Highly Recommended Award
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Until ViewSonic's new PJD7820HD, there was only one full HD projector at 3,000 lumens with a price tag under $800. And as an added attraction, the PJD7820HD beats its competition with a 3-year warranty. This price/performance combination is perfect for the home video category where Saturday afternoon movies and Sunday sports on a large screen are the order of the day even with ambient light in the room. Those 3,000 lumens will keep image washout to a minimum, and the resolution is high enough to count the blades of grass on the putting green close-ups.
Another plus is the size of the PJD7820HD. Home video projectors can take up a fair amount of space, but with a sheet-of-paper footprint of only 10 ½" x 8 ¾", the PJD7820HD fits on a coffee table with ease. Since it throws a 100" diagonal image at a projection distance of a little over 8', you won't have to rearrange the whole living room to get a big picture. However, be aware that the PJD7820's 2-watt speaker may not be sufficient for a noisy weekend crowd. Other than that, this is a prime contender for the home video market, and an inexpensive one at that.
The PJD7820HD is easy to set up out of the box with connectors clearly marked and control functions on both the projector and the remote that are easy to recognize. The icons on the remote are especially well done with high contrast buttons and unmistakable functionality. Warm-up only takes a minute or so, and with automatic search enabled, it is quick and easy to get an image on the screen. Just push the Source key or select a specific input from the separate keys at the top of the remote.
This is a home video projector, and while it does a good job of displaying computer images crisply and evenly, it really shines when connected to a Blu-ray player or HDTV broadcast. Its brightness uniformity of 67% may be detectable on a black-and white spreadsheet, but it is much less noticeable when viewing video material. Highlights and shadows are rendered well thanks to a 15,000:1 contrast ratio. Colors are well saturated, and you have total control over image color settings as long as you use one of the two User Modes. If you do not want to fiddle with color gain and offset controls, simply use one of the Preset Modes to get flesh tones that are right on the mark.
The best preset mode for viewing movies is ViewMatch. If room brightness allows it, add to the viewing experience by turning off Brilliant Color, which reduces highlight brightness and gives the image a more balanced appearance. Switch to one of the User modes, choose ViewMatch as the reference mode, and switch Brilliant Color "off" in the Picture menu. While brightness is reduced by about 50%, you will find that flesh tones are more realistic than with Brilliant Color turned on.
The PJD7820HD has a six-segment RGBCYW color wheel, so if you are sensitive to rainbow artifacts, you may see them on the PJD7820HD. Since you have the option of enabling or disabling TI's Brilliant Color control, experiment with both settings to see which one you prefer. Brilliant Color provides emphasis on mid-tones and gives the image more pop, but switching it off gives the image a distinctly softer look with more depth and can help reduce the appearance of rainbows. Of course, image brightness is reduced, but it is still sufficient for all but the sunniest rooms.
Presets - The PJD7820HD features seven Color Mode presets: Brightest, PC, Dynamic PC, ViewMatch, Movie, Dynamic Movie, and Gaming. The Dynamic variants sense room brightness and image content and adjust the image based on those parameters to give some of the effect of an automatic iris without the mechanical noise. There are also two User Modes which allow various picture adjustments not available in the other Preset Modes.
Connectivity - The rear panel connectors of the PJD7820HD include dual VGA connectors, an S-video input, an HDMI input, composite video, a VGA output for driving an external monitor, a USB-B input, and various audio inputs and outputs. Additionally, there is an RS-232 connector for serial connections.
Placement Flexibility - With an optical zoom of 1.3:1, the PJD7820HD offers a range of placement options to accommodate room sizes and audience seating configurations.
Heat Exhaust - ViewSonic put the exhaust vent for the PJD7820HD on the right front portion of the chassis. This means that exhaust fan noise is directed toward the front of the room and does not distract audience members seated behind the projector.
Dynamic Eco Mode - This feature reduces power consumption by lowering brightness by about 80%, but it is of limited utility in bright rooms where image washout is likely. Still, this feature is useful for movie viewing in darkened rooms where maximum brightness is not required.
Full HD 3D - The PJD7820HD has full HD 3D compatibility, so you can connect it to a Blu-ray player or broadcast 3D source and it will display that content correctly. If you have any frame sequential 3D content, the PJD7820HD can handle it as well. 3D viewing requires the use of special active-shutter DLP Link glasses, which are not included with the projector. Image brightness is decreased significantly and many color adjustments are not available in 3D mode, but these are common restrictions found on many 3D projectors.
