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Runco Super DTV-852 CRT Projector Print E-mail
Monday, 01 November 1999
Image Are you ready for High Definition? Do you want to catch all the action when CBS broadcasts four NFL games in High definition later this year? Well you can display those amazing three-dimensional pictures in your home today with Runco's DTV-852 $15,000 Super HDTV projector.

The DTV-852 incorporates three 7 inch CRT liquid cooled tubes, a built-in line doubler with multiple aspect ratio capability and a data grade 50kHz horizontal scan frequency. Not only will regular NTSC sources look fabulous, you'll be able to display virtually any HDTV source.

Functions such as contrast, brightness, sharpness, color and tint are controlled via an on-screen menu. The horizontal scan frequency can be synced to 15-50kHz while the vertical scan frequency can be synced to 50 -100Hz. Ultimately, the DTV-852 is capable of 900 lines of resolution for NTSC sources and 1200 lines for HDTV sources.

Up to ten aspect ratios, (i.e. 1:33, 1:85 and Anamorphic) can be programmed into memory, providing instant access to the proper aspect ratio of any given source. The DTV-852 can be configured as a front or rear projector depending on the size and design of the home theater, with either floor or ceiling mounting.

Proper convergence and set-up of any projector is critical to its performance, so for my evaluation I went to one of Los Angeles' most prestigious custom installers, Christopher Hansen. The DTV-852 was beautifully and perfectly demonstrated in a completely enclosed room, where nearly all ambient light was blocked out. What struck me immediately about the Runco 852 were the perfect flesh tones and super sharp edges on everybody's face in the movie Contact. There was a real theater like quality to the bigger than life images, no doubt due to the built-in line doubler, which includes a digital multi-line comb filter that compensates for dreaded motion artifacts. In general, resolution was very good, especially on medium to close-up shots. Where I felt the projector had problems resolving super-fine details was in scenes where there was a lot of foreground and background detail such as the beautiful outdoor sequences in Legends of the Fall. While the foreground information still exhibited a sense of depth although edges were softer, background information, particularly on super wide shots, lost all depth as well as some color saturation appearing flat and grayish.

Foreground colors were always very natural, though not overly vibrant or intense. While there are three fixed selections for color balance (3200K, 6500K, 9300K), Christopher Hansen choose the custom setting, which requires more calibration but the results are well worth it. There were no signs of blooming, not even on those super hot reds and yellows in the big explosion prior to the opening credits in the film Golden Eye.

I found the picture somewhat dim, even in a totally dark room. For instance, it was easier on the eyes to watch the outdoor scenes in Legends of the Fall, than it was to track the high contrast action in the opening sequence of Golden Eye. The image from the DTV-852 was being projected on an 87" screen, which theoretically should have been more than adequate. However, experts will tell you the maximum picture size for a projector with 8 inch or 9 inch tubes should be no more than 90 inch to 100 inch. Since the DTV-852 incorporates 7 inch CRT's it might have benefited from a slightly smaller screen where overall contrast and brightness would have been improved. Now I don't mean to imply that the DTV-852 is somehow less worthy of consideration by some of these remarks. Quite the contrary, for its price, it's not likely you'll find anything else to perform half as well. When properly installed and calibrated you'll have no complaints with the DTV-852. Bring on the DVD's, Laserdiscs and high definition broadcasts. You may never leave your living room again.

The Downside
Two piece projection systems may provide the best possible monitoring but they do take up a lot of room. Hanging the projector from the ceiling is by far the most space saving method but it isn't always feasible. Another option is housing the projector in a coffee table like enclosure but I hope you have room for a very large coffee table as the DTV-852 measures out at 33" D x 12.5" H x 25.25" W. Like most projection systems, size, weight and complexity of convergence techniques prohibits user set-ups, meaning you must also factor in the cost of installation.

The Runco 852 get pretty darned hot, as much as 104 degrees Farenheight thus it requires a fan, which does create some background noise. Unless you can enclose an 852 and keep it well ventilated, you'll hear it during quite passages of movies or in a room with little or no other noise. Comparable projectors like the DWIN do a better job with background noise.

There is nothing better than a two-piece projection system when it comes to the ultimate in image size, brightness and resolution. To achieve the level of performance you can now get from this $15,000 Runco package, you would have had to invest upward of $50,000 just a year or two ago. Consider the Runco 852 a great high performance video projector in a value priced package. Make no purchases anywhere near the $15,000 price point with our auditioning it.

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