2013 Home Theater Projector Report – Update

Greetings, home theater projector fans.  I am sorry to inform you that this year’s Home Theater Projector Comparison report won’t go live this weekend.  After much writing, and even more  frustration, I’ve scrapped most of the report format used in previous years!  The result should be a better report yet a shorter one.  And it will be  far, far, less redundant.

Panic Not.  The delay in the Home Theater Projector report will only take a few more days.  In the meantime, I will go forward, and publish this year’s winners on Sunday evening, but without the 50+ pages of sometimes rambling, supporting information.

The new Home Theater Projector Comparison Report report will be significantly shorter.

Here’s the good news: Accompanying the report, and including some of the best content repeated in each year’s report, will be our first ever:

Guide To Buying The Right Home Theater Projector For You.
Sometimes it takes me years for the lightbulb to go off.  (Switching to LED!)  It finally did.  The problem with all the previous HT Projector Comparison Reports is that, at the end of the day, it picked the best projectors.  Of course these projectors cover a wide range of abilities (and prices), with some projectors much better for one person’s type of use, some better for different type of usage – or environment.

The new Guide To Buying the Right Home Theater Projector For You, takes a different approach.  It will help you understand your needs.  It is User-centric, rather than Projector-Centric.  The Guide will help you understand your own situation, and enough about projector features, that you should have little problem figuring out which great projector is definitely the one for you, and which other great projectors no matter how great they are, simply aren’t a good match.  Our first attempt at something like this, of course is the 5-part video series we published a few months ago, Home Theaters: Choosing The Right Projector for Your Family or Media Room (click for part one, which covers brightness).

For you serious enthusiasts out there, there will be plenty in the Guide, that you already know, but there should be some good info for you to find.  For those considering your first home projector, and others who simply aren’t fanatical about the details, this Guide  should be just what you need, to gain a quick, and good understanding.  And I promise it won’t be “novel” length, more like a short story or three.

We are already planning at least one other video that ties into the guide: Choosing the Right Projector for your Home Theater or Cave.

Sorry for the delay!  both Guide and Report will be completed by the end of next weekend.  Come April 1st and I have to be working on our time sensitive Education Projector report that I publish each year.  -art

News and Comments

  • Greg Fleckenstein

    Art – Your killing me 🙂 Are you still posting the winners ahead of the full report soon? I kept checking last night. Im in process of building out my first home theater and am holding off on my final projector decision until your report comes out. Chomping at the bit here!!


    • Greetings Greg, RE the VW95, I believe you. As is the case, I put things up, and then Lori proofs, as I like to get things up as soon as possible…But she’ll miss stray fragments. I do use one Sony Review as the template for the next. I’ll get that fixed. Re the report. Most of it is done. But it’s been an insane week. Lisa’s assembling much of the remaining report, but she’s been on spring break, and moving around a good bit. I expect the report to be complete by Monday night.

      The other part of that is the new guide I’m working on “Guide to Buying the Best Projector For You” It’s turned into a monster of over 20,000 words, and I’m only about 80% done with it. Lisa has that too, to assemble, but it will need a great many images…. Probably a full week, before all of that is up and cross-referenced.

      I’d be torn between the 90ES and the HW50ES. The 90’s probably got the advantage in black levels, but you’ve got to love all the extra lumens, and reality creation for the HW50ES. I don’t recall being that enamored with the 90ES. I felt the 95ES was a significant improvement. And the 3D which you don’t yet think you care about, will be a lot better and brighter with the HW50ES. Hope that helps… -art

  • danny

    Hi, art i read your reviews a lot the last years,
    and they are well made and well though.
    I own a lot of projectors and sell them all
    usually in a very short time because i come
    across things i hate. a mediocre blacklevel
    for example. i own a epson tw5500 and the
    the black is reasanable good for an lcd.
    But what i said for an lcd nothing more,
    But for me on a white screen it is not deep enough.
    I did a lot of research and watching demo’s
    and i buy recently the jvc x35 after watching
    demos here in my country the netherlands (side by side with the new epson and sony) and a must say this is the FIRST projector
    i can say of the blacks are good enough.
    I would like to comment on your review on the
    jvc x35 where you say that the epson tw9100/5020
    beat the jvc at very dark scenes. Sorry but i don’t
    agree with you, i tested the jvc against the sony hw50 and the epson tw9100 many times. The epson
    does not even comes close to the jvc in blacks!
    The blacks on the jvc are so deep you can hardly
    tell if the jvc is on or off (by a whole black
    screen or no input source of course)
    My question would be: how can it be that your
    x35 testjvc is mediocre at blacks, you say even the x55 have better blacks?? the x55 have the same real life contrast ratio.
    Do you even realize that the REAL NATIVE contrast
    of the epson projectors only 6000.1 is!
    Do you know what the REAL life native contrast
    is from the jvc x35? 30.000:1 thats 500 percent
    higher in contrast for the jvc!! and you can see that, especially with dark scenes,
    If a 100 percent black image is displayed
    the epson can close his iris all the way down,
    And there is little or no difference,
    But if something come in the movie, even
    very very little the epson must open the iris
    a little to let go of the picture details
    and on that moment the jvc trumps the epson
    because you see the effect of a MUCH higher
    native contrast.
    Can it be that your unit is defective?
    Maybe another x35 give better result.
    I can say you for sure the x35 trumps both
    the epson en sony in blacks!

