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).

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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.

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