Six Digital Projector Comparison- Overview

Compression Technology

All of these projectors did a perfectly acceptable job of compressing the next higher resolution. Degradation is slight, and even the smallest type is readable, if not pretty. Compression on large type (presentation sized), is virtually unnoticeable, and a non isse.

One area where compression is an issue is if you are displaying graphics with very fine lines such as architectural and engineering drawings. If this is your “killer” app, you will want to purchase a projector who’s native resolution is as high as what you want to show.

As noted above, the Epson S4, is the only one that needs compression technology to handle the tradtional XGA resolutioni computers. For those of you, with XGA computers, the S4 will do a respectable job, but the image quality will come up short compared to any of the XGA models.

The Mitsubishi HD4000 is the only widescreen projector in our review. This makes it a better choice, if budget allows, for working with widescreen laptops, as well as applications that are more suited to that wider aspect ratio, such as messaging and announcements, displaying the maximum number of columns in spreadsheets, etc. As widescreen business projectors (at least under $5000) is a new catagory, there are only a few units on the market yet. As more hit the market, prices should fall, over the next year or so, to come much closer to the pricing of typical 4:3 aspect ratio XGA projectors.

Video Performance

A real mixed bag here. The widescreen HD4000 is pretty much my first pick overall. The Optoma TX-700 and the InFocus IN26 both have that blend of smooth image and high contrast that DLP projectors are known for. The Dell 2400MP, the brightest of the field, does very good on almost every area of video, but one. It’s weekness is a lot of noise in bright areas. Too much to really make it acceptable for serious use in the home. All of the DLP’s can certainly double as part time solutions for watching sports and movies at home, and none rival dedicated home theater projectors. The Dell’s noise level issue, however makes it the one lease able to double in the home from this standpoint – a shame considering it’s low price and tons of lumens that would otherwise make it a great 4:3 solution for those who can’t fully darken their rooms. And that is a very large market.

Based on price,and sheer number of lumens, the TX-700 is probably the best value for 4:3 portable projector as a bright home entertainment solution.

For typical business video or classroom video, however all six do a commendable job.

The Epson S4 and the Panasonic LB60 projectors each have the advantage of being LCD and not having a color wheel. As a result, they do not exhibit the “rainbow effect” that is visible by a small, but signicant number of users, with the 2X speed color filter wheels. Home theater models use 4X or 5X wheels, dramatically reducing the number of people who can detect the rainbow effect.

Perhaps this will help clarify: can only rarely detect the rainbow effect with home theater projectors, but had far less trouble noticing it with these DLP models. Note, it is “most visible” when motion (such as slow or fast panning) is combined with very bright objects on much darker backgrounds. For that reason, you are much more likely to see rainbows on a dark movie scene with some bright lights, than on a typical business video or educational movie where most scenes are going to be bright or medium bright not dark.

The tradeoff for the LCD projectors is significantly lower contrast levels. Details in dark areas are going to get lost. Again, the LCD models are fine for typical business and education, but the lower contrast levels definitely diminishes their performance as a home theater solution.

Now, its time to visit the General Performance comparison, where we consider non-image quality issues, like menus, remotes, lamp life….

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