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Projector Suggestions


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My panasonic pt-ae900 bit the dust yesterday. :bh It has vertical lines going down the screen which apparently mean the mainboard has died, I also need a new bulb, so I think it's time for an upgrade.

 

I'm interested in a 1080p LCD under 3k. Under 2k would work too, I have my 4th child due in a few months :jaw so money is pretty tight. :(

 

My setup has roughly a 14' throw onto a 94" inch screen. It's a dedicated home theater w/ full lighting control.

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LCD: Epson Home 1080UB - Don't get the normal 1080. Get the UB. This is THE LCD to get. Nothing else comes close.

 

SXRD: Sony VPL-VW40. About the same price as the Epson 1080UB.

 

http://www.projectorreviews.com/Best1080pProjectors032008/projectorawardwinners.php

Category: Medium Priced 1080p Home Theater Projectors: $2000 - $3500

Best In Class Award: Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB Projector

 

Tough sledding here, none of the three award winners is, overall better in most ways than the other two, but in my opinion, the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB stands out as the most impressive of the three to watch. Its superior black level capabilities, plus very good shadow detail (not the best), good sharpness and a very dynamic looking image combine to make for an extraordinary viewing experience, especially considering the mid-$2000 price. While I don't find the Epson to be the most "film-like" projector around, it is certainly close enough. Color performance with some adjustment, is excellent. And, of course, the projector is about as versatile as they come in terms of placement flexibility. In addition, it has the best warranty in the class, except for its own more expensive sibling, the Pro Cinema 1080 UB.

 

In finally determining that the Epson would take top honors, the single most significant reason was this: I own the JVC RS1, last year's best "under $10K" projector (almost all reviewers agree). The JVC is still a better overall projector than any of these. In spending far too much of my life comparing the Epson and the other projectors mentioned below, to the RS1, when just watching movies, the Epson was the only one, that I enjoyed about as much as the JVC. It was more different, than not as good. By comparison, the Sony, was, in some ways, more similar to the RS1, but to me, definitely not as good as the JVC.

 

Bottom line: If someone told me I had to give up my JVC for 6 months and could use any of the under $3500 projectors instead, the Epson is my choice overall, despite any flaws, etc.

 

From a practical standpoint, the Epson does have some downsides - its fan is noiser than the other two, when all are in full power mode, but not significantly more. It's still quieter than the typical DLP projector, and just a bit noisier than my RS1. Some also report that they occasionally notice the sound of the dynamic iris, but this should only "annoy" a very small percentage of potential buyers.

 

All considered, this is a projector that the vast majority can live happily ever after with. For most folks, those who don't buy a projector planning to replace it every year or two with the next better thing, this is truly a keeper!

Best in Class Runner-Up (a tie): BenQ W5000 Projector

 

I've been agonizing more over the choice for the Runner-Up award in this category, than any other. I offer for your consideration, two projectors, as a tie. Each has significant differences. Here goes:

 

The BenQ W5000 is a classic DLP, and an exceptionally good one. Were it not for a couple of flaws, the BenQ well may have had a serious shot at the Best In Class top honors. There seems to be something about the image produced by DLP projectors that many people prefer, and that's true today, even as 3LCD and LCoS projectors are considered to have the ability to beat DLP in the one area they dominated for years - black level and shadow detail performance.

 

The BenQ W5000 provides rich dynamic colors. It is especially impressive in dark areas where colors seem to be visibly richer than most other projectors. Generally this seems to be an attribute of DLP projectors overall.

 

 

 

The W5000 is also the brightest of the projectors in this group, when in Best Mode, cranking out well over 600 lumens (with Brilliant Color engaged) while the Sony and Epson are down around 460. This really helps on larger screens, or with some ambient light.

 

And for those of you bothered by "motion blur" (which personally I do not see as a big issue), DLP projectors are essentially immune. Of course, some of us (a very small percentage) are sensitive to the rainbow effect, so the BenQ W5000 isn't for everyone.

