Projectors

Runco Q750i DLP Projector with LED Illumination

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Runco Q750i LED Projector

Hot Tub Time Machine is loaded with saturated, almost glowing colors that portray the Eighties in all their stylistic glory. While the look sometimes borders on cartoonish, the detail I saw on the Q750i was simply amazing. I have watched many DLPs, including other Runco models, and the Q has a level of sharpness I’ve only seen matched by the Runco LS-5 and the Samsung SP-A900B. Detail was literally eye-popping. Even though I had it set to a peak output of 14.5fL, the excellent color transients and contrast made for an extremely vivid picture. Dark scenes were not the blackest I’ve seen though shadow detail was excellent. I tried the different ConstantContrast settings throughout the movie. Blacks were deeper with the control on Low. I didn’t see any improvement on Medium or High. I also saw no color shift or obvious change in gamma. Overall, I’d say the effect was subtle. I left it on for the remainder of my viewing. SatCo did cause an obvious change in color so I left it off. Adaptive Contrast deepened black levels further and increased peak output but at the expense of crushed detail. I also left this control off.

I chose Crimson Tide for two reasons, dark scene content and its natural color palette. Movies that take place inside submarines are loaded with tough-to-render shadow detail and objects that are often illuminated just by green or red panel lighting. A display not only has to deliver that shadow detail, it must do it in the presence of bright highlights and without visible noise or dithering. The Runco excelled on all counts with the Constant Contrast control on the Low setting. Even though this setting is a dynamic one, I never saw any variation in image brightness. Contrast was obviously greater but the effects of the control were invisible. The image was completely noise-free. Even when I looked at the picture from a few inches away, there was no sign of dithering. Crimson Tide’s natural color was also excellent. With accuracy this fine, you know you’re seeing the director’s intent at all times.

Alice in Wonderland is classic Tim Burton with monochromatic scenery punctuated by brightly colored objects or characters. Rendering of fine detail is what’s required here and the Q barely broke a sweat. Imagery like this looks flat on many displays but not the Q. The absence of lush colored backgrounds merely served to make the picture even more three-dimensional as elements like the Mad Hatter’s bright red hair or Alice’s deep blue dress popped out of the screen. I did not see this movie in its 3D presentation but in this case there was no need. Runco delivered all the 3D I could wish for.

Runco Q750i LED Projector

None of the previous Blu-ray releases of NBC’s Heroes have been overly impressive in appearance and Season 4 is no exception. Grain is present in many scenes and becomes a distraction as the light level drops. Color is also uneven with casts that range from blue to magenta. Still, the sharpness is excellent especially in facial textures. There’s a little added edge enhancement but the Q750i managed to keep that from becoming an issue. The Blu-rays are an improvement over the hi-def broadcast and thanks to Runco, they look decent on the big screen.

The Illusionist is shot in a period style to fit its timeframe of turn-of-the-century Vienna. The entire movie is awash in golden hues and vintage textures. This kind of color interpretation makes it very hard to preserve detail in the image. Though it still looked flat to me, shadow and highlight detail were both preserved well by the Q750i. Faces, while still looking highly filtered, did show a relatively natural look. Another artifact I see frequently in films like this is moiré. When the color palette becomes monochromatic, fine gradations are tough for a digital display to render. The Runco’s excellent video processing handled this well always showing smooth unblemished transitions from light to dark.

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen is a feast both visually and sonically. It’s better used as an audio demo thanks to many thundering low-frequency effects but the picture looks pretty good too. The vast majority of the action takes place in bright desert sunlight. Highlights were never overblown and color while very saturated never lost detail. The CGI-rendered robots were totally believable with every scratch, paint chip and dent perfectly visible. The scene where Megan Fox lays stretched out on a motorcycle is about as 3D as it gets without wearing funky glasses and spending a fortune on new electronics.

Next I chose BBC’s Planet Earth with its lush natural color and super high-quality HD photography. There are few nature films that look this good from any studio. Motion processing is especially important here as the BBC camera crews have created the smoothest pans I’ve ever seen. If there’s even the slightest hitch in a display’s cadence, you’ll see it. The Q never faltered as I seemed to float over herds of antelope or fly through the rain forest canopy with spider monkeys and exotic birds. In the episode Shallow Seas I was again looking for moiré in the blue skies or vast expanses of ocean on the screen but found none. If ever there was a reason to buy an HD display, Planet Earth or the more recent Life is that reason.

As I’ve already stated, the native color gamut of the Q750i is very large. Ordinarily this would have little value since using the entire gamut would result in grossly oversaturated color. However Runco has included an option that lets you use the full gamut and still have decent accuracy. The option is called Runco Smart Color (RSC) and it’s accessed in the PCE menu. All you have to do is select the PCE gamut then enter the PCE sub-menu and turn on RSC. The net effect is flesh tones and other familiar colors are rendered correctly despite the pumped up saturation levels. When I read about this feature in the owner’s manual I was dubious but I certainly wanted to see for myself. Well, I was quite surprised. I set up two memories, one with Rec 709 colors and one with the native gamut and RSC so I could switch back and forth with one button press. The native gamut was very saturated and brilliant; far more than I’m used to; but flesh tones looked natural. Without RSC I would describe the native gamut as unusable for Blu-ray or DVD content but with RSC it’s quite watchable. If you want to have some room light present, this is a great way to preserve the picture. Combined with a screen like the SI Black Diamond 2, you would have a killer setup for front projection with low ambient light.

Runco Q750i LED Projector

To test the native gamut setup with actual content, I watched clips from Seabiscuit (my favorite example of natural color) and Pixar’s Up. Seabiscuit looked great with really bright vivid color and excellent flesh tones. I was able to watch the clips with my lights on low, no problem. I saw no serious clipping of detail or other artifacts. Up, as you can imagine, looked even more cartoon-like, but in a good way. The only thing I noticed was occasional crushing of the brightest whites. Russell’s face for example glowed a little more than I’ve seen before. The balloons carrying Carl’s house though looked amazing. There are hundreds of different shades in the bunch and each one popped out beautifully.