VIEWSONIC LightStream Pro7827HD
ViewSonic’s new Australian delivery also prioritises colour, with some clever extras.
It has been a very long time since any ViewSonic products have crossed our review bench. But now the Taiwanese display product producer is stirring again in Australia, pushing into higher quality product areas, challenging the incumbents.
Which brings us to the review product: the ViewSonic LightStream Pro7827HD projector, a usefully compact design with several interesting selling points here, including a Rec. 709 colour mode to ensure best possible colour reproduction — as on the BenQ reviewed elsewhere in this issue, but here at a lower pricepoint. Equipment This is a quite compact projector, and at 2.6 kilograms, quite light in weight as well. Only the fact that it’s finished in black plastic prevents it being inconspicuous with a lounge-room ceiling installation (most lounge ceilings being white). But this colour may be preferred in a darkened dedicated room, and given the compactness, many may choose to skip permanent installation in any case and just pull it out when required — ViewSonic obviously thinks so, as it has included a better than usual loudspeaker complement within the projector itself (though see its own comment on this from the manual, below).
The projector uses DLP technology, with a single Digital Micromirror Device — a Texas Instruments DarkChip3 model. (When will those DMD patents run out and allow some competition in the field? It can’t be too far off.) The DarkChip3 tends to offer a higher native contrast ratio than lesser models due
to its two million mirrors swinging through twelve degrees rather than ten. A six-panel colour wheel with the conventional RGBRGB arrangement is used. (Remember, a singlechip projector must create its colour palette by showing the colours in turn, rather than overlaying them on each other, and relying on the eye’s persistence of vision to merge them into the intended colour.)
A 240-watt lamp provides the illumination for this light control engine. ViewSonic rates the lamp life at an impressive 3500 hours for use in ‘normal’ mode, and 6500 hours for its ‘super’ eco mode. There’s also an intermediate eco mode. It also says that the projector is good for 2200 lumens of brightness, and a contrast ratio of 20,000:1.
The optics provide a 1.3-to-1 zoom range, with the image being delivered somewhat above the centre line of the lens. A rather handy vertical lens shift knob on top allows the image to be shifted vertically without distortion over a range of 10% of the screen height. To fill a 100-inch (2.54 metre) screen the projector needs to be placed between 2.57 and 3.33 metres from the screen. There is cornerstone correction (including easy adjustment of each corner), but of course careful positioning is always the best option.
The connections are rather unusual. The most obvious change from the norm is the lack of regular component video inputs (although you could probably connect using the D-SUB15 with a suitable adaptor), which is no big loss in 2016, really, and the projector still has S-Video and composite video.
There are three HDMI inputs, two of which are MHL capable (i.e. they can supply power to a connected device). One of these is hidden away under the side body of the projector. You can unclick part of the case to reveal this, along with a micro-USB plug which can provide power to any device you place in there. The space is around 75mm by 30mm by 35mm. ViewSonic has its own dongle which fits nicely in there and works with ViewSonic software for wireless presentations. The current model Chromecast proved a little too large to be stuffed in there, but the previous model should work.
Or you could just connect the Chromecast to one of the rear HDMI inputs and use the USB socket to provide power. A cowling is included with the system to cover the connection panel and keep things nicely neat at the rear, and this is capacious enough to accommodate a Chromecast.
There are also audio inputs. The manual is admirably upfront about that built-in 10W mono audio system. Although the speaker gets a ported enclosure, it says this is, “designed for basic audio functionality accompanying data presentations for business purposes” and it’s not “intended for stereo audio reproduction”. It recommends connecting the “audio output of your video source device” to your sound system — there is an audio output on the projector, but this also is mixed to mono. So perhaps if you’re using an AV receiver, say, a Chromecast or PC stick would be better plugged into that.
