Friday, May 31, 2013

ViewSonic PJD7820HD Review by Mike Fackrell

It is nice to have a product that comes out every once and a while that just makes you step back and say AWESOME.  The ViewSonic PJD7820HD is just one of those products!  Now don’t get me wrong it is not like ViewSonic has invented a new projection system that just blows everyone else out of the water.  What they have done is put together a well-rounded and versatile HD projector with some great specs at a price point that is just … AWESOME.

When I first got the projector I was under the impression that it was around $1000 retail and the specifications on the projector (full HD, 3000 lumen, multiple inputs, 3D…) all added up to support that price and then some. When I realized it was going for $750 or even less I was pleasantly surprised!  ViewSonic is marketing this as a business class projector and it does that quite nicely but I have also found that it performs surprisingly well in the home theater and the game room.  My thought of a perfect consumer for this projector would be someone that makes frequent business presentations who would also like to take it home and hook it up to a game console, computer or 3D Bluray player and have a blast with it.

Features and specs:
  • 3,000 ANSI lumens with 15000:1 contrast ratio for clear, razor-sharp images
  • Full HD 1080p delivers stunning picture quality
  • BrilliantColor technology provides exceptional display quality
  • 3D Blu-ray ready with HDMI
  • DynamicEco technology for total control of audience’s focus
  • Virtually maintenance free with filter-less design
  • Long-lasting reliable picture quality & superior color performance
  • 6-segment color wheel design, auto source detection, support HD signals & integrated speaker
  • PC 3D-ready & up to 120Hz refresh rate powered by DLP Link Technology
  • Long lamp life up to 6,000 hours*
  • Environmentally friendly Eco-mode saves money and power
  • Small & light for easy portability
  • Industry-leading warranty: 3-year limited warranty on parts and labor, 1-year on lamp, and free 1st year Express Exchange service**

Build Quality and Packaging:

The box it comes in is more than adequate for protecting the projector.  Foam padding completely surrounds the projector to keep it from being damaged even in the harshest shipping conditions.  The projector was a little lighter than I expected but for a portable business class projector that was a welcome surprise.  It comes with a standard VGA cable, Power cable, and remote control.  There is no carry case included but I would highly recommend getting one to protect the nice high gloss finish of the projector.

Connections and Setup:

The projector will support all international video formats including PAL and NTSC.  There is a full complement of Analog inputs with S-Video, Composite Video, Component Video, VGA and RGB inputs.   Hooking up a WII console was very easy and the video quality was very good through the regular composite video input.  For digital video inputs we have one HDMI port that will handle your video and audio to the projector.  Video modes that it will support include 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 480i, 576i, 576p and yes the 1080p looks amazing.  Audio connections include a 3.5mm audio in and out port and it includes a mono 2 watt speaker.
Setup was easy, simply plug in to your video source and it is detected automatically or if for some reason it is not it is easily selected with the source button on the remote or on the top of the projector.  Using the buttons on the top of the projector can be a little tricky in the dark so get a good look at the orientation before the lights go out.  My first connection was to a WII console via the composite video connection.  As soon as it displayed Super Mario Smash Brothers up on the screen all I heard was ohhs and awes from my living room!  The picture was excellent for just being from a SD video source.  Colors were very vibrant and the brightness/contrast was very good … maybe a little too bright at first, (good problem to have) kids absolutely LOVED it.  One thing that was missing was some of the color correction features were greyed out.  When connected to the composite video and even VGA connection these features are not available.  Not a huge deal to me because these connections in my opinion are secondary and it is the HDMI connection that I would be using the most on an HD projector.

My next video source was from my Home Theater PC via HDMI connection.  I have an ASUS bluray burner that is 3d capable and really wanted to see how it looked 10ft wide in my living room!  HDMI connection is very simple and it was detected right away and was displaying in full HD.  The initial image looked AWESOME and was very crisp, saturated and bright .., again almost too bright.  Viewsonic provides a setup image, accessible from the projector menu, for you to adjust brightness and contrast to the correct levels for your viewing environment. I used that image to get it close but then pulled up a similar image on my computer to do my fine tuning and grey balance.  I found that the settings shown below gave me the best color and black level for an amazing viewing experience.  For not being sold as a home theater projector it did very well.

