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BenQ 8700 HTPC DVI ??

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by tbrar, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. tbrar

    tbrar
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    In the process of moving towards Front PJ, I am now considering one of these DLP's (also LCD PJ's as per another post). The BenQ 8700 looks very good on paper, had some excellent reviews and most importantly is very well priced for a HD2 DLP :eek:

    One area of concern was its ability to take a 1280 x 720 from a HTPC via DVI, as this will be my primary source. I have read earlier posts that state BenQ had acknowledged an issue and that it was being resolved. Has any one any more information on this, i.e. has it been fixed ??
     
  2. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Ive just read on AVS that a fix will be made available for download at the end of the month.
     
  3. Kramer

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    Download :eek: How do you update it then? USB/Firewire?

    Unusual that a manufacturer should allow an "end user" to update firmware themselves :confused: What does this do for warranty if it all goes pear-shaped?

    :smoke:
     
  4. tbrar

    tbrar
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  5. pdundas

    pdundas
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    I've recently acquired a Benq 8700 and have 1280x720 running via DVI from a HTPC. Seems to work OK.

    I first tried it with a nVidia card but no luck at all. I then tried an ATI card and added the 1280x720 DVI/HDCP standard resolution using Powerstrip and it worked straight away.

    From what I can gather the 8700 will accept all HDTV resolutions via its DVI port even though the manual fails to make this clear. The DVI port is also apparently HDCP compatible.
     
  6. Kramer

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    Thanks tbrar, will have a look.
     
  7. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Pdundas - thats very interesting, as it really looks like an excellent machine. May I ask if you are located in the UK?, if so where did you buy yours from ?
     
  8. pdundas

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    Yes, I'm in the UK. I got mine from ebuyer - seemed as cheap/quick as anyone. About £3900+VAT.

    There seem to be few in stock in the UK but Benq Europe have them in stock in the Netherlands and they seem to ship out directly from there.

    The DVI input with a PC definately works at 1280x720 with the current firmware. I think there was a question as to whether it was "direct mapping" or not as the Benq has a Wide/4:3 selectable mode but the conclusion seems to be that it is. It certainly looks like it is to me.
     
  9. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Pdundas, thanks. Its beginning to look like a winner to me. What do you think of it ??
     
  10. Kramer

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    Try this. Instructions here.

    Will confirm that 1:1 is being achieved.

    :smoke:
     
  11. pdundas

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    I'll certainly try the DILA software when I get time - thanks for the link.

    Initial impressions of the Benq are quite favourable. I haven't had that much time to play with it but have watched a couple of films. I had a Sony 10HT before (well, I still have if anyone wants to buy it) and it is definately better.

    One thing to note is that before the 10HT I had a W400Q and the jump between that and the 10HT which was 3 years projector development was huge, but the jump between the 10HT and Benq (also 3 years) is not as large. I can only conclude that projector technology is maturing.

    That said, the Benq produces a very pleasing picture and in my opinion is almost certainly as good as any HD2 based machines. As its also the cheapest by quite a margin (at UK prices anyway) if you want a HD2 machine and can accomodate its short-throw then it presents its self as the logical buy.

    Contrast is very good with very pleasing black levels (as long as its set up right - the gamma/brightness/contrast need to be set very carefully on source and projector). Colours are excellent - bold, bright but not artificially so.

    The projector extracts a hell of a lot of information and detail from a normal DVD. Even via component interlaced input the quality is very pleasing with more detail information than some of the more budget models can manage with DVI.

    I've got a D-VHS deck with a reasonable selection of HD material and with a good DVD (usually a recent Warner, New Line or Columbia title) via 720p DVI input it can do an alarmingly good impression of the HD material. Obviously there is not as much detail as true high definition but it does manage to convey some of the 3D effect you get with good HD sources.

    Its definately worth using DVI (with either a PC or stand alone player) as there is less noise in the picture and slightly more detail.

    Some people complain about the fan. In terms of noise level its very similar to the Sony 10/11/12HT but it does alter its speed depending on temperature level. It would be better if it didn't do this but its not a major issue and I think too much fuss has been made about it.

    Incidentally, the unit comes packed with a North American, European and UK power cord so I suspect all models are identical wherever purchased.

    If you have any specific questions let me know.
     
  12. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Thanks for even more information.

    I actually require a short throw PJ given my room constraints and ideally want a HD2 PJ. Given the price, the review (in Secrets of Home Cinema & High Fidelity http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_10_3/benq-8700-projector-8-2003.html) and users reports including yours it certainly looks the ticket !!.

