PLED-W800 Picture Quality in a Home Environment
All the images above were taken in Movie mode. The football images were taken with low ambient light levels, while the others were taken in a darkened room with only the smallest amount of ambient light. Early on in this review I pointed out that this class of projectors tends to be more of a jack of all trades type of product. As a home projector it should serve very well as a gaming projector - with the caveat that although most gaming projectors are the same WXGA or 720p resolution as this Viewsonic, 1080p projectors are simply better - higher resolution with 2.25 times the pixels. When it comes to watching TV whether sitcoms or sports, news, dramas, or "high end" visuals on Discovery HD, the PLED-W800 projector really does do a good job. This is not going to give you the picture of a dedicated home theater projector, of course. Those really start at a much higher price point. Still, this Viewsonic projector can hold its own with many of the similarly low cost projectors that are lamp based, when it comes to how good the picture looks in terms of color. I am rather picky, so the W800 isn't "my cup of tea", but it does work in a pinch. I definitely survived my viewing experiences with no trauma. When it came to watching Sunday football, I did have one issue. The issue with the Viewsonic wasn't the picture/color, though. After all, its Movie mode easily rivals or bests most other projectors' "brightest" modes in terms of color, or rather, it looks a lot better in Movie mode than say an Epson Home Cinema 5030UB looks in Dynamic mode.
Black Levels and Dark Shadow Detail
I am confused! I just can't believe Viewsonic's number for contrast. They state 120,000:1, which would be considered good for a $2000+ Home Theater projector. For those of you not into all the details, but are curious, thanks to a few features on a lot of projectors, such as dynamic irises and dynamic lamp dimming, the numbers can be very misleading. Theoretically the higher the contrast the better overall black levels - that is the blacker the blacks instead of poorer projectors where blacks come out medium dark gray. It's not surprising to encounter one home theater projector claiming 80,000:1 doing better than another one claiming 450,000:1. That said, with features like those mentioned, the contrast numbers are misleading to begin with. Still 120,000:1 is a super high number when most of these projectors claim 2500:1 to 15,000:1. If you look at the images in this player, the first image of a night train from Casino Royale is from the Viewsonic. Following it is the same image from the LG-PF85A, an over $1000 LED projector a little larger, but more notably, 1080p native resolution. In this case, the LG has the blacker blacks as the blacks are about the same level of gray, but the whites are whiter/brighter. That's more dynamic range which translates to darker blacks. They too have a high contrast claim of 100,000:1. The third image is an Epson HC2000, an $899 list price lamp based home entertainment projector using 3LCD technology. The blacks - the dark gray in the letterbox, is lighter than the Viewsonic's but the lighter areas are about equally lighter. Thus I'd say the Epson and Viewsonic are comparable, the W800 perhaps having a very slight advantage. The Epson's contrast claims 15,000:1 (it has a dynamic iris). The Epson is superior on shadow detail. Well, the short version is that when it comes to contrast where we care about it most - on the darkest scenes, the PLED-W800's performance was typical of most of the other large pocket LED projectors we've reviewed. I told you all of this because while I like this projector, that spec could easily mislead someone familiar with more expensive projectors, making them think this guy has serious home theater projector level blacks. All considered black level performance is in the same ballpark as a lot of $500 to $1500 projectors although some will be better, and others not as good. If you are using this at home for entertainment, remember, great black level performance gets almost completely neutralized when there's more than the absolute minimum. Thus the high interest in great black level performance in projectors designed for dedicated home theaters, rather than home entertainment ones like basically every projector under $1000, where normal use won't let you appreciate far better blacks. Dark shadow detail is acceptable after brightness and contrast are adjusted. The default contrast is so cranked up in Movie mode, that almost all the dark shadow detail was lost. Two quick adjustments though elevate this projector to reasonably good, but not great. There will be better ones at the price point and those that are worse as well. Not exceptional, and not a disappointment. And not something really to be concerned with.
Black Level and Shadow Detail
A dark image. Still, observing the projected image, the W800 is so-so, losing some dark shadow detail.
Epson Home Cinema 2000/2030
This home entertainment projector has darker blacks and more detail. It is a sub-$1000 3LCD projector.
Excellent blacks, lots of dark shadow detail in this very good $2500 range, lamp based, DLP home theater projector
Blacks could be blacker, some shadow detail in the shrubs behind the tracks on the right side is missing.
LG PF85A LED projector
This projector is over $1000 and 1080p, but it too is a compact (but larger) LED projector. It is better at blacks and more dark shadow detail
Epson Home Cinema 2000/2030
The Epson isn't quite as good as the W800 on blacks but definitely better on dark shadow detail
An untouched image (unlike the previous which were converted to grayscale). There's a reasonable level of detail in the dark areas.
Night scene but plenty of fairly bright areas. The W800 handles very nicely.
The Bottom Line on Picture Quality
The PLED-W800 has two bright modes, one of which - Dynamic, is respectable for a bright mode, and is suitable for most basic presentations. Dynamic is not going to do a good job on faces, or photographs, so image oriented presentations or videos will be best handled with on of the slightly less bright modes. Both Movie, and the equally bright ViewMatch will serve very well. And that is the bottom line. The better modes do a nice job on almost any presentation, and are also perfectly suitable for a little home entertainment, with respectable skin tones, and well balanced color. The pictures on this page should give you a good idea. The real thing can only look better.