-User mode, brightnes, contrast


-Color balance - gain

The BrilliantColor technology from ViewSonic is amazing.  The picture looked so much better when this was turned on and from what I understand it is using more colors to process the projected image.  Typical projectors use red, green and blue to “mix” and produce your colors.  The PJD7820HD uses up to 6 separate colors on the color wheel to give you a better “mix” and produces a much better looking image. With this enhanced color wheel I did not see any “rainbows” (caused by color wheel not moving fast enough) even during fast action scenes that changed in brightness and color very quickly.  Some people can see these “rainbows” easier than others so your experience may vary.  I have seen them on other projectors though but not on the PJD7820HD.  The six segment color wheel may have something to do with that.

3D performance

Because this projector is so bright I was expecting it to perform well in 3D mode … and it did!  I purchased some 3D classes for DLP projectors from for less than $50 and they worked great with this projector.  One note on 3D glasses, you can find them from many other manufactures and some are even slightly cheaper, but make sure you get glasses that are designed for DLP projectors.

When you switch into 3D mode on the projector the image becomes very washed out and pale looking.  When you see this don’t panic, the projector is actually making the image better!  In 3D mode the projector projects two separate images, one for each eye, cutting the effective brightness in half.  If it did not increase the brightness the combined image (in your brain) would look too dark.  I have a photo below that helps to illustrate just how this looks.  I shot this through my 3D glasses and you can see the image outside the 3D glass lens is much brighter but the image through the lens looks awesome.  It really does. I was very happy with the results and liked it even more that sitting in the movie theater.  Again for a “data” projector the PJD7820HD does really well in the home theater!

Data projection

I used the projector in various presentations (medium and small venues),  and it did very well and even got comments on how much brighter and clearer the image was than before.  As mentioned earlier the projector is very light and easy to move around.   I used to have an older JVC projector that was a beast to move around and very hot and loud, the ViewSonic PJD7820HD is a dream come true.  It is less than 5lbs. and operates much cooler and quieter.  The fan is not silent but it was not a distraction either.  The long life bulb (4000 – 6000 hrs) make you feel much better on those very long presentations that seem to go on for hours and hours, knowing that the bulb is going to last and not going to cost a fortune to replace.  I found that running in eco mode was totally acceptable in normally lit or slightly dimmed rooms, further increasing the bulb life.  However rooms with windows did need that extra punch with the eco mode off.  There is another really cool feature in reference to the eco mode, it is called DynamicEco.  It dims the projector brightness automatically when the projector is not in use or currently active.  During some presentations you often have long periods where the image on the screen is not the focus of the presentation and when it sits for a while with no change on the display the projector automatically dims down to 70% brightness with DynamicEco mode turned on.  This turns the focus back to you and significantly reduces the power consumption and wear on the bulb.  Once the image changes on the screen it jumps back to full brightness and you are back to normal presentation mode.

The PDJ7820HD has a fairly short throw lens with a 1.3x zoom which means you can get a good sized projection on the wall or screen without having to be 20-25 feet back.  I was able to project about a 10ft wide image from only about 11ft away, perfect for presentations.


