Review: Runco LightStyle LS-1 Home Theater Projector
This Runco DLP projector is an affordable home cinema luxury
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At $3,999, the LS-1 is Runco’s most affordable projector.
January 26, 2012 by Grant Clauser

Runco has being catering to the video enthusiast long enough to know what people expect, so it wasn’t a surprise to find features like ISF day/night settings for calibration, built-in test patterns and Runco’s ViVix processing. All of that shows the projector was designed to be tweaked for a good picture.

Of course, in this case, the projector didn’t need to be tweaked very much. I aimed it at a 106-inch Seymour Screen Excellence screen with a .98 gain. Runco includes a manual vertical lens shift to help you hit the bulls eye—in this case you access the lens shift by lifting up the Runco logo and turning a mechanism with an included allen wrench.  After that, a little adjusting in the picture menu and I was off to watch some video.

First, the projector did an excellent job on test patterns, so I played a few Blu-ray movies. I started with the snow board documentary The Art of Flight. This disc is a beauty, so get it if you don’t already have it. The wide shots of snow-covered peaks against blue skies looked stunning. The picture capture all the depth and variation in the different shades of white to gray you find in snow and ice coupled with the shadows of the mountains.

In one scene a helicopter hovers over the mountain, its blade rotating in slow motion. I expected the spinning of the chopper blades to create artifacts, but there were no jagged edges or mosquito noise anywhere to be seen. In another scene where a brightly-clad snow boarder launches across the screen, his board at a diagonal and nothing but a blue sky behind him, every edge was perfect.

I moved onto footage with more dark scenes, including Avatar and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II. In both movies, the projector created very rich colors with fine detail, and dark scenes also looked good. Blacks were deep and showed detail in shadows, though I’ve seen somewhat better on LCoS projectors in the same price range.

As noted above, this projector is not excessively bright—it’s best great in a dark to moderately dark room. If you want to watch a football game during the day with the lights on, don’t expect the deepest contrast.

Some people shy away from single-chip DLP because of the rainbow effect—an artifact caused by the projector’s color wheel. I’m not terribly sensitive to that anomaly, but I can see it and know how to look for it. On this Runco I did not experience it even once. I tried, but nothing. This is only single-chip projector I’ve seen that, at least for me, exhibited no rainbow effect at all.

Altogether, this is a great, reasonably-priced projector that gives a significant improvement over the bargain projectors in the $1,000-$3,000 range. If I had to nitpick, I’d have to say the lack of 3D might be a turn-off, considering the fact that there are several 3D projectors for about the same price (JVC’s DLA-X30 comes to mind). This unit also seemed a little loud, but most of the time I used it without any accompanying audio (and I was sitting right next to it). In a normal ceiling installation the projector will be farther from the viewers and have a soundtrack to cover any fan noise. 

You can check out the complete specs here.

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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