But a home theater projector is not just about viewing movies on DVD. And not always about pitch dark or near pitch dark rooms. So I also observed (extensively) the projector in both the home theater mode and brighter Family Room mode, with a variety of HD sources, including two D-VHS 1080i tapes (Hawaiian Tropic Pagent, and Over America sightseeing tour), and lots of HDTV content off of cable, including several football games in Hi-Def, Jay Leno, and a variety of content off of Discovery HD and INHD1 and 2 channels - assorted content including a movie or two.
This PE8720 appears extremely bright in the Family Room mode, and is able to handle modest ambient light - almost effortlessly. (The football games looked incredible, but of course even a little ambient light will wash out very dark movie scenes with any projector. In fact, the only adjustment I made in Family Room mode, was to turn down the color saturation (from its default 8 to -2 or -4 if I had the lights low, but with a lot of ambient light the 8 setting helped to limit colors from washing out.
I have worked with a number of high end projectors, including Marantz's VP-12S4 - $14,449 (which I really like, and which, like the BenQ, produces an exceptionally sharp image). Overall, this definitely is the best projector I have used so far, in its price range, or below. In fact the BenQ comes very close to the Marantz in overall performance, but there are some differences - the BenQ is actually better on shadow detail, while the Marantz's strength is highlight details in very bright scenes. One of my other favorite projectors - using the DarkChip 3 DLP is Optoma's H78DC3 projector, which is a superb value (typical online price under $4000).
While the price is right on the Optoma, it cannot match (at all) the sharpness of the BenQ image, a real factor for people who like me, like to sit close to get the larger screen effect. The Optoma also needs notable color adjustments, with out of box color leaning noticeably toward green. The BenQ PE8720 though, as mentioned, is almost perfect in color balance out of the box. For those into specs, RGB values for R,G,and B, (ideally all values should equal 1) measured: R=.951, G=1.008, B= 1.054 (SMPTE 240M standard), out of the box in Home Theater Mode.
So what's the bottom line on the BenQ PE8720? It's definitely a winner. As this projector performs so well, I have made my final decision. Instead of saving money, and installing Optoma's H78DC3 to replace my aging BenQ PE8700+ (a year and a half old), I am going ahead "dropping the big bucks" to go with the PE8720 in my own home theater! This should keep me thoroughly happy until 3 chip DLP 1080p resolution projectors come down to the same price range. (The first such projectors are coming to market soon, and the prices are going to start at about 3 times this price.)
The installers are coming next Wednesday to install the PE8720 into my own home theater. (My old projector hangs down over six feet from my cathedral ceiling in my home theater.) The BenQ PE8720 projector, thanks to a longer throw lens and more range on the zoom, will be mounted on a shelf, 21 feet back, and about even with the top of my 128" Stewart Firehawk screen (a truly excellent combination). That means the old ceiling mount comes down, and wires have to be re-routed, but, that's detail stuff, compared to the huge improvement in picture quality, sharpness (and brightness). I've been using this BenQ on a table for the last 10 days, and.... I'm really excited!
Finally, BenQ's PE8720 projector certainly get's my full endorsement
Where to get your BenQ PE8720 projector: My understanding is that the BenQ PE8720 will be available through custom installation companies and local home theater dealers often referred to as the CEDIA channel. According to BenQ this projector will not be available online, other than your ability to locate online, a local dealer who can sell it to you, and handle your projector installation if needed.