Sugg. Retail: $8900 (CAN)
Distributor: Benq Canada
207 Queen’s Quay W #403,
Toronto, Ontario L5T 1V5
Reprinted From the Fall 2004 Issue
A new name in the A/V firmamant, BenQ claims to be the 3d largest manufacturer of LCD panels in the world, and has come into Canada as a subsidiary of BenQ America Corp., and the parent company has manufacturing plants in Malaysia, Mexico, China, and Taiwan. The product presented here, however, is a projector that, like the SIM2 Domino 30, uses the newest HD2 Mustang 720p DLP engine. It also ultilizes a 6-segmant colour wheel, Silicon Image S1504 line doubling and 3:2 pull-down for film material.
Specifications include 1000 lumens brightness, 2000:1 contrast ratio, and 1280 x 720 pixels native resolution. Inputs are provided for Composite, S, YCbCr (component video with BNC connectors), and RGB, with an RS232 control port as well. Accessories available include a replacement lamp at $699 (lamp life is specified at about 2000 hours), a ceiling mount for $399, and a carrying case for $149. The PE8700 comes with a remote control.
It’s quite a handsome projector (if that matters), with its blue insert around controls and lens, and light silver case. Revealing its business presentation origins, it features a fairly extreme upward tilt to its image beam, and can provide an 80″+ picture size at a distance of beyond 10 feet. In a larger room than ours it will offer over 100″, but, as you know, brightness diminishes as picture size increases. I set it up in our 14′ x 16′ home theatre room at a distance of just over 11′ and achieved a picture size of almost exactly 80″ diagonally with an off-satellite high definition 16×9 picture on our ceiling hung screen. I watched quite a bit of Olympics broadcasts from NBC in HD with increasing boredom. A friend once told me that watching golf on TV was like watching paint dry, but, I’ve got to say, watching gymnastics is worse, and it got me off to sleep on a few nights in August. I guess that’s my kind of Olympics.
I later hooked the BenQ up to my reference Pioneer Elite DV-AX10 DVD player to look at the Digital Video Essentials disc. Even on the S-Video input, the picture was very sharp, clean and free of motion artifacts. The SMPTE test pattern was geometrically accurate, with excellent black depth; in other tests it showed black below black, had superb colour purity, and high resolution in the various grid patterns, as well as excellent grey scale gradations.
I also liked its freedom from motion shimmer on pans and zooms. In general, the BenQ PE8700 offers a vivid, detailed picture that approaches, but does not surpass that of the SIM2 Domino 30, which had generally higher resolution, and more of a sense of realism in its images. The difference? My guess would be that the optics of the more expensive projector played a part in this.
I suppose I could live happily with either, but the telling of the tale always ends when I go back to my CRT RPTV, a 64″ Pioneer Elite, with its sharper picture and greater sense of depth of image. There are definite convenience aspects that come with a really good DLP projector, including variable image size, portability, and compactness, and the BenQ qualifies on all counts. But I guess I’m still waiting for the projector that really rings my chimes at a price I can ring up.