The Art of Home Theater Projectors

Sanyo PLV-Z3000, Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB, Mitsubishi HC7000 pricing

Greetings,

As everyone in the market for a “top of the line” 3LCD home theater projector realizes, the major new projector entries, notably the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 and the Mitsubishi HC7000, all compete directly with the Panasonic PT-AE3000U, which just set a price point of $2499.

The Epson HOme Cinema 6500 UB claims the highest contrast ratio of any home projector

The Epson HOme Cinema 6500 UB claims the highest contrast ratio of any home projector

 

 

In my earlier blog, today, I wrote about the lower than expected PT-AE3000U home theater projector pricing. The big question is will Epson, with their Home Cinema 6500 UB, come down to match the price of the Panasonic, when Epson ships?  What about the pricing on the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 and the Mitsubishi HC7000?

Just for fun, my guesses:   I expect Sanyo, with their PLV-Z3000, will definitely go for pricing parity, it seems to be their nature.  Over the years they have almost always come in at the same price or slightly less, when compared to the Panasonic home theater projector competition.  Those two companies just love to slug it out.

 

The Sanyo PLV-Z3000 is likely to match, maybe beat, Panasonics price point

The Sanyo PLV-Z3000 is likely to match, maybe beat, Panasonic's price point

Epson hasn’t set a price selling price (only the usual much higher MSRP) on their new Home Cinema 6500 UB, which isn’t scheduled to ship until December.  My previous best guess was a MAP of $2999, so we shall see what they do.  

 

Finally, Mitsubishi’s reaction should be interesting.  They’ve got the HC6500 (local dealers only?) which is already more expensive than the PT-AE3000U, and in the past, the old HC6000 being replaced by the HC7000, was more expensive than the competition.  Best guess is that Mitsubishi will take higher ground (price) and run with it, making the HC7000 the most expensive of the four home theater projector competitors.

The Mitsubishi HC7000 is likely to be the most expensive of the top 3LCD home projectors

The Mitsubishi HC7000 is likely to be the most expensive of the top 3LCD home projectors

 

 

Of course over the next 6-7 weeks we’ll have all four reviewed, and will figure out not only which one is the best one overall, but also which is the best for buyers with varying needs.

Looks to be a bonanza year for home theater projector buyers, in terms of price performance. 

I’ll post again, as I learn more.  -art

News And Comments

  • Jason

    “The big question is will Epson, with their Home Cinema 6500 UB, come down to match the price of the Panasonic, when Epson ships?”

    That’s the million dollar question for me, and a lot of other people, I’d have to assume. The reviews on the Panasonic look good so far (though I’m still waiting for yours). The hard part is I just moved into a new house, painted the basement, have a friends old sectional waiting for me, and I’m waiting for the new projectors to all come out.

    I’m new to the projector game, and whatever I get is going to have to last a good while, but I’m beginning to wonder is waiting the 2 months or so for the Epson would be worth it, and if they will even have price parity. I’m not emotionally tied to either company, I just want best bang for buck. Unless there is a marked difference between the two, a few hundred dollars difference could get me close enough under budget to get a new reciever.

    Also, I have an empty room just begging to be lit up by a 100″ screen. At least this is a good problem to have, right?

    ***********************

    Greetings Jason,

    OK, let’s consider all of that.

    First, the Epson 6500 UB, is not, under any circumstances, likely to be any less than the Panasonic. In the last model year, the Epson normally commanded a $200 – $400 premium, so Epson coming out and holding $2999 wouldn’t be surprising, although $2799 might be more likely. (all guesswork).

    So, expect a bit of price difference.

    Last time around, the UB was far superior to the AE2000U in black levels. This time around, it will be much closer. Just from what I saw of the PT-AE3000U side by side with the AE2000U, at CEDIA, showed an impressive improvement in black levels.

    My best guess would be that the PT-AE3000U, therefore comes very close to, or may even equal the old 1080 UB. The new 6500 UB, will be better than the 1080 UB.

    And, It’s possible that the AE3000 will actually match the 6500 UB, but my money would be that Epson maintains a small advantage.

    However, the 1080 UB’s blacks are impressive enough, for all but the most critical. So good, that other factors become more important, and subtle variations (improvements) in black levels are not longer a top priority.

    Beyond that sharpness should be interesting. The 6500 UB is supposed to be a little sharper than the 1080 UB, a very good thing. The Panasonic AE2000U was a touch softer than the 1080 UB.

    So, best guess is Epson will also have a slight advantage there, but operative word is slight. That softness almost certainly is attributable to Panasonic’s Smooth Screen technology.

    Noise levels, new Epson is quieter than the old one, but the Panny will be quieter.

    The Epson will have more lumens in brightest mode (likely), but roughly the same in best mode comparisons.

    Warranty is all Epson – 2 years with overnight replacement, vs 1 year parts and labor for the panny. Epson also has a better reputation for quality control and support.

    Both do 96/120 hz creative frame creation
    Only the Panny supports an anamorphic lens (without expensive external processing) (the Pro 7500 UB also supports an anamorphic)
    The Anamorphic type emulation with lens zoom/shift, is a plus for the Panny. When doing so, unlike using an anamorphic lens, you do not get to put more pixels to work on the image (which technically, not only gives you a touch more resolution, but also more average brightness. Still, I’m really looking forward to playing with that feature on the Panasonic.

    Bottom line – a best guess – Panasonic has closed the performance gap, significantly. Last year there was a very significant difference between the Panny and Epson UB projectors. This year, I expect it to be more subtle.

