Projector Reviews

ViewSonic PX727-4K Projector Review – Summary

Viewsonic PX727-4K Review – The Best Value 4K UHD Projector? – Summary: Summary, Last Comments Re: 4K HDR, The Competition, Pros, Cons

Summary

I can’t help but like the Viewsonic PX727-4K.  From a street price standpoint, as of our publication date, it seems to be the least expensive of the 4K UHD projectors shipping in the US.  Before the PX727-4K  started shipping, currently advertised at $1299 online, we referred to the almost identical BenQ HT2550 (which started shipping earlier) as having the lowest street price (now about $200 more).

Projector Reviews Hot Product Award
This is our top regular award for projectors. A few special awards are given out in our reports.

$1299 is one fine street price for any projector that can handle 4K content at this time.  Consider this a projector primarily for the home theater – or at least a room that you can darken completely – or at least very well, for night time movie and other viewing.  If that’s not your setup – you are more – put it in the living room or family room where it’s rarely very dark, the PX727-4K isn’t the right choice for you – rather, it would be the PX747-4K – a projector identical, but for the color wheel. This 727-4K will ultimately have the richer color (slightly), but the PX747-4K claims 3500 lumens not 2200 lumens like the PX727-4K that we have here.

More and more 4K UHD projectors are shipping so that there now must be 15-20 out there between the two resolutions. (We have already had 10 in house, with at least 3 more coming in over the next two months.)

Like the other 4K-UHD projectors using the smaller, less expensive 1920x1080x4 DLP chip, that means that, under most circumstances that chip can’t produce quite as sharp an image as the higher resolution chip that started shipping early last year (2716x1528x2). Both, however, under ideal circumstances, will come up short of a true native 4K projector, and also will slightly exceed the perceived sharpness of the JVC and Epson pixel shifters, which have the same size pixels but only shift x2.

Your first important decision, isn’t whether, say this PX727, (or a BenQ, Optoma, Vivitek, or other) is the right one to choose, but rather will it be one of these, or will you go with something that is more “home theater” with much better black levels for handling very dark scenes?

Those with far superior black levels (and 4K content handling) start in the low $2000s at this time.

If you have decided not to splurge on black level performance, or other advanced features such as lens memory (to work with wide screens – movie shaped), including lens shift, then the Viewsonic starts looking like the bargain out there.

 

Victoria Secret Swimsuit show
Even handling basic 1080i content from HDTV, the Viewsonic offers rich colors and a good deal of "pop" to these images.

The PX727-4K has some pretty good color, right out of the box, in 3 modes, so for many folks, no calibration really needed. Unless that is, you are performance oriented (likely if you are reading this). The Viewsonic’s calibration controls are good.  While some modes looked very good before calibration, after, they look even better, and are, of course a lot more accurate.

Editor’s Note: For those not familiar, with how we offer calibration info:  Most of the calibration settings you can plug in, will be found on the Calibration page.  The Advanced Calibration page, by comparison, which is only accessible by our paid subscribers for $3.99 a year, It is not accessible to basic email subscribers), covers the “last 10% or so” by showing the calibrated settings of the individual primary and secondary colors.

Let’s not forget the 3 year parts and labor warranty!  I’m a warranty fan (although not a 3rd party warranty fan).  In this projector market segment (under $2K) you’ll find 1, 2, and 3 year warranties, depending on brand and model.  If there are  two very similar projectors for about the same price, and one has a three year warranty, the other a one?  Buy the one with 3 years – after all, when buying a $1000 or $1500 projector, once it’s out of warranty – if there’s a major issue, you’ll be shopping for a new projector (a replacement power supply for some projectors will cost $500+)…

Like all of these 1920x1080x4 pixel shifters the Viewsonic is on the noisy side. They claim 33 db, but I don’t measure – I go by my impression. this one, like the BenQ, and Optoma projectors I’ve seen with the 1920x1080x4 DLP chip, make a distinct humming sound, which I believe to be the pixel shifting in action. Seems the only way to get rid of that extra noise, is to select Silence mode. Just remember, Silence mode is pure 1920×1080 – no pixel shifting, so you will not get near as sharp image when projecting 4K (but little visible difference if watching 1080 content like most cable sports, and TV right now). Of course, over the next couple of years we’ll be viewing more and more 4K content from cable/satellite and streaming.  A whole lot more!

