Projector Reviews

2019 Holiday Guide to Seven Great Home Theater Projectors Under $2000 – Part 3

On this final page of our 2019 Holiday Guide to Seven Great Home Theater Projectors Under $2000, it’s game on! Two of these projectors are excellent for gaming, with low input lag times and great color for an immersive gaming experience. The final projector featured in this guide has some of the best color around for just under $2K!

The ViewSonic PX706HD – A 1080p Gaming Machine!

ViewSonic PX706HD Featured Image

Gamers, this ViewSonic is the real deal, with the best input lag measurement projectors have to offer – 16.4 ms. For those of you who are new to the world of projector gaming, here’s the skinny:

Acceptable lag times range from 16ms to 50ms, with the lower numbers equaling a better projector for gamers. When we get up to 50ms or a little bit higher, that’s fine for casual gamers (we’ll call them “weekend gamers”) but not for those among the most hardcore, high-speed gamers. These are the guys (and gals) are the ones who compete and/or have about a million Twitch followers. For those who game for the fun of it, in and around 50ms would be just fine.

33ms to 40ms is pretty good and translates to just over one frame behind on a 30fps game, and 2 frames on a 60fps game. 16.4 ms though – that’s “the best of the best of the best, sir! With honors.” (Totally just watched all the old MIB films – MIB 2 is awful, but 3 holds its own, and the first will always be a favorite.)

The ViewSonic PX706HD, projecting a cutscene from the video game, Horizon: Zero Dawn.
The ViewSonic PX706HD, projecting a cutscene from the video game, Horizon: Zero Dawn.

So, what’re we looking at here, besides low lag time? This is a 1080p resolution projector – no 4K – with great color in multiple modes, and a brightness claim of 3,000 lumens, making it suitable for living room, family room, or gaming lounge environments that don’t have stellar lighting control. Though primarily positioned as a gaming projector, the ViewSonic PX706HD will meet all of your home entertainment needs: movies, binge watching Netflix (or let’s be real, Disney+), and sports viewing.

A scene from Ready Player One as projected by the ViewSonic PX706HD Projector
The ViewSonic has great color, with multiple modes that are suitable for movie watching and viewing streaming content or sports.

The PX706HD is portable enough for you to bring in your carry-on so you can get in your Call of Duty fix while you’re snowed in at Aunt Karen’s during the holidays. Even if Aunt Karen lives in California – let’s face it, you’re not going to last a week without laying down some Claymores and taking out the enemy with some well-timed headshots. Why deprive yourself of that joy during the holidays?

HDTV Content projected by ViewSonic PX706HD
Skin tones look pretty natural when projected by the ViewSonic PX706HD.

Its 5-watt mono speaker packs a powerful punch – I kept the volume below the half point mark while reviewing, and it was plenty loud enough for all forms of home entertainment. Since this is a short throw projector, that’s a good thing, as it’s more difficult to hook up external speakers in the middle of your room (cables being tripping hazards and all).

The PX706HD has a 1.20:1 manual zoom lens, and the projector can produce an image of anywhere between 60” to 100” diagonally. This ViewSonic provides a powerfully immersive gaming/movie experience. It has a 3-year parts and labor with one year warranty on the lamp. As far as color goes, I was truly impressed! Skin tones look excellent, colors look pretty on-point, and the ViewSonic handles color well across several color modes. If you’re a gamer that requires a bright projector in the under $1000 price range, consider the ViewSonic PX706HD! I sure would!

Epson Home Cinema 3800 – 3LCD, Priced to Compete with DLPs

Epson-HC3800

It’s been over two years since the first 4K capable pixel shifting projectors for the home hit the market. Within months, the least expensive were below $2,000 – quite a few are at or very close to the $1,000 mark now.

Until recently, every under-$2,000 4K capable projector you might consider for your home used DLP technology. Epson, who makes most of the world’s 3LCD panels, has had two generations of 4K capable pixel shifters, but until the new Home Cinema 3800 and its lower cost twin – the Home Cinema 3200 – the least expensive Epson projector to tackle 4K (HC4010), was selling for $1,999.

The Epson HC3700, projecting a scene from The Fifth Element, which has excellent color handling.
The Epson HC3700, projecting a scene from The Fifth Element, which has excellent color handling.

Now, Epson has these two models priced to directly compete with the lower cost DLPs.

