I will do what I can, as quickly as I can, but am swampped. (And I leave for Maui for vacation on Saturday).
I do not yet have a DVI switch/amp, so I can't do a side by side. My own room is still under construction which also limits me.
I will get around to comparing the two on DVI. And maybe (big maybe) I'll be able to look at the cropping.
My JVC D-VHS finally got sent out for warranty service, and I have no genuine 720p source. My DVD players both only output 480i or 480p, and my cable is normally 1080i, so I don't think I have a short term solution to feeding it a pure 720p (and I'm not an HTPC person).
But here's a couple things I learned today.
1. Out of the box the color is better, less ruddy yellow flesh tones. Once I calibrate, whether it remains better, I don't know. But also on Star Wars II, I found that in its Cinema mode (which is closest to the 8700+ defauts, the whites were better, for example clouds and blue sky looked more right.
2. HDMI now, giving up the DVI-I, which took the computer signal or DVI. However instead you get 3 RCA component jacks that handle 480p or 480i not just 480i like the 8700+. There are the usual 5 BNC connectors so an analog computer can be input that way. Overall that's an improvement giving one more high quality option than the 8700+.
3. It appears about 20% brighter, but the 8700+ used already had about 50 hours on it, which might account for a tiny bit of difference.
4. Sense-eye. Haven't figured that out yet, but it does seem to be upping the dynamics of scenes with lots of dark and bright colors. (the night scenes of the city, with neon in Star Wars II)
5. Other modes - besides Cinema there is also Home Theater, Familyroom and one really dynamic mode (sorry not looking at the projector now). The Cinema mode was a winner on Star Wars. On HDTV last night the Home Theater mode was overall the best. The Family Room mode - obviously for people with too much ambient light - was no where near as good on flesh tones, and other stuff. (the projector indicates that, among other things happening in that mode, color jumps to +9 on the menu.
6. So far no motion artifact problems. But I need to see more 3:2 pulldown stuff.
7. Its a bit noisier picture, but not visible at any reasonable seating distance. And I didn't try the noise filter
8 Speaking of noise, it is quieter than the 8700+ I was standing right next to it, and I could tell the BenQ was still a touch lounder but about 6 feet away.
SO FAR, overall, it is a better 8700+ - for less. It's a bit prettier too. As the purple is gone.
Any differences due to the switch in electronics to BenQ's "own" scalers, etc., I have not been able to detect.
New remote - nice, but so was the old one - this one is bigger, you can get to most of the common stuff without going thru menus (mode changes, source, brightness, contrast...
I had it set up at my favorite dealer today, and all the sales people there got to see the two side by side. EVeryone liked the 7700 better (again default settings).
Last thing for now: On the opening sequence of Star Wars II, just before the planet comes into view there is just a star field. The number of stars visible on both projectors was virtually identical. The background blacks (gray of course) were not the same, the 7700 was lighter, but as I said, it appears to be brighter than the 8700+ unit I used, so that's fair.
What was interesting though, was the Home Theater mode. As soon as that engage the number of visible stars at least doubled, probably tripled. That was impressive. I played around with brightness, contrast, color, etc on the 8700+ and could not get it to do anything like that.
So it looks like a overall winner. There may yet be a real flaw, but so far.... so good. -art
Writing these take a long time, so, instead I will start posting the prelim review tomorrow night, on my review site. More on Friday, and after that - I'll likely be silent until I get back from vacation.
But for a projector that should be selling for at least $300 less than the final close out pricing on the 8700+, it looks like BenQ will remain the low cost champ for 720p DLP's. I think that many folks (who don't need lens shift) that would buy the Panny AE700u, will seriously look at moving up to this one instead, considering the difference in price between the AE700 and 7700 is not much more than 1/2 the price difference between the Panny and the 8700+ back in December.
I got an Optoma H79 - to review, but it's 2x the price? It has darkchip3, but the one they sent me arrived DOA. They are sending another, so I'll review that when I return. -art