Runco LS-5 - Review Summary
A summary of the Runco LS-5 projector's pros and cons and capabilities.
6/20/2011 - Art Feierman
Runco LS-5 Projector - The Bottom Line
What a great projector. It's not loaded with features, and a couple are missed, but for those most concerned with filling their theater with a beautiful image, no rough edges, the Runco LightStyle LS-5 turns out to be right on the money. Considering local dealer support, this Runco projector may surprise some folks for its good value.
From the big picture standpoint, what I really like about the LS-5 is that you get to watch the movie or other content. The Runco LS-5 does its job beautifully, but so that you really don't notice your projector. Simply put, that's how it always should be. The gear, be it audio or video, is supposed to be invisible, so you can fully appreciate the content. This Runco is that kind of projector.
Runco has a rep for extremely expensive, excellent projectors, which makes a lot of us think suspect that their lower cost models will be priced high.
With a $6995 price tag, it's pretty in line with say, the Optoma HD8600, another quality single chip. The black levels are in line with the other premium DLPs, and should be about comparable with the lower cost JVC RS40 and X3. But the color, the naturalness of skintones is going to be better than the JVC, and better than the RS60 we had here briefly. So, you don't get the ultimate black level performance but you do get color that looks great as long as you have a decent source.
Runco LS-5 Brightness Summary
With 648 lumens after calibration, this LS5 projector is brighter than most competitors. The new series JVC RS60 measured about 100 lumens less, and the Sony 90ES (both projectors are thousands more), about 60 less. The Optoma HD8600, another single chip DLP, like the LS5, had an extra 50 lumens in "best" mode.
When you want maximum lumens, the LS-5 could stand to have a few more. The best we came up with was just shy of 800 (mid-point on zoom) while the Sony was almost 1100 and the Optoma slightly over. The JVC, was the lowest of the four.
Really, the strength of the LS-5 projector is the picture quality.
All considered, the LS-5, is not endowed with all kinds of fancy technology. Yes, it has a dynamic iris, and other dynamic features, but no creative frame interpolation for smoothing sports, etc. That's not a "can't live without it feature" for almost anyone, but it is one that people who have it will likely enjoy having it on for sports, and some other things. That may well be my biggest complaint - no motion smoothing.
Image above: Lady GaGa concert (via DirecTV)
The very bottom line:
Need a home theater? Just want a great picture, no muss, no fuss. Aren't into finding flaws, just want to enjoy. If the LS-5 projector is where your budget is happy, it's going to be a great choice. This is the projector that comes from a local dealer that is trained by Runco. Most can take you from an unfinished basement to a fabulous theater with all the trimmings if you want, or just provide the basics.
The LightStyle LS-5 will provide an image of rich saturated and accurate colors. There's nothing to offend, with great shadow detail and very good black level performance among its peers. Your colors should be right on, since a Runco dealer probably won't let be installed if not calibrated.
And Runco offers a good warranty, and optional support programs, allowing you to be downright pampered.
If there's a downside, it's on the HDTV and sports side. There are brighter projectors, although it really shouldn't be a problem in any room with darker walls, etc., and good lighting control, as my experience with the LS-5 in my own theater proves.
The Last question: Is the LS5 projector worth the $6995 price?
I'd have to say, definitely, YES. I don't think most Runco buyers get out the door with just a projector, so the overall experience may be more - ie. calibration, and support programs, or even a whole custom theater, but that's between you and your dealer. Certainly, the pricing is in line with the most direct competition. After that, it's figuring out which projector serves you best. This one though, is best in a theater or a room resembling one - darker surfaces, and, it's best at movie viewing. Oh it's fine for the rest, just not as bright as some others, and lacking CFI for smooth motion.
I could live with this one, though, I'd like to trade back up for one of their LS-10 projectors (3 chip DLP).
Runco LS-5 Projector: Pros, Cons, and Typical Capabilities
Image below is from the LS-5 - source: Return of the King, on Blu-ray
Runco LS-5 Projector: Pros
- Excellent Color
- Above average best mode brightness
- Very good black level performance
- Excellent dark shadow detail
- Relatively quiet for a DLP projector
- Vertical and Horizontal lens shift
- Excellent reputation for dealer network, and support
- Good two year warranty (optional premium support)
- Cable cover
- Picture in Picture
- Best in a home theater environment
Runco LS-5 Projector: Cons
- Below average brightness at its brightest modes
- Lacks CFI (creative frame interpolation) for smoothing motion on sports, etc.
- While two year standard warranty is typical, some projectors offer a 3rd year standard.
- Standard lens is fairly long throw, needs to sit pretty far back to fill a larger screen. There is a wide angle zoom, but that adds to the total cost.
Runco LS-5 Projector: Typical Capabilities
- Fairly typical election of inputs
- Remote control (though great red colored backlight)
Final thoughts: Everything I watched looked great. One of my friends who's not a stranger to the theater, but generally disinterested in technology, or picture quality, commented after watching the Oscars, something like. "Wow, that was the best looking picture I think I've ever seen here." That's a good way to sum things up, so I'll call it quits.
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