The PJD7820HD is feature packed and with an amazing MSRP price of $779 ($750 or less street price) you get a great value with this projector.  The image is very clear and vibrant and has plenty of brightness and the color is amazing, which I think is mostly due to the ViewSonic BrillianColor Technology.  The black levels were very good in darkened rooms, especially for a “data” projector.  I think this would be an excellent projector for a business professional or teacher and has an added bonus of being a solid performer for home theater or gaming use.   In fact I can see many people purchasing this for use as an entry level 3D home theater projector or for taking it to the next level on your favorite gaming console.  The value of the PJD7820HD truly is amazing! Well done ViewSonic!   Based on it's design, features, quality, and performance, the Viewsonic PJD7820HD has earned our Value Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at


Light weight (4.6 lbs)
Very Bright (3000 lumens)
Excellent image quality/sharpness (True HD)
Amazing price (<$750 Street price)
Good 3D performance
Full range of video input options (HDMI, VGA, Composite Video, S-video, Component Video)
Excellent all around projector


Limited color correction in some modes
Weak built in speaker

Read more!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Good Life Festival at Encanterra

We had the wonderful opportunity to attend The Good Life Festival at Encanterra, in the southeast Phoenix valley. The festival featured a concert by the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys put on a fantastic show, but it was much more than that. It was the venue, the activities, and the synergy of it all that made the day a wonderful event.

Encanterra is one of a few properties in the US that has these activities. The Good Life Festival is done in the spring and features big name bands that put on a concert. The music starts in the afternoon with a couple of local bands, followed by the opener band. Then around dusk the featured band takes the stage. In this case it was some local bands followed by Steve Ansel, then the Beach Boys.
Tickets had multiple selections to choose from. Seating selections were VIP, reserved and then General Admission lawn seats. The VIP seats came with a buffet and access to upgraded restroom facilities. All of the tickets had an upgrade option for wine tasting. The stage was set up on the golf course of the community. Seating areas were divided into 3 sections. Two of the sections features white fold up chairs. The VIP section was at the very front, followed by the reserved section. There were around 10 rows of VIP, and then around 40 rows of reserved. Behind the reserved was the General Admission Lawn Seats. Here you would just sit on the grass, blanket, or fold up chair if you chose to bring one. They also rented fold-up chairs on site.
The seating area was very good. The VIP seats are so close, you are between 5-30 feet from the stage. And the reserve seats you are also very close to the stage. For the price you pay for those seats – typically $100 for VIP or $60 for reserved, they are a bargain! Any other venue, you would be paying a lot more to be that close. And at $25-$35 for General Admission seats, it is an amazing bargain as well. The General Admission seats and viewing location is still really good.
The production of the concert was very good as well. The stage had all of the equipment a band would need and that you would find at other concert venues, down to the spotlights on scaffolds behind the reserved eating. The full lighting system was great, and I was especially impressed with the sound. There were multiple speaker arrays, including subwoofers on stage, that provided a great and realistic sound, with impactful bass you would expect form a concert environment. Only the sound was better than I have experienced at other concerts. Maybe that is partially due to the open environment. Or maybe it is also due to the relative newness of the gear. After all, The Good Life Festival at Encanterra has only been going on now for a few years. And they only do around a half dozen concerts a year: a few in the spring with the big name bands, and a few lower key concerts in the fall with local bands.
Behind the seating area there are booths set up for local venders selling products and services. And then there are around a dozen food trucks to provide a variety of good food to choose from. All of this really helped to fill out the experience. There was more than just the concert.
All in all, the synergy of the event was really everything they had, such as the wine tasting, craft beer, and local vendors. And for the Beach Boys, they also had some old classic muscle cars on display. They have really worked hard to provide a fun event. There was even optional Valet parking. So you can come out, check out the model homes, the facilities, do some wine tasting and loosen up a bit, check out the local vendors, each some good food, and hang out while being entertained with some good music. You can make a day of it and have some fun. 
At the end of the day, walking back to the car after the Beach Boys, I looked around at the crowd and watched as people were walking back to their cars. It was an atmosphere of smiles, laughter, and everyone who had experienced a wonderful event. I saw what Encanterra's The Good Life Festival had tried to accomplish, and they succeeded in spades! If you have not experienced one of their concerts you need to! It was accurately named:  The Good Life Festival.  At the festival, life was good. The Beach Boys were amazing, and they didn’t miss a step. In the past they had some other great names such as Chicago, Styx, and Kenny G.  I can’t wait to see who they get next!
For more info, check out their website, as well as the websites of sister communities.  The sister communities do not have the big name concerts like The Beach Boys, but they do have fun events.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

ViewSonic VP2770-LED

Today we're taking a look at the VP2770-LED monitor from ViewSonic. It's a 27" monster monitor we first set eyes on at CES 2013. Usually as the inches increase so do the pixels and this is definitely the case for the VP2770-LED which sports a solid 2560x1440 pixels.

