darkchip3 DLP Home Theater Projector - Overview
The obvious first question is: Who is Planar?
It is rare to see a new company enter the home theater projector market, and we recognise most of the home theater projector manufacturers as huge overseas conglomerates, with Sony, Sanyo, Optoma, BenQ, Panasonic, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi projectors being some of the dominant brands. Then of course, there are a few US companies, mostly high end like Runco/Vidikron, some EU companies, like SIM2, and of course the best recognized US name in projectors, InFocus.
So, who is Planar?
First clue - they are located in Oregon, home of InFocus.
2nd clue - many of their management personell are former InFocus execs and managers.
Planar is hardly a new company. They've been around for 20+ years or so, focusing on display systems. (I believe many of their folks originally came from Tektronics). As far as display systems go, I believe medical has been their primary specialty. However now, with key projector people on board, including Scott Hix, InFocus'es Senior VP of International sales, and also InFocus'es chief poduct designer Bob Williams, just to name a couple. In fact, it has been written, that InFocus, formed in 1986, was started by people originally from Planar. I guess what goes around - comes around.
So we have a new player, and while hardly a company the size of Sony, or Panasonic, Planar is a respectable sized, publicly traded company, with revenues last year of over $200 million, not exactly your neighborhood garage operation.
The last piece of general information, I should mention, is that Planar is marketing through selected medium and high end home theater specialist dealers, so don't expect to see much of their product at big online resellers. Planar is also rolling out business projectors, but I am not yet aware of how they plan to market those.
Enough, time to focus on the Planar products, and the Planar 7060 in particular.
Planar is rolling out several (6projectors over the next couple of months, with the 7060 being one of the first. I chose the 7060 for our first review of a Planar projector, because it is almost certainly the most affordable Darkchip 3 DLP projector available through high quality, installation focused, local dealers. I'm looking forward to also reviewing (especially after working with the 7060), with their 1080p entries, when they launch.
The Planar 7060, is a "classic" 720p DLP projector. The very first thing you notice about the Planar 7060, as you unbox it, is that it is one of the best looking projectors out there. In fact, for basic styling it's a winner, with it's only serious competition for "looks" being the closest InFocus competitors - the IN76 and IN78 (the new IN78 uses a Darkchip3 DLP, like the 7060) - both also great looking projectors.
The Planar 7060 runs on the TI Darkchip3 DLP processor, and like all but the most expensive 720p DLP projectors, it lacks lens shift, and it has a zoom lens with a rather limited throw range. As I said - a classic.
Despite one serious problem with the pre-production projector I received (not to worry, more on that later), overall performance of the Planar 7060, was extremely impressive. In a world where entry level 720p DLP projectors now start under $1000, and Darkchip 3 projectors are at least for a little bit longer, all over $2000 (in the US), this Planar projector seems to be a cut above, and can ligitimately command its $2995 selling price. In that regard, since you would get the Planar 7060 from a local dealer, it starts looking like a real bargain for those of you who prefer to deal with a local dealer that offers full support, installation expertise, etc.
Why do I say that? Well, typical local dealer lines can be very expensive. Marantz's entry level Darkchip2 DLP is a thousand more than the Darkchip 3 7060, and their Darkchip3 is $10,999. Yamaha starts at around $5000, and twice that for a Darkchip3 model. Runco, Vidikron and SIM2, barely even enter the under $10,000 market. In other words, local dealers rarely have a quality $3000 projector to offer, let alone one with Darkchip3 technology inside. The only otherrelatively affordable Darkchip3 projector that I can think of in the local dealer (CEDIA) environment is the new InFocus IN78, which we hope to review late March, and the IN78 is priced higher.
Feeling rich? Strangely, the Planar 7060 is only one of four 720p projectors they are rolling out. There is a similar 7010, with the Darkchip2, and also two higher end (and more expensive) projectors - the Planar 7130 and 7150 (both offer lens shift, and higher contrast still).
I say strangely, for having four 720p projectors in a lineup is a lot. Only Optoma comes to mind, with that many. Most companies have 1 (Panasonic, BenQ as examples) or two (most other competitors, including Sanyo, Epson). InFocus has three, but that's counting their 3 chip SP777 now only $9999!
Let's get started! (finally!)
Planar 7060 Home Theater Projector: Basic Specs
Technology: Darkchip 3 DLP technology
Native Resolution: 720p (1280x720)
Brightness: 1000 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.16:1
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 4000 hours
Weight: 8.8 lbs.
Warranty: 2 years Parts and Labor
Planar 7060 Home Theater Physical Tour
Facing the Planar 7060, the zoom lens which as a minimal 1.16:1 zoom ratio, is found on the right. The outer ring controls focus, and the inner ring, the zoom. To fill a 100" diagonal 16:9 screen, he projector can be placed (measured to the front of the lens), as close as 13 feet, 2 inches or as far back as 15 feet, 3 inches.
In the center, at the bottom is a single drop down, adjustable foot, just below the release button. Also on the front, to the right of the lens is the 7060's infra-red sensor, for the remote control.
Moving to the top of the Planar 7060, you will find a round control panel. Above (closer to the front) the control panel, is a single backlit power button. The control panel itself is fairly small, not much more than 2 inches in diameter. An Enter button is surrounded by four arrow keys. In addition there is an outer ring, that at the top has a curved bar for Source and at the bottom a similar curved bar for opening the Menus.
Interesting I should note, is that the Power button pressed once turns the projector on (standard). Pressing it whe on, however turns it off, bringing up a message to press again - to cancel power off. The standard protocol out there is press twice for off. Ahh, but who cares!
Overall that provides basic functionality, although I found the recessed bars and buttons to be somewhat difficult to navigate. You almost have to press some on angles. No high marks for the Planar 7060 control panel. Fortunately, most users rarely rely on the control panel, but use a projector's remote. A look at the remote and its capabilities is in the General Performance section.
Venting is handled from the sides, normally a good thing for those wanting to shelf mount in the rear of their room. However, since there is no lens shift, and the zoom lens has a very limited zoom range, shelf mounting would be very unlikely, and if done at all the projector would have to mounted on a low shelf. The back left foot (looking from the rear, has a dial on the side to adjust it. Overall that gives the Planar 7060 a very adjustable, solid 3 point stance.
The back of the Planar 7060 houses all the inputs, as shown directly below.
The 7060 is a bit better equipped than the average home theater projector. In addition to an HDMI digital input, there is a second one with a DVI connector (the two are compatible signal wise - just a connector adapter is needed. Note that DVI does not carry audio like HDMI, but that really isn't an issue for a projector without speakers). There is also a standard analog computer input, that can accept a computer signal or a component video source, and there is a separate component video input (the usual 3 color coded RCA jacks). Of course you'll find the two standard low resolution inputs - composite video and S-video. To round out the connectors, there is a USB, and also an RS-232 for external control of the projector. Lastly there is a 12 volt trigger for controlling suitably equipped motorized projector screen, and the obligatory power cord receptical. Bottom line, for high resolution sources, you can have two digital sources plus either two component video, or a component video and an analog computer. Not bad at all.
Overall, the Planar 7060 is a very compact, and stylish projector in a shiney black piano finish.
Time to see how the Planar 7060 performs in terms of image quality!