Like its brighter stablemate, the PX747-4K, it offers Ultra HD resolution courtesy of a quad-shift .47” DLP chip from Texas Instruments. It also adds HDR10 and a built-in speaker so you can watch your hi-res content just about anywhere. With a zoom lens, keystone correction, and adjustable feet, it can be set up quickly and easily for a jumbo-screen movie-night experience.
ViewSonic PX727-4K Ultra HD DLP Projector
- 2200 ANSI lumens
- Pixel-shifting DLP chip provides 3840×2160 resolution
- HDR10 support through a full-bandwidth HDMI 2.0a input
- HDCP 2.2 content protection
- Up to 15,000 hours of lamp life
- Built-in 10-watt speaker
- Compact chassis with solid build quality
- Backlit remote
If you read my recent review of the ViewSonic PX747-4K DLP Projector, you’ll see many similarities between it and my subject for today, the PX727-4K. Indeed, they are nearly identical save one important element – the color wheel. Both units sell for $1499 list, offer Ultra HD resolution from a quad-shift DLP chip, and accept HDR10 signals. But where the PX747-4K is all about high light output, the PX727-4K is the go-to display for color accuracy. The difference lies in the color wheel. The brighter model employs a four-segment RGBW part. This increases total output from a 240-watt UHP lamp. The 727 has a six-segment wheel in an RGBRGB configuration. That’s the ticket to greater color brightness and saturation. Rated output is 2200 lumens rather than the 3500 quoted for the 747.
I wanted to compare the two models to see which one delivered greater color accuracy in a home theater environment. As you’ll soon see, the differences are small in some areas and greater in others. And as always, I’ll be checking out Ultra HD Blu-rays with HDR to see how this ViewSonic compares to its stablemate and its competition from other manufacturers. Let’s take a look.
.47” DLP w/4x pixel shift
3840×2160, 16:9 aspect ratio
120% above lens axis
Light output (mfr):
2200 ANSI lumens
1 x HDMI 1.4a, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x VGA
1 x 3.5mm in, 1 x 3.5mm out
RS-232, 1 x USB, 12v trigger
1 x 10w
Lamp service life:
13.1” x 5.3” x 10.3” (WxHxD)
$1499, street $1299
viewsonic, px727-4k, ultra hd projector, projector, dlp projector, hdr, ultra hd, Projector Review 2018
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- JVC DLA-RS640 Ultra HD Projector Review
- ViewSonic PX747-4k Ultra HD DLP Projector Review
The PX727-4K, like other Ultra HD DLP projectors at this price point, uses a new .47” DMD chip from Texas Instruments that has a native resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. Through a quad-shift that is always active, the eye sees 3840×2160 resolution. It’s an improvement over the three-chip LCD and LCoS designs from Epson and JVC that employ a refraction element in the light path. Since the DLP chip does the shifting, no additional items are there to reduce output or clarity. The result is a picture sharp enough to pass for true native Ultra HD.
I don’t make that comment lightly. The PX727-4K and displays like it can easily render the same clarity and detail as the native designs I’ve seen from JVC and Sony. Only the RS4500 with its premium optics shows a slight advantage. Sony’s $25,000 VPL-VW885ES boasts higher contrast and better black levels but is no sharper than any of the $1500 4K DLPs from ViewSonic, BenQ, or Optoma.
Light output is spec’d lower than the PX747-4K at 2200 lumens rather than 3500. This is due to an RGBRGB color wheel which doesn’t admit quite as much light but offers more saturated and accurate color in the process. Interestingly, my output measurements showed little difference in practical brightness between the two models, but the PX727-4K clearly has better color saturation.
The lens is offset to one side, balanced by a large air vent. Some light leakage comes from that area which I could see on the floor of my theater. Ceiling-mounted units should mitigate this issue better. In no case did this reduce image quality.
Generous ventilation continues around both sides of the chassis which is compact and feels solid. It weighs just over eight pounds but its complete lack of rattles and flex make it feel heavier. Up top, you’ll find barrel adjusters for zoom and focus along with a few buttons for menu navigation and source selection. The power toggle is a large button with a multi-colored status light behind it.
Lens offset is 120% which places the image 10% of the screen’s height above axis, or below if you hang it upside-down. There is no shift available but if you’re forced to angle the projector up or down, up to 40% keystone correction can be dialed in. I don’t recommend this as it reduces resolution. You can level the PX727-4K with a threaded foot in front and two more in back.
