Projectors

Runco LS-10i 3-Chip DLP Projector

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

The case design is just like the other projectors in Runco’s Lightstyle series except it’s a bit larger – five inches deeper and three inches wider to be exact. This stands to reason given the greater space needed by the 3-chip DLP light engine. The case is a satin-finished black plastic with the lens front and center, and a shrouded jack panel in back. You can remove the cowling covering the inputs to provide easier access and I left this off since I have limited space on my mounting shelf. For ceiling mounts, you’ll want to leave the cowling on as it completes the shape of the projector and hides the cabling nicely.

The LS-10i is a 3-chip DLP which means there is no color wheel. Each primary color has its own DMD with a fixed color filter. If you see rainbows with single-chip DLP displays, you won’t with a 3-chip one. With any three-chip device, there is the concern about convergence. This issue is more prevalent with LCoS and LCD models. I looked at several crosshatch patterns both internal to the LS-10i and from my signal generator and a test disc. I saw no convergence errors whatsoever, nor did I see any lens aberrations. In fact, the quality of the rendered patterns exceeded most of the single-chip DLP projectors I’ve reviewed. Not only are the imaging chips perfectly aligned, the lens is the best I’ve seen to date.

My review unit shipped with a standard zoom lens offering a 1.74-2.17 throw ratio. Five other zoom lenses are available with ratios ranging from 1.45 to 6.76, or you can get a fixed .77 throw lens for rear projection applications. There are also a full range of anamorphic lenses available for constant-height widescreen setups. The lens is fully motorized for shift, focus and zoom. This makes installation a breeze. The controls are very precise and it takes only a few minutes to center and focus the image using the internal test patterns. Lens shift is a generous 65% vertical and 30% horizontal. You should have little trouble fitting the LS-10i into any kind of installation and the screen can be up to 180 inches wide.

Inputs include two HDMI; two component, one of which has BNC connectors; one S-video and one composite. There is also a 15-pin D-sub input for RGBHV or a computer. For control purposes there are two 12-volt triggers, RS-232, and an IR input. This last jack is a surprising rarity in projectors and I was glad to see it included. On top of the case are buttons for power, source selection and menu navigation. The sides consist of large vents which, along with a relatively quiet internal fan, move a tremendous amount of air across the 260-watt lamp inside. These vents do leak a bit of light but it did not impact the image in my completely darkened room.

Runco’s excellent and efficient menu system has become very familiar to me now and the LS-10i does not depart from the standard layout. Principal sections are titled Main, Advanced, System, Control, Language and Service. All the picture controls are in Main and Advance. Besides the basic Brightness, Contrast, Color, Tint and Sharpness, there is a single Noise Reduction slider which is best left at its default of 100. Aspect Ratio choices are 16:9 which maps every pixel one-to-one, Letterbox (stretches a 2.35:1 image to eliminate black bars), 4:3, Virtual-Wide (stretches a 4:3 image non-linearly), Cinema for an anamorphic lens and 2.35:1 screen setup, and Virtual Cinema which creates a bar-less 2.35:1 image without an additional lens by stretching the sides of the image more than the center. You can also add overscan or mask the picture if you wish.

The Advanced menu contains presets for Color Space (which is actually the color conversion matrix, Auto is fine in almost all cases), Video Standard (NTSC, PAL or SECAM), Gamma (1.8 to 2.5), Color Temp (5500 to 9300 Kelvin), DLP Frame Rate (Auto, 48, 50 or 60 Hz; Auto worked fine for me), Color Gamut (Auto, Rec 709, SMPTE-C (Rec 601), EBU, Native or PCE which is the Color Management System), Constant and Adaptive Contrast (best left off), RGB Adjust (white balance), and Fine Sync (image position and pixel phase). Leaving the color options on Auto worked for all my source material and the 2.2 Gamma preset actually measured a nice, flat 2.2; so no need for a gamma curve editor here! RGB Adjust works just as it should and required only small adjustments to achieve the excellent results you’ll see in the Benchmark section. The PCE (color management system) was not as useful as the one in Runco’s Q-750i LED projector but as you’ll see, the default color is very accurate.

Once you’ve set the picture to your liking, you can save everything to one of two picture modes. If you have the ISF passcode, that opens up two additional modes called ISF Day and ISF Night. This can be done in the Main menu under Memory. Moving to the System menu, there are options for PIP position, menu position and translucency, lamp power, projector position, and the power-on chime. This chime is very useful because the fan is surprisingly quiet considering the 260-watt bulb it’s cooling. I have experienced louder projectors with far less light output than the LS-10i. You can also turn off unused inputs here to avoid cycling through the eight available connections.

The Control menu lets you program some of the keys on the remote to make it easier to access a specific input or slide an anamorphic lens into position. This gives you one-button access to change aspect ratio and lens position when you want to watch a cinemascope title. The Language menu gives you eight choices for the menu language. Finally, the Service menu is the place to go for signal information, serial numbers, firmware version, lamp hours and internal test patterns.

The remote is well-designed and includes all necessary functions. At the top are discrete power keys and a button to turn on the soft blue backlight. Next down are individual source selectors. This is followed by menu navigation and picture controls. There are four picture memory presets which can be programmed by the user or an installer if you want ISF Day and Night modes. Then we have aspect ratio controls which can be used along with the 12-volt triggers to control an anamorphic lens sled and/or screen masks for the different image widths. There is a numeric keypad and then at the bottom are the controls for lens shift, zoom and focus. As in other Runco remotes, the backlight is a soft blue to prevent eyestrain in darkened theaters. While this may seem like a small thing, it shows real attention to detail.