Big images at a small price
What is the ViewSonic Pro7827HD?This is a single chip DLP projector from ViewSonic which promises cinematic colour to the Rec.709 HD standard with supercolor RGBRGB colour wheel technology along with ISFccc certification.
In the run up to the Euros and Olympics we are looking at cost effective projectors you can add to your system for either the occasional big screen event or as a full time cinema model. Single-chip DLP projectors are now very much a staple of the budget market offering good brightness, sharp images and excellent motion with decent colour performance. Only black levels really disappoint at this level of the market, but use them in normal living rooms with some ambient light (or white walls and ceilings), and the lack of black isn’t as big an issue. This is because you lift the black floor to a level where projectors that do have outstanding black levels would struggle to show them, so it evens up the playing field slightly if you'll excuse the pun.
With the promise of cinematic colours and a good brightness level could the ViewSonic be a decent all-rounder for this summer of sport and beyond? Let’s find out…
Design, Connections and ControlThe design of the ViewSonic is very much of the old fashioned business style of chassis with the lens to the right side (looking from the front) and the exhaust vents to the left. The fit and finish of the chassis does belie its budget roots and it all feels rather light and plastic to the touch. The design is at best described as industrial, although nothing feels flimsy or about to fall off, so we think it should manage to hold up well to being moved around and stored away when not in use. The black finish however does attract the dust and finger prints if you are going to handle it rather than permanent ceiling or table mounting.
Above the lens are manual zoom and focus lens rings and slightly further back is a small lens shift dial. This is an unusual control to feature on a budget DLP model and allows for a 20% shift in the vertical plane, making correct alignment and setup easier. The projector does have keystone adjustment but you want to avoid using that at all costs, so make sure you take the time to align the projector and screen correctly to avoid image distortion issues or the need to use keystone. To the side of the lens rings and shift wheel is a compartment that opens to give access to the third HDMI port and an area where you can attach a dongle such as the Fire TV Stick and keep it hidden away in the compartment so it doesn’t get lost if you move the projector around a lot. This is the same feature found on the recently reviewed Dell 4350 model.Also on the top plate and slightly further back are a set of input keys for accessing the menu and other features should you misplace the remote control. Around the back are the main connections and in a nice feature included with the ViewSonic, there is an extendable back plate (provided in the box) that hides the connections and wiring when ceiling mounted. This is an excellent idea and would allow for superb concealment of unwanted and unsightly cable runs. It’s a shame then that on this back plate in big letters is the word ViewSonic that stands out a mile away! Connections wise we have 3.5mm audio input and output jacks, S-Video and composite inputs, two USB inputs along with two HDMI 1.4 slots with MHL and VGA in and out slots, whilst an RS232 control port rounds things up.
The remote control supplied with the Pro7827HD is a diminutive black plastic affair with small keys that provide access to the most used functions. To the top of the remote are direct keys for the source inputs and an autosync key. There are directional and enter keys just below these with the menu, laser pointer and exit keys within easy thumb reach as this will be the most used area of the controller. The rest of the keys on the remote can be ignored if you are using it in a domestic environment, watching TV and movies, as these controls are for the business and presentation functions.
Features and SpecsThe ViewSonic Pro7827HD is a single-chip DLP projector using the DarkChip 3 DMD chip which boasts enhanced contrast and black levels with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 full HD. It also has some nice marketing named features such as the Cinema Supercolor RGBRGB colour wheel which they claim has a special coating to help the red, green and blue filters in the colour wheel get close to the Rec.709 colour for movies and HDTV. There are also claims of better gradation of colours with less banding in sunset scenes or images where there are various tones and hues of the same colour.
To further impress in the features line-up is full ISFccc calibration certification which means that an ISF calibrator will be able to enter a password to open up two new picture modes for night and day settings and lock these down once the projector has been calibrated, taking away any possibility of wiping the calibrated settings. This service can cost from around £250 upwards and given the price of the projector, you may not feel it is entirely cost effective. You can check out our results below to see if calibration offers up any major advantages on this projector compared to the best out-of-the-box settings.
The ViewSonic also boasts a short throw much like all the other DLP projectors we have reviewed recently, with a 1.3x optical zoom available and a throw ratio that will allow you to get a 100” screen size from just 2.5 metres (8ft) away. There is also a lens shift function that is rare on DLP machines that allows a 20% vertical shift so you should have no issues in setting the projector and screen correctly to avoid the use of keystone correction. The ViewSonic boasts a 4 corner function on top of keystone to allow positioning of the projector to the side of the screen, but we would strongly recommend you don’t use these features if you want to get the best possible image for your movies and sports.
