Runco Lightstyle LS-10d Projector Review

UPDATE: The Runco LS10d earned the prestigious Outstanding Product of the Year 2011 award! Check out the praise for this phenomenal projector!

Runco LS-10d Projector - The Bottom Line

As intended, this LS-10d projector review hasn’t been overly technical. It is more an attempt to put some perspective between what you get for your (lots of) dollars with a basic three chip DLP projector, and the far less expensive projectors that most folks purchase.

The Runco LS-10 home cinema projectors, with their many lens combinations, and the DHD4 processor with the LS-10d, result in their pricing spanning from $21,995, up into the mid-thirty thousand dollar range for the LS-10d with a longer throw lens and the Cine-wide anamorphic internal lens. While I suspect that a fairly high percentage buyers will choose a Cine-wide solution, life’s pretty nice with this “basic” Runco on my modest, 106″ diagonal, Carada Brilliant White screen. Yes, life’s good, even with the letterbox.

In the last few weeks I’ve been watching mostly the Sharp XV-Z17000 a very nice $5000 3D (and 2D) projector, the $12,000 JVC RS60, the Epson 8700UB (at a mere 1/12th the price), and this LS-10. Neither the RS60, or my own RS20, looks as natural on skin tones as the Runco projector.

In fact it seemed that no matter what I watched, it looked awfully right. (And bright!)

Runco LS-10d Brightness

Speaking of brightness, that’s one of the best things about the Runco LS-10 series. It is one of the super-secret ingredients Runco puts inside the projector. When everything else is equal, a lot of extra brightness always wins the day.

The LS-10d review projector just slightly exceeded its claimed D65 spec of 1440 lumens. That Mike’s calibration (they basically start pre-calibrated), had almost no effect on brightness, because it also had only a slight effect on the image which is already very close to being on the money. The projector only got within 300 lumens of its maximum brightness claim, but with this projector, it’s your D65 that you want to be watching, especially since the brightest mode is very thin on red, but only buys you an additional 20+%.

If you can afford this projector, I will have to assume you’ve managed to have enough lighting control that the extra 300

or so lumens isn’t going to save the day, but a gorgeous picture will. Very few of the better projectors we get to review, come anywhere close to this Runco.

Images to the right, showing the room. Note: all window shutters open on a sunny afternoon, yet the game is watchable (106″ diagonal). The image below is from next to the screen looking back.

Most of the brighter ones are still only in the 600-700 lumen range in “best mode”. A few DLP’s with Brilliant Color can do a BC “best mode” and get up over 1000 lumens, but those guys are all really rough around the edges compared to this picture.

Not even in the same league.

Think of it this way: 1450 lumens on my old 128 inch diagonal screen provides a slightly brighter picture than 600 lumens (typical of many JVC’s and Sony’s) on a relatively tiny 82 inch screen.

Or the image on my 128″ would still be 40% brighter than 600 lumens on a 100″ screen. That 40% is a noticeable amount of extra muscle, combined with the far larger screen.

All considered, the LS-10d, is not endowed with all kinds of fancy technology. True, it has a dynamic iris, a nice smooth one, and a dynamic contrast as well, and the DHD4 is loaded with advanced image processing, but not features like Picture in Picture, or the more recently common creative frame interpolation – smooth motion, desired by many, especially for sports. It also doesn’t have dynamic sharpening.

Image above from the 2011 Grammys on HDTV (via DirecTV)

It really is a basic machine in this regard. Once you get past the DHD4′s abilities and capabilities, it’s almost your basic “no frills” 3 chip DLP home cinema projector. OK, true, it does offer a lot of lens choices and anamorphic as well. Still, I suspect Runco works many of those features into their higher end projectors.

 

The very bottom line

Two things:

First, look at the Bond image below. It’s typical of the skin tones that no doubt look poorer on your display (and mine), compared to how they look on the screen. Stunning when watching.

The second thing – just by coincidence, tonight, while writing this page, Starship Troopers came on HDTV, and I tuned it in. This is significant, because one of the most memorable experiences in the first year or so I was writing reviews full time, was the chance to review the (original?) SIM2 C3X. That 720p 3 chip DLP was pre dynamic iris, I believe. The point is, I had Starship Troopers on DVD (way, pre Blu-ray), and watched it on the SIM2.

I was blown away. We switched between that and my projector of that day, probably a BenQ PE8720, which was brighter than the average home projector back then. That SIM2 was very similar in brightness to this Runco LS-10. It was one of those epiphanies back then, and the LS-10d – is a reminder of the same thing: Brighter can change the game. Well, I watched the same space scene where the fleet gets blown to pieces. Truly spectacular, it just can’t be that impressive if it’s not bright!

People, we home theater projector folks have been thirsting for lumens, and the Runco LS-10 is the thirst quencher.

This image from the Superbowl was taken with my theater recessed lights on, but away from the screen. Blacks are a bit washed out, but it’s a fair amount of light.

The Last question: Are the LS-10 projectors worth $22,000 to $30,000+?

That folks is your call. If you lease a decent luxury car, then the answer is, sure, you can afford the projector. Think of your home theater spread over the cost of 3 two year leases. You’ll get way more than 6 years enjoyment. For the rest of us (only my wife’s car is less than 7 year’s old in our family.) I got the JVC two years ago, she got the car.

OK, probably $3000 up front on each lease, and $700 a month (tax included). There’s $35K. That will get you in the 3 chip DLP game. It’s all about priorities.

This Runco isn’t perfect despite the raves. For example, it doesn’t do 3D. No surprise, but, I’m thinking this nice little 3 chip DLP projector, has so many lumens, it sure would be nice. Most 3D capable 1080p projectors I’ve seen leave you wishing for more lumens. Seems a waste. Well, Runco’s got a serious 3D projector that prices out well over $50,000. I saw it last year at CEDIA… Boy would reviewing that be fun.

I digress. We haven’t seen the most direct competition to the LS-10d, so we can’t make any definitive statements like “best of all the $20,000 to $40,000 projectors”.

What I will say, is that if you want a dazzling home theater setup, and the LS10d will fit into your budget, you are going to have one fine theater. In one sense, this isn’t an enthusiast’s projector. It’s more of a super-duper, turn it on and watch it “Wow” projector.

I’ve always wanted one of those.

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