 

The photo player immediately above contains all 1080 res images from DirecTV.

The projector is 2,200 lumens claimed, although it comes up 11% short of that (a touch better than most, although some brands often beat claim). Far more significan  is that fully calibrated (for non 4K content, it delivers (per Eric’s post calibration measurements) 1119 lumens, while Eric’s 4K calibration which h measured in at 1,192 lumens, very respectable, and capable of handling a bit more ambient light than the similar BenQ.  (Not sure why that is.)

When you need the most muscle, with very good color, Eric’s Standard mode, does the trick with just a few dozen lumens shy of 1500!  Now we’re talking over three times the brightness you need for a typical dark room setup for a 110″ diagonal screen!

What’s missing? Basically two things. No – really just one – better black levels, but I’ve never reviewed a sub-$2,000 list price projector yet (even non 4K ones), where that isn’t at the top of my short list of desired improvements.

The other item, in this case, is CFI – a.k.a. “smooth motion” or creative frame interpolation, which I like for sports – can tolerate in most cases on regular HDTV (low settings), and never use on movies. Still, having CFI would be nice, especially since a lot of home entertainment projector buyers are sports and HDTV first, and movies second in importance.

Well, while I’m asking for more, how about 3D. Yes, it’s not being found on most HDTVs because let’s face it, 3D demands a large screen for immersion, a 65″ LED TV isn’t going to cut it!

Still, new movies are coming out in 3D, and we Blu-ray HD people can buy them, and I figure there are ways to stream as well? (But I can’t swear to that!).

Given the feature set, and the rock bottom price for 4K UHD projectors at this time, the PX727-HD is looking like the best value. Thus the Hot Product Award!

Last Comments Re: 4K HDR

When it comes to 4K content with HDR, again, I think that the Viewsonic has done a better job that most of the competition.

The problem with HDR is brightness.  If you don’t have enough horsepower, lower and mid brightness areas tend to be dim.  Every manufacturer “compensates” one way or another.  The more you solve that dark problem, the more you are getting less of that super dynamic look that HDR promises. The trick is to have a good compromise.

The Viewsonic PX727-4K has a very good compromise, I think the best so far of the 4K UHDs I’ve reviewed. I don’t find the lower brightness areas to be as dim as most, and there’s still plenty of pop to the content.

That is, it does a particularly good job on 4K content with HDR, which, after all, is why you are shopping for a 4K capable projector!

The Competition

I’ve already discussed general pricing, so let’s look at the immediate competition – consisting of the BenQ HT2550, and Optoma HD50, also with RGBRGB color wheels, as well as the high res DLP chip models, with the same: Optoma HD65, BenQ HT8050, Vivitek HK2288…

Right now:

I give the slight edge to this Viewsonic PX727-4K over the near identical BenQ HT2550, although note that the BenQ also supports 3D, that the Viewsonic lacks.

The Optoma HD50 is also new, with it, or the similar HD51A being reviewed in July. Typically – but I can’t tell at this point, Optoma typically (or at least often) uses a slower color wheel than the BenQ HT2550 which is sharing the same color wheel with our Viewsonic. But I can’t confirm it. But it will be different in some other ways, for example it has 3D, and more zoom lens, 1.5:1, as well as having a slight amount of lens shift, but lamp life ratings in hours are lower, and there is more.

Of course as soon as we review the Optoma we’ll give our final opinions on which are are your better choice.

The rest of the units we’ve reviewed so far, use the higher resolution DLP chip (still not native – non-pixel shifting 4K), are more money and just slightly sharper, if you are sitting close enough. I expect these lower cost 4x pixel shifters will rack up the bulk of sales until some emerge (next year) with some black level performance.  So as long as the 2X DLPs like the Optoma UHD65, Vivitek HK2288, the Acer, etc. offer only a very slight difference is sharpness, most folks will opt for projectors like the Viewsonic to save $500 – $1000.  So far I only have one issue with that.

The extra – and a bit too loud – hum from the 4X pixel shifting will turn off some of us, but that would seem to be the case with all of these 4X pixel shifters.