    The only thing that I am waiting on now is BenQ response to the 1:1 issue via DVI from a HTPC. Ive posed the question directly to them to clarify and to be sure as possible prior to buying. The UK are waiting for the States to come on board at 3:00pm our time apparently and will be firing across an email, will let you know.

    One thing that you may be able to help with is its HDCP compatability, I have looked through the documents I have access to but dont see it mentioned anywhere. Is it possible that you could direct me to the appropriate so as I can confirm ?
     
  13. pdundas

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    If I remember correctly, the specification on www.benq.com (USA site) does mention HDCP specifically whilst on www.benq.co.uk it does not. The models appear to be the same for both markets so I suspect the European site just didn't realise what it was. Benq should be able to tell you themselves though.

    The documentation on the DVI port is poor - it implies in the manual and on the projector this is just a "PC" input (the remote button just says "PC") but in actual fact it DOES support HD-TV modes. It certainly supports 720p and other users have stated it supports 1080i too. I suppose the other question is, assuming it supports 1080i, does it support 1080i 50Hz Euro/Australian standard?
     
  14. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Attached is SPEC sheet from US site, which as you say confirms HDCP and 1080i support:-

    ftp://209.218.28.211/spec_sheets/projectors/pe8700_specs.pdf

    Also I wondered if you using it with a HTPC for DVD playback via DVI, if so what refresh rates you had running into it, performance of PAN's etc?.
     
  15. pdundas

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    When I use a HTPC I just leave it on the 1280x720 60Hz Powerstrip "DVI/HDCP" setting. It seems fine on all discs in terms of panning etc.

    In theory, you could also try and setup a 1280x720 50Hz resolution if your video card will support it for use with PAL discs which matches the frame rate although, to be honest, I'm not sure it'll make a huge difference in practice.
     
  16. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Pdundas,

    Thanks for information.

    I have just had issues in the past with plasma panels/refresh rates and acheiving decent smooth(ish) pans. I just want to be sure that the PJ will accept (is happy) with varying refresh rates.

    Additionally, I have just read on another forum of a member having his HTPC set at 50Hz for PAL and 60Hz for NTSC material into the 8700, so all looks good.

    I am still waiting for confirmation from BENQ, Ill chase them up again on the 1:1 mapping. Could I ask what specific Graphics card are you using the PJ with ?.

    Thanks
     
  17. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Pdundas, Ooops... just read that you are using a 9200 on the states forum.
     
  18. pdundas

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    I'm using the 9200 as it was the cheapest Radeon card I could find easily with DVI out.

    To be honest, if you're just using it for video playback you don't need anything too special hardware wise and any reasonably recent Radeon card with DVI will do the job.

    I wasn't impressed with the nVidia card I tried first - not only did the DVI not work at 1280x720 but even via analogue connections I couldn't get a satisfactory gamma setting.

    Prior to these two cards I'd been using an old Matrox G400 for about 3 years which did a fine job on analogue (but no DVI out).
     
  19. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Thanks, the only reason I ask was to try to ensure that the PJ will work with mine !. I think I just need to be a bit more patient and wait for a confirmed response from BenQ. Ill shall let you know how I get on.
     
  20. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Just received an email/phone call back from BENQ UK.

    Firstly, the DVI input *is* confirmed as HDCP compliant. Secondly, they also say that there will not be any issue running 1280x720 (native, 1:1 mapped) via my HTPC through the 8700's DVI input. There has been and are issues with nVidia cards, but these are not limited to the BenQ 8700 apparently. (Incidentally they did tell me there is a fix available - just in case anyone has a nVidia and is interested in the BenQ 8700.)

    .... All looks well, must say that I have been quite impressed with their support.
     
  21. Dutch

    Dutch
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    Go on Tony, go for it! ;)

    Steve
     
  22. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Steve,

    ..... part of me is in full agreement with your school of thought, the other being a bit more cautious. I think I will get the PJ, I am just waiting on some final bits before going ahead with it, just need to be sure as can really. Obviously, let you know.


    Tony
     
  23. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Pdundas, a couple more questions if you dont mind, regarding the above. I know BENQ have told me there is no issue, however I wondered if you had tried the DILA test that Kramer posted ?. Also when viewing via DVI have you the BENQ set to its 'THRO' mode, or do you have it set to one of the others?.
     