The VP2770-LED is a well equipped monitor with a large list of features. There are several input connections, USB 2.0/3.0 connections, wide viewing angles and many more features you can see in the list below.


Type27" Wide Color TFT Active Matrix LED
Display Area23.5" horizontal x 13.2" vertical; 27" diagonal
Optimum Resolution2560x1440 (DisplayPort, Dual-Link DVI-D)
Contrast Ratio1000:1 (typ.)
Brightness300 cd/m2 (typ.)
Viewing Angles178º horizontal, 178º vertical
Response Time12ms (typ)
Light Source30,000 hours (min.)
Panel SurfaceAnti-glare, hard-coating (3H)
BacklightWhite-light LED
Dynamic Contrast Ratio20,000,000:1
Colors1.07 billion (8 bits + 2 bits FRC) with DisplayPort and Dual-Link DVI


PCPC compatibles (from VGA up to 2560x1440 non-interlaced)
Mac®Up to 2560x1440


CE,CB, BSMI, PSB, SASO, C-tick, e-standby, KC, UL/cUL, FCC-B (including ICES003), UL CoC, Mexico Energy, GOST-R/Hygienic, UkrSEPRO, Erp, CCC, ENERGY STAR®, China Energy, EPEAT Silver, WEEE, RoHS, SVHC list


Analog15-pin mini D-sub (VGA)
DigitalHDMI (V1.4 with HDCP) DVI-D (with HDCP) DisplayPort
Audio Out3.5 mm jack
PowerInternal power supply
USBUSB 2.0 (x2), USB 3.0 (x2), USB Upstream


VoltageAC 100–240V (universal), 50 / 60Hz
Consumption40W (typ)
Optimize30W (typ)
Conserve22W (typ)


Please dispose of in accordance with local, state or federal laws.


OSDAuto Image Adjust, Contrast/Brightness, Input Select (D-SUB, DVI, Displayport, HDMI), Audio Adjust (Volume, Mute - for audio output), Color Adjust (sRGB, Bluish, Cool, Native, Warm, User Color [R,G,B]), Information, Manual Image Adjust (H/V Position, Horizontal Size, Fine Tune, Sharpness, Dynamic Contrast, Response Time, Aspect Ratio, Overscan, ECO-mode), Setup Menu (Language, Resolution Notice, OSD Position, OSD Timeout, OSD Background, Auto Power Off, Sleep, Power Indicator), Memory Recall
PanelPower, 1, up, down, 2


VP2770-LED monitor, power cable, Dual Link DVI cable, VGA cable, DP cable, USB 3.0 cable, User Guide, Quick Start Guide, ViewSonic Wizard CD-ROM


Temperature32–104º F (0–40º C)
Humidity20–90% (non-condensing)


Three-year limited warranty on parts, labor and backlight.


AnalogRGB analog (0.7 / 1.0 Vp-p, 75 ohms)
DigitalDVI-D (TMDS, 100 ohms), DisplayPort, HDMI 1.4
FrequencyFh: 24~92kHz, Fv: 50~75Hz
SyncSeparate Sync


Physical With Stand25.3 x 18.5 x 13.7 in. / 642.6 x 464.8 x 348 mm
Physical Without Stand25.3 x 15.0 x 2.2 in. / 642.6 x 381 x 56 mm
Packaging28.8 x 22.4 x 17.8 in. / 732 x 570 x 451 mm


TiltForward 5º, Back 20º
Height Adjust0–5.9" / 0–150mm


Weight18.6 lb. / 8.5 kg
Gross25.1 lb. / 11.4 kg
Net Without Stand12.8 lb. / 5.8 kg

Build Quality
The stand which comes with the VP2770-LED is sturdy enough to support such a large screen. The stand can pivot, it allows variable heights and it provides tilt and rotate to position the monitor any way you would want. The only drawback is size. You will need to make sure you have plenty of space for this stand and its monitor.