The input panel has two HDMI inputs. One is version 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 content protection. The second is 1.4. You also get a VGA input which can be adapted to three-wire component by using a breakout cable (not included). Control is possible through an RS-232 port and there is a 12v trigger output jack. Audio support comes in the form of 3.5mm in and out connectors. A single built-in speaker puts out 10 watts of power.
The remote is a tiny handset, packed with everything one might need to control the PX727-4K, and includes a soft blue backlight. At the top are discrete power buttons followed by individual input selectors. Next is menu navigation followed by four function-specific keys. Then we have volume and mute for the internal speaker and audio outputs. At the bottom are more function buttons that control various image parameters. Though small, it is mighty, with a powerful IR output that will bounce off the screen or a side wall. The projector’s chassis has a large sensor on its front panel.
I installed the PX727-4K on a small table in front of my seating. This is similar to a coffee table setup where one might pull out the projector for an impromptu movie night. All my testing and viewing was done through the HDMI 1 input which supports Ultra HD signals up to 60Hz along with HDR10. The player was an OPPO UDP-203.
The menus are exactly what I encountered in the PX747-4K. All the picture controls are in a sub-menu called, appropriately, Picture; except for the bulb power options which are hidden in a menu called Installation. They’re labeled Light Source Settings and there are three levels, Normal (brightest), Eco, and Dynamic. The latter is the best choice as it more than doubles the projector’s native contrast without visible pumping artifacts. It works reasonably well but I’d love to see this projector with a real mechanical auto-iris.
Calibration is possible in all three image modes. The default is Standard but most theater buffs will be better-served by Movie. Better yet, engage one of the User modes to create a custom setup as I did. You can base each of the two memories on one of the preset modes. I chose Movie and adjusted for both SDR and HDR content. My only gripe here is that HDR content requires a manual mode switch. It doesn’t change automatically like many other displays do.
In addition to eight gamma presets, you get a two-point color temp control with three presets, and a full color management system. I had good luck with all of these and was able to dial in more accurate color than the PX747-4K was capable of. The RGBRGB color wheel has a definite advantage in the image fidelity department.
For HDR calibration, there is an extra option in the System Setup: Advanced menu called EOTF. There are three levels and you should leave the PX727-4K set to medium for all content. That is the only one that properly tone-maps HDR10 signals. This is a different experience than I had with the PX747-4K where the best EOTF setting was Low. With the 727, I saw none of the color shifts between options but the best contrast and most accurate EOTF tracking definitely comes from the Medium setting.
With SDR and HDR calibrations dialed in and geometry set, it was time for a few movies.
Rather than watching standard Blu-rays, then different titles in Ultra HD, I went for some back-to-back comparisons. My library now has a decent selection of Ultra HD titles and all of them include a Blu-ray in the package. So many people want to know, “does Ultra HD really make a difference?” This is a great way to find out.
I started with Planet Earth II which is the only title that’s exclusively Ultra HD, there’s no Blu-ray in the box. I had previously been stunned by its presentation on a JVC DLA-RS640 and was nearly as impressed by its look on the PX727-4K. While it doesn’t offer the extra color or contrast of the much-more-expensive JVC, the ViewSonic is obviously sharper. In the episode Deserts, there are closeup shots of cactus needles that literally made me shudder. They leapt from the screen in a way no 3D film could portray.
Moving on to Blade Runner 2049, I focused on the opening scene in Sapper Morton’s house where most of his furniture is hidden in shadow. The Blu-ray dissolved much of this into a gray blob, devoid of detail; while sunlight coming in windows provided a decent pop. The film’s grain was apparent too which didn’t help matters. The Ultra HD version handled this difficult material much better. I could see every stick of furniture, every texture, and every object, no matter how dark the background was. And highlights practically glowed they were so bright. It’s hard to reconcile this excellent contrast with the fact that the PX727-4K projector musters just over 1700:1 contrast in HDR mode. In actual content, it looks far greater than that. Blacks won’t match the best LCoS projectors but the perception of depth is shockingly good.
