Viewsonic Pro8200 Projector Review
We started this Viewsonic Pro8200 projector review with a pre-production projector, received, I believe, right before first shipments to dealers. We did experience several issues with the first projector, which shall be discussed later. A Pro8200 with the latest firmware, arrived about 3 weeks later - a few days before publishing this. It seems to have addressed the issues we noted.
Ultimately, the Viewsonic Pro8200 can be considered a dual purpose projector - a cross-over. It can be used for business or education presentations, or fit right at home as a very nice home entertainment projector.
January 2011 - Art Feierman
Viewsonic Pro8200 Projector Overview
The Viewsonic Pro8200 proves to be another solid, entry level, 1080p projector. That is to say, it's a bit different than most of the others, and may prove to be a better fit for some of us. It is especially bright, but its picture quality, overall, is less precise than most enthusiasts would like. On the other hand, it should look truly excellent to the average person, especially thanks to its brightness.
Overall, this review concerns itself with the Pro8200 primarily for its home theater / home entertainment projector abilities. Throughout the full review, however, we will also address some of the more business / education oriented features and benefits.
Cutting to the chase, this is another - of a handful of 1080p home projectors that now sell for under $1000. In that regard, it's still a bit more than the least expensive (as of this writing, I believe the Vivitek H1080FD which had been $899, is the lowest). I don't like to spend time discussing promos, unless they are long lasting. As it turns out, Viewsonic is offering a free 80 inch screen and ceiling mount for free - at least through 3/31/11. So, for those of you in a hurry, that may be of help. (Of course an 80" screen is a bit small by projector standards, but, a low cost pull-down is something you might setup outside at night in the summer, fill it with the Pro8200's image, and rely on its speaker for basic sound).
For most people however, the Pro8200 will probably stay indoors, and do duty in a family room, bonus room, or even move from room to room, for those not wanting a permanent setup. Placement flexibility is better than most entry level DLPs, in that it has more zoom range, but still no lens shift.
Brightness, is the bright spot of the Viewsonic Pro8200. That it produces a good looking image while pumping out 1460 lumens after calibration, and it is capable of over 1800 hundred at most!
Ok, that's enough of a "taste". Let's start looking at the details
Viewsonic Pro8200 Projector Highlights
- A solid "cross-over" projector - good picture, very bright, doubles nicely for portable business use
- Extremely bright overall, no really true "best" mode, but good bright image
- Color performance is good, for the class, but definitely not exceptional
- Typical black level performance for an entry level DLP home projector
- Built-in speaker - which actually throws a decent amount of sound
- Picture In Picture, and side by side sources
- Physically small enough and light enough to double for portable business use
- Typically limited placement flexibility as a DLP projector, with (in this case) moderate zoom range, and no lens shift
- Dual anamorphic modes allow use of anamorphic lens for Cinemascope viewing (no letterbox) without needing an expensive motorized lens sled
- Currently, officially $949 street price, is highly competitive, and Viewsonic (as of this writing is also offering a free 80" pull down screen and mount
Specs for Viewsonic Pro8200
MSRP: $999. Online "street price": $949
Technology: Single chip DLP
Native Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
Brightness: Manufacturer claim: 2000 lumens, 1460 calibrated, 1650+ max
Measured Brightness: "best mode": lumens, "brightest" lumens
Contrast: 2,000:1 (native), 3,000:1 (dynamic contrast)
Zoom Lens ratio: 1.5:1 Manual zoom and focus
Lens shift: None
Lamp life: 4000 hours at full power, 6000 hours in eco mode
Weight: 8.5 lbs. (3.8 Kg)
Warranty: 3 Year Parts and Labor (1 Year on lamp)
View full specifications: Viewsonic Pro8200
Viewsonic Pro8200 Special Features
PIP and POP
Picture in Picture, and Picture On Picture (which is actually side by side images), allow you to view two sources simultaniously. This can be an effective presenting tool, say with a video running along side a presentation, or it can be fun at home, say watching the game on the big screen, with your laptop's screen projected in the smaller window, with your fantasy football numbers up there. Or maybe a second game.
Pro8200 Lamp Life
Hello, lamp life! Viewsonic makes one of the best lamp life claims yet, short of an LED light source. If not the best, darn close. Viewsonic says the Pro8200 projector will get 4000 hours at full power, and 6000 in eco-mode. While I have seen a 5000 claim at full power, and a 7000 hour claim in low power as the best, the Pro8200 also has to be considered as having exceptional lamp life. With many projectors still offering 2000/3000 hour performance, this is a huge advantage.
Figure this way, even if you are using full power, that's 4000 hours. If you watched 40 hours a week, that's still two full years off of one lamp. For most people, usage is a lot less (not for me, though), so many will get years, and years out of one lamp. That should help keep cost of ownership down. Hey, if you "only" watch only two or three movies a week on average, the lamp would last a decade.
1.5:1 Zoom Lens
The Pro8200 is following a trend - DLP projectors that are finally offering more than the absolute minimal 1.2:1 zoom lenses. I'm never sure how many people buy 3LCD projectors over DLP projectors simply because of placement flexibility advantages of the typical 3LCD projector, but it is a lot. That said, the Pro8200 still lacks adjustable lens shift so it can't be (high) rear shelf mounted, although with the longer zoom range, in some rooms that aren't too deep, you could mount the projector under a shelf on the rear wall. Ultimately, though, a projector either works in your setup or not. The Pro8200 has more chance of working, then, say the lower cost Optoma HD20, or the BenQ W1000+ which are more limited.
Related to the zoom lens, is the Pro8200's compatibility with using an anamorphic lens, which it does. The Pro8200 projector offers two anamorphic modes. In addition to the normal mode for working with an anamorphic lens, mode 2 let's you view non Cinemascope content, with the anamorphic lens still in front of the lens. Translation - no pricey, motorized sled is needed. (Having a motorized sled with an anamorphic lens does, however, offer the highest performance.
Image below - from the trailer for last summer's Star Trek movie:
Pro8200 Projector - Built-In Speakers Microphone, and Audio Inputs
A respectable speaker (2 by 10 watts) is important if you plan to double the Pro8200 as your business projector. That it supports a Mic input is another plus. The reasonable brightness, plus the sound, will help you carry a mid-sized room, not just smaller conference rooms.
The audio also can come in handy, if you are using the Pro8200 for home entertainment, and it's not convenient to hook up to a sound system. OK, we're not talking wall shaking bass, so it's not exactly the ideal solution for an action movie, but, still, sound is better than none, and having a pair of 10 watt speakers, is exceptional for a projector of this size. Note, with a week to Superbowl, I might set up this Pro8200 on the back patio with a portable screen - for the 2nd half of the game (it will be dark enough). It's the built in audio, though, that makes that practical.
The original early Pro8200 produced a lot of loud static when the projector was turned off. This ties to their mode allowing the Mic /audio system to operate with the rest of the projector off. There is a Green mode, that turns off the Mic, which didn't get rid of the static on the first projector, but we had no static problems with the newer firmware. The only time I heard any static, was once, and that was with an hdmi cable the projector just didn't like.
As is not uncommon with portable education and business projectors, this Pro8200 offers a large number of audio inputs (3), and an audio output. You won't find that on normal home theater projectors.