Runco CL-710 in the RAF house (replacing Sony VW10HT)

Discussion in 'Displays' started by RAF, Jun 23, 2003.

  1. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    Recently (in fact just the other day) I received a Runco CL-710 DLP (GEN3, HD-2 "mustang" chip) projector and am currently in the process of installing it in my HT. I'm replacing my trusty old Sony VW10HT LCD with this new model which I acquired as a result of winning a contest on last year's HT cruise.

    Originally I was going to wait a bit before going public with this (since I have a lot of work to do during the switchover and I don't want to rush things). However, in a brief discussion on another forum the matter of the new Runco CL-710 came up and I casually mentioned that I had just upgraded to this DLP projector from the Sony VW10HT. One gentleman told me that he had followed my exploits regarding the acquisition and installation of one of the earliest VW10HTs and it was my experience that led him to get the same unit for his home. He then went on to say that he was looking forward to my comments regarding this new piece of equipment.

    I answered him in detail and then realized that I should be sharing this information here, since this is where I spend the majority of my online time. What follows is my response to him, reproduced exactly like I wrote it on another forum (to save some rewriting time). I trust you understand. I'll answer general questions if there are any, and I hope to update my HT website with full details as soon as I can finish the installation and tear myself away from watching movies and HDTV!

    Here are my original comments to get the ball rolling....

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Thanks for the kind words. As you know, I was an early adopter of the SONY VW10HT and by tweaking it (mostly by the seat of my pants because in the pre-SMART days my major source of technical assistance in this uncharted land was Bill Cushman, then of The Perfect Vision) emerged with a very, very good picture. We spent many hours on the phone comparing notes and I was able to extract every last bit of performance out of the VW10HT. When I bought it I was very pleased with its performance and still am to this day. You obviously know what I'm talking about since you also purchased a 10HT and, I would guess, have enjoyed it as well. And you are probably familiar with the "lively" discussions that ensued when the VW10HT was introduced because its price : performance was hard to believe in 1999/2000.

    That said, time moves on and the VW10HT has not only been replaced in the marketplace by several successive SONY models but advances in other projector technologies have improved the picture (no pun intended) considerably. I'm not knocking the LCD technology as a way to get into true HT Big Picture. In fact, what cost over $5000 three years ago can be accomplished for well under $2000 today if you look hard and do your homework. In other words, Big Picture FP technology is now something that is relatively affordable, even to those with a somewhat limited budget.

    As you may or may not know, I won a Runco FP on last year's HT Cruise and was able to parlay that into a GEN3 HD-2 "mustang" chip unit, the CL-710. I always thought that my "next" projector would be a 3 chip DLP, waiting the appropriate time for the $30,000 machines to come down to the original price of the VW10HT before making my move. My good fortune allowed me to make the move quicker than I anticipated. Add to that the fact that single chip DLP technology and new mechanics has removed the rainbow effect (at least as far as I can see) and the 1 chip CL-710 doesn't really represent a compromise but a major upgrade to my system.

    I'm still in the discovery phase of my new CL-710 and will be for a week or two. I originally placed it on a makeshift table in my HT and ran a couple of A/B comparisons with my SONY to get a rough idea of the comparative pictures and, just as importantly, to check screen to projector distances and a few other parameters. And I'm happy to report that the CL-710 can be placed in just about the same ceiling location as the SONY VW10HT (12.8' rather than 13.3' but that's close enough) so there is no major rewiring, etc. needed in my HT. Also, the fans of the two units are (subjectively, but that's what counts) just about the same in terms of noise level - in other words, quiet enough not to distract. This pleased me as well.

    And the picture? Let me put it this way - out of the box the Runco CL-710 looks at least as good as the fully tweaked SONY VW10HT and, as I learn the ropes, has tremendous potential to produce a much richer picture. Remember, I was satisfied with the VW10HT (and to this day still like it) but the un-tweaked CL-710 starts at the apex of the SONY's performance and zooms ahead from that point on (as it should, based on the technology involved.) The range of colors is astounding and you have great control over brightness, contrast, etc. Where the SONY strained to get to an excellent picture, the Runco does this with one hand tied behind its back. The more I use it, the more impressed I am with the picture.

    I never had a problem with black levels with my SONY and was able to live with the limitations of LCD technology in that regard. But now that I have seen the Runco's black levels in the same environment, there really is no comparison. Of course, once again, any "comparison" would be unfair since we are comparing a SONY with a 150:1 contrast ratio to a Runco that claims 1800:1. Also, I had to control the output on the SONY to make sure that there wasn't any "blooming" in very bright white areas, whereas the CL-710 can be cranked WAY up without any blooming at all. And Black and White pictures are crisp black and white right out of the box. The SONY took quite a bit of time (and occasional adjustments) to keep B&W true. Either Runco did a great job of adjusting my unit at the factory or the technology is just plain better in this regard.

    Whatever.

    I've gone on much longer than I intended to here since I've still got a lot of work to do before I update my web site with full details. Frankly, I've been watching more movies than I intended to since I keep wanting to pull out familiar titles and demos to compare the SONY with the Runco. Time for me to get to work.

