We’re often struck by how few American brands manage to make their mark in the UK’s AV scene. The dominance of European and far Eastern brands is almost total, which inevitably raises questions of whether perhaps US brands just don’t understand the quirks of the UK market as well as they might. So here’s hoping the first UK product from American outfit Planar, the PD7010 entry-level DLP projector, puts such questions to bed in no uncertain terms.
It looks like it means business, at any rate. Its high-gloss black finish wrapped around a delightfully curvaceous and reasonably diminutive body is tailor made to look good on a coffee table, suggesting that Planar knows the sort of design ethic that the UK domestic market loves.
So home-friendly are its looks, in fact, that it comes as something of a surprise to learn that Planar sees the PD7010 as an affordable option for the custom install market. But you certainly can buy the projector yourself without having to go through third-party installers, and really the only thing in its specification that marks it out as a custom install option are a trio of system-friendly sockets: an RS232C control jack, a USB input, and a 3.5mm IR jack. Neither its onscreen menus nor setup procedures contain any technicalities too specialised for even a projector novice to negotiate with reasonable ease.
Indeed, the PD7010 is perhaps a touch TOO easy to set up, since it doesn’t carry any vertical image adjustment – a tool we always find helpful when trying to get a projector image correctly positioned on our screen. What’s more, the amount of optical zoom provided by the lens isn’t great, meaning you need to check that the PD7010’s throw distance figures will work OK for the size of room it’s going in. All the other set up features that count are present and correct, though, including vertical and horizontal keystone correction for making sure the image’s edges are all straight, plus all manner of handy picture tweaks within the well-presented onscreen menu system.
Among these tweaks are a colour temperature adjustor (6500 Kelvin should see you right for most home cinema applications); a white peaking adjustment; three lamp output modes depending on whether the source you’re watching demands an emphasis on black levels or brightness; five gamma presets for adjusting contrast levels to different source types; and offset and gain adjustments for each of the image’s red, green and blue colour elements. This all represents some really impressive flexibility in a projector costing as little as £1,100.
One downside of having so many picture adjustments at your disposal is the constant optimisation of the settings for different sources. But Planar has covered that too, by providing three save-to-memory options where you can store different image setting groups.