 

What limits the W5000 compared to the other winners are the following. More limited placement flexibility. The W5000 has lens shift with pretty good range, but is still hampered by a 1.2:1 zoom while the other award winners offer zooms with much more range.

 

From a technical side, the BenQ offers better black levels than any of the other DLP projectors in this price group, although not quite up to the Epson.

 

The achilles heel is image noise. The W5000 in this regard is below average overall. There are some scenes where you can't help but notice, although most of the time, most people will not have that on their radar. Image noise gets worse as does color handling if you kick in Brilliant Color. On some content I really found that to be a problem, however Brilliant Color ups saturation, changes the color dynamics, and can sometimes be over the top. I have recommended to BenQ that they add two additional Brilliant Color settings between the current one, and Brilliant Color off. Whether they do such a thing, only time will tell.

 

Also, the BenQ only has HDMI 1.2.1 so it doesn't support 1.3 or Deep Color. Deep Color has potential, even though the content isn't out there yet. The W5000 comes with only a 1 year warranty, like the Sony it ties with.

 

Once tuned, though, the BenQ overall is a bright projector in Best Mode, that has more "wow factor" than the other two, especially if you are pushing upward of a 110" screen. It's just that some times, it's a little, "over the top", if you use Brilliant Color to get the brightest image. I don't expect the BenQ will have as strong a following as the Epson or Sony, but, it should have definite appeal to a significant number of folks. (Note: I owned two previous BenQ's the PE-8700+ and the PE-8720, both of which I was very satisfied with at the time). The W5000 is very much like my old PE8720, but 1080p.

 

To wrap it up, let me put it this way, the BenQ when it looks good, it truly looks great, but other times its rough edges can be bothersome.

Best in Class, Runner-Up (a tie):Sony VPL-VW40 Projector

 

Actually the Sony VW40 was a no brainer as runner-up to the Epson, and elsewhere, there is much debate as to which is the better projector overall. I'll stick by my guns regarding the Epson.

 

Still, the Sony is a truly excellent projector. To me, it's more of a "poor man's" JVC RS1. And therein lies the "rub". it can't match the JVC (or the Epson) in overall black level performance, although after calibrating both projectors, I was getting a touch more shadow detail out of the Sony, than the Epson. Fan noise is reasonable, the iris noise is not an issue, and placement flexibility is very good (a 1.8:1 zoom and vertical lens shift, plus a tiny amount of horizontal lens shift).

 

Out of the box, the Sony I used needed work on getting the colors right, and the unit I had, had a definite, but minor background problem with blue hot spots in the corners. When finally tuned, the Sony looks great and natural, is average in brightness in both Best and Brightest modes. Its other strengths include, being fairly "transparent" (you can watch watch the content and not have the projector intrude). At times the Sony's colors can appear especially rich, which is a good thing.

 

On the downside, the Sony comes with a basic one year warranty, and even though it has HDMI 1.3, it doesn't support Deep Color. The VW40, an LCoS projector (Sony calls that SXRD), like LCD projectors, is susceptable to motion blur, but I don't see that as significant issue, although like fan noise, it is the kind of thing that will really bother a few folks. The VW40 is one fine projector, with no significant flaws. Between the Sony and the BenQ, I'd say the Sony is the "safe choice".

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I own a Mitsubishi HC4900 1080p LCD Projector... It's fucking awesome and I also got a $500 mail-in rebate at time of purchase bringing it down to $1375.

 

Order from Projector People if you want to order online. I've used them for my last 3 projectors... fantastic customer service.

 

Those new Epson UBs are nice as well... if you can stomach the price tag ;)

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I own a Mitsubishi HC4900 1080p LCD Projector... It's fucking awesome and I also got a $500 mail-in rebate at time of purchase bringing it down to $1375.