Now if you don’t care about 4K content, and “future proofing”, you can choose from many 1080p projectors around this price, for example the Epson HC3700 in the image player below, is a good alternative.  No 4K but dramatically brighter, and excellent color.  Definitely better if you have a bright room. Of course there are dozens of other non-4K capable projectors around the $750-$1500 price range.

Keep in mind that projectors with similar feature sets (DLPs with similar lenses, and brightness),

 

 

From the left (1st):  Passengers 4K HDR

Viewsonic PX727-4K, BenQ HT2550, Optoma UHD60, UHD60 vs HT2550 (Optoma on bottom), UHD60 vs Vivitek HK2288 (Optoma on bottom), Epson LS100 (1080p laser), BenQ HT9050 (their high end PJ), Epson HC4000, Epson HC5040 vs Acer V7850 (thus 9 projectors in all).

Victoria Secret – 1080i (obviously no HDR)

HT2550, Vivitek HK2288, Opotma UHD60, Epson LS100, Optoma UHD65, Sony VW285ES ($5K, true 4K), BenQ HT9050, Epson PC4040, HC3700

Of all the projector images  shown, in this player, all are 4K capable projectors of varying native resolutions, with the exception of the Epson LS100 (to include a laser projector), and the Epson HC3700, (costs about the same as the Viewsonic), both of which are 1080p and do not support 4K, so are showing 1080p content.

Pros

4K UHD resolution of 1920x1080x4 with pixel shifting

4K content capable

Supports HDR for expanded dynamic range – more “pop”!

Picture quality right out of the box, pretty good in most modes

Fastest color wheel – means virtually no RBE – rainbow effect for most of those who are sensitive

RGBRGB color wheel for the best color

4000 hours lamp life at full power, and 8000 in Eco is a bit better than most

5 watt speaker for “decent” sound quality when no AV audio system available

Can double as a high resolution business/education projector (although a little less bright)

Conveniently small and light – suitable for back yard movie parties, vacation, work

Good remote control – good backlight

MHL on one HDMI – for mobile devices

Lacks 3D!

Reasonably fast input lag for gaming – acceptable to most (48ms)

Full color controls, calibrates well

Considering Price, and Value, my new favorite 4K UHD projector so far

Makes an excellent first home theater projector with 4K capabilities

3 year parts and labor warranty – better than most

Although missing some features, performs as promised, (give or take a few lumens).

An excellent value proposition!

Cons

Black level performance is essentially “entry level” for 4K capable projectors

Even brighter would be better – for handling HDR (like almost all projectors)

Only offers basic placement flexibility, with 1.2:1 zoom and no lens shift

No CFI for smooth motion on sports and other HDTV

Lacks 3D

The small 5 watt speaker is no substitute for a real sound system

The 5 watt speaker is side facing, instead of front or back

Gaming – Input lag of 48ms is acceptable, but most gamers prefer 33ms of less

No support for P3/BT.2020 color space, which is typical (you really need LED or Laser light engine)

A bit noisy in terms of fan noise at full power

The 4x pixel shifting adds a significant hum that is louder than the fan – That is typical of this class of 4K UHD pixel shifting projectors.

No onboard media player to allow PC free – plugging in a USB or card for photo shows, and more

Has audio out, but Bluetooth audio out would be a nice addition a few projectors are now offering

The Viewsonic PX727-4K (and it’s brighter sibling the PX747-4K) are two more dumb projectors, joining the equally dumb competition.

Today’s projector manufacturers need to make these projectors smart, like today’s LCD TVs/LED TVs/OLED TVs.  We see smarts on some pocket projectors like LGs, but not on mainstream home projectors.  To Viewsonic, and all the rest of the home projector manufacturers – enough!  Make your next generation smart, maybe put Alexa or Siri inside, as well.

If you can buy really smart TVs for $299, with apps on board, and smart capabilities, there’s no excuse for a $1499 projector or a $20,000 one for that matter, to lack those same smarts). It’s time the projector folks up their game.

For example, although not direct competition (the LG is $2999), we just received the LG HU80KA – another 4K UHD DLP projector using this same chip.  The $2999 LG, however, is loaded with the same kind of smarts and abilities as the LG TV line up.  I can’t wait to uncork it next week and hook it up for review!  (It is primarily twice the list price but that’s because it has a laser light engine.)

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