1080p Projector Review 2008 - Compare Warranties03/14/2008 -Art Feierman
1080p Home Theater Projectors: Warranties
First some commentary - I do not believe that a 1 year warranty on a 1080p projector qualifies as a good warranty. Two years, on the other hand, is more typical, and some offer three years. Considering if you have a problem you have to ship the projector, and in general, projector repairs are expensive (you might have to pay $100 - $175, just for an estimate, when your projector is out of warranty). A major problem may easily cost more than $500 and a light engine problem could cost a lot more, out of warranty.
Home Theater Projector Replacement Warranties
Next, I find great value in replacement warranties instead of repair warranties Some projectors have only repair, some offer both, although quite often, the replacement option isn't as long as the repair option. For example, BenQ on their W20000, offers 3 years repair warranty with first year replacement.
The advantages of a replacement program are; far less hassle, and less downtime. In just about all cases, the manufacturer will ship out a replacement unit before you ship yours back, and in many cases they ship it out within 24 hours (or 48), and to you by next day air, or 2nd day. That means maximum downtime of 4 business days, and as little as 2. When you have to ship one in, a week to two weeks is going to be typical. True, you end up with a different projector, but, hey if it works better, is that really a problem?
The other nice thing about replacement warranties, is that almost all, if not all companies that offer them, pay all the shipping costs. Nice.
What about 3rd party extended warranties?
Many dealers offer these, and while they are no doubt less bulletproof than manufacturer warranties, and likely to be a little more hassle, in this case, I do recommend that you make sure you have a total of at least two years coverage. At least they are typically very low cost. In most cases an extra year 3rd party warranty is less than $100, and less than an estimate on an out of warranty product, nevermind the cost of repairing it.
Tricky - some manufacturers offer extra warranties only as a short term promo
That complicates things for reporting purposes. For the most part, I can't keep track of all of that. Below, if I am aware of such a promo, I'll mention it, along with when it ends, although the thing about warranty promos is they have a tendency to get renewed again and again, just as mail in cash rebates get renewed, repeatedly. Having ending dates on a promo is as much about, getting people to "pull the trigger now" instead of waiting.
OK let's get to the warranties themselves.
Entry level Home Theater Projectors
Mitsubishi HC4900: 2 Years Parts and Labor
Panasonic PT-AE2000U: 1 Year Parts and Labor (currently a 2nd year free thru 3/31)
Sanyo PLV-Z2000: 3 Years Parts and Labor, plus a promise to turn the unit at the factory in no more than 3 business days. (Nice).
As a downside Sanyo doesn't believe in DOA's. If your projector has a problem out of the box, they will want to repair it, not have the dealer replace it. In a sense, that's like a replacement, in that you don't end up with another brand new unit. All-in-all, a fair trade-off for providing the longest warranty of any projector anywhere near its price. I think you have to be at least twice as much to find another projector with a 3 year warranty.
Home Theater Projectors: $2000 - $3500 Street Price
BenQ W5000 projector: 1 year parts and labor
Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB projector: 2 years parts and labor, 2 years replacement
Epson Pro Cinema 1080 UB projector: 3 years parts and labor, 3 years replacement
Optoma HD803 projector: 1 year parts and labor
Optoma HD80 projector: 2 years parts and labor
Optoma HD8000 projector: 3 years parts and labor
Mitsubishi HC6000 projector: 2 years parts and labor
Sony VPL-VW40 projector: 1 year parts and labor
See the trend here? Of all the manufacturers listed in these two groups, everyone but Mitsubishi offers a shorter warranty on their less expensive models.
Home Theater Projectors: $3500 - $10,000 Street Price
BenQ W20000 Projector: 3 years parts and labor, 1st year replacement
InFocus IN82 Projector: 2 years parts and labor
JVC DLA-RS1 Projector: 2 years parts and labor
JVC DLA-RS1x Projector: 2 years parts and labor
JVC DLA-RS2 Projector: 2 years parts and labor
Optoma HD81 Projector: 3 years parts and labor
Optoma HD81-LV Projector: 3 years parts and labor, 3 year replacement, however, the accompanying outboard processor has 3 years parts and labor, but no replacement program
Sharp XV-Z20000 Projector: 1 year parts and labor, includes on site service
Sony VPL-VW60 Projector: 2 years parts and labor
Again, my recommendation, is one way or another, be sure to have at least a two year warranty. I say this despite the fact that I never buy 3rd party warranties on lower cost electronics, etc. On gear this expensive, and expensive to fix, though, you could find yourself with a "throw-away" in the second year, if the warranty has run out, and the repair is major.
Lamp life warranties, are typically 90 days, although a couple are 180 days, and Optoma, provides a 1 year warranty, most unusual (but nice).
Those same 3rd party warranty companies also sell lamp warranties. If you are a heavy user (40 hours a week, or more), you might want to consider those (they are fairly inexpensive). Be sure to read the fine print.
Lastly, with several of the projectors in this report there have been various problems reported. Some Epson "UB" projectors have slight convergence problems, the Sony VW40 has some reports (including our review projector), of blue hotspots in some of the corners (you should only see them on the darkest of dark scenes, if then), and so on. Color shifts in the background are another reported issue on occasion, with many models. Just in this group of 16 projectors that were physicall reviewed, four, including an Optoma, a Panasonic, and two others had some color shifting in the background that is more than normal. Of the four, two were pre-production units.
All considered though, home theater projectors tend to have very good quality control, and are very reliable.
Interestingly, the story with the Epson projector's convergence became significant when one dealer of the Pro version announced on their forum, that they were QC'ing the projectors before shipping to customers, and had a 50%+ rejection rate. That dealer told me he had gone through about 70 projectors, and rejected more than half.
To me, that sounded incredible (especially since I have long felt that Epson is about the best there is in overall reliability of the big name manufacturers). For that reason, I polled five medium to huge online projector dealers, that happen to advertise on our site. Each responded to me, and when I added them all up (I asked for the percentage returned because of that issue, and their approximate sales of the Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB), the final combined sales numbers was at least 400 (probably much closer to 500) projectors sold, was less than 3% returned for convergence problems, as of today 3/14. Go figure! We are all trying to sort it out, to figure out why one smaller dealer has three times more "unacceptable" projectors, than five larger dealers combined.
This is another reason why a replacement warranty is such a wonderful thing. In following these issues in the online forums, Epson for example is immediately shipping out at their expense, replacement units (and also paying freight to get the problem ones back). These come from their "fleet" of refurbished projectors, but most people seem very pleased with Epson's support. I haven't any details on the scope of the Sony issue, or how they are handling, since they don't have a replacement warranty.