These artifacts are noticeable, but I found them to be subtle enough that they didn’t distract me during program material. That’s the dipstick I use to determine if I can live with and watch a display. This display got it done for me, but as always you should see it with your own eyes to determine if any of these are dealbreakers for you.
BenQ is the company formerly known as Acer, a name that will be more familiar to those who’ve been in the high-tech industry as I once was (a dark time). BenQ has production facilities all over the world, and its product range includes LCD and plasma flatpanel displays, DVD recorders, MP3 players, digital cameras, and other computer “peripherals” (mice, keyboards, discs drives, etc.).
In addition to all that, BenQ has a surprisingly deep line of projectors for both business and home cinema. There are four DLP projectors in the home-cinema line—two high-def 720 projectors, one 480p projector, and one 576p projector.
The PE7700 has serious scoreboard on aesthetics. This projector’s design is much slicker than I’d expect at this price point. Zoom and focus are manually adjusted on the lens barrel, but the lens is flush with the front of the projector and accessed through a cutout on the top of the chassis. Everything about the look, feel, and fit ’n’ finish of this projector is substantial and impressive.
As with the InFocus projector there is no vertical lens shift, but there is a keystone correction (although, once again, its use should be minimized). Telescopic feet on the front of the chassis provide the lift needed to facilitate table-mounting—a popular option for front projectors in this price range. The lens my review unit was equipped with was geared for a very short throw—for my 80"-wide screen the minimum throw was only 8' from the screen, with a max of just under 12'. (The InFocus, by contrast, had a throw of from 11' to 14'.) Even when table-mounting, always take a close look at the throw distances required in your room for the screen size you plan to use.
Connectivity is solid with a combination RGBHV/component-video input (on BNCs) and a standard component input, both of which are HD-compatible. An HDMI input is included, but this projector has no speakers, nor does it have a digital audio output to send HDMI’s digital audio to an external surround processor or AVR, as some projectors do. This is an observation, not a nit-pick. I don’t think it makes sense in too many (if any) circumstances to run audio from the projector to a surround controller or AVR.
In addition to your typical brightness, contrast, color, and tint adjustments, the PE7700’s menus offer noise reduction and another adjustment called FILTER, to manage noise. I found both of those last adjustments, along with the SHARPNESS control, to be superfluous with high-quality sources, but some people might want a touch of the latter with lower-quality cable or satellite channels. The COLOR ENHANCEMENT feature allows adjustment of the intensity of red, green, blue, yellow, and white separately. I was pleased enough with the BenQ’s stock colors that I didn’t play with this, but feel free to experiment.
BenQ gives you ample picture memories to harness all these adjustments. In addition to five “preset modes,” the PE 7700 allows you to store and recall three sets of your own adjustments per source input. There are three preset color temperatures, too, and two customizable color temps that can be memorized and recalled. This is an outstanding amount of flexibility, and I should also note that the NORMAL color temp was very close to the D6500 standard right out of the box. Good work BenQ!
There are extensive adjustments for dialing in timing and sizing information for both PCs and other sources, so gamers can drive the BenQ through a wild ride. A high-altitude mode that cranks up the fan enough to keep the engine cool in thin air is included, as well. The default lamp power setting (FULL) is way bright and has lighter blacks than ECONOMIC, which is still a torch. I used ECONOMIC throughout the review. Another default that should definitely be changed is the black level—from 7.5 IRE to 0 IRE.
Another potential plus to fans of the feature-sets that adorn many “bigscreen TVs” is the PE7700’s inclusion of Picture-In-Picture (PIP) and Picture-On-Picture (POP). I’d rather have a vertical lens shift, but if this is your bag you’ve got it.
The remote control for the PE7700 is large, but all buttons are backlit. There’s so much real estate on the remote for its many buttons that it doesn’t feel crowded, and there’s direct access to practically all key features. One button can access any source input, change aspect ratio or memory preset, or change brightness, contrast, color, or tint. This remote doesn’t have the InFocus’ compact simplicity, but it, too, is a model of accessibility and intuitive intelligence in ergonomic design. If all remotes were designed like these two, the world would be a better place.