Next up was Tomb Raider. This film is loaded with saturated color and many dark scenes, once the action moves underground. The Blu-ray looks fantastic, almost reference-quality. Details like razor stubble and beads of sweat pop right out and if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was watching Ultra HD. But when the actual Ultra HD disc went in the player, these elements were even more pronounced. Sweat beads glistened with greater intensity while men’s faces had a tangible texture that one could almost feel. The effect is superb.
I finished with Escape Plan. This 2013 film is obviously a conversion, not originally shot in 4K. The Blu-ray features mostly drab color and murky detail in the super-max prison scenes. Color is quite cool and that makes the image generally flat. The Ultra HD disc wakes that up in a surprising way. I was particularly struck by Warden Hobbs’ black suit coat which suddenly took on a subtle pinstripe pattern I couldn’t see in the 1080p version of the film. I saw a touch of edge enhancement which I suspect is part of the transfer but in every way, contrast and color were improved.
If you’re wondering just how much better a projector like this is than what you’ve been watching, let me put it this way. It’s sharper than just about anything I’ve seen. And its HDR contrast is surprisingly good. No, it won’t create the deep blacks and endless contrast of a three-chip LCoS. Its blacks are lighter than most LCD models as well. But the clarity has to be seen to be appreciated. Numbers alone can’t tell the tale. When properly calibrated, the PX727-4K is one of the best-looking projectors I’ve experienced.
To test the PX727-4K’s color accuracy, I measured from the lens with an X-Rite i1 Pro Spectrophotometer fitted with a diffuser attachment. Luminance readings were taken with a Spectracal C6 tri-stimulus colorimeter facing a 92” diagonal Stewart Filmscreen Luminesse with Studiotek 130 material, gain 1.3, at a 10-foot distance. Patterns were generated by an Accupel DVG-5000 and controlled with CalMAN, version 5.8.
Like the PX747-4K, the PX727-4K’s Movie picture mode is the best starting point for adjustment. It’s not quite able to make the “doesn’t need calibration” list, but it measures slightly better than its brighter counterpart. I used Movie as a basis for my custom SDR settings memory.
With an average error of 6.4513dE, one can see a slight blue tint to whites above 50% brightness. This will have the effect of cooling off flesh tones and making whites a little flat. Gamma tracking is right on the 2.2 line with only tiny dips at 10 and 90% to mar an otherwise perfect measurement run. The menu setting is 2.3 and I see no reason to change that. Higher numbers will dim the image and make it look murky. Lower ones wash out detail and de-saturate color.
My calibration made improvements to both white point accuracy and gamma tracking. Grayscale is now visually perfect with no visible errors over the entire brightness range. Gamma still shows an imperceptible dip at 10% but rides just above the line from 40% on up. That gives the image a tad more pop without harming detail in either highlight or shadow areas. This is excellent performance.
Initial color measurements of the PX727-4K showed a few issues. While the outer targets, representing 100% saturation are fine, the inner ones are off in both saturation and hue. Red is mostly under-saturated in the mid-tones while magenta and blue are over their targets. Cyan takes an unusual curve on its way from 0 to 100% saturation. Luminance levels are mostly too low apart from green which is too high at all points. Some work is required in the CMS here.
After a bit of back-and-forth in the CMS, color is greatly improved. Red is now over-saturated in the mid-tones but not to the point of clipping. The other colors show similar behavior but overall balance is much better than before. Luminance levels are mostly neutral with only red and blue dipping too low at 60 and 80% saturation. Reducing the average error from 7.4862dE to 2.5356dE makes a significant visual impact. The picture has far more depth and detail and clarity is better. The PX727-4K is capable of decent accuracy and performance but calibration is required to unlock its full potential.
To simulate an HDR10 signal, I add an HD Fury Integral to the signal path. This device sends the proper color and EOTF information when the source is SDR like my Accupel. I used the latest version of CalMAN’s HDR10 workflow to make the measurements and adjustments.
I used the second User mode to create separate settings for HDR content. The PX727-4K won’t switch modes automatically when an HDR signal is detected. Luckily, all the same controls are available to dial in grayscale, gamma, and color. They work independently of their SDR counterparts.
Compared to most other HDR-capable displays, the PX727-4K exhibits decent grayscale accuracy. Blue errors are visible from 30 to 100% brightness. The EOTF curve tracks with near-perfection with only a slightly soft transition at the clipping point. With only about 1700:1 contrast to work with, this projector won’t be able to render the same dynamic range as a good flat panel. But accurate tone-mapping means the image will have greater depth than its SDR counterpart. You’ll know you’re watching enhanced content when you put an Ultra HD Blu-ray in the player.
