Home Projector Comparison Report: Summary
Below find my final thoughts and suggestions. -art
View the Best In Class Awards for a detailed summary of the winners, and why the won their awards!
All Home Theater Projectors Winning major awards in this report
Entry Level Projector Class - Under $2000:
Best In Class: Panasonic PT-AE4000 projector
Best In Class: Runner-Up (tie): Epson Home Cinema 8100
Best In Class: Runner-Up (tie): Mitsubishi HC3800
Mid-Priced Projector Class: $2000 - $3500:
Best In Class: Epson Home Cinema 8500UB
Best In Class: Runner-Up (tie): LG CF181D
Best In Class: Runner-Up (tie): BenQ W6000
Premium Priced Projector Class: $3500 - $10,000
Best In Class: JVC DLA-RS35
Best In Class: Runner-Up (tie): JVC DLA-RS25
Best In Class: Runner-Up (tie): InFocus SP8602
View the Best In Class Awards page for a summary of all the winners!
Projector Recommendations For Those Only Interested in Movies
These are projectors that are generally great for movie viewing, but for one reason or another, are less practical for watching other content. The key reason a projector make this group: limited brightness in brightest modes. That means the inability to handle any significant ambient light, since most people don't watch sports or most TV in a pitch black room. These projectors should have at least good black level performance. Almost all of these have "brightest modes" that are only average or below in brightness.
Projectors that are completely well rounded, and equally good at HDTV and Sports (requiring at least average "brightest mode" performance), are not included in this list.
Afterall, the best overall projectors are the ones that win our Best In Class awards, and don't need to be also on these additional lists, even though they should be good For example, the Mitsubishi HC3800 could be said to be very good at movies, but it is equally good at sports and HDTV. As a result it's not listed as a "movies only" projector even though it would serve well as one.
- Optoma HD20 (best of the sub-$1000 projectors, when it comes to blacks)
- Samsung SP-A600
- Mitsubishi HC7000
- Sony VPL-HW15
- Sony VPL-VW85
- Planar PD8150
- Vivitek H9080FD
Best Projectors For Sports (and HDTV) Viewing
The projectors on this list may also be very good for movie viewing, as well, but are listed here, because of combination of features (brightness, CFI, etc.) that make them particularly good for sports events and digital content.
Forget movies for the moment, these are the projectors that are best suited for HDTV and sports. The projectors must have at least average brightness to make this list (1000 lumens or more), in brightest mode. * denotes has CFI, which is considered a plus for most sports viewing.
- BenQ W1000
- Epson Home Cinema 8100
- Epson Home Cinema 8500UB*
- Epson Pro Cinema 9500UB*
- InFocus SP8602*
- LG CF181D*
- Mitsubsishi HC3800
- Mitsubishi HC6800
- Panasonic PT-AE4000*
- Vivitek H1080FD
Projectors That Really Come Into Their Own on Smaller Screens
This is just a small group of projectors that really don't have the ability to easily work with larger than 100" diagonal screens (unless the screens are higher gain). Their quality varies, and not all are necessarily great projector values, but all of them share the trait of not really having the ability to work well with screens of 110" to 130" diagonal, usually due to lack of lumens in "best" mode, rather than brightest. Some of these projectors would have been serious contenders for top awards, but for the lack of lumens. I have no stats on the breakdown of the various sized screens in terms of number of owners, so I don't know if 30% or 50% or 70% of home theater projector owners are using screens 100" diagonal or smaller. Best I can tell, the most popular screen sizes are 100, 106, and 110 inch. These projectors are iffy on anything bigger than a 1.0 gain 100 inch screen, due to lack of lumens, but all of them do a great job on smaller screens.
This is not a list of all the dimmer projectors, but a list of the best of the dimmer projectors (from a value proposition that considers price, features and performance).
- Sharp XV-Z15000
- Sanyo PLV-Z3000
- Sony VPL-HW15
- Planar PD8150
That's all, folks! Just remember, virtually all of these projectors are good products. Within most price ranges, it's not a question of which is the best projector, but rather the best one for you, your viewing preferences, budget and room. Good luck in the hunt! -art
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