VIEWSONIC LightStream Pro7827HD

AV pro­jec­tor

Sound+Image - - Contents - Daw­son Stephen

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.

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