Runco LS-7 - Review Summary
A summary of the Runco LS-7 projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
6-24-2010 - Art Feierman
Runco LS-7 Projector - The Bottom Line
I truly am pleased to be as impressed as I am with the Runco LS-7 projector. I certainly had my reservations before the LS-7 arrived. Oh, I expected plenty of lumens, but I knew almost nothing about how well the Runco's do at black level performance. Well the short answer is, it does very impressive black levels, it handles blacks well enough that while they can always be better, other factors now dominate. And the two key factors are the color, and the brightness.
Runco LS-7 Brightness
Lot'sa lumens. 1450 lumens measured in best mode, at midpoint zoom. Wow!
People, lots of horsepower is certainly one thing 3 chip DLP projectors are well known for. Remember at $15K, this is essentially an entry level 3 chip DLP. You can spend $30K, $60K or even over $100K. And when you do spend more, you'll likely get a lot more lumens still. I love having all that brightness.
Placement flexibility is pretty respectable considering it only has a 1.3:1 zoom. The good news is that the lens if fairly long throw. As a result, of that throw ratio, a lot of people will still be able to rear shelf mount their LS-7, if that's their desire. It would, for example, work in my room, placed 20 feet back, hitting a 128" screen. Of course you can celing mount a few feet closer, and also get some extra lumens that way (not that there's a shortage)!
Leeloo image above - The Fifth Element, Blu-ray, from the RS25
The Runco LS-7 projector is pretty devoid of fancy features, except for it's dynamic iris (hardly a fancy feature in this day and age), some basic frame interpoation, and an optional widescreen lens type solution as an alternative solution to the standard lens. With the Cine-wide lens, the projector is designed to work with Cinemascope type screens without needing a motorized sled. It makes things rather simple if you want to go that route.
The very bottom line:
Awesome projector! If only it were 1080p... And even though its not, I'd take it over any other projector I've reviewed to date, with the possible exception of the JVC DLA-RS35. Oh one day, we'll review some 1080p 3 chip DLP's and their extra sharpness, but until then, this one works for me.
The Last question: Is it worth $15,000+?
That immediately makes me want to say, yes, if you can afford it. Like every other projector we've ever reviewed, this Runco is definitely not the best at everything. The typical Runco LS-7 buyer, is probably someone who will spend more money on the room than on the projector, but still wants a great picture, plus first class support. Runco's dealers are highly trained, and heavy on the support. If you insist on a projector that appears sharper, or if the price is too steep, this guy's not for you. But if you want a great projector overall, and to buy it from a dealer who should be able to take care of all the details, this Runco, is very attractive.
Runco LS-7 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Image below is from the LS-7 - source: The Fifth Element, on Blu-ray
Runco LS-7 Projector: Pros
- Excellent Color
- Brightest "best" movie mode we've seen since the last 3 Chip DLP review several years ago. Roughly 1500 lumens does an awesome job even on large screens like my 128" Firehawk (or larger)
- Definitely an "ultra-high contrast" projector despite the mere 20,000:1 contrast claim.
- Extremely dynamic image (a lot of Pop and Wow), but without looking over the top
- Very good shadow detail performance
- Dynamic iris action is overall pretty good. Some yo-yoing in dark, slow scenes that cut back and forth between two people. Better than the majority
- Outputs 24 frame per second sources at 48 fps (not creative interpolation)
- Very good remote control with excellent range, excellent backlight
- Excellent color management, as one would expect for a projector of this type
- Focus, Zoom and Lens shift all motorized
- Very good menus, nicely laid out
- Very good documentation (a rarity)
- Pricey, especially for a 720p, but then 3 chip DLP's do bring a lot to the party, including lots of lumens
Runco LS-7 Projector: Cons
- It's only 720p native resolution
- Only slightly more lumens in brightest mode, than best (but considering the brightness, it's hardly a net weakness
- Lacks CFI (creative frame interpolation)
- Excellent sharpness - for a 720p projector - while it's a very sharp 720p, it's still not a match for even an average 1080p projector, when both are fed 1080p source material
- Although most reasonable - audible noise wise, the RS35 could be a little quieter with lamp at full power. Few would consider this an issue though
Runco LS-7 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Selection of inputs
- Lamp life typical, or perhaps a little low - 2500 hours in "eco-mode" is a little below the far more common 3000 hours in eco-mode average.
My last thoughts: I need to put this in perspective. The easiest way is to compare to my JVC RS20, or better, the RS25 and RS35. While the Runco image does not look as sharp, the color is at least as good as my JVC, the image has more pop, it's got about twice the lumens, and, if anyone offered me an LS-7 even up in exchange for my RS20 (or even the RS25), I would definitely make the trade. True, the JVC's have the more natural black levels, no iris action to even occasionally be noticeable, and a sharper picture, but everytime I'd watch a sequence on the Runco, and then run it again, on my RS20, the huge brightness advantage made me want the Runco every time, for movie watching. I'd miss the slight loss of sharpness, but I'd make the trade up to the LS-7, every time. And that's despite the lack of CFI, which I'd like to have for my sports, but have managed to survive without so far.
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