BenQ MP780 ST Color & Picture Quality
To start, I connected my laptop to the MP780 ST via HDMI and fed the projector its native resolution (1280 x 800). The MP780 ST synced quickly and displayed a bright, colorful image. As is often the case with a DLP projector, colors are kind of washed out when using the brightest picture mode (in this case, Dynamic). With many DLP multimedia projectors, reds are very dark and yellows lose their brightness and tend to look like mustard. With the MP780 ST, reds were darker than normal, but the yellows did not suffer much. In general, the MP780 ST did not suffer from the "Brightest mode" color issues as much as other DLP projectors we’ve reviewed in this price range. In Dynamic mode, the picture was still quite watchable for all but the most demanding presentations. That being said, dropping down to the Presentation mode gives you slightly better colors with only a minimal reduction in lumen output, so in most cases there's really no need to use Dynamic mode. Using sRGB mode will give you very good color rendition and still does so at over 2000 lumens. Cinema mode, as expected, resulted in a largest drop in lumens, but was by far the winner for color accuracy and depth. Finally, selecting one of the User modes allows you to start with any picture mode, then fine tune the colors to your liking via BenQ’s color management system (CMS).
I also connected my laptop to the MP780 ST via the analog VGA connection and saw no readily apparent reduction in color depth. there was the usual minor change in picture quality and depth of color one usually experiences going from a digital to analog connection Overall, picture quality is quite good and uniformity is better than often seen on short throw projectors.
Using Cinema mode, photo presentations are quite good. Color rendition was optimum and colors are displayed with accuracy and realism. As some cameras can overemphasize (or deemphasize) certain colors, the additional adjustment afforded by the CMS allows the user compensate for such anomalies to provide more natural-looking photographic images. Skin tones also look quite accurate in Cinema mode as well.
BenQ MP780 ST Readability
As we found with the similarly designed MP772 ST, the MP780 ST maintained a sharp, clean image across the displayed image. Due to the optic issues of projecting a large image from a short distance, many short throw projectors have problems maintaining sharpness and clarity near the edges of the image. The MP780 ST, however, maintained highly readable text across the screen. Using our usual spreadsheet with a range of text sizes and colors, there was no problem reading small (8 pt.) text on a 70” diagonal projected image. White text-on-black and yellow text-on-dark blue backgrounds were equally readable as well.
Moving to higher resolutions and aspect ratios than the default 1280 x 800, the MP780 ST proved to be a solid performer. Switching to 1600 x 1200 and then 1920 x 1080 (which was beyond its stated resolution range), the MP780 ST was still able to provide readable text of any size, with minimal distortion. The advantage any single-chip projector (as all DLP projectors in this price range are) versus a three-chip projector (as all LCD projectors are) is that there is no reduction in sharpness or color separation as can occur due to misconvergence. It should be noted that in most presentations, it is unlikely that there would be much (if any) text as small as 12 pts., nor would a presenter be likely to use a resolution that differs much from the projector’s native resolution, so the DLP projector's advantage in this regard could be rendered moot. However, if the need to view small text or details with other than the native resolution arises, the MP780 ST is up to the task.
BenQ MP780 ST Video Performance
For movie or video viewing, Cinema mode gives you the best color balance, as well as noticeably improved contrast. While video viewing is typically not a major component of a multimedia projector, technical presentations, as well as science and astronomy classrooms, will benefit greatly from the MP780 ST's 3D video capability (when used with an appropriate source and optional 3D glasses).
Using the DVD playback from my laptop computer connected via HDMI, in Cinema mode, I reviewed scenes from a number of movies I’m quite familiar with.
As far as color rendition is concerned, skin tones were quite natural and, as we mentioned about photo presentations, the overall color balance was quite good. Where the MP780 ST was lacking compared to similarly priced home theater projector competition was in its absolute black levels and contrast ratio. Of course, even in Eco lamp mode, the MP780 ST is still putting out over 1500 lumens, which is more than 3 times what most home theater projectors would put out in a similar lamp mode. As the MP780 ST is destined for the classroom or conference room, the tradeoff between black levels and brightness is appropriately weighted. The 3000:1 contrast ratio is still much greater than much of the competition in this market. There is some of the typical DLP “rainbow effect” during viewing, but no more than other DLP projectors in this price range.
For viewing in an average lit room, the high brightness of the MP780 ST in all but Cinema mode still provides for a highly watchable image, making it a good choice for video presentations in the classroom. Also, the MP780 ST’s built-in 20-watt speakers (two speakers of 10 watts each) have more than enough power to create an acceptable volume level in most classrooms.