Runco Lightstyle LS-7 Projector Review
It's taken me 4 years to talk Runco out of a unit to review, but, at last, I present to you, the Runco LS-7 review. This Runco LS-7 projector is a 720p resolution 3 chip DLP. It happens to be the first 3 chip DLP we've reviewed in about 3+ years.
June 2010 - Art Feierman
Runco LS-7 Projector Overview
The Runco LS-7, is one of Runco's least expensive home theater projectors! True, Runco is owned by Planar now, and Planar does make a number of sub-$10,000 home theater projectors, but this 3 chip DLP is $15,495, and is the second most expensive home theater projector we've reviewed.
The last time I reviewed a 3 chip DLP home theater projector was the original SIM2 C3X. Back then, there were very few 1080p projectors. The Runco LS-7, like that old SIM2 projector starts with lots of lumens, and that is one of the most distiguishing factors separating the LS-7 from most of the other projectors we've reviewed.
The LS-7 looked really good, right out of the box, which is a good thing! As it turned out, it looked so good, and since it's so unlikely that anyone buying one would get it from a dealer who doesn't calibrate it, I almost didn't bother to do anything but measure its brightness. Later in the review you'll see some out of the box images, compared to my calibrated JVC RS20.
That's where things got complicated. I had just wanted to have Mike come over with his gear, and just take the grayscale measurements across the range from 20 IRE to 100 IRE (white). Unfortunately we did that in my larger theater - in the daytime. All the shades were down, but my blackout shades, do not have side channels and leak some light in the daytime. It's fine for sports but generally too bright for dark scenes in movies. Well, the dark rust colored walls were reflecting more than a touch of color to the optical sensor. In my real world, my Firehawk rejects most of that side light, but Mike's meter doesn't. The left side of the screen was picking up a good amount of rust colored reflectionsThe bottom line was measurements that are far warmer than I would have expected.
As a result, we did adjust settings to reflect what the meter was reading, but the resulting image was, in my opinion, definitely worse than the original.
Bottom line, I don't have any useful calibration settings for you, but do have good measurements of brightness. Unless you buy one used, you aren't likely to buy an LS-7 without the dealer or their favorite calibrator, working on it. That is, unless you can convince them that you have the calibration gear and skills, yourself. It's just the nature of a $15,000 projector, the costs of calibrating it will be slight compared to the benefits, and the overall theater costs, so, one way or another, it's going to get calibrated. Thus, you won't need our settings anyway.
One last thought before we get going. The LS-7 is rather awesome. I know it's lower resolution than my RS20, and while it has excellent black level performance, it's not quite up to my RS20, but despite those two things, the LS-7 looks great, virtually as sharp as my RS20, plus the huge lumen boost, has me telling Runco: If you'd like to have a used RS20 in exchange for this sample LS-7, "let's talk."
There, that should have gotten your attention.
LS-7 Projector Highlights
- Gorgeous color
- 3 chip DLP design (yes, just like the movie theaters)
- Brightest best mode home theater projector we've seen in years!
- Excellent black levels (uses dynamic iris)
- 720p resolution
- Relatively quiet projector
- Cable cover
Projector Specs for Runco LS-7
Technology: 3 chip DLP
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: 2000 lumens - claimed 1708 @ D65, measured: 1451 lumens
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.3:1 ( zoom and focus motorized)
Lens shift: Vertical and Horizontal (motorized)
Lamp life: 2500 hours in low power (which is only 12% less power than full)
Weight: 40.8 lbs. (18.5 Kg) (without lens)
Warranty: 2 Year Parts and Labor, advanced warranties available
Click for more complete projector specifications of the Runco LS-7 projector.
Runco LS-7 Special Features
3 Chip DLP Projector
Well, 3 chip projectors are so rare in our reviews that they merit a posting here, so I can provide some comments. For a decade 3 chip DLP projectors have dominated the high end of home theater, and, of course, almost all the digital cinema projectors in your favorite multi-plex, are also 3 chip DLP projectors. Interestingly, the other technologies used in projectors; LCD and LCoS, are 3 chip devices and relatively inexpensive, slugging it out with single chip DLP projectors.
By going to a 3 chip DLP configuration, compared to the single chip projectors means no more spinning color wheel. That also translates into a lot more brightness hitting the screen, since color wheels are terribly inefficient. You can also expect a more dynamic image, but black levels I don't believe get better for the 3 chip design. (None the less this projector is great when it comes to black levels). Often these "3 chippers" use larger DLP chips than the single chip projectors, and therefore you end up with a much larger projector, as a result of the larger chip size, and the light engine being split into three beams. (That's why single chip DLP's as a group are smaller than the 3 chip LCoS or LCD projectors.) Bottom line: One pays alot and expects a lot from a 3 chip DLP projector. I'm impressed, and this is Runco's entry level 3 chip 720p projector. Can't wait to see a "middle of the pack" 1080p...
Not a whole lot to report here. The LS-7 does take 24 fps and up it to 48 fps, but no other types of frame interpolation, including creative, are offered. In this regard, it's similar to a number of other quality projectors like my own older RS20 (the newer RS25 does offer CFI).
Constant Contrast is Runco's name for their dynamic iris function. The dynamic iris action is pretty smooth compared to most lower priced projectors, but there are several at least as good. This is, however, a "good" dynamic iris, in terms of being rarely very noticeable. I never found it annoying, even on the dark conversational scenes with the camera cutting back and forth between two people speaking in a fairly dark room without a lot of very bright areas. It responds rather smoothly when there are radical brightness changes between scenes. Detectable, for sure, but rarely will it show up on your radar - unless watching for it.
Runco LS-7 Picture In Picture
Yes, this Runco projector offers Picture In Picture. They've gone beyond the PIP in, say, the BenQ projectors, which so far, can only handle 1 high resolution source, with the other having to be a basic video source like NTSC or S-video.
The Runco projector does better, you have 3 zones of inputs - HDMI (digital HD), Component and computer (RGB and Component) and
Low Res (NTSC, SCART or S-video)
You can mix sources from any two of the three groups, but can't have two from the same group. That tells you that there's only one HDMI set of circuits and only one component or RGB, and the extra inputs are just switches (typical). Too bad, it means you can have two high definition sources, but one must be a computer or a component video, if the other is HDMI. Keep that in mind when wiring your room.