Talking about sport, the ViewSonic like other DLP units we review has built-in audio which normally we would ignore given that most of us would be using such a projector in a home cinema system, but for those who want to take the projector into larger rooms for the summer of sport, the built-in speakers might offer a solution where there is no sound system at all. As you would expect when pushed hard the sound distorts quite quickly, and at reasonable levels we doubt it would be enough to get over the sound of people talking in the same room. So, if you plan a garden party with the projector pointed at the side of the house, you will still need a sound solution.
Finally the Pro7827HD features 3D playback, which is becoming a rarity these days, but sadly they didn’t provide any glasses with the review sample and we couldn’t find any we have from other manufacturers that worked with it. DLP is usually very good with 3D images and motion so we were disappointed that we couldn’t test this – but it is becoming a common issue these days with manufacturers seeing it as a function they don’t need to support.
Out-of-the-Box SettingsLike the BenQ W2000 we reviewed a few months ago, the ViewSonic promises a true Rec.709 colour performance thanks to using a coating on the RGBRGB colour wheel. It also has a cinema mode in the picture menu labelled Cinema (Rec.709). We measured all the possible combinations of colour temp and picture mode and settled on Cinema and Normal colour temp with gamma set to 3 which gave the closest curve to our desired 2.4 for dark room viewing.
Looking at the greyscale first (top left) we can see that the tracking is very good for an out-of-the-box setting with green just getting too high in the brighter part of the scale by around 5% and red and blue dipping slightly at the top end of the scale. This didn’t translate to any obvious colour cast on screen with normal viewing and we doubt the vast majority of viewers would notice anything wrong with the greyscale. Gamma had a peak of around 2.9 at 10ire before settling to around 2.5 for the majority of its curve. The drawback of this is shadow detail is crushed in the lower end of the scale and blacks take on a mass block of black in difficult night scenes. However this shouldn’t take too much away from a decent out-of-the-box performance that still has plenty of image depth and pop available in the majority of the image.
Moving to the colour gamut performance was disappointing to be honest and the promise of Rec.709 cinematic colours fell flat on its face. As the you can see (top right) only magenta gets anywhere close to tracking where it should be in relation to the rec.709 standard. The rest of the gamut is restricted in the same way as the vast majority of budget DLP machines we have seen lately with green yet again the hardest colour to get to track correctly. Red is also oversaturated in a similar DLP trait of late, but it is the green saturation and off hue errors that will impact the most here, especially with sports material. Let’s hope the CMS can help matters as much as it can, as obviously we can’t correct the entire gamut or add in what isn’t there to begin with.
Calibrated SettingsUnlike the Dell 4350 projector we reviewed recently, the ViewSonic thankfully has a full array of picture calibration controls and an ISFccc mode to help us try and get the best out of the Pro7827HD.
Looking at the greyscale tracking (top left) we can see that thanks to a two point colour temperature (white balance) control we managed to get the greyscale tracking with errors well below the visual threshold of 3 DetlaE. This means there are no colour casts to the image and white is correct. The only disappointment is with the basic gamma control which didn’t allow any major tweaks to the gamma curve, although just correcting the greyscale did bring the errors down slightly. Shadow detail is still clipped at the lower points of the scale, but the rest of the curve is now tracking far closer to our desired 2.4 point. Overall given the price point and performance of the ViewSonic this is a very good end result.
What isn’t as impressive is the Colour Management System (CMS) in the ViewSonic which appears to be working when measuring colour points, but it becomes obvious with normal viewing material that using the CMS adds in very obvious image artefacts and banding to colours. This is such a problem that in the end we gave up trying to get the CMS to work and had to settle on the out-of-the-box Cinema (Rec.709) preset results for the review. Obviously the ViewSonic is built to a price point, but if they are going to provide picture controls they need to make sure they work and the unit has the processing power to manage it. So we can safely say that the Pro7827HD does not get anywhere close to providing colour performance to the Rec.709 standard for HDTV and Movies.
Picture QualityAs with all DLP projector reviews we have to mention the black level performance and with the ViewSonic it is very much the usual budget DLP standard of dark greys and a lack of shadow details. This is impacted a little more here with a gamma performance that also robs any detail that might have survived in the lower reaches of the image because it peaks at 2.9 at 10ire and rolls off to 2.5 at 40ire out-of-the-box. It doesn’t really improve much when calibrated and we have no advanced gamma controls to correct things further. So below 30ire images with blacks have one block of the same blackness with no detail. This can be distracting in a bat cave or light controlled viewing room with dark scenes in movies, where you could be missing some action or plot point. Obviously like we always say in these reviews, move the Viewsonic into a normal living room with white walls and ceilings and no way to block out all the light, raising the black floor of the environment, and the mediocre black performance isn’t as big an issue. It also shouldn’t impact on sports viewing during the summer as it can produce very bright images.