Lamp Life - Normal mode lamp life is 4,000 hours, but Eco mode stretches that time to 6,000 hours -- which is one of the longer lamp lives available for a 3,000-lumen projector. And since Eco mode only drops brightness by 18%, it is an excellent choice if room light permits.
Maintenance - Like many DLP projectors, the PJD7820HD has no air filters to be replaced, but it is recommended that the intake and exhaust ports be vacuumed occasionally to remove and dust or lint that might collect there. Lamp replacement is performed through the top of the projector, so lamp changes can be performed on ceiling-mounted projectors without dismounting the projector.
Warranty - The PJD7820HD offers a three-year warranty, with a one-year warranty on the lamp and a year of express replacement service. This is better than many competing projectors in the sub-$1000 category.
Brightness and Uniformity - The PJD7820HD exceeded its brightness specification in Brightest Mode with Brilliant Color on by delivering 3,330 ANSI lumens. The other Presets provided the following readings: PC and Dynamic PC - 2,520 lumens, ViewMatch - 2,265 lumens, Movie and Dynamic Movie - 1,700 lumens, and Gaming - 2,365 lumens. Brightness uniformity was 67% with the brightest part of the image in the lower center.
Color Brightness - Like many non-home theater DLP-based projectors, the PJD7820HD loses about 50% of its brightness when switched to its most color-balanced mode (Brilliant Color off). But if color balance is not critical or the room's ambient light demands higher image brightness, then turning Brilliant Color on may be a good choice.
Input lag - Gamers will be happy to hear that the PJD7820HD's various image modes all measured 17ms, or one frame, of delay with a native-resolution signal source. For those requiring fast reaction times, the PJD7820HD provides a responsive platform.
Image Size and Offset - Projecting a 100" diagonal image requires a projection distance of between 8'5" and 10'11" from the screen. The centerline of the lens is 6" below the bottom of the image at those distances, so tabletop mounting works well.
Menu Selection and Navigation - There are six menus for the PJD7820HD, but they are easy to navigate. Most of the settings you are likely to need are found in the Display and Picture menus, and the dual User modes allow you to store two sets of preferred settings. This makes for a quick set-up for two different viewing situations (for example, daytime and nighttime) without the hassle of changing settings manually.
Remote Control - The PJD7820HD's full size remote control is sectioned into four distinct functional areas: source selection, menu navigation, specific function keys, and page/mouse controls when the USB-B cable is connected to a computer. With source selection enabled, one key will sequence through the connected sources, but there are also dedicated keys for direct selection of VGA and video inputs.
Fan Noise - In Eco mode, fan noise is very low, but in normal mode, it is loud enough to be a distraction. It can even be loud enough to overwhelm the PJD7820HD's internal speaker during quiet moments. For a weekend crowd at home, you will probably need to use an external sound system, but this is due more to the weakness of the internal speaker than the fan noise.
Color wheel - The PJD7820HD has a six-segment RGBCYW color wheel. The "W" stands for White, and white segments in DLP color wheels boost white light output but not color light output, leading to an unbalanced picture with super-bright highlights and dull colors. White segments can also increase the appearance of color separation artifacts. And while color wheel speed is not listed in the projector's specifications, most projectors with white segments in their color wheels have 7200RPM (2x-speed) wheels.
No VESA port - Despite being a full HD 3D projector, the PJD7820HD is limited to using DLP Link glasses due to the absence of a VESA 3D sync port. This is common practice on inexpensive 3D projectors, including most of the PJD7820HD's competitors. DLP Link glasses are inexpensive and easy to find, but some folks prefer IR glasses because they, on average, have better black levels than their DLP Link counterparts.
Brightness uniformity - The dimmest corner of the PJD7820HD's image was significantly dimmer than its center, and brightness uniformity measured 67%. While most visible on pure white or pure gray screens, it can occasionally manifest in film and video as well.
ViewSonic has cracked the $800 barrier with a capable HD home video projector. The PJD7820HD is small, light, and at 3,000 lumens it is plenty bright even in living rooms at midday. It does, of course, have its flaws; poor brightness uniformity and a loud fan number among them. Its built-in speaker is underpowered. It does exhibit rainbow artifacts, so those who see rainbows will want to test it out before committing to a purchase. But despite these limitations, the PJD7820HD is an affordable, portable, fully 3D projector that can light up a living room for an afternoon of fun. The PJD7820HD is a capable home video projector, and it is nice to have another inexpensive option to choose from.
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our ViewSonic PJD7820HD projector page.