Here it is (finally!):
DAY TWO REVIEWS
Thanks to the valiant efforts of BenQ and Aaron at Cinelight, a BenQ PE8700+ showed up late on Saturday just in time for us to evaluate Sunday morning. Obviously there was no time to calibrate it, so when we turned it on Sunday morning we were getting pure out of the box performance.
There is not much new to say about the BenQâ€™s picture that has not already been said on the forum. Smoothness, deep blacks, and great pricing are the BenQâ€™s main claims to fame. Personally, I thought all of the HD2s looked pretty similar on their proper screens (in this case, the Carada Brilliant White) and the BenQ was no exception. There was great detail in the HD clips, the DVD clips were clean and colorful, and the BenQ displayed very deep blacks and good contrast on the white screen. (*Note* I would not say that the picture is very close to that of the Sharp 12000 â€“ which some have compared it to - as the Sharp had even deeper blacks, more contrast, and more accurate colors). The BenQ did look very very good on its own - I canâ€™t imagine anyone being dissatisfied with the picture.
The only real weaknesses of the BenQ were color performance and brightness (if thatâ€™s even a weakness). As has been reported before, flesh tones were distinctly reddish, and the red uniforms on THE REPLACEMENTS DVD clip were orange. We tried several different color temperatures, and the zero setting seemed to give the most accurate color rendition (if I remember right), but still resulted in the color anomalies I mentioned previously. In overall brightness, I would say it was brighter than the Sharp 12000 on high contrast mode, but not nearly as bright as the Sharp in high brightness mode. The BenQ fell somewhere in between.
Again, to put this in perspective â€“ most people would not notice the color issues without a reference. The colors look good enough when we were watching the 8700 by itself. When we powered on the 7205 and the 7200, the BenQâ€™s red push became obvious. The Infocus units had truer greys and flesh tones. Here the Infocusâ€™ higher brightness became evident as well. The light coming from the 7205 on the Firehawk washed out the BenQâ€™s image to a large degree, so it was not a fair comparison in regard to contrast. When holding up the Silverstar sample, more dithering noise was evident on the 8700 than on the 7205, but on the Carada screen dithering was hardly noticeable at all.
I would say that an ISF calibration could really help the BenQ in regard to color, if your goal is to get the ultimate performance out of it. Of course, a calibration would need to be factored into the price. Still, for most people out of the box performance should be more than adequate.
This was one of my favorite HD2s at the show, comparable to the BenQ PE8700 but with more vibrant (and more accurate) colors. Unfortunately, not too many people expressed an interest in it and we did not get to do the side by side demos that we did with some of the other pieces. On its own it did very well. I particularly liked its renderings of the blues and reds in the LORD OF THE RINGS HD clip, which had an intensity that was very pleasing without being oversaturated. Blacks were comparable to the BenQ, as again, we had it on the Carada Brilliant White. It did seem brighter than the BenQ, which, given its equivalent black, suggests a greater contrast ratio. I wish I could go into greater detail on the H76, but the truth is that we didnâ€™t have it up for all that long.
As several have pointed out, this is a very quiet projector. In a large venue like the Pikes Peak room at the Marriott, itâ€™s really hard to accurately evaluate the noise put out by these projectors, but it did seem quieter than the BenQ we had just before it. In defense of the BenQ, many people commented upon how loud it was, but that was after we powered down the bulb. The BenQ runs the fan at a very high speed right after bulb shutdown, but NEVER runs that loudly when in its regular operating mode.
I think the main reason we were kind of rushed into taking the H76 off the table was due to the fact that the Screenplay 4805 was up next, and many people came just to see this projector.
As Iâ€™ve mentioned in a previous thread, this projector is the real deal. I donâ€™t know of another projector in its price class that throws a more pleasing, deep, colorful and contrasty image.
As always, though, I want to keep this in perspective. Pixels are pretty obvious at anything less than 2 times the screen width. HDTV clips look very good through the 4805, but obviously a 858 x 480 chip will not give you near the detail that can be seen on a Mustang or even a Matterhorn DLP chip (or an equivalent resolution LCD). With those quick negative points out of the way, letâ€™s discuss what this projector does well.
