Hands-on review: Viewsonic PJD7830HDL projector

Hands-on review: Viewsonic PJD7830HDL projector

Intro and design

Succeeding the PJD7820HD model ($689, £448, AU$896)) in Viewsonic’s home theater projector lineup, the Viewsonic PJD7830HDL ($1,050, £683, AU$1,366) is the new flagship digital light processing (DLP) projector. The PJD7830HDL features a brighter lamp, better audio output, more accurate colors and plenty of ports for connecting your entertainment than the model it replaces.

Featuring a full HD 1080p resolution, the PJD7830HDL competes in the same home projector space as the Sony VPL-HW55ES ($3,999, £2591, AU$5079), which features 3D technology, and the Optoma GT1080 ($1,399, £870, AU$1,600). The PJD7830HDL also competes against small office projectors. Many of these devices – like the Epson EX7235 ($599, £385, AU$738) – come with a slightly lower HD resolution, but feature more modest price tags and smaller sizes.

Design

Viewsonic abandoned the angular black box of the PJD7820HD in favor of a curvier two-tone finish on the PJD7830HDL. This year’s PJD7830HDL features a matte light grey bottom half, and a glossy white finish that coats the top half.

The switch to a white hue on the top half, according to Viewsonic spokeswoman Joey Lee, is so that the projector can blend in better with the ceiling. When mounted to the ceiling, the glossy white top of the projector faces downward, and that’s the part that is visible to you.

Viewsonic

No longer a rectangular box, the projector also features a curvier body with tapered edges and side grills that conceal vent openings for the fan. The design language is similar to Viewsonic’s LightStream series.

The 3,200-lumen lamp is located at the front, which features a raised curve that extends to the top of the unit. Documents sent to TechRadar after my meeting with Viewsonic states that the brightness is range is between 3,000 and 3,500 lumens.

Viewsonic

On the back of the projector are ports for connecting audio and video inputs as well as a single USB port. A cover for the rear helps to manage cable clutter and keep the ports hidden for a more seamless look in your living room or home theater.

Viewsonic

In a confusing situation, the projector that I saw during my meeting comes with a single HDMI/MHL port, but Viewsonic representatives later informed me that the retail model comes with a second HDMI port located on the front that can be used with an optional wireless dongle. The dongle allows users to stream content from a tablet or laptop on a Wi-Fi network without having to connect cables.

Performance and specs

Upon entering a dimly lit hotel suite in San Francisco’s financial district, Viewsonic ushered me into a space where employees were playing gesture-controlled games with Microsoft’s Xbox console projected to a white screen using the PJD7830HDL. Viewsonic explained that its flagship home theater projector isn’t just for watching movies, but could also be used to play games.

Performance

Even though Viewsonic did not demonstrate any fast-action games that require high frame-rate performance, like first-person shooters, the casual sports games that Viewsonic hooked up to the Kinect sensor – like bowling and tennis – appeared fine and fluid. I didn’t notice any lags and the audio coming from the 16W speakers sounded fantastic. Not only was the audio output loud, but sound fidelity was great.

Viewsonic

Movie aficionados who buy this or any projector likely would want to invest in their own speaker system or sound bar for better stereo left- and right-channel isolation or for surround sound audio.

The nice thing about this projector is that it runs extremely cool and quiet. Even if you don’t invest in better sounding speakers, you won’t be distracted by fan noises, which is a huge plus for watching movies at quieter volume settings.

Despite the amount of ambient light in the room – the demo space was not pitch black and there was still quite a bit of light for people to walk around safely without tripping – I found that the brightness of the 3,200-lumen bulb held up as expected. The projected image was bright and enjoyable. Dimming down the lights further, or moving the projector closer to the screen to get a smaller projected image, increased the picture brightness and revealed more details.

I found the overall picture image to look great, with accurate color reproduction thanks to the 30-bit color depth support, but contrast could have been increased in darker scenes to bring more details out of the shadows. We’ll have a chance to to further evaluate contrast and color saturation when we conduct a more extensive review of the PJD7830HDL.

Lamp life is rated for 5,000 hours, which would be the equivalent of watching films for 208 days non-stop. If you’re using the projector to watch about two hours of movies every day, that’s the equivalent of 2,500 days or almost seven years of entertainment before requiring a bulb replacement.

Viewsonic

Replacement bulbs are on the pricey side, costing around $300, but Lee explains that Viewsonic sources its bulbs from Philips and is in line with the industry standard.

Controls for the projector are found on the top of the unit, along with a focus and zoom rings near the lens. There are vertical and horizontal keystone adjustment controls, which allows you to adjust the projected image to get a perfect rectangle. For ceiling-mounted use, an IR remote can also be used.

Additionally, if you’re running the projector for an extended period of time and it generates too much heat, a red temperature warning light will glow to alert you before the unit overheats.

With more consumer devices – laptops, gaming consoles, cable boxes, streaming set top devices, and more – increasingly using the HDMI standard, it’s disappointing to see Viewsonic did not include more HDMI ports on its flagship home theater projector.

Even though wireless support will be an optional extra at retail, I was not able to test out the wireless streaming performance on this particular model. During my meeting, representatives informed me that the PJD7830HDL will not support wireless streaming, but the company had revised its statement after the meeting to inform me that this feature is possible with an optional dongle accessory.

The dongle will be a useful add-on for businesses looking to adopt the PJD7830HDL for their conference rooms as it allows presenters to wireless stream content from their tablets or laptops to the projector without a wired connection.

Verdict

The Viewsonic PJD7830HDL is a solid DLP projector offering crisp images, great color reproduction and loud audio output at a very competitive price point. The projector is versatile enough for gaming and for media consumption, and if the PJD7830HDL is wired in a conference room, it can also be used to project presentations to a larger screen.

What we liked

In our short hands-on time with the PJD7830HDL, the projector lives up to many of Viewsonic’s claims, delivering sharp and vivid images with realistic colors. The bright 3,200-lumen lamp on the projector means that images are still clear, even with a fair amount of ambient light on.

What we didn’t like

For a modern flagship projector, the PJD7830HDL relies too heavily on legacy input connectors. I would have liked to see Viewsonic swap out some of the legacy video inputs for an additional HDMI port. The competing Acer H7550ST ($999, £650, AU$1,300) projector has a slightly dimmer 3,000-lumen bulb, but comes with three HDMI ports.

Final verdict

If your home theater setup does not require more than two HDMI cables to connect to the PJD7830HDL, then this projector delivers great image quality and brilliant sound output. Priced at the $1,000 (£650, AU$1,300) range, Viewsonic has some stiff competition, each with small trade-offs.

Even though the competing Acer H7550ST sacrifices a tiny bit of brightness with a 3,000-lumen bulb for more HDMI ports, Viewsonic provides a well-rounded entertainment experience, even if it’s not a revolutionary projector.

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