A look at the Runco QuantumColor Q750i LED Projector! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-26-2010, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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INTRO:

This past September we witnessed a relatively slow Cedia trade show. Sure there were new products, but not a ton of revolutionary technology. That is, except for the newest entries into the front projection market…LED based projectors. There were several at the show, but few grabbed as much attention as Runco’s new line…the QuantumColor Q750i and Q750p. This particular review focuses on the Q750i with a short throw lens (the difference between the “I” and “p” is that the latter comes with an outboard processor as well. They are the latest 1920x1080 LED based projectors from Runco. Interested? Read on…

Due to the busy season, I am a bit late to getting this review online, but better late than never I always say! Go back 3 weeks ago…I get word from the folks at Runco that my review piece is in and shipping…whoo-hoo! It’s time to ready the test room. Normally this is the point where I have the unpleasant experience of playing the waiting game, but, Runco expressed shipped it so it was a measly 2 days. Whew! My shipping department let me know when it arrived and I promptly headed over to grab it. Okay so I didn’t grab it…it is a beast in a beast of a packing box. But for $14999 MSRP, that is a good thing. So I opened up the box, took out the packing, grabbed the projector and remote, and headed to my test room. The fun was about to begin.
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-26-2010, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
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A FIRST LOOK:

The first thing I noticed is the finely finished appearance of the unit. As with all Runco’s projectors, it is finished in a black powder coated metal chassis, accented with a brushed silver piece down the middle. At first glance you don’t see any connections, but ah ha! Runco is one of the only companies that hide the connections, allowing for a cleaner installation in a person’s room. The cover on the back actually pulls down (quite difficultly I might add…they weren’t messing around). Inside you will find the full gamut of connections, including 2 HDMI, 2 component, S-video, Composite Video, VGA, RS232, and 2 triggers (used for anamorphic lens triggers, motorized screens and/or masking). This gives the utmost flexibility for those with larger needs. This test model as mentioned was the short throw version. It does not have a motorized lens (focus, zoom or shift), but all those functions are available manually. For most applications this is just fine, but if a person wanted to use the zoom method in a 2.35:1 setup, it might prove to be a bit more daunting. Of course Runco provides these models with various anamorphic lens options (they call them the Cinewide-fixed lens- or Cinewide with Autoscope-motorized system-, and thus it has all the necessary scaling modes built in internally so one doesn’t need an outboard processor). In any event, the zoom and focus is easy…just rotate the appropriate ring on the outer part of the lens. The shift is actually hidden. That you remove a screw from the front of the projector, and part of the brushed silver shroud comes off, revealing 2 screws for both horizontal and vertical lens shift. Those are simply adjusted with a provided hex key tool. So I got it plugged into my test pattern generator, adjusted the lens appropriately for my screen, and moved on.

















The first thing one does is grab the remote since all functions nowadays are done with that. The remote on the Q750i is smaller in size, but still quite comfortable and well laid out. The buttons are backlit as well, making it easy to make adjustments in the dark. Virtually all functions are accessible via discrete buttons on the remote, including inputs, aspect ratios, viewing modes, etc… I found the buttons a tad small for my fat fingers, but nothing that I couldn’t get used to quite quickly.





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post #3 of 7 Old 01-26-2010, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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PRETESTING AND CALIBRATION:

The first thing I noticed is the fast start up. Because there are no normal lamps to strike, turn on (and off) is virtually instant. This is extremely good for those who used their projector as a more common display in their house, not just for movies and such. Plus with LED, there is no harm in turning on and off the unit regularly, unlike typically UHP/Xenon lamps which that process can shorten their effective life. The Q750i has 2 large fans on the side for cooling, but they are relatively quiet, about average for a larger projector such as this is. I would say that in most applications it would not require a hush box unless a person was extremely close to it during viewing and/or was really sensitive to noise. This is done because the only moving parts in the unit are the 2 fans, which makes it easy to maintain a quieter operation. Moreover, this increases the reliability so this surely is a long term projecotr. I'll also add that for me personally, I like to see the projector, especially when we are talking a gorgeous box such as this. Bringing up the menu, it is laid out just like most of Runco’s latest models. It is quite easy to navigate, and make adjustments as necessary. I proceeded to take my measurements of the out-of-the-box settings and see how it did:

