I can't comment on the Pearl, but the 8720 is an awesome machine. This is a review I posted about the 8720 a few months ago: After reading it, I feel the exact same way. I'm selling this to upgrade to the W10000. But I definitely want to stick with BenQ. I love their stuff....
enQ 8720 mini review
I am a previous owner of the 8700+, and it gave me a few years of great performance. When I read projectorreviews.com's take on the 8720, I really wanted to upgrade, but -- the price of $8,000+ was well beyond my budget. With the current drops in prices I decided to sell my 8700+ and move on to the 8720.
I definitely made the right decision.
Let's start from scratch -- the 8720 is built like a tank, and it looks sweeeeeet. The white and silver housing is extremely high-end looking, and it's build quality say's the same. Even the remote looks a little more high-end than the 8700, which utilizes the same layout, with a few extra keys for zoom, focus, and lens shift.
The lens is center-mounted (which makes installation easier), unlike the 8700's slight offset to the right, which required a little more calculation when ceiling mounting.
My 8720 was manufactured in October of 2005 and has firmware 1.04 -- which is a little dissapointing, but I'm working to obtain the most current (1.14), which is said to have numerous image enhancements, as we speak...
I installed the 8720 18.5' back from my 128" diagonal 2.35:1 screen from the supplied BenQ ceiling mount (which seems dangerously flimsy to me), pointed it at the screen and hit the power button. In about 1 minute, the projector was ready to go -- displaying a purple "BenQ -- enjoyment matter" welcome screen for a second or two. I booted up my HTPC, and even the appearance of the Windows "boot screen" made my eyes widen. This machine was obviously brighter and had much more punch than the 8700, and I hadn't even watched anything yet....
The first thing I did was to go into the service menu and set overscan to 100% as instructed by another board here on the forum to ensure 1:1 mapping on my HTPC.
The unit was preset to the "family room" mode, which was bright. Insanely bright. I switched that to "Home Theater" (it was net to hear the Iris control opening and closing based on the presets). I centered the picture in the screen and put on Jurassic Park III superbit for some testing in Home Theater mode.
Holy. Cow. I can honestly say I've never seen a better picture on ANY home theater screen. This was better than any demo I've seen in any high-end video store I've ever visited. The picture the 8720 throws is SO dynamic, SO sharp, and SO vivid, it really does make your jaw drop.
As many people here have mentioned, the picture out of the box with the old firmware tends to be a little red, with some obvious color errors, so I threw in Avia to tweak a bit (but my blood was rushing, so this would be a quick, quick tweaking session. I wanted to watch more!)
After the worlds fastest tweaking break, I put in some more movies to test (mostly 1.85:1 movies at this point, since I did not have my anamorphic lens in place yet). So, "Hollow Man" superbit, "Vertical Limit" superbit and "Fantasia 2000" went in for testing.
I couldn't get a new movie in fast enough to see what it looked like. Pixel structure of the 8720 was visible, and I would say it is no better (in terms of Screen Door Effect) than the 8700. But the optics are clearly better on this machine, CLEARLY BETTER, because every subtle detail of every movie comes through in spades. As many have said, this is good -- and bad. Lousy DVD transfers really show their careless encoding on the 8720, and great transfers finally get what they deserve.
After I had my anamorphic lens in place, I tested out a few 2.35:1 favorites -- Star Wars III, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Incredibles -- all looked phenomenal. The opening segments of Star Wars III really popped off the screen. The colors and contrast were amazing - every explosion, laser blast and detail of the ships were clearly visible. Smoke and fog that I never saw before in the background against the dark space of the battle scenes, was obvious now -- and never grainy, dusty, or pixelated. UNLESS the transfer material was encoded that way. The 6,000:1 contrast ratio was obviously working! Details and black levels are definitely there, folks. Definitely. The mix of rich colors, insanely bright whites, dark blacks, and super-sharp optics make this picture very engaging and almost 3D at times.
I switched through various preset modes and decided that "cinema" was my favorite -- I have a totally light controlled dedicated Home Theater, and "home theater" mode was a little too bright. I tweaked the colors a bit and turned the shaprness WAY down, and tweaked more diligently with Avia, and settled in to watch "Munich" which I had never seen before.
This is one of those Spielberg movies that loves "grain" and "diffuse glows" a bit too much (can he shoot any movies in regular stock anymore? I'm getting sick of these washed-out, grainy effect pieces that he does). But it still looked great, because I knew that the graininess and visual effects were intentional... Okay movie, but it looked good!
The last piece of this puzzle was to move my Xbox 360 from our family room into the home theater, since I can hook it up to the projector now (thanks to the 8720's long throw options. I can slide the anamorphic lens out of the way, and use the automatic zoom, focus, and lens shift via remote to adjust picture sans anamoprhic lens).
I thought I had seen all there was to see with the 8720 -- but gaming on this thing really puts you in a whole other world. Project Gotham Racing 3 in high definition almost makes you dizzy (the dashboard view of the game is to be seen to be believed.)
So there you have my initial impressions of the 8720 -- I hope this helps anyone who is sitting on the fence to jump off if you can -- it's not cheap by any means, but it's worth EVERY penny.
*(edit) I forgot to mention fan noise: seriously. What fan noise? It's so quiet, I thought (while watchign a movie) "whats that loud noise?" so I got up to look around, and there it was. My HTPC which I had never heard before because the 8700 was so loud. Honestly, I can't even here it from where i'm sitting... As you can tell, I love it.