On the bottom of the monitor on the left hand side are the display and audio connections. The monitor comes with VGA, DVI, HDMI and Display Port connections. It's nice to have so many options to choose from especially if you plan on toggling between multiple computers/devices.

On the bottom right side of the monitor you will find the power connection, the USB plug which connects to the computer and then two standard USB slots for connecting peripherals.

On the right hand side there are two additional USB slots which as you can see are USB 3.0 giving you easy access to plug in your ultra fast USB drives or any other peripherals that might take advantage of the extra speed.

On the front of the monitor in the bottom right corner you'll find all of the menu navigation buttons and the power button. These are touch sensitive buttons which give the monitor an elegant feel and they are very responsive.

Menu Features
The menu system is easy to navigate and provides all the features you would expect from a monitor of this caliber. To start off there are adjustments for contrast and brightness.

The next set of options is for toggling between the display's connected devices. Honestly though this menu option is probably not one you will use. Toggling between connected devices can be done quickly by pressing the number 2 touch sensitive button when there is no on screen display (OSD).

The VP2770-LED comes equipped with speakers and you can adjust the volume levels from here. To get here quickly you can press the touch sensitive down arrow when there is no OSD showing and it will bring you right to these settings.

ViewSonic has pre-calibrated this IPS display. The color accuracy will probably be good enough for most; however, if you plan to use this monitor for a job that requires precise accuracy of color then you will want to use the color adjustment screens while you calibrate your monitor for the most accurate colors.

The information screen will give you some of the basic information about the display. Not much to see here that wasn't listed in the specifications section.

The manual image adjust settings is where you will find options to customize the sharpness, contrast, response time, aspect ratio, overscan, eco mode and gamma settings. The response time options are: standard, advanced and ultra fast. We set ours to ultra fast.

The setup menu provides standard options to customize position, time out, etc. of the OSD.

Pressing the up arrow when no OSD is showing will give you a quick way to toggle between different settings you've saved and the factory settings.

As a hobby photographer I took advantage of the 27" display and higher resolution for editing images in Lightroom. The additional screen real estate made it easy to work with my raw images taken at higher resolutions. The VP2770-LED is a perfect solution for anyone that's in to photography.

As a software developer I spend quite a bit of time in Visual Studio and Eclipse. With a resolution of 2560x1440 I could comfortably place code side by side in a split screen setup. Normally this would cause an undesirable amount of horizontal scrolling. The VP2770-LED provides an additional 640 horizontal pixels (*coming from a 1920x1080 display)  to work with which is just enough to comfortably code in a split screen environment. I always like to have 2 monitors while coding, but I found myself using the secondary monitor much less because of the extra screen real estate. I don't know if my desk would forgive me, but two of these beauties side by side would be any developer's dream!

I watched several shows and played many hours of games using the VP2770. The slower response time and  refresh rate are not going to be appealing to any hard core gamer, but I won plenty of rounds all the same and enjoyed doing it on a 27" IPS display too. Watching movies or TV shows on the 27" is a pleasure. The slower response time and refresh rate don't give you the surreal feeling you get when watching a show on a 120Hz or 240Hz display; however, the 27 inches and higher resolution sure helps make up for that.

ViewSonic's VP2770-LED monitor is perfect for anyone involved in content creation. If you're in front of a computer frequently to code, work with images or any other form of content creation then this monitor is our top choice. If you're looking for a monitor purely for content consumption, the VP2770-LED is still a solid choice at this size, higher resolution and price point. The ViewSonic VP2770-LED's price point and features make it one of the best in its class. We've awarded the ViewSonic VP2770-LED our Editors Choice Award for its long list of features and superior build.

Read more!