Projector Overall Picture Quality
It's all about bright. While the HD71 might othewise be considered only an average performer at best, it is a specialist. It's specialty is brightness, a tremendous amount of brightness, in "best mode" and one of the brighter, in "bright"It's brightness in best mode sets it apart from the competition. While the HD71 may not match the black level performance, the shadow detail, or the sharpness of some of the competition, those all seems to be only minors points, if you need a much brighter projector, to deal with exceptionally large screens, or, more importantly with inherent ambient light. A dimmer projector will wash out faster in even low ambient light, destroying any advantage that dimmer projector might have in black levels or shadow detail!
I should point out that the projector does provide a good bit of depth to the image. That has tended to be a trait of DLP projectors, and one the HD71 has, to its advantage.
Viewing - HDTV
OK, as we start feeding the HD71 some HDTV and sports, and kick in Bright mode, (the equivalent to Dynamic on most projectors), the balance of power changes between the HD71 and some of the competition. When looking for every last lumen, in brightest mode, the HD71 is no longer #1, but is still one of the brightest out there, about the same as the Epson Home Cinema 720, but still significantly less bright than the reigning champ, the Panasonic PT-AX200U.
Here are a few HDTV images for your consideration:
The small image shows how open the blinds are on one of the french doors, and then a screen image showing how the HD71 handles that amount of ambient light
As you can see, with the blinds up on one door, all the way, the projector does take a significant hit, from the ambient lighting. The room itself is rather bright from that, as you could see a front looking shot with that much ambient light, in this old article on bright projectors.
Picture Quality - Bottom Line
Overall, after proper adjustment, the HD71 is a pretty average 720p projector, but one that typifies the strengths and weaknesses of DLP projectors. Saturation is really very good, black levels and shadow detail are good, but not exceptional, and sharpness rather average.
As I keep pointing out, though, the HD71's strength is brightness, and that means that when you need the extra lumens, the HD71 delivers, and far less bright projectors with better black levels and shadow details, simply can't come close to matching the HD71's picture, because they will be significantly washed out, when the HD71 is only slightly affected!