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Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Introduction:

I used to deem myself an avid Home Theater enthusiast. About 4 years ago, I purchased a large screen (Samsung) HDTV, a new progressive scan DVD player, and a mid range sound system. I read up on as much home theater literature that I could get my hands on, and I learned a lot about consumer level calibration tips, as well as deeper technical issues, such as manual convergence and geometry. I even took my TV set apart to examine the innards, much to my wife's horror. I considered it one of my favorite new found hobbies.

At some point over the last four years I lost a lot of my ebullient edge for home theater. I couldn't keep up with the latest and greatest technologies due to budget restrictions, and found myself fading from the circle. Don't get me wrong; watching movies in high definition was still an entertaining experience. But it's hard to compete when the quality of your gear doesn't compare to the new stuff on the market. Somehow my 54 inch CRT TV was no longer big enough to keep me satisfied.

Lets face it

BenQ PE7700
 

BenQ PE7700

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Home Theater
Category: n/a
 
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9.5
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Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Introduction: I used to deem myself an avid Home Theater enthusiast. About 4 years ago, I purchased a large screen (Samsung) HDTV, a new progressive scan DVD player, and a mid range sound system. I read up on as much home theater literature that I could get my hands on, and I learned a lot about consumer level calibration tips, as well as deeper technical issues, such as manual convergence and geometry. I even took my TV set apart to examine the innards, much to my wife's horror. I considered it one of my favorite new found hobbies. At some point over the last four years I lost a lot of my ebullient edge for home theater. I couldn't keep up with the latest and greatest technologies due to budget restrictions, and found myself fading from the circle. Don't get me wrong; watching movies in high definition was still an entertaining experience. But it's hard to compete when the quality of your gear doesn't compare to the new stuff on the market. Somehow my 54 inch CRT TV was no longer big enough to keep me satisfied. Lets face it— home theater equipment has definitely changed over the last few years. Large wide screen CRT HDTV sets now fall within the price range of the average consumer. LCD and plasma sets have also dropped drastically in price and the quality has improved immensely, specifically in the contrast, colour rendition, and longer life span departments. DLP has also made big waves in the market. I remember when Samsung put out their RPTV DLP system, which came with a hefty price tag. I was left drooling all over that machine at my local electronics store, but it was out of my reach. Now DLP is more affordable. DLP, or Digital Light Processing, is a fairly new technology developed by Texas Instruments. It uses individual micro mirrors to produce an all digital image, and is renowned for its high resolution and crystal clear clarity and sharpness. BenQ recently sent us one of their latest offerings in front projector technology that uses single chip DLP—the PE7700. I was intrigued to give it a try, but I had no idea what was in store for me. Initially, I wasn't filled with the huge level of excitement that would soon overtake me once I set it up and got it working. This review is not geared to be a deep technical report on the system, although I will touch on some technical issues. My intention is to give average consumers an idea of what the BenQ PE7700 can do for the price. The Projector: Weight: The PE7700 is light, really light, weighing in at a slim 5.5 kilos. I typically do arm curls with every new piece of equipment I purchase for my home, in order to get pumped up before set up time. Unfortunately, this thing is so light, I couldn't even break a sweat after curling it for a solid hour. Case Design: I'll use three words to describe the look of the PE7700—slick, sleek, beautiful. The unit is wrapped in a white and silver case, sporting a simple but expensive looking design that speaks high quality elegance. BenQ did a great job keeping light leakage at a minimum, and the unit is equipped with several buttons on the top which include: Power, Menu/Exit, Source/Enter, and 4 arrow keys (which allow you to navigate in menu mode). The zoom and focus features at the recessed lens are both manually operated, which is fine by me. The Controller: The controller is a gem. I love the fact that the buttons are spaced widely apart, considering I'm one of those guys with large meaty hands. The controller is also equipped with a back light that fires up the buttons in order to operate it in the dark. Inputs: There are enough inputs on the back of the unit for a wide range of setups, including HDMI, and 2 component sets, one RCA and the other BNC, that both support progressive. Lamp Life: The one set back to front end projection is that you must factor in buying a new lamp every few years, and this will set you back three to five hundred dollars, depending on the system. Lamp life actually refers to the half life of the lamp. When a lamp hits its half life mark, it's time to purchase a new one. The PE7700 lamp has 2000 hours of operation in full mode, and 3000 hours of operation in economy mode. Unless you're running your projector 24/7, the lamp in the PE7700 should last you a few years, even in full mode. Operating Noise Level: In full mode, the PE7700 is as quiet as a sleeping baby—well almost. The PE7700's operating noise is audible, but only if you're sitting close by. Even then, the fan outputs but a whisper. Notable Features: You have access to both PIP (picture in picture) and POP (picture on picture) functions. POP splits your screen up into halves, so you can watch two different programs side by side—a very cool feature. BenQ backs the system with a satisfying three year warranty. Three years is a definite perk, and this should be a factor to consider when shopping for a new home theater