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BenQ PE8720: Image Quality

Posted on January 14, 2006 by Art Feierman

I viewed the following DVDs: I, Robot, Lord of the Rings (LOTR) Return of the King, Sin City (great for black levels and depth), The Italian Job, The 5th Element, Batman Begins, and the Princess Bride. I also used Star Wars, Attack of the Clones for my side by side shots on the double wide StewartFilm screen. For Hi-Def, I used my D-VHS deck and viewed the Hawiian Tropic Pagent, and Over America (talk about scenery), two superb 1080i resolution tapes for looking at image quality. In addition, I have enjoyed a couple of HDTV football games, Jay Leno, and some Discovery HD channel content. Overall, I found the picture quality to be excellent.

A note on the Family Room setting. On this pre-production unit, I found the color saturation setting to be a bit high (8). I found things more natural by dialing it down between -3 and +1. I also found the reds to be a bit strong, especially in the lower brightness range. This was easily correctable, without a light meter, using the basic AVIA disk (or even by eyeballing it.) In other words, the color was pretty excellent, and needed only simple adjustment to take the finished picture to the next level of image performance.

There's been a lot of hype about the super high contrast ratios the new low cost LCD projectors are offering (5000 - 7000:1). Those LCD projectors use irises and computer control to adjust the image frame by frame. The PE-8720 home theater projector offers the "real thing". Put on any scene with lots of dark and bright areas, and you can immediately see that those LCD projectors cannot come close to delivering the real black levels that today's Darkchip3 DLP projectors can produce.

The image here from LOTR of Arwen, and also further down, of Gandalf, simply stated, produces truly excellent and natural looking fleshtones, and that is perhaps the most critical single thing for a home theater projector to accomplish. No matter how good other things are, if fleshtones don't look right, instant

customer - dissatisfaction.

Switching to Sin City, the great black levels the BenQ projector is capable of, become apparent.

On the double wide screen, I compared the PE-8720 against the low cost Panasonic PT-AE900u (which recently won a Hot Product Award).

Sorry, LCD fans, the BenQ is in a different league, in terms of the overall image. The trick colors in the fleshtones, and the detail in the dark areas, definitely are superior on the BenQ projector. (OK, the Panasonic is less than 1/3 the price, but it is reassuring to know that you can get your moneys worth when you spend that much more).

On the image from the Italian Job, you can appreciate the rich colors on the Mini-Cooper cars (red, blue and white), and the grass has a natural look. On projectors that do have higher gammas (like the BenQ PE7700 projector, (or the Cinema mode of this pre-production projector), the grass appears too dark. When watching this movie in Family Room mode, with the lights off, though, it looked "right on"!

The balance of color between bright and dark areas on the LOTR images of Gondor, again produce very pleasing results. The watch fire images, and the shot of Legolas and Aragorn which are dark scenes are done extremely well, and the last of the group, with lots of shadow area on the right and bright mountain scapes on the left, revealed more dark detail than even the Marantz VP-12S4 projector, the most expensive single chip DarkChip3 projector I have reviewed. (List price $14,499!) I will note that out of the box, the Marantz does have more perfect color balance, but the BenQ projector, definitely is more in the league of the Marantz, than it is to less expensive projectors!

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