Runco QuantumColor Q-650i LED-DLP Projector Color Commentary
The Q-650i may be the younger brother of Runco’s higher-end Q-750i ($15,000), but it includes many of the latter’s unique features made possible by the use of LED lighting. Two of these are Personal Color Equalizer (PCE), which Runco says, “allows color adjustment that includes those exactly defined by the cinematographer and the color preferences of each individual viewer for each source,” and Runco Smart Color (RSC), which it says, “provides a hue compensation curve and gamut mapping that allows for lifelike, accurate flesh tones while increasing color saturation, without sacrificing the purity of other colors.”
When you do a conventional calibration on this projector, you’ll use both the Color Temperature control with its fixed settings (5500K, 6500K, etc.) and the RGB Adjust controls, which allow you to fine-tune the white balance around the Color Temperature setting you’ve chosen.
In other words, the Color Temperature and RGB Adjust controls act together to bring the white balance into acceptable standards, as with any projector.
In addition, you’ll also select an appropriate color gamut in the Color Gamut control. Personal Color Equalizer is one of the gamut options. If you select PCE for a Color Gamut, a separate PCE submenu, which is otherwise locked out with any of the other color-gamut selections, becomes active. The latter offers a color management system (CMS) with Saturation, Hue, and Level (brightness) controls for each primary (red, green, and blue) and secondary (yellow, cyan, and magenta) color. Accessing the PCE submenu by selecting PCE as the Color Gamut is the only way to engage this CMS. You might opt to do so if one of the more familiar color-gamut selections, say Rec. 709, turns out to be inaccurate. (On our sample, the Rec. 709 setting was visually and measurably adequate, although for this review I further refined it by using the colormanagement controls).
The PCE menu also includes an On/Off control for Runco Smart Color and a set of white-balance controls (gain only) separate from the normal high/low white-balance controls in RGB Adjust.
But if you select PCE in the Color Gamut menu, the Color Temperature control in the Advanced menu is locked out. That means that if you’ve previously calibrated the white balance using the RGB Adjust controls and a specific setting of the Color Temperature control, say 6500K, the 6500K setting is no longer active as a background foundation for your RGB settings. What replaces it? Based on the visible results and measurements, the “what” appeared to be a pronounced blue shift. The supplementary White Balance controls in the PCE menu may be intended to compensate for this, but they lacked sufficient range to do so by themselves. This means that if you choose to use the PCE CMS, you should plan ahead and first select PCE, then dial in the white balance using the RGB Adjust controls. The PCE menu’s White Balance controls then become superfluous, but they remain available if you need additional adjustment range.
A separate setting in the Color Gamut control, Native, offers the fully saturated color gamut made possible by the projector’s LED lighting. This is Runco’s recommended setting to make full use of the PCE and RSC features. Since this superwide color gamut alone would produce garish-looking flesh tones, RSC, which is said to maintain good flesh tones while allowing other colors to roam free, is on by default in the Native setting.
Select Native, with its wide color gamut and RSC, and you may think the next stop will be cartoon city. There’s no question that this creative manipulation of color is a major deviation from technical accuracy, roughly akin on the audio side to turning the bass and treble controls all the way up on your AVR. And like the latter, it can be addictive. Bright primary colors are pumped up. Reds and greens, in particular, grab you by the scruff of the neck and scream, “Look at me!” But for reasons not clear from my measurements, flesh tones remained relatively believable. They were reddened slightly, a change that is less bothersome on naturally photographed images than on the already sunburned look favored by some filmmakers.
Interestingly, however, there’s also a control in the PCE menu to engage RSC. This means that if the above Native selection is a bit too excessive for you, a somewhat less exaggerated color gamut can be dialed in with the PCE’s color-management controls and then RSC selected to help balance out the flesh tones. But this is the twilight zone. At what point is the excessive color gamut acceptable to you, or just too much? And who makes this decision, you or your calibrator?
But if you think you might like any of these Crayola options, knock yourself out. It might be fun on occasion, such as for that big weekend game. But I’d strongly recommend having an accurately calibrated setup in one of the user memories to fall back on. For my money, I want an accurate grayscale and a color gamut that mirrors the gamut used in creating the source. For all consumer HD material, that gamut is (or should be) Rec. 709. Anything else, no matter how creative, does no t reproduce the source properly. —TJN