Runco CL-700 DLP Video Projector Reviewed

Published On: April 17, 2003
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Runco CL-700 DLP Video Projector Reviewed

There's just something special about a projector. Something that says more than just "home theater" and more "home cinema." Runco's CL-700 is a 720p HD projector with lots of features. In its day it was a top performer.

Runco CL-700 DLP Video Projector Reviewed

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I don't care what anyone says a room with a TV is not a home theater. Sure, surround sound is nice, but you need to add a big screen to really put the theater in home theater. All those people that hosted Superbowl parties at their house this year, watching some little 36- or 50-inch TV, thinking they were real sports have never been more wrong.

Their friends were pissed, and just didn't tell them. Now, if you want to really have some fun (and win those friends back), try watching the Raiders getting trounced on a 120-inch screen from a front projection system in the highest HDTV resolution. Now that's a party I'd want to be at (and in fact was).

Additional Resources
• Read more video projector reviews from
• Explore projector screen options in our Projector Screen Review section.

If you think this is severe, it's not. A real screening room is the penultimate when it comes to home theater, and it should be the goal of any home theater enthusiast. Runco clearly understands this, as they build some of the finest video projection equipment in the world. From their world-class (and pricey - how's $120,000?) 3-chip VX-5C DLP projector all the way down to their more accessible and affordable projectors, they put amazing quality and performance into each of their products. I often liken Runco to BMW, as every BMW is built with the same high quality and feel (unlike Mercedes, in my opinion). From the BMW 7-series to the 3-series, the buttons feel the same, the leather is as good, and the doors close with the same authoritative thud. Runco approaches their craftsmanship the same way--the bigger products perform better, but with the same style as the lesser products. In the projection world, this means higher resolution and bigger screen sizes for the bigger projectors, but their entry level projectors can handle a normal-sized room very well. Enter the CL-700 DLP projector. This projector joins the ranks of the offerings from Sharp, Marantz, Dwin, and others that fall in the $10,000 range. However, there are many differences among these machines, and it's important to know what you're getting.

Unique Features
In terms of features, the Runco CL-700 is a projector that has got it all. It's a single-chip 16:9 DLP projector that offers 3:2 pulldown film/video detection, which achieves a better translation of film-based programming, and the CL-700 also features 720p native resolution. A nice feature offered on this projector is its ability to connect to a PC via a VGA input. This allows you to turn the projector into a giant computer screen, and to surf the Internet on a grand scale. The CL-700 features a 12-volt trigger to activate other components, like a motorized drop-down screen that deploys when the projector is turned on and recesses to its hidden resting place once the projector is powered down. Some of the other projectors mentioned possess some of the same features as the CL-700, but many of them are not as well executed as the CL-700. One nice option available with the CL-700 is an external scaler/controller. Aside from the Dwin Transvision system, the other projectors don't offer this upgrade. This allows the cabling and control wires to be connected to the external scaler, with a single umbilical cord connecting the projector and the scaler. Of course, performance is increased and switching made that much easier, but more on that later.

Read Much More on Page 2


Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
Integrating this projector into a system is very easy, as all you need are a sound system, sources and a screen, and you're pretty much good to go. The beauty of a projector is that it can mount either on a ceiling or on a floor, but this all needs to be planned and executed by a professional (in my opinion). Sure, an enthusiast can tackle this installation, but the location of the projector in relation to the screen is essential to fitting the image on the screen correctly and balancing the picture properly. Hooking up the projector is also complicated, as there are many connections to be made. Many users will connect S-video for sources such as a VCR, TiVo or a DVD player without component video outputs. However, it would be wise to upgrade your DVD player to progressive scan component outputs, as it will offer the best picture quality when magnified so heavily on a big screen. I also recommend adding HDTV programming via DirecTV or Echostar to your system to take advantage of the excellent resolution offered by the Runco product. If you just purchase the projector without the controller, the connections are made directly into the projector. With the addition of the controller, all connections are made to the controller, and a single umbilical cord connects the projector and the controller. I tried the projector both ways, and prefer the controller method for many reasons, one of which is the ease of use of having all connections accessible in my equipment rack, rather than tethered to the projector.

The remote control that comes with the projector is fairly straightforward and has excellent range. However, I highly recommend using a touchscreen remote control like Crestron's excellent ST-1700C with any projector or plasma setup, as when you add a multitude of inputs and connections, it's easy to get lost and not find the right inputs and selections on each component. Look for more on Crestron's products in a later review.

Final Take
The Runco CL-700 offers absolutely fantastic performance, besting any other projector I've seen in this price range. On both DVD and HDTV programming, detail and sharpness are excellent, as are contrast and color balance. The picture is very pleasing, and makes for a very nice presentation. Anamorphic programming in particular is perfectly rendered, adding a cinematic feel to everything I watched on DVD or HDTV. On channel 199 on DirecTV (HDNet for those of you who don't yet have it), the image seemed to jump off the screen, and possessed a 3-D effect. This is some of the best DLP projection I've seen for this price.

The picture was similar with the addition of the optional controller, but using the projector was much easier, especially with the Crestron remote. Using a serial connection, the Crestron controls the projector simply, and drops and raises the screen perfectly every time.

With the minimal size of the CL-700 and its budgetary accessibility, this is a great option for any home theater in this price range. Don't settle for less--definitely test-drive a Runco before you make a final decision. It'll be the smartest thing you'll do all year. And next year, your friends will admire you and probably care even less when their team is getting hammered by the underdog opponent. At least you'll be able to watch in HDTV, and have a great, big image to wow them all.

Additional Resources
• Read more video projector reviews from
• Explore projector screen options in our Projector Screen Review section.

Runco CL-700 DLP Projector
Digital Light ProcessingTM (DLP)TM
Native Resolution: 1280 x 720
Lamp: 210W
Lamp Life: 1,000 hours
Light Output: 30.1 foot-Lamberts on 84 in.
widescreen (1.3 gain material)
Picture Size: 40 in. to 300 in.
Diagonal Throw Distance:
Standard Throw Lens: 2.00-2.40 x screen width
Vertical Offset: 2 in. offset
Inputs: composite, S-video, RGB/component (via
BNC), component (RCA),
RGB (DB 15)
Contrast Ratio: 900:1
Width:15.75 in./400 mm
Depth:13.66 in./347 mm
Height: 4.6 in./117.7 mm
Weight:14.8 lbs. (6.7 kg)
2-year warranty

Suggested Retail Price
Optional controller: $1,995

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