    • Hi, first, regarding the blacks of the X35 and X55, yes they are the same. The error came ins creating one of the reviews using the X95 as a template. Unfortunately, that type of stray paragraph that looks like it fits is a chronic problem over here. Fortunately hat type of editing issue should go away with the launch of our redesigned site sometime in June, as I won’t be using older reviews as templates.

      As to native contrast Epson vs JVC. No contest. I’ve consistently said any JVC can beat any other projector in terms of blacks on anything but the darkest of scenes. But on the darkest of scenes, neither the X55R or the X35 could match either the Epson 5020 or 6020 I had here. I did side by sides in all cases. You’ve seen the images. No question, if you have a darker scene, but with a fair amount of bright light – such as a night cityscape, if there’s enough bright, the Epson iris can’t close down much, so the JVC’s would definitely have the advantage.
      The problem is the darkest of scenes. By my take, it is those darkest of scenes, where you need the great blacks the most. aka – the bond night train scene I use, or the night sleeping scene of Katniss and Rue in the woods. In those type of scenes, the two lower end JVC’s have not been able to match the Epsons, and that’s where it’s most important.
      Of course the X75R and X95R easily do blacker blacks than the Epson projectors, even on those extremely dark scenes. That’s why I’m a much bigger fan of the X75R X95R than the X35/X55R. How were the three projectors set up for your comparison. This may not be the case, but on this side of the “pond”, JVC’s are primarily sold through local dealers who generally hate projectors sold on the internet, because they can’t compete. Dealers have a vested interest in selling the projectors they can make a profit on. And some will diss projectors that they can’t profit selling, or will chronically lose sales to internet dealers. I have, over hear, over the years, encountered local dealers who have especially dissed the Panasonic PT-AE series for that reason. I’ve even once encountered an LA dealer that used one of the old PT-AE projectors for comparison. When I encountered it, it was not set up properly (probably intentionally. This isn’t any different than in the old days when audio stores would set up a pair of speakers they didn’t want to sell, but were popular, to show people how much better the ones they do sell are. The typical trick was to make sure the speakers you didn’t want to sell were playing about 2db lower. Not enough to be really obvious, but in such a case, the the large majority will prefer the slightly louder speaker, even if fairly inferior. I’m just fishing here, it’s tougher to mess with projectors than speakers.

      Brightness shouldn’t be a factor, at least new, both projectors calibrate within 5% brightness of each other. BTW, there is one way to setup a demonstration to favor a great dynamic iris free projector over one with a working iris: That is use a dark scene, that has one very small white area that’s full on white IRE 100. Adjust the two projectors on that scene so both are exactly the same brightness on white. In such a case, the JVC would best the Sony or the Epson, because, let’s face it, the JVC does have greater dyanmic range – the difference between brightest and darkest it can put on the screen simultaneously – that’s your native contrast. The thing is, that’s not how people watch. Brightness will normally be established on bright scenes, which then allows the dynamic iris projector to deliver blacker blacks, but at the same time, any small amounts of 100 IRE will also be reduced. That is, your JVC on that dark scene with a building or two lit up in the distance, will have brighter lights, while being very close on blacks.

      BTW, don’t get me wrong, I really like the X35, in fact I was just about to blog about the 3 best projectors that didn’t win a Best In Class Award in this year’s report. The X35/RS46 is certainly the first of those 3. I will explain my reasons there why it didn’t pick up a higher honor, and it wasn’t because of the black levels.

      I would be curious as to the very dark images you are using when comparing the two. Perhaps you can upload a sample. Again, both the X35 and the X55 were here, and both performed essentially the same compared to the Epson 5020ub I’ve been using as a reference. Also I had the 6020 Epson here, and put it side by side with the 5020. There was not distinguishable differences in terms of black level performance. The last time I had the 5020UB and the X35 running side by side here, was perhaps 2 weeks ago. I find the Epson tends to crush dark shadow detail less. If you do not optimize for that, you will get a slightly darker black in exchange for less detail? How did you find the X35’s darkest shadow detail compared to the 5020’s when you were comparing? -art