At the PD7010’s optical heart is a Texas Instruments Dark Chip 2 DLP chipset, delivering a native pixel count of 1,280 x 720 and a decent claimed contrast ratio of 2,500:1. If you’re used to seeing figures of 10,000:1 and more being quoted by LCD projectors and so don’t think the PD7010’s figure looks up to much, you should note that the PD7010’s contrast figure is a ‘true’ one that does not, as is the case with LCD, depend on reducing the projector’s brightness output during dark scenes to deliver deeper black levels.
When it comes to connections, the PD7010 surpasses our expectations for its price point by providing two digital video inputs, one HDMI and one DVI (that can do HDMI via a supplied adaptor). Plus you get component video inputs, a PC jack and a 12V trigger output for automatically kick-starting mechanical screens, alongside the custom install ports we mentioned earlier.
Unusually for the DLP home cinema projector market, Planar hasn’t turned to any third parties such as Faroudja or PixelWorks for the video processing inside the PD7010. Instead it’s chosen to stick with a custom-tweaked version of Texas Instruments’ own DDP3020 engine. Any concerns raised by this decision are quickly put to bed by the projector’s remarkably assured performance.
Impressing immediately during a run-through of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie on Blu-ray are its black levels. The night-time scenes of Captain Jack in jail look surprisingly dark and credible, with less of the poor-contrast grey mist effect than expected for this price. We’ve honestly seen projectors costing double produce far less impressive reproductions of black.
Colours, meanwhile, generally benefit from good black levels, and so it proves here. The glossy and deeply under-rated visuals of Forza 2 on the Xbox 360 look impressively vibrant and engaging, but tellingly the projector also has a decent grasp of subtle skin tones – the sort on show in The Fellowship of the Rings’ dark Mines of Morir sequence.
DLP projectors are generally considered to fall short of LCD ones when it comes to showing fine detail, but the PD7010 does its level best to put paid to that argument with some very crisp HD pictures indeed. In fact, the sharpness during favourite ‘HD show off’ scenes like the opening space battle in Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith (recorded from Sky HD) wouldn’t look out of place on a product costing nearer £3,000.