The brightness will help overcome less than ideal rooms (or even projecting onto the side of a house at the garden BBQ party you hold during the Euros or Olympics). This brightness comes at a cost and that is a noisy fan even in the Eco low lamp mode and it can be annoying unless you can get the unit a good 6 feet or more away from the viewing position. Even in calibrated low lamp mode the ViewSonic managed to kick out a good 900 lumens in our bat cave testing room, which also translated well to our living room environment for TV and sports material.
The Pro7827HD is bright and colourful with sports material but the off-hue colour tones, especially with green can cause issues with how pitches and courses can appear on screen. There is nothing we can do to correct this with the picture controls available and it is a downside of DLP colour wheel technology. However, we feel that given the price point and the quality elsewhere with the ViewSonic we could perhaps cut it a little slack here. It is not a cinema projector for critical movie viewing in a bat cave cinema room, there are better models out there if that is what you want. But if you want an all-rounder for movies, games and sports on the big screen then the Viewsonic gets the job done within its limitations. So not for the image connoisseur, but for everyone else who just wants some big screen fun at not much money. The image on offer from the Pro7827HD is very bright, colourful and motion is handled extremely well for fast sports action. We did find that focus was a touch fussy to get a full screen in sharp focus with the edge of the image suffering most. However in terms of brightness and colour casting we saw no issues with on screen uniformity of the image. Gamers will also be happy with a 39ms input lag result from our Leo Bodnar testing device.
Finally we come to 3D viewing and rainbow effect results. With 3D we were not provided with any glasses and those which we do have from other manufacturers would not sync correctly with the ViewSonic. Sadly we were not able to test the 3D as a result of this. It seems manufacturers are not prepared to promote the functionality which is a shame as DLP can normally produce very good results. In terms of the dreaded rainbow effect we didn’t see that many instances while directly viewing the projector and would say it is the same as the BenQ models. However if you are susceptible or members of your family are, it is worth testing if you can all live with it before purchase.
- Good greyscale tracking
- Capable motion handling for sports
- Makes a reasonable stab at movie presentation
- Decent value for money
- Can't reach Rec.709 standards as claimed
- CMS use introduces artefacts
- Greens can look odd when watching sports
- Shadow detail clipping
- Mediocre black levels
- Cheap feel to chassis and design
ViewSonic Pro7827HD DLP Projector ReviewThis is not a dedicated critical movie watching projector and it suffers from the same issues as other budget DLP models when it comes to mediocre blacks and lack of shadow details. Plus it also can’t resolve Rec.709 colours to the HD standard, despite what the marketing on their website and box might claim. However at the price point we do feel that the ViewSonic makes a good case as an all-rounder for sports, gaming and the occasional movie viewing. Greens can look a little odd on some pitches or courses during sports watching, but overall the Pro7827HD is bright and colourful with excellent motion and good portability. It also does 3D if that is of interest, although you will have to find and purchase glasses which will work – sadly we had none supplied with this review model so couldn’t test it.
Gamers will benefit from good input lag results and, of course, the short throw of the lens providing a 100” image from just 8ft away makes big screen gaming a reality. Although the projector is ISFccc certified and has calibration controls in the menus, the CMS doesn’t work at all and instead adds artefacts to the image, however given that this projector costs double the base calibration price of a professional, we doubt that will make any difference to prospective owners at all. Although colours are off-hue compared to Rec.709 only green can stand out as being noticeable with some content and the oversaturated reds don’t get in the way for the majority of viewing. The ViewSonic is a budget DLP projector that does most things well enough and would at the price point be a good excuse to entertain the neighbours with big screen football and the Olympics this summer.
There are a few competitors out there and the BenQ W1110 and TH670 could make a better choice due to their ability to be calibrated properly, without any issues with artefacts and look slightly more accurate with primary colours. It is not as obvious an advantage if you are not calibrating the image though. They are both a tad quieter as well and with better gamma control, provide just a smidge more detail in the lower reaches of the image, although blacks are still mediocre. If you want more accurate projector images for movie watching you could also look at the slightly more expensive BenQ W2000 and Sony HW40ES.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black levels7
2D Picture Quality7
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box6
Picture Quality Calibrated7
Ease Of Use7
Value For Money7
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