  24. pdundas

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    When feeding it a 720p signal you set it to the "Ana" or "Wide" modes (normally wide). It would appear that if the projector is being fed a 720p signal by whatever input and is in a widescreen mode it direct mappes. (Obviously you also need to ensure no keystone is set etc.). You'd set it to "Thro" to direct map a 4:3 signal.

    To be honest it is possible to get too bogged down in technical details - when fed a DVI 720p signal the picture is very, very clear be it on video or the windows desktop which is what really matters - how it does it or what it's doing is of secondary importance.

    I probably will try the DILARD test when I've got some spare time out of interest but I haven't done so yet.
     
  25. Kramer

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    Never! Next you'll be saying that looking at trains isn't exciting :D

    Secondary importance? Not around here it's not ;)

    Will hopefully have a chance to see the BenQ next week.
     
  26. Boris Blank

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    This pj has to be the sleeper product of the year! Its release was mostly overlooked due to the mass of more recognisable brand names that released their own pj's at the same time.

    Glad to see Mr Dundas has one. I recall that you were one of the first buyers of the Sony 10HT and the cinematrix player and your reviews/comments on these prompted many folks to buy them as well, myself included.

    You've been very quiet for the past few years, glad to see you here at long last and look forward to reading more of your very interesting comments/reviews!

    Paul
     
  27. pdundas

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    Hi Paulb,

    Yes, I did have an early Cinemarix/HT10 combination and it has served me well. I've still got the Cinematrix equipped DVD player and still use it for general DVD playback on projector and TV when I can't be bothered to mess about with a PC. At some point I may consider a newer DVD player with DVI-out (something like the Pioneer 868i) but I'll probably wait a while to see what other manufacturers come up with in competition. I haven't got around to hooking up the 720p output of the Cinematrix modded player to the Benq for want of some BNC to Phono adapters but I will do so when I've got some spare time and see what the result is.

    I have a lot of respect for the old 10HT - at the time it was on the market it was an excellent performer and had no real competition if you wanted 16:9 native aspect. Certainly, black levels are not a strong point but it can give a very pleasing picture none-the-less. Detail on the 10HT is no where near as good as the Benq off DVD (from all sources) but fed with a genuine HD signal off a D-VHS tape it comes closer than you might expect to newer models.

    What is amazing is that things which, three years ago, required non-standard (expensive) mods and £5k+ projectors can now be achieved on a £2k projector and a DVD player from Richer sounds.

    I first saw demos of the HD2 projectors at last year's CES in Las Vegas (although they'd been around since the previous Autumn) and it was the first time the quality jump seemed large enough to give me the upgrade itch. As the Benq is the cheapest, performs as well as the others and has a 3 year warranty it makes a good case for its self.
     
  28. tbrar

    tbrar
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    Just a quickie for now, I received my BENQ yesterday. Many thanks to Ken from Ivojo who really helped me out in ensuring that the PJ was suitable for my requirements and my equipment - prior to me parting with any cash, really top service.

    The room although partially decorated is still being completed, hence the PJ has not been mounted yet (will be mounted Thursday). All I have had the chance to do is throw an image against the screen rested on my speakers !. The screen I am using is the Beamax 'A' series 1.2 Gain Fixed Frame, 5.5 Foot Wide. Reason for sceen size is room constraints, I could get a 6 foot in at a push, and may well do in future!!

    Attached to my HTPC via DVI into the PJ at 1280x720 (DVI-HDCP derived setting from Powerstrip via Radeon), the PQ is amazing. Truly. Blacks are indeed very black - blacker than I expected if truthfull, it also a very bright picture with vibrant colours - very puncy cinematic image. In short I am very happy, this is a much more pleasing experience than any of the plasma displays that I have had in the past - it really is a different kettle of fish, dont know why I didnt go down front PJ route sooner.

    Its also worth noting that the PJ *will* accept different refresh rates via DVI, usefull for optimising and was important to me.

    Obviously have more of a chance to play over next few days (roll on the weekend !), also by then the room will be complete (bar hiding cables ....), Ill post some pictures when complete. However from what I have seen so far, both in demonstrations with my equipment and yesterday evening, I think I am on to a winner !! :smashin:
     
  29. homethx

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    you can get it cheaper at ivojo at £3,173.68 inc. VAT
     
  30. gandley

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    Nice one tbar, so are u still gonna get a plasma or has the pj blown u away. as u now i was realy keen on the pio 504 but an absolute chance demo of a PJ ended all that.

    I must try to demo the 8700 sounds like a bargain buy
     

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