NATIVE COLORS:


REC. 709 COLORS:



As you can see, the preset D65 setting was a tad off from the proper levels, and at first glance the primary and secondary colors appear way out of the normal Rec. 709 triangle. BUT, this is one of the reasons people want LED….the much larger color gamut capabilities. The default setting for color is what is called “Native”. This mode is essentially what the LED’s are normally outputting, but ever-so-slightly fine tuned by Runco to keep within the overall Rec. 709 characteristics. You will see from some of the screen shots below what this ultimately translates to. For me, I can definitely see the value in this for certain content. But I wouldn’t necessarily use it for everything. Beauty part with Runco…you can save separate memories and quickly recall them…slick for sure. For grins, I did 2 settings for my review…1 at an ISF D65/Rec. 709 standard, and one with the same but leaving the colors in “Native” mode (see pictures comparing). Now some people worry that having such a wide gamut can cause flesh-tones and such “sensitive” material to be inaccurate. Runco thought of that too, with RCE. This is a feature that is always on in “Native” mode, but in “PCE” mode (see below), you can choose whether that is on or off. This is an automatic feature that is quite slick. What it does is analyze the content being viewed, and when such material as flesh-tones appear inaccurate, it will adjust for those tones only, while still maintaining the overall color gamut. Very slick if I do say so myself. I mentioned “PCE”…this is the adjustment mode for the colors. When you go into this mode, a submenu becomes active and you can go in here to adjust all primary and secondary colors for hue, color and luminance. In addition, you can turn on and off the RCE as your preferences allow. This is where I was able to dial in the Rec. 709 color standard so that all colors were within a dE of less than .4! Very impressive. I should mention that the grayscale settings are done in the main menu as well, but separately from this. That too was easy to achieve a dE of less than .5 from 20-100 (0 and 10 are extremely hard to get accurate measurements on due to the dark image). The Q750i also has several gamma presets. Now there are some projectors on the market that allow full control over gamma through 10 points of control. The Runco does not have this, BUT, I found in testing that the presets are EXTREMELY accurate to what they claim and to be honest even the most experienced calibrator would have a tough time making them any better (if it was even an option).

POST CALIBRATION:
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-26-2010, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
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OBSERVATIONS:

Okay so after messing with the unit for some time to push it to its max ability, it was time to throw in some test material. Here are my observations in regards to the commonly discussed parameters:

BLACK LEVELS/CONTRAST:

First off, LED's have another distinct advantage over lamps.they can be turned fully off on the fly. This basically means infinite on/off contrast when going between scenes of material and black scenes (take for instance the beginning of Disney/Pixar's Cars). In such scenes like this, it brings a whole new depth to the movies. Now, I know you are asking yourself how many movies due that type of rapid to black and back scenes? Well, few that I know of, but read on. Runco utilizes a ConstantContrast system in this model. There are several settings (Low, Medium, High and Off) so a person can make it the way they want. The High mode is what achieves the infinite on/off contrast. But, one may not like that, so you can simply dial to one of the other modes, and the projector will only put the LED's into their lowest non-off power state during black scenes. The Medium mode is the next aggressive, so I took measurements in this mode such that I could get what I refer to as a real world on/off contrast. As you can see from the chart below, it is amongst the highest for any single-chip DLP made (if not the highest). Kudos to Runco for this accomplishment. Personally I preferred this Medium mode as it was a bit smoother transition between dark and light scenes than when going to full off, and since your eye doesn't adjust all that fast, it still appeared black.