The Home Cinema 3800 is the more expensive of the two new 3000 series models, and far superior to its predecessor, the HC3700. No surprises there, since the HC3800 and HC3200 are the first in the series to support 4K and HDR! Both support 3D as well. It has a 1.60:1 manual zoom lens with a healthy amount of lens shift – two things that are hard to find on the DLP competition.

With the Epson Home Cinema 3800, expect to wow your guests at your next Super Bowl party! Image taken from HC3700 Review.
With the Epson Home Cinema 3800, expect to wow your guests at your next Super Bowl party! Image taken from HC3700 Review.

Your $1,699 list Home Cinema 3800 boasts 3,000 lumens – we’re talking color lumens, not just white lumens, and that translates to richer, more accurate colors and the ability to deal effectively with more ambient light. This Epson HC3800 is a “bright room” projector. Just pair it with the right screen and have a blast watching sports, movies, streaming your favorite content, or play games – its 27 ms input lag is considered pretty fast, and fast enough for all but the very most fanatical, competitive gamers!

A scene from Guardians of the Galaxy, projected by the Home Cinema 3700.
A scene from Guardians of the Galaxy, projected by the Home Cinema 3700.

Although I’m a fan of big powerful sound systems, know that the HC3800 has a pair of 10-watt speakers facing you, which should prove powerful enough. That is, if you’ll not be feeding in a separate surround sound system. The just slightly-less-powerful HC3200 we reviewed lacks the speaker system, so is a pretty good way to save $200 if you have your own sound system.

Want one of these great 4K home entertainment/home theater projectors? Get it! You deserve it.

The Sony VPL-HW45ES – A Home Theater Classic

Sony HW45ES

The Sony VPL-HW45ES has a healthy 2,000 lumens, making it a projector that can be used in and out of the home theater – that is, in more common rooms, such as living rooms, dens, family rooms, and spare bedrooms. Though, its picture quality might have you consider honoring it with its own dedicated space.

The Sony VPL-HW45ES has some of the most natural looking color around - just look at those skin tones!
The Sony VPL-HW45ES has some of the most natural looking color around - just look at those skin tones!

We’ve long been celebrating Sonys for their excellent color, right out of the box. In our last dozen Sony reviews, give or take, we haven’t even bothered to calibrate them because the color is so accurate, there doesn’t seem to be a need. If you’ve got the drive, you can tweak the HW45ES to get your version of perfect color, as the projector comes with full CMS controls.

A scene from The Hunger Games, projected by the Sony VPL-HW45ES.
A scene from The Hunger Games, projected by the Sony VPL-HW45ES.

It has natural-looking color and excellent black level performance (something you need a really dark room to fully appreciate) for the price, making the HW45ES a contender for your dedicated home theater. Speaking of price – the Sony VPL-HW45ES has an MSRP of $1,999 – but we found you one on Amazon for $200 less, sold by Sony. You are welcome.

VPL-HW45ES_hdtv_football

It should be noted that this is a 1080p projector – straight HD, no 4K capabilities. For many, that’s just fine. The beautiful image, fantastic color, and excellent black level performance will be exactly what they’re looking for. With 4K UHD projectors around this price range, you might get a slightly sharper image, but the color and black levels may not be as incredible as the HW45ES. As we say, there are always trade-offs!

The Sony VPL-HW45ES has excellent placement flexibility as well, thanks to its 1.60:1 zoom lens and lots of lens shift. It features Sony’s Reality Creation, which is their advanced image processing and detail enhancement, and is seen on all of their higher-end projectors. So, even though this projector has 1080p resolution, there is room to enhance the image using Reality Creation. And, for those who love 3D – this Sony has it!

The Sony VPL-HW45ES has a clean image with natural skin tones and color that’s about as perfect as you could hope for, right out of the box without any adjustment! It’s a real plug-and-play home theater projector. The projector also has a lot of picture modes so you can find the color that looks best to you – Reference, Bright Cinema, Gaming, Bright TV, Photo, and several more. You’ll be hard pressed to find a similarly priced home theater projector that can produce as accurate color as this HW45ES. If you do, let us know!

Also Check Out Our Over $2000 Holiday Guide

Folks, we hope you found some useful information and hopefully you will soon be enjoying a new home theater or home entertainment projector, whether you are a sports fan, movie lover, gamer, or just regular people. Thanks for checking out this guide.

And please note, here’s a link to our other Holiday Guide – for projectors over $2,000 – which includes a wide range of projectors – from some powerful bright room projectors, Laser TVs, and a true 4K projector for under $5,000. Happy holidays!  -art

The 2019 Holiday Guide to Five Great Home Theater Projectors Over $2000

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