Calibration helps bring more of the brightness range in line with improvements up to the 60% level. This adjustment helps increase perceived contrast and like the SDR calibration, is necessary to unlock the PX727-4K’s full potential. ViewSonic has tuned this projector well.
Tracking Rec.709 within Ultra HD’s Rec.2020 container, the PX727-4K is a bit under-saturated in all but blue and magenta. Furthermore, reds look a bit orange in hue. Adjustments are possible with the CMS but that created a few problems of its own. In the end, I preferred the image when settings were left at defaults. Without a DCI-P3 color gamut, this projector won’t be able to show you all the color available in the format.
To render as much of DCI as possible, the PX727-4K adjusts red and green hue to get close to the outermost point of the visible gamut. This makes reds look a bit orange as I highlighted above. Saturation points are reasonably linear but most of them are less vivid than they should be. Blue and magenta track a little better but miss their hue targets.
The PX727-4K exhibits excellent video processing of interlaced source material. While it’s becoming rarer, there are still users with large DVD collections, and a lot of streamed and broadcast content is output in 720p and 1080i. That makes scaling and de-interlacing an important component of any modern display. The only failure is the 2:2 test which almost no display can pass. Regardless of signal format, there is no clipping of below-black or above-white information. I saw a slight roll-off in the 1-pixel burst pattern when viewing 4:2:2 but the lines were still visible. The jaggies test looked rock-solid with only a tiny bit of line twitter in the ship’s gold trim. Ropes and rigging were perfectly-rendered with no visible edge enhancement.
In hopes of inspiring others to use the metric system, I’ve moved to quoting output levels in nits (AKA cd/m2, or candelas per square meter) rather than foot-Lamberts. With HDR becoming more common, it’s just easier to use a single unit of measurement. For those needing a frame of reference, 1fL equals 3.43 nits, or 1 nit equals .29fL.
The PX727-4K has plenty of light output and even though its brightness is rated lower than the PX747-4K, I measured about the same white levels and contrast. Both models use the same 240-watt bulb. The only difference is the color wheel and some internal tuning.
After calibration, with the bulb set on Eco, the white level was 158 nits with .2817 nits black and a contrast ratio of 562.8:1. On the lamp’s normal setting, white increases to 230 nits with .409 nits black and 562.9: contrast.
Engaging the Dynamic lamp mode, which I recommend for all viewing, the white level is 208 nits with .1676 nits black and 1244.8:1 contrast. The difference in depth and clarity is readily apparent.
If you seek maximum output, choose the Bright mode where you’ll see 397 nits white, .5025 nits black, and 790.9:1 contrast.
In HDR mode, I measured lower brightness and contrast than what I saw from the PX747-4K. The PX727-4K manages a white level of 247 nits with .1409 nits black and 1753.7:1 contrast. While some might see this as a negative, the PX727-4K’s superior color accuracy wins any comparison in my book.
At $1499, the VIEWSONIC PX727-4K is hard to beat. It presents a better image than many displays costing much more.
- Nearly unmatched clarity and detail
- Excellent HDR contrast
- Perfect motion processing
- Phenomenal value
- Backlit remote
- A mechanical auto-iris for better contrast
- More accurate out-of-box color
- Wider color gamut for Ultra HD content
With each new budget DLP projector I review, I become more compelled by their amazing quality. I have long been a fan of the LCoS light engine, and an Anthem LTX-500 has been my reference display for over nine years. And it still thrills me every time I look at it. But watching Ultra HD movies on the ViewSonic PX727-4K is an unexpectedly good experience.
The picture’s clarity and sharpness is something I cannot overstate. It may not be a native Ultra HD design but I defy anyone to tell it apart from one. When comparing standard and UHD Blu-rays, the difference is immediately apparent. Contrast is better, detail and texture is finer, and the whole experience is elevated.
When you have less than $1500 to spend on a projector, there are many 1080p models that will deliver good brightness, accurate color, and a sharp image. But honestly, I can’t imagine why one wouldn’t pick the PX727-4K. It simply delivers excellent picture quality at an amazing price. Highly Recommended.