When one thinks of DLP and contrast, they usually think ANSI contrast benefits. DLP technology has the highest overall ANSI contrast ability of any digital technology. Now I did measure the ANSI, but note that ANSI is EXTREMELY difficult to measure consistently and accurately. That being said, the results may actually be low for this unit (my room is dark, but not a pure black cave). As you can see from the below chart, it didn't disappoint. Though it wasn't the highest ANSI contrast I have measured to date, it still was higher than any other digital technology and it certainly translated to a very 3D look to the image.

LIGHT OUTPUT:

This is where the one limitation to LED is in their current statethey aren't overly bright. This particular unit tested decently, but I would limit the screen size to something it can manage (many factors come into play there). I will say though that LED's, unlike lamp based projectors, do not really dim over time. In fact, at the 50000 or so hour rating, there is only approximately a 5% decrease in brightness. So say you have a UHP based projector rated at 700 lumens. Over about 300-400 hours and beyond, that will actually be DIMMER than a 550ish lumen LED. Essentially one really has to look at more long-term when it comes to comparing LED with lamp based units when considering brightness. Plus this is a new technology, as LED's improve over the coming years that will in turn be able to be used with larger and larger screens and quite possibly could make lamp based projectors a thing of the past.



COLORS:

I touched upon this briefly earlier in the calibration discussion. Because LED's have such a large color gamut capability, one can really set the Q750i to about anything that they could ever want in regards to colors. Personally as and ISF guy, I prefer the standardsit is what I am used to. But, as you will see in some of the screen shots below, the expanded Native mode of the Q750i can certainly give a new life to certain content. All in all, there is basically nothing one cannot achieve with this projector when it comes to their preferences of color. Heck, say your eyes are blue deficient, you could simply go in and fine tune to your own preference to accommodate for that. Very slick and VERY versatile. One comment I will make is that for whatever reason, LED's projectors, even if calibrated exactly to Rec. 709, still tend to have what I would describe as a larger gradient in the colors. In other words, there seems to be more shades of each color available when reproducing content. It's really hard to put into words but if one was to do a side by side with a lamp based projector, both being setup as identical as possible, they would see the difference.

SHARPNESS:

Another big advantage to DLP technology is they are simply the sharpest out there. Moreover, single chip's specifically are the sharpest because there is no panel misconvergence to soften the image. Basically the only limiting factors of what a single chip DLP can do in this regard are the lens itself and the video processing used in the projector. In the case of the Q750i, the lens is top notch. I threw up a single line grid test pattern and standing right up on the screen I saw very distinct pixels and virtually no chromatic aberration (another sign of a good lens). This translated to the picture. When viewing material the Q750i gave a very defined image, showing lots of nuances of the image that in some other technologies tend to be more difficult to detect.
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-26-2010, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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SCREENSHOTS:

NOTE: The top two groups of screen shots were taken in the fully ISF calibrated mode I did. The last group of scenary shots were done in both fully calibrated and the "Native" color mode as to represent a comparison. All shots were taken with identical settings on the same camera and were only cropped to fit properly (no tweaking of the photos themselves was done).

Dark Knight (BluRay):










Quantum of Solace (BluRay):







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post #6 of 7 Old 01-26-2010, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
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"Beauty of Earth" Demo BluRay Disc:

ISF:

NATIVE:


ISF:

NATIVE:


ISF:

NATIVE:


ISF:

NATIVE:



ISF:

NATIVE:
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post #7 of 7 Old 01-26-2010, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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CONCLUSION:

It’s always good to be in this business if one enjoys all it offers. Fortunately as a veteran and working for the A/V Science Forum, I get to see about everything that comes out. I was quite excited to get my hands on the Runco Q750i. As one of the less expensive HT LED based projectors, it certainly offers a lot for the money. Couple that with Runco’s very well recognized name in the industry, and you have a win-win combination. For anyone considering a projector in the $10-$20k price range, I would highly suggest giving the Runco Q750i a close look. It may just fit the bill for your needs!

Thanks again!

For further details on the Runco Q750 series LED projectors, or to discuss purchasing options, please contact your local Runco dealer or visit www.runco.com.
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