    And Epson is going to miss out on a lot of biz, due to their December ship date. I really don’t think you can go wrong with the Panasonic, all considered (including timeline). These should be two, roughly comparable, excellent projectors. Whatever the image performance differences, they should be close. Which ever you buy, you should thoroughly enjoy. -art

  • Dave

    Me no likey your schedule for review…and prioritization. PLEASE..PLEASE…crank out the Panasonic AE3000U as soon as possible….need to see it compared to last years 1080UB and the RS1 / RS2….since, that is the only way to judge this beast until the HC6500 UB comes out….which will be later…

    ************************

    Hi Dave,

    Still waiting for Panasonic to send a review unit (they say, later this coming week). It is top priority for me, but I am limited by their schedule. I know one other reviewer has published already, but they obtained their projector directly from Japan, not thru “channels”. Those units loaned direct from Japan, are normally hand picked units. Most of the projectors we review are brand new in the box when we receive them, but some are from manufacturers that QC units before shipping to reviewers.

    Anyway, my review should be posted in 2 weeks time. If it arrives as promised. -art

  • Gerald Nielsen

    I’m curious about your opinion on product support of these four companies. I have an Optoma HD7100 and have been satisfied with their support. I’m planning to upgrade to 1080 soon, and am tempted by Panasonic’s offerings. However, I own two Panasonic DMR-EZ17 DVD recorders. Panasonic has replaced the circuit board in each three times, but I cannot get management to even respond to me about either refunding my money or replacing the units with a similar, but properly designed model. This has made me very reluctant to spend several thousand dollars on another Panasonic product.

    *************

    Greetings Gerald,

    You asked about 4 companies, but only mention two?

    Optoma support – my take would be – “about average” just based on feedback I get.

    Panasonic – Your issues there with your players, isn’t going to be very relevant.

    Panasonic, two + years ago, split off the projector group as a separate company. As such, its support is completely separate from their far, far larger consumer group that deals with audio, DVD players, etc.

    Over the years Panasonic’s support for PJs has been good, but, Panasonic has probably had more initial complaints, mostly from hobbyists, about their projectors. In the old days, things like vertical banding, or an occasional stuck pixel. However, banding (which back than all 3LCD projectors did to some degree or another, was more of defining what is acceptable. Hobbyists demanded the kind of minimal variation normally associated with far more expensive projectors -where, for 2x – 3x the price, for the same general quality, you get less variation, and therefore fewer issues that bother perfectionists. On the forums, you may have read about the folks that went thru 3-5 even more PT-AE900Us before being satisfied (mostly buying at Costco and returning to same – a reason Costco changed their return policy from unlimited).

    From a pure hardware standpoint, there’s nothing quite like a projector with a replacement program (ie Epson), you never see yours again, but you also avoid real debate whether your problem is under warranty – ie. 1 stuck pixel), as those manufacturers will simply replace yours with a refurbished unit. Several companies offer first year replacement, and Epson, offers 2 or three, depending on the model.

    Best of luck! -art

  • Gerald Nielsen

    I was referring to Epson, Panasonic, Sanyo and Mitsubishi, the four you cover in this thread. Sorry I was unclear. Thanks for your prompt reply. I do have another question, but unrelated. Why have manufactures almost stopped offering stand-alone HD ATSC tuners, and none with a DVR? When mine die, my only replacement option will apparently be to use a PC.

    **************

    Hi,

    As to HD ATSC tuners, sorry, I’m completely out of the loop. However, I imagine that at least a couple of companies will continue to make them. -art

  • Ty

    Greetings,
    It would be great if these projectors could be tested for input lag. With so many gamers getting into the front projection market, it would be nice information to have since most consumers can’t test out these projectors prior to purchase.

    You can simply use this input lag stopwatch, and output to a CRT and the projector simultaneously to test the amount of delay. Many thanks, I do hope you will consider it.

    http://tft.vanity.dk/

    ***********

    Hi,

    Definitely something worth considering. I’m not a gamer (only 1 game for my PS3, and a couple for my Wii. I’m slammed between now and year end, way too many reviews to go, so no time to figure out and implement additional work, without slowing down the pace, and as it is, it takes, usually well into January, or February, to cover all the projectors launching from CEDIA. I may need to see if one of my daughter’s (she’s in high school) friends is a hard core game player, who, let’s say, is more versed in the issue, and what solutions really work. I’ll put this idea on the list. -art

  • Matt

    Hi Art,

    I’m also extremely interested in the lag issue for gaming

    Too much lag is a show stopper for any projector if you’re planning to play games, no matter how good the other aspects of the projector is…

    Specifically I’d love to see the lag difference between the Epson 6500 UB vs the Epsons very lag free 1080 UB.

    I’d love to get the newer version for the improved picture quality etc – the 6500 UB – but the new chip in it means it may suffer more lag, which is a show stopper…

    cheers! Matt

  • Emeric

    Art,

    do you plan on reviewing the new Epson Power Lite HC6100? If positive, when do u believe to release your review?
    Tks – Emeric

    ************

    Hi, I’m still waiting here. Epson has, essentially three projectors to review – the 6100/7100 (Home/Pro), the 6500 UB/7500 UB, and the 700. All should be arriving in December, but in what order, I just don’t know yet. The 6100/7100 and the UB models are the top priorities. I expect I’ll have at least one, perhaps two reviewed before the year ends. -art

  • Gerald Nielsen

    DishNetwork is now offering the DTVPal DVR, which I have ordered. I hope for delivery before 2009. It appears to be exactly what I was looking for: dual ATSC, true HDTV, hard drive with USB expandability, and no subscription charge. And only $250!

    **************

    Thanks Gerald,

    Good info! -art

  • Gerald Nielsen

    The following is an excellent source of information on the DTVPal DVR:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1099071