system. The Performance: Right out of the box, the PE7700 delivers excellent picture quality. This no doubt has something to do with BenQ's SensEye Technology and the fact that it utilizes the much sought after HD2+ DLP chip. Colour seems very vibrant and accurate, and there's none of that red push normally associated with CRT displays. Regardless, it's a good idea to run your setup under AVIA to perfect your display as much as possible. The PE7700 also has a deep set of controls that allows you to calibrate the unit on a very technical level; but I won't get into that here. The PE7700 offers a very pleasing very bright picture at 1100 ANSI lumens. Even with ambient light in the room stemming from overhead pots, my screen was lit up with a wonderfully bright and vibrant picture. WOW! There are a number of preset viewing modes, including Gaming, Family Room, Cinema and Home Theater. Family Room brightens up the picture significantly, while both Home Theater and Cinema mode seem to be the most engaging for viewing movie material. In the end, I found the Home Theater option to be the best, with the most accurate depiction of color and flesh tones. The projector features a 5x rotation speed, six-segment wheel, which means that the chances of seeing color separation artifacts (the rainbow effect) are slim. I tried hard to make out this well-known DLP attribute, but my eyes denied me. However, I'm sure it could be located by the most scrutinizing of eyeballs. The two DVD's I used to test the PE7700 with were Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring and the Superbit version of the Fifth Element. I hooked up a Liteon DVD player and operated the projector under all available modes, which include: 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i. Out of all the options, it's not surprising that both 720p and 1080i offered the best picture. 480i was unacceptable, and 480p was noticeably soft compared to the higher resolutions. Both 720p and 1080i looked fantastic, but I honestly couldn't tell much of a difference between two. This is perhaps due to the limitations of my DVD player, which is an older piece of equipment, offering component as the best possible output. Sadly, I was unable to test the machine using HDMI, but I digress. Unfortunately I was also without a proper testing screen. I shot my DVD material onto a large, freshly painted wall that has a gain of about 1.0. I know I know. What kind of reviewer tests a projection system without a proper screen? But even using the wall as a viewing medium, the picture was very impressive. Under these conditions, noise was hardly noticeable (the noise filter option under settings also helps keeps noise levels down to a minimum) and the picture was vibrant and sharp. Even from a throw distance of 12 feet (the minimal distance I tested the PJ at), I could not detect artifact imperfections within the picture. Specifically, I saw no screen door effect. Overall, contrast was very good, displaying ample shadow detail. I did notice that black bars were more of a very dark gray instead of black. With a little more time and tweaking, I'm sure I could have set black level to a more appropriate level. Don't forget, I was limited by an improper screen and some ambient room lighting. These are minor issues, and overall the picture quality transmitted from the device was fabulous. Conclusion: I'm buying one. Not the review model, but a brand new system from BenQ. I really wish I had more time to spend with the review model, but time was limited and I had to send it back. I didn't get to perform as many tests as I would have liked, but after having the PE7700 in my hands and seeing it in action, I knew I just had to have it. Honestly, I had no intention of upgrading my home theater at this time. It was not on the list of priorities set by the missus and myself. We agreed to complete the extensive work required in our home before we spent money on entertainment equipment. The problem is, once I set this bad boy up and tested it, I was immediately blown away by the performance it delivered. When my wife got a gander at what it could do, she immediately asked how much it would cost to purchase. That's the signal I needed. BenQ is shipping me one very soon and I'm more excited than a long lost child reunited with its parents. Hey this is a good thing. At least now I'll be motivated to finish that back room, by painting it up and putting in new carpet for our new home theater. Way to go BenQ! If anything your beautiful product has motivated me to finish renovating part of my home! If you're new to home theater or you're thinking about a front-end projection system (as you should be) at a competitive price, I'd highly consider the BenQ PE 7700. It delivers a top-quality picture with a load of features at a mid-range price; and the build quality is gorgeous. With an MSRP of under $3500 Canadian (I've seen it at some Canadian sites for under 3k), you can't go wrong with this wonderful product. The BenQ PE7700 gets a huge Joystick up, and I'm spanking it firmly with the Player's Choice Award! Features and Specifications: Native 16:9 720P Resolution 1100 ANSI Lumens 2500:1 Contrast Ratio Senseye Technology for Deeper, Richer and Clearer image Fixed CAT Optical Lens De-Interlace with 3:2 Pull Down Professional Digital Input (HDMI) HDTV Compatible (YPbPr) Low Noise 26dB (Economic Mode) 18 Sets User Preference Settings 5 Sets of Color Temperature Settings ICC color adjustment (R,G,B,Y,W) Inputs: Analog RGB :BNC x 3 (BNC to VGA adapter included in box), RS232 Control Port: Telephone Jack x 1 Digital: HDMI (with HDCP)x 1, Composite Video: RCA x 1, S-Video: Mini DIN 4 pin x 1, Component Video 1: BNC x 5 and Component Video 2: RCA x 3 Included in Box: Users' Manual, Remote Control, AAA Batteries, Warranty Information Booklet, Power Cord, Video Cable, S-Video Cable and VGA- BNC x 3 Cable. Lamp Lifetime 2000 - 3000 Hours Lamp Table/Ceiling Outputs 12 Volt Trigger (20mA) Power 100V – 240V At 50 – 60Hz Product Dimensions 38.0(W) x 11.5(H) x 30.0(D) cm. Resolution WXGA (1280 x 720) Screen Size 37" to 300" Throw Ratio 100" @ 9.8' Video Signal Support HDTV/NTSC/PAL/SECAM/EDTV Warranty 3 Years Weight 5.5 Kg.




 
 

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