Reviewer: Bennett Ring
If you’re thinking of purchasing a DLP-type projector and figure you’re up for $4,000 – $5,000, you might like to take a look at the BenQ PE7700. At a dollar shy of $2,500 – well below market average for a projector of this specification – it would be easy to assume that it lacks certain key performance attributes. But then, maybe not. Curious, we spent a few hours alone with the PE7700 to see what you get for this bargain basement price.
Getting a picture onto the screen with this projector isn’t quite as easy as comparably priced LCD models, as it lacks in lens shift features. These allow the image to be shifted up or down or from side to side without having to move or tilt the projector itself, enabling more flexible placement of the projector within a room. It’s possible to use keystone correction to help place the image correctly, but this actually results in a loss of image quality. The PE7700Â also requires quite a high mount opposite your viewing screen, so a ceiling mount is highly recommended.
The PE7700 hasn’t got the greatest zoom ratio, at only 1.37:1, which means it’s unsuited to relatively narrow rooms with less than four metres or so between the screen and projector.
We tested via component, and noticed that only one set of RCA inputs is included. A second set could have been useful given the popularity of component-enabled sources.
The menu system is very simple to navigate, with basic image tweaks a single button press away. More advanced tweaks are buried several menu layers deeper, away from prying novice digits. Not that you’ll need to bother with these too much though, as the PE7700 was almost perfectly calibrated out of the box. A range of preset colour options will suit all of its different roles, from gaming to sports to movies.
PIP (Picture in Picture) is offered, as Picture on Picture, a feature that allows you to view two sources at the same time next to each other, although we’re not convinced that many users will actually make use of this function.
The fan noise was exceptionally low, even when in normal mode at maximum brightness, and the case has obviously been inspired by Apple design with its smooth, glossy-white contours.
The unit uses the HD2+ DLP chip with widescreen 1280 x 720 resolution, so it’s capable of translating HD video from broadcast TV, games consoles and the internet onto the big screen. The image quality was very hard to fault, even without tweaking, so the scaling circuity is certainly pretty good. Colours were rich and accurate, and the projector managed to separate closely related colours with ease. It’s quite a bright little box as well, and on par with the better-featured LCD projectors that lead the entry-level projector market. HD2+ chip is also responsible for the excellent contrast offered by the PE7700.
While it uses the fastest colour wheel we?ve seen this far south of a $5,000 projector, we still noticed a little rainbow effect. We’re particularly sensitive to this phenomenon, however, so don’t let this put you off. Like all single-chip DLP projectors, we highly recommend you see it in action to determine whether this type of artefacting will be distracting to you. Rainbow issues aside, the PE7700 projects a vibrant and accurate image that is up there with projectors twice its price.
We’re not sure how BenQ has managed to get the PE7700 to market at such a low price, but we’re certainly not complaining. If you don’t notice the rainbow effect, we can easily recommend the PE7700 as the sub-$5,000 projector to get.