The compact remote control provides a good range of functions, and has its business lineage evidenced by the built-in laser pointer. There is software available for smartphones — it’s called vRemote, which is supposed to allow wireless remote monitoring and control of the projector. It can work either via network or IR. (My phone has an IR emitter, but the relevant model number didn’t appear in the app’s set-up section — perhaps the app has not yet been updated for this model.) The projector supports 3D, but we didn’t receive eyewear for review. Performance The projector’s throw was a touch on the short side, leaving the optimal placement position slightly closer to the screen than the range of adjustment provided by my ceiling mounting rail. But it was so light I was able to hang the projector on the end of the adjustable arms of the mount and get the image on screen with only one or two per cent of overscan.
Then, rather than fiddling with the settings as is my usual practice, I sat down and enjoyed a Blu-ray movie, marvelling at the sharpness of the image. Really I did. I was thinking that the presentation was actually somewhat reminiscent of that from an extremely expensive 4K projector I’d recently seen in use.
Only after that did I explore the settings. It turned out that I’d watched the movie using the ‘Standard’ picture mode rather than ‘Movie (Rec. 709)’. Yes, this projector offers the calibrated colour space for which HDTV and Blu-ray are intended. Having that available is excellent, since it ensures that you will get all that you’re supposed to from your high-definition sources (see p25 and p77 for more on colour spaces).
The projector also supports Imaging Sciences Foundation calibration as well, if you wish to have an ISF expert set permanent ideal day and night settings in your environment.
But back to ‘Standard’. This had the Sharpness control wound up to the maximum setting. But ViewSonic’s sharpness process works in the same way as BenQ’s, a way rarely seen with others. It just sharpens the image without producing halos around the edges of sharp on-screen objects. This experience almost made me a convert! But I still prefer to see things as delivered, rather than ‘improved’.
So I tried to turn down the Sharpness control. And couldn’t. It was buried in the ‘Advanced’ menu along with ‘Color’, ‘Tint’, and ‘Noise Reduction’, all of which were greyed out and thus couldn’t be adjusted, plus ‘Gamma’, ‘BrilliantColor’ and ‘Color Management’, which could. That last allows RGB tweaking.
It seems none of those four things can be adjusted for HDMI inputs in any of the five picture mode settings, and there is no ‘User’ mode to provide access. The settings for them all aren’t necessarily the same. ‘Movie (Rec. 709)’ has the Sharpness control at zero (but ‘Noise Reduction’ at the halfway point).
In the end, it was ‘Movie (Rec. 709)’ that I settled on for my viewing, but really there should be the ability to adjust things according to user preference.
In that mode, the picture was still nicely sharp, but just Blu-ray sharp. The optics can and do resolve everything finely to the pixel level. The colours were excellent, vibrant and accurate. The gamma was good, with the greyscale patterns showing no colour shift at any level of grey, and correct calibration at both ends of the scale.
The black levels were strong. There is no dynamic iris, so the projector entirely relies on the native performance of the optical engine, and this gave a contrast range that was subjectively very impressive. Not once was there a hint of the DLP rainbow effect.
The projector doesn’t offer any motion smoothing, and with the fast switching of DLP, doesn’t disguise any judder in the source material. So expect a slightly bumpy ride when the cinematography is poor.
The cadence detection and automatic deinterlacing of both 576i/50 and 1080i/50 film-sourced video was first class, with a good lock on a weave, and rapid switching from bobbing to weaving when required. There was no manual setting.
The image delay measured at 49.7 milliseconds, regardless of picture mode, so it should be fun for gamers. Auto lip sync is not supported. Conclusion At the Pro7827HD projector’s RRP of $1999 it delivers impressive contrast performance for a good picture at this price point, with some nice features such as its neat hideable mounting bay and PC stick bay.
Here you can see the side panel removed to allow access to the third HDMI input, suitable for a PC stick; ViewSonic also has an optional HDbaseT-to-HDMI stick available for this.
INS & OUTS There are two HDMI inputs on the back and one hidden in the side compartment (see previous page). There’s S-Video and composite video but no component video in. TIDYING UP Most projectors leave your cables hanging out of the back; ViewSonic includes a tidier to clip over them as standard.