Where the 4805 looked better to me than any other sub-$2500 projector was in its smoothness, contrast, and 3-D pop of its image. While not as bright as say, the Screenplay 7205 or 5700, it was definitely bright enough to handle quite a bit of ambient light when we paired it with the 92â€ Carada High Contrast Grey screen. As many of the people at the show pointed out, this made a heck of a combo, as the Carada Grey helped deepen the blacks (which were quite respectable, almost as good as the HD2s) and made it very resistant to anything but the most extreme ambient light. At one point, we had the 4805 vs the 5700 vs the 7205 on adjacent screens, and it was amazing how the 4805 had much of the same â€œfeelâ€ as the two more expensive projectors, at least in regard to contrast and color accuracy (in fact, the 4805 had deeper contrast, but less detail, than the 5700).
With the same three projectors side by side, we played the D-VHS DLP demo through all three at once. Here is where the Matterhorn and Mustang clearly displayed more detail. Not only were they more detailed, they had a much smoother way of dealing with rounded edges and diagonal lines when compared to the 4805. The limitation in resolution was evident here, as the 4805 simply has fewer pixels with which to â€œdrawâ€ complicated objects. For this reason the higher resolution Mustang and Matterhorn projectors can actually look more â€œdetailedâ€ (actually, smoother) with DVD material than the 4805, although they are not actually adding any additional resolution. This was clear in a clip from ATTACK OF THE CLONES, where the 7205 had a smoother, cleaner look than the 4805. Again, letâ€™s put this in perspective. With DVD source material, these types of picture issues are going to be inconsequential to most folks, unless they are comparing projectors side by side or viewing from less than the recommended 2X screen width viewing distance.
SCREENPLAY 4805 VS THE STUDIO EXPERIENCE 2HD (SANYO Z2 CLONE)
Since so many people wanted to see these two head to head, we spent some extended time with the two pieces right after the 4805 solo presentation.
First, high definition. On brighter scenes, the 2HD clearly had more detail than the 4805, just like we experienced with the 4805 vs the HD DLP units. The 2HD did have quite a few more picture artifacts, however â€“ vertical banding was pretty obvious on brighter scenes, and there was stairstepping and jagged edges on any smooth edged object that moved in a diagonal fashion across the screen (this was very obvious on the speedboat footage coming from the DVHS deck). In terms of contrast and smoothness, the 4805 was a clear winner â€“ the image looked much more 3-D and had a pop that the 2HD lacked.
In defense of the 2HD â€“ on HD material, the 2HD had a â€œhyper-sharpâ€ quality that was appealing, sometimes even appearing sharper than the HD2 DLPs. I attribute this to the more visible pixel grid on the LCD projector, which gave everything a hard edge that some might find preferable to the smoother look of the DLP.
On DVD, both pieces looked fairly comparable on brightly lit scenes. We used SPIDERMAN for this comparison, as it has plenty of bright and dark scenes to evaluate. When we went to the scene where Peter Parker finds his uncle lying in the street after being shot by the carjacker, the 2HD looked much murkier than the 4805. In fact, this is where the most dramatic differences between the two projectors became clear. Everything on the 2HD in this sequence became a dark blueish grey murk, with very little definition between the background and foreground elements. The 4805, on the other hand, rendered the scene with far greater contrast and more vivid colors. As I mentioned before, the image was much more three dimensional looking on the 4805.
I have mentioned in previous posts that the Z2 and other LCD projectors do much better on this type of material with DVI than with component, so we took SPIDERMAN out of the Pioneer DVD player it was in and placed it into the Bravo D-2 (graciously lent to us by the previous dayâ€™s Bravo D-2 winner). With DVI, the 2HD looked considerably better, mostly in the area of sharpness. The foreground and background elements were now considerably more distinct, but still did not even approach the color and contrast performance of the 4805.
