Viewsonic PRO7827HD review

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THE GOOD: The Viewsonic PRO7827HD has very good overall image quality with superb black levels and contrast for the money. A shorter-throw lens helps it project a larger image in smaller spaces, and connectivity is the best in its class.

THE BAD: Worse gaming lag and film cadence than many projectors we’ve tested.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Not quite the picture quality champ at its price, the Viewsonic PRO7827HD still performs well and offers excellent features for the price.

Viewsonic’s PRO7827HD packs in the features and conveniences, and its picture quality is very good, but not quite good enough to dethrone my favorite at the $800 point, BenQ’s HT2050.

Despite one being black and the other white, the two are nearly identical. Both outperform cheaper units like the Optoma HD142X ($550) in terms of contrast — they have deeper black levels that make the huge images pop in a dark room — and both deliver very good color. Where the Viewsonic falls a bit short is video processing, with a couple of issues that will irk film and gaming snobs in particular.

Those certainly aren’t deal-breakers, however, and the PRO7827HD’s ample connectivity, complete with a place to stash a streaming stick, might sway some users away from the BenQ. My advice, however, is to pick that unit or go with a cheaper model like the Optoma.

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Basic specs

  • Native resolution: 1,080p
  • Lumens spec: 2,200 lumens
  • Zoom: Manual (1.3x)
  • Lens Shift: Vertical
  • 3D-compatible: Yes
  • Lamp Life (Normal mode): 3,500 hours
  • Replacement lamp cost: $200 and up

Higher-end home theater projectors like the PRO7827HD often have a lower light output than cheaper units, mainly because they’re designed to achieve better black levels and contrast, and 2,200 lumens is typical of the breed. Like all projectors it looks best in a dark room, but it can get brighter than some competitors like the BenQ HT2050, making it a bit more versatile. That said, if you’re planning on doing a lot of viewing in brighter environments, choose a cheaper, higher-lumen unit like the Viewsonic PJD7828HDL.

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One step-up extra is vertical lens shift. It allows you to position the projector higher or lower relative to the screen and still get perfect geometry without having to use a keystone control (which impairs image quality). The lens can deliver a relatively short throw distance, similar to the BenQ HT2050 and the cheaper Viewsonic. The closest it could get and still fill my 120-inch test screen was 120 inches, compared to 129 inches for the Epson 2045 and 156 inches for the Optoma HD142X.

If you want to use 3D with the Viewsonic, you’ll need to buy 3D glasses. The projector uses DLP Link, which should be compatible with numerous third-party glasses (starting at $25 each on Amazon) or Viewsonic’s own like the PGD-350 ($50 each).

The lamp is a bit cheaper and lasts about as long as that of the BenQ2050, judging by the two projectors’ specifications using their brightest default (“Normal”) settings. Both units, as usual, have modes that dim the bulb and extend that lifespan.

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Connectivity and convenience

  • HDMI inputs: 3
  • AV input: 2 (composite and S-video)
  • PC input: Analog RGB
  • USB port: 1
  • MHL: Yes
  • Remote: Not backlit
  • Built-in speaker: Yes

Like its cheaper sibling, the Viewsonic PRO7827HD has stellar connectivity with a full complement of analog jacks and a third HDMI port hidden behind a hatch on top (below). Most projectors have only two HDMI ports.

The idea of the hidden port is to “discreetly stream multimedia content from an optional wireless dongle,” and even includes a Micro-USB cable for power. The dongle costs $160, however, so you’ll probably want to use another device. Both a Roku Streaming Stick and an Amazon Fire TV Stick fit fine, and even pass audio via the Viewsonic’s audio output so you don’t have to suffer from listening to the built-in speaker. The HDMI port is compatible with MHL as well.

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You can’t directly connect a USB drive for photo or video viewing. The USB port is only for power or using the projector’s remote as a makeshift mouse.

Viewsonic’s remote is small as well as confusing, and worst of all lacks backlighting. I did appreciate the inclusion of a detachable cover to hide the cables, although it expands the projector’s footprint. Sans cover the PRO7827HD measures 12.44 by 8.98 by 4.08 inches (WHD).

Picture quality details

The Viewsonic PRO7827HD delivered a very good overall image but it didn’t match the BenQ HT2050 overall in this category.

In its standard (Normal) lamp setting, the Viewsonic’s black levels were deeper than any other unit I tested aside from the BenQs HT2050. Watching “Gravity” on Blu-ray, the depths of space appeared darker and more realistic than the Epson 2045 or the Optoma HD142X, for example.

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I had to manually engage the Viewsonic’s Eco lamp setting to get the best black levels, but afterward it essentially matched the depth of black I saw on the BenQ HT2050 (which switches to Eco by default in Cinema mode). Both projectors were were nearly identical in highlights. The result was basically identical levels of contrast between the two.

Color accuracy was very good according to my measurements, albeit not equal to the Epson. The Viewsonic’s bright grayscale veered toward green even in the best picture setting, Movie Rec. 709, although not as severely as the BenQ. Watching program material, the two were much more similar and I actually preferred the BenQ for its more balanced look overall, especially in green areas like the jungles from Chapter 3 of “Samsara.”

The Viewsonic’s Achilles heel was video processing. Unlike most other projectors, including the cheaper Viewsonic PJD7828HDL, the PRO7827HD failed my test for correct 1080p/24 film cadence. A test clip from “I Am Legend” showed choppiness in the pan over the aircraft carrier, where competing units showed the proper smooth (but not too smooth) motion I expect from 24p material.

Most 1080p resolution DLP (Digital Light Processing) projectors I tested scored about the same for gaming input lag, around 33 or 34ms, which qualifies as “Good” by my scale. The Viewsonic was the lone exception, coming in at a less-respectable 50ms. If you’re a heavy gamer for whom every millisecond counts, get another projector.

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It’s worth noting that all of these units suffered from an artifact I found distracting at times that’s common to DLP: the rainbow effect. It caused brief rainbow “trails” to appear when I looked across or away from the screen in high-contrast areas (like white text against a black background). It didn’t bother me much during the course of a movie, but if it bugs you then a projector like the Epson Home Cinema 2045 — which uses LCD instead of DLP — might be a better bet.

Measurements

To arrive at all of the results below, I measured the Viewsonic PRO7827’s best default picture setting, Movie Rec. 709 (I did not perform any calibration). The exceptions are peak white luminance and derived lumens, which were measured in Dynamic mode (thanks to Chris Heinonen for the lumens calculator). All observations and measurements were taken on my reference 120-inch Stewart StudioTek 130 screen.

GEEK BOX

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.027 Good
Peak white luminance (100%) 59.36 Good
Derived lumens 1,950 Good
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.17 Poor
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 3.010 Average
Dark gray error (20%) 1.153 Good
Bright gray error (70%) 1.803 Good
Avg. color error 6.490 Average
Red error 5.226 Average
Green error 14.002 Poor
Blue error 2.32 Good
Cyan error 12.937 Poor
Magenta error 1.835 Good
Yellow error 2.622 Good
Percent gamut (Rec 709) 95 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Fail Poor
Motion resolution (max) 300 Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) N/A N/A
Input lag (Game mode) 50.3 Average

(cnet.com, https://goo.gl/3DmTUq)

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