 

Order from Projector People if you want to order online. I've used them for my last 3 projectors... fantastic customer service.

 

Those new Epson UBs are nice as well... if you can stomach the price tag ;)

 

How's the blacks on the Mit?

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The epson arrived yesterday. The picture blows my old panasonic away. :rock What amazes me the most is that the image is actually viewable in full lighting, the panny was barely visible in full lighting.

 

I tried out transformers first, and for some reason my hd-dvd is only outputting 1080i, not sure why but the image looked great and I moved onto The Unit, again GREAT picture. :tu For my last test I threw in Gears of War, the panny had a really hard time as the images are really dark and I would have to turn the brightness up losing pretty much all the black for dark gray. Had no troubles at all w/ the epson.

 

I have a 42" Samsung lcd tv, and the image is as good if not better then the tv at twice the size, so I'm a very happy camper. :D

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  • 9 months later...

Anyone seen the Mitsubishi HC1600? Amazon has it for $640. I didn't get approval for the $1300 Infocus X10 listed in another thread, but I bet I could swing this 720p model. Any opinions on if it would be a decent upgrade from my four-year-old Infocus 4805? Or should I hold out until I have enough for a 1080p?

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xpieter,

IMHO if you aren't ever going to save enough cash for a 1080P at $2,000 then just buy now. There isn't a ton of difference between the low end 1080P's and the 720P PJ's that are out there.

 

If you can save up to the 2k mark, the 1080P PJ's at that price point jump quite a bit in quality.

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Anyone seen the Mitsubishi HC1600? Amazon has it for $640. I didn't get approval for the $1300 Infocus X10 listed in another thread, but I bet I could swing this 720p model. Any opinions on if it would be a decent upgrade from my four-year-old Infocus 4805? Or should I hold out until I have enough for a 1080p?

 

I've had the Mitsubishi HC1500 (previous model to the 1600) for about a year now. I've been really happy with the performance. The picture is very bright which helps because I usually watch it with ambient light in the room. I bought mine for $899 last year so $640 sounds like a great price (particularly when you consider that a new lamp will cost about $333-350).

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Thanks for all the input, everyone. One more projector to consider I'd appreciate feedback on... the Sharp DT-510 which is $580 at tigerdirect.

 

Most every review I've read of the HC1600 has noted how great it looks in rooms with some light. My wife needs a light on when we watch tv/movies, so I'm very pleased to hear this.

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You could do a LOT worse than any Mitsu projector.

 

Agreed

 

I appreciated the upgrade from my X1 to my Optoma HD72. Remember games are almost always 720p and some broadcast HD is 720p...ditto for netflix streaming and the like...so the only source you're losing rez on is likely some TV broadcasts and Blu-ray. It's still a nice upgrade.

 

Mitsus have a good reputation for projectors. Sharp has a good rep in LCDs but I didn't realize they made DLPs also...

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Projector arrived today. Setup was crazy quick and easy. It wasn't long before I had the geometry looking great and was ready to go. The first thing I noticed was how amazingly quiet the Mitsubishi is compared to the 4805. We ran the 4805 in low-power mode, but even in Standard mode, the Mitsu is barely audible. Then I savored the first few hours of a brand new bulb. The light just pops off the screen. I adjusted the settings to match the suggested ones from Projector Reviews to start. Things seemed a little too bright, and the color a little off. A couple of clicks and the picture was very very nice. So far we've just watched some cable - Better Off Ted, Lost, and Survivor - and have been very impressed. The wife is of course reluctant to show any pleasure at the new toy. She felt/feels the InFocus was just fine. "I can see more pixels," she says, "Am I supposed to see more pixels?" Sigh.

 

Tomorrow I'll have a few hours to myself during the day to try some games and Blu-Rays. I remember when I got the InFocus I threw in DVD after DVD to check the colors and black levels of my favorites. I can't see doing much of that now with BD because of the loading times. I'm getting too old for that...

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