Four Home Theater Projector Comparison

In the following linked pages, we rank these four home theater projectors, from “worst to best.” But, that doesn’t mean that our winner is the best for all of you, or even most of you, or that the “worst” one isn’t the best one for your requirements. What you are trying to accomplish, in terms of what you watch, when you watch it, how big a screen, how often you watch, etc., are all factors, that can make any of these four projectors the best one of the four for your situation.   As far as listing these projectors from 4th favorite, 3rd, 2nd, and then most favorite, that’s something I recently noticed one of the auto magazines doing. They write up first, the cars in a shootout that they felt was the least impressive overall, and work their way up to the winner of this little comparison. I thought I’d try that here.  You’ll find the first link at the bottom of this page.

After we have discussed each, I’ve created a series of one-on-one comparisons. We’ve shot side by side images of each pair, to compare color and black level performance, as well as other aspects. With 4 projectors that works out to six head to head comparisons.

Images above, in order left to right: Sony, Optoma, BenQ, Epson.  (saturation does vary).

We’ve also created videos when I’m viewing the pairs side by side, although over half of the videos will be a part of additional content for our subscribers. Video itself is not as good a resource as still images for comparing things like black levels or color accuracy, so, those videos are mostly about the additional comments I made while viewing scenes, or doing black level or detail enhancement comparisons.

What These Projectors Have in Common

  • Smooth motion: CFI, creative frame interpolation – all names for the same thing
  • Dynamic detail enhancement (call it fancy sharpening). The algorithms used may vary a lot, as do the amount of apparent enhanced detail and sharpness, but all can offer up controls that make the image crisper / sharper looking, even if in reality, in most cases there really isn’t any more detail. These features come with names like Reality Creation, Super-Resolution, and so on.
  • Warranties of either two or three years, although some have replacement programs
  • CMS – color management system – all have complete CMS for calibrating the individual primary and secondary colors
  • 3D capability (although whether they come with 3D glasses, or 3D emitters standard, varies, so when considering price of a projector itself, it’s important to consider the cost value of what’s included
  • All have two HDMI inputs, none of the four have an HDMI input that supports MHL
  • All have very good to excellent remote controls
  • All have zoom lenses with good placement range and all have vertical lens shift, although the amount of shift varies a good amount. When it comes to the actual amount of zoom range: BenQ: 1.5:1, Sony: 1.6:1, Optoma 1.9:1, and Epson 2.1:1   All can be ceiling mounted and all can be rear shelf mounted if they can be placed far enough back based on zoom range, screen size and room depth

Some Things That Set Each Apart From The Others

Image to the right – Our one on one comparisons tied to this report  contain a number of side by side images, such as this Starship image we use to observe black levels.  Those pages contain both still images and video clips.  In this case the image shows:  Epson on left, Sony on right.

  • Optoma HD91 uses Light Source Dimming instead of a Dynamic Iris
  • Sony HW40ES has no iris or lamp dimming
  • Epson 5030UB comes finished in white (6030UB and 4030UB come in black)
  • Optoma HD91 is the least bright projector overall
  • BenQ W7500 is the brightest projector calibrated
  • Epson is the brightest projector uncalibrated
  • Epson has the most placement flexibility
  • BenQ has the least placement flexibility (but still good)
  • Epson has the shortest warranty (2 years vs. 3)
  • Epson has the only replacement program (2 years)
  • Sony has the shortest lamp life at full power
  • Optoma’s LED light engine will far outlast any lamp
  • All but Sony have 3D RF emitter included (Optoma’s is external)
  • Only Epson provides two pair of glasses with projector
  • Optoma seems to be the quietest projector overall
  • BenQ seems to be the noisiest (Epson close behind)

And Number #4 is:

Finishing #4 is the Optoma HD91 with its LED light engine

Navigating this Comparison

Click for rundown page of each projector in this 4-way comparison:
Epson Home Cinema 5030UB (and essentially identical 6030UB)
Sony VPL-HW40ES
BenQ W7500
Optoma HD91

 

Skip ahead to the shootouts (or use navigation at the top or the bottom of the page)
Optoma HD91 vs. Sony VPL-HW40ES
Epson Home Cinema 5030UB vs. BenQ W7500
Epson Home Cinema 5030UB vs. Sony VPL-HW40ES
Optoma HD91 vs. BenQ W7500
BenQ W7500 vs. Sony VPL-HW40ES
Coming Soon: Epson Home Cinema 5030UB vs. Optoma HD91

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