I would say that there was no one at the shootout who preferred the image of the 2HD to that of the 4805, except possibly for brightly lit HD material. If there was someone there who preferred the 2HD, it is likely that they might have been afraid to speak up, since there was such a large vocal group of LCD bashers in the front row. Still, I donâ€™t think many of those present were necessarily DLP proponents until after they had seen the side by side comparisons.
One last note about â€œscreen doorâ€ effect. As Brad pointed out, the term screen door is more applicable to LCD projectors, since even the higher resolution LCD projectors have the more pronounced pixel grid that gives you the â€œscreen door effect.â€. Lower resolution DLP projectors have less of a problem with visible pixel grid than they do with visible pixels, since the grid itself is considerably less visible. In comparing the 4805 with the 2HD, the visible pixels became invisible on the 4805 at about the same distance the pixel grid became invisible on the 2HD.
Once again, this piece has been hashed to death on this forum so Iâ€™ll just hit the highlights.
As always, the 5700 projected an incredibly bright and vibrant image, with spot on colors. Again, as always, there was a lot of â€œwowâ€ factor to the image, mainly due to its high brightness, IMO. It was interesting to see the crowd perk up after the extensive 2HD/4805 comparisons.
As you can gather from reading my previous comments, the 5700 had clearly more detail with HD material than the 4805 but not quite as much as the 7205 (as the specs would indicate). HD looks pretty stunning on the 5700 â€“ without a side by side comparison with an HD2, I donâ€™t think most people would feel that any picture detail is lacking.
Interestingly, in the side by side comparison with the 4805 and the 7205, the 4805 actually had better contrast than the 5700, if only slightly. This was only noticeable when we fired up the same dark SPIDERMAN scene mentioned above. The 5700 had the edge in smoothness and detail, however.
The 5700 was probably the brightest projector at the show, other than the 777. We had it on the 123â€ Greyhawk and it STILL looked bright. No problem with ambient light here, especially when paired with a grey screen.
Negatives on the 5700 â€“ my demo unit had a pronounced color wheel whine, and the contrast performance was not on a par with the 7205 or even the 4805. For someone desiring the brightest and punchiest of images, though, the 5700 will not disappoint.
Another favorite from the show, one I wish we had been able to spend more time with. After taking the time necessary to properly set up, install, and focus the anamorphic lens, the crowd was a little restless, so we moved through the presentation without a lot of feedback from the audience. One person did immediately pipe up with â€œis it me, or does this look better than the 5700?â€ as soon as we put an HD clip up on the screen, however.
The HT-1100 does have a smoothness that is very appealing, especially after the intensity of the 5700. Brightness, with the iris open and the bulb on normal mode, was actually very high on the Carada Brilliant White screen. When we switched to high contrast mode with the iris closed, the image was still plenty bright on the 110â€ Carada Brilliant White, but the blacks and contrast were noticeably better. The image thrown by the HT-1100 in this mode was almost as good as the Sharp 12000, with tremendous contrast and great depth. The LOTR HD clip looked colorful and three-dimensional, with a smoothness that I donâ€™t think any of the other projectors possessed. We put up the ATTACK OF THE CLONES clip next, and the definition and depth in the dark city scapes toward the beginning of the film were extremely well rendered.
The Screenplay 5700 vs HT-1100 battles on this forum have become the stuff of legend. The NEC HT-1100 has a smoother, higher contrast, more 3-D look than the 5700, while the 5700 is brighter, more intense than the HT-1100 with the tiniest bit more sharpness and detail. With the anamorphic lens, though, the NEC is capable of greater picture detail when viewing HD broadcasts than the 5700. With the HT-1100, NEC has eliminated two of the issues I had with the older HT-1000. First, the picture is now distinctly brighter while retaining most of the deep blacks of the HT-1000, and the colors are now truer, without the lime greens and slightly washed out reds of the 1000. I really like the HT-1100.
Thatâ€™s it for the show reviews â€“ Iâ€™m exhausted! Iâ€™m glad I got them done, though, before my memories of the show got too hazy. As always, I welcome any comments, questions, or opposing views.
BTW, I still have the HT-1100 and PE8700 used (for all of 30 minutes each) in the shootout, if anyone is interested. Otherwise, they are brand new.