Since being acquired by industrial display maker Planar a couple of years ago, the specialist front projector brand Runco has seen its product portfolio expand dramatically. While Runco is still best known for its high-end projectors targeted towards the custom installation channel, the firm’s new LightStyle projectors are geared for a wider audience, with retail prices well under the traditional Runco price range (i.e., the five-figure range, and up).
Comprising three 1080p DLP models, the range includes the single chip LS-3 at $4,995, which includes vertical lens shift, the single chip LS-5 under review here, which features slightly better specs and includes both horizontal and vertical lens shift features at $6,995, and the deluxe three-chip LS-7 model which is available with six different lens options at $14.995 (a substantially higher price to be sure, but one that is still reasonable considering what some other premium three chip 1080p DLP projectors go for these days).
Consider this projector if: you’d like a feature-rich projector from one of the industry’s most respected brands, and need both horizontal and vertical lens shift.
Look elsewhere if: you don’t need the horizontal lens shift feature, as the LS-3 model is essentially similar to the LS-5 and costs quite a bit less.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced front projectors)
· Overall picture quality (HD): 9
· Features: 8
· Connectivity: 8
· User interface: 8
· Value: 7
The main optical imaging engine is based on a well-proven design, and features a six-segment (RGBRGB) color wheel, along with Osram’s Unishape lamp modulation system, which provides a dithered and variable pulse width to increase bit depth and provide for greater visual dynamic range. The video processor section features Runco’s own Vivix processor, built around a high performance video chip with numerous picture adjustments for setup and calibration, along with multiple user-defined memories. There’s also ISF certification, which provides Day and Night modes.
The projector’s default settings are configured to provide the best overall out-of-the-box performance and each unit is factory calibrated to the optimum 6500° Kelvin color temperature (other color temperature settings are also provided). With the lamp in the high output mode (at 230 watts), the LS-5 puts out a healthy 26 foot-Lamberts on a 120” diagonal 1.3 gain screen. For use with smaller screens where even the lower 180 watts lamp setting would still be too bright, the lens features SLR camera-style threads to accept a 72mm neutral density filter.
Runco’s ConstantContrast system is a fairly sophisticated contrast enhancement method, which combines a fast-acting light aperture with over 200 adjustment steps along with an average picture level detector, sensing when overall scene brightness is darker and trimming back light output accordingly. The ConstantContrast system works in a much faster way than typical adjustable iris methods. An internal sensor detects when the projector is upside down (i.e. ceiling-mounted) and flips the image vertically automatically.