    My VW10HT is now packed in a box and will become the basis of my daughter's HT. It's still a great unit after almost 1800 hours of use (and, I might add, still on Bulb #1 with a spare in the box) so she should be happy for a long, long time. It's like saying goodbye to an old, valued friend.

    And I've saved the best for last. Along with the CL-710 I've acquired a Runco PFP-7 (ViVix Pixel for Pixel scaler) that promises to make a great picture even better. Like I said, standing on its own the CL-710 does an excellent job as a native HD FP. Combined with the PFP-7, the CL-710 should be ready to compete with the "big boys" of front projection.

    More later.
     
  2. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Great news on the projector. I know you are loving it.

    I have a problem with LCD and DLP type projectors in that I always feel that they give too flat of an image. In other words the depth of field is not as great as on a CRT. How is the "3 dimensionality" of this projector? Does it have a better depth of field that the 10HT?

    I am hopeful that one day I will be able to see this setup in use one day.

    Parker
     
  3. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    Interesting comment, Parker. One of the first things I noticed was that the CL-710 has more dimentionality (depth of field?) than the VW10HT. Hard to describe, but easy to see if you are used to one over the other. It was more like looking through a window, especially with HDTV. I think you have put into words what I'm seeing.

    It's been a long time since I've looked seriously at CRTs (I'm going to have to stop by one of the specialty shops when I get a chance or look more closely at the next show I attend) but the picture that the CL-710 is pumping out is jaw-dropping (even without the PFP-7 in the loop.) You get much more brightness and, of course, more uniformity with DLP over the CRT and the black levels are solid.

    Another thing that I have noticed (when comparing the CL-710 to the VW10HT) is the wider range of colors present with the Runco. The reds, especially, are richer and more detailed. It's almost as though the Runco is capable of producing more colors than the Sony (which did an admirable job on its own.) And, of course, the level of detail in dark scenes is noticibly better.

    I hope that you get a chance to see my new toy one of these days. I feel confident that you would be impressed, even if you saw it in the non-tweaked form that I'm using right now as I learn more about its capabilities.

    You saw the VW10HT. The CL-710, as Emiril would say, "kicks it up a notch!"
     
  4. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I'm sure that the "3-dimensionality" has to do with CRT's high contrast ratio and fine shadow details. Digital PJ's, in particular are catching up to CRT's in aspect.
     
  5. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Neil:

    I figured that would be the issue in older LCD and DLP projectors. It appears that with the higher contrast levels of these new units that they are not as flat in comparison to a CRT based system as they used to be.

    RAF:

    As impressed as I was with your 10HT I know you are even more impressed with your new Runco. How does it do with standard NTSC video as opposed to High Def and DVD? I have found a lot of the non CRT projectors to be lacking (for lack of a better word) in displaying standard video/OTA/Cable, etc. What are your impressions with your new projector?

    Parker
     
  6. PhilipD

    PhilipD Auditioning

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    Robert,

    I didn't really think that front projectors had as good of a picture as rear projectors until I visited a demo at Epcot in Disney World a couple of weeks ago. They had a HT set up with a Runco projector (I wish I knew which model) that was simply stunning. With my luck it was one of their $20k+ models.

    In any case, my interest in FP technology is renewed. I have searched the web for prices on the CL-710 and can only find MSRP. What is the street price on this projector, and where can it be found?

    Thanks,
    Phil
     
  7. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Great write up Robert. I look forward to more.

     
  8. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Ron:

    I really didn't get a chance to really analyze the performance of the X1 as far as depth of field. I am glad to hear that the Panny is good in this regard.

    Parker
     
  9. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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  10. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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  11. PhilipD

    PhilipD Auditioning

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    Robert,

    Thanks for your detailed response to my question - I very much appreciate your insight and experience. I reply, in particular, to mention that up until now the Pioneer Elite series has been my overwhelming favorite - interesting coincidence, who knows? Anyway, I particularly appreciate your comparison to that line.

    Finally, w.r.t. the CL-510 I've done some preliminary research and the most obvious difference between it and the 710 is slightly less brightness, and lower resolution. I'd have to see the performance of the two in person to judge whether it's worth paying twice the price for the 710 (my guess is that the 710 is worth every penny).

    Thanks again,
    Phil
     
  12. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Robert:

    Sounds like another phone call to Runco is in order regarding the grid. I am sure they have something along the same lines.

    Glad to hear that SD looks as good as it does. Even though I would prefer not to have to watch it SD is still very much a part of our daily viewing habits(even heaven forbid VHS) so any projector I get has to be able to resolve it well.

    Also, great to hear that they are going to be offering a model in the $6,000 range. Runco just acquired some other company (the name escapes me) and I think that this is were this line of projectors is coming from.

    Parker
     
  13. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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  14. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    RAF:

    That is what I have been giving serious thought to. That is have a "regular" TV that I watch SDTV on and then reserve the FP for movies and HDTV when I get it.

    Parker
     
  15. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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  16. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    RAF:

    So did you find out whether or not it has a focusing grid of sorts like the 10HT or not?

    I am liking what I see with the 510 for the price. It and the Optoma H76 sound like real winners to me in the $5,000 price range.

    Parker
     

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