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2017 Holiday Guide to Four Great Home Theater Projectors Over $2000 - Part 3

By Art Feierman

On this page, we have an awesome ultra short throw bright room projector, and a true 4K projector to rival your local theater's quality!

ViewSonic PJD LS820 Laser Projector – Ultra Short Throw and Exceptionally Bright

ViewSonic LS820 Ultra Short Throw Bright Room Projector

The ViewSonic LS820 ultra short throw projector can go right from under your Christmas tree to under your screen in your living room or family room. UST simply means that the projector sits directly below (or above) your screen, so it connects to your gear as easily as any LCDTV (rather than being further back in the room, or ceiling mounted). An added bonus is that unlike most projectors, no one walks between the projector and the screen to block the picture.

ViewSonic’s LS820 is one of a new breed of UST home entertainment and home theater projectors designed to work at your place, in typical rooms, and not dedicated home theaters and basement caves.

With a street price of about $2,999 (Minimum Advertised Price), and a list price of $3,439, the LS820 packs a wallop with 3,500 lumens under the hood.

The LS820’s claims to fame not only include being exceptionally bright, but using a laser light engine, which will hold brightness for years with little loss (compared to lamps which start losing brightness on day one, with brightness dropping noticeably in a matter of months of frequent use). The LS820, I should mention, claims 15,000 hours on their laser engine, and that’s at full power – 20,000 hours in Eco mode. Technology will be much further advanced before you get near wearing out this projector’s laser (15,000 hours – 7.5 years at 40 hours a week!).

We haven’t yet reviewed this laser projector, so here are a few photos from the much lower cost Viewsonic the PJD-7835HD, which won’t have as good color range that the LS820’s laser engine provides, and isn’t as bright (or ultra short throw) either, but looks darn good.

The LS820 uses a single chip DLP design, which will provide better contrast than other ultra short throw projectors using 3LCD technology, and that translates into better black level performance for those very dark scenes. And, ViewSonic adds dynamic dimming of the laser engine to behave like a dynamic iris to further lower black levels. I am looking forward to reviewing the LS820, as it promises to be a bright room projector, but one that, if all the lights are out, still produces some respectable black levels and superior dark scene performance.

I’ve seen the LS820 perform elsewhere, but not in my reviewing environment. This ViewSonic UST laser projector is on our list to be reviewed, with the review to be published before year’s end. Can’t wait to get to it, as I’m a fan of, as I like to call them: Bright Room Projectors.

This is no small screen solution. True, the ViewSonic can project an image (sitting just inches from the screen) as small as one of those tiny 70” LCD TVs, but if you have the room, will handle up to a massive 150” diagonal – that, folks, is a picture almost 11 feet wide. Awesome!

One nice thing about this medium-small projector is that it’s easy to haul it outside to set up for that summer movie night. The two built-in 8-watt speakers will take care of your sound for those fun events. Oh, and, of course, it is bright enough and feature laden enough to double as a business projector if you have the need. A competent one at that.

As we always recommend, if you are going to take a projector like this LS820 into a room with a fair amount of ambient light, your best results will be to pair it with what’s called an ALR – or ambient light rejecting – screen. There are a number of manufacturers offering them these days, however, for simplicity, ViewSonic itself offers two – choose either a 100” or a 120” diagonal. We wrote a little about their 100” version, the BCP100 screen, in our other Holiday Guide. Should you need a different size, companies like Screen Innovations, Elite, and Da-Lite all make that type of screen.

ViewSonic projectors have won numerous awards in reviews and reports over the years.  Most of those relate to value. ViewSonic are the folks that brought out the first under-$1000 1080p projector for the home, when most of the competition was just bringing out models for twice that. Part of that value proposition that I fully expect to apply to this LS820, is a great warranty – better than just about all the competition – three year parts and labor, with a 1st year rapid replacement program (you must register your projector for the replacement program aspect – a reasonable request by ViewSonic).

The ViewSonic LS820 may well be the best performing and value UST projector for the home, combining the laser engine, which provides superior color, with tons of brightness, and the promise of respectable black level performance.

I can’t wait to set one up here and put it through its paces, of course, by then, you’ll probably already be watching football, TV and movies on yours. I trust that Santa would be proud to have one of these in his family room up at the Pole.

Sony VPL-VW885ES – True 4K and Better Than the Movie Theaters


After having already, in these Holiday Guide pages, made a big fuss over the Sony VW285ES (the first true 4K projector under $5K), here’s a stocking stuffer for those whose spouses already got them a full-sized Lexus, Mercedes, or Tesla, for the holidays last year.

Meet the VW885ES – Sony’s traditional, $24,999 laser home theater projector. Now, for the most part, it looks like that lower cost model, but it does have a long life laser light engine, which also provides improved color (although the 285ES does great), especially on 4K content. Even better, the VW885ES offers some first-class black level performance, making for 4K movie viewing that is just going to be a bit superior to just about any local theater in your area.

It’s true that a dedicated home theater is ideal for this serious projector, but with the ability to put 2000+ calibrated lumens on your screen, it will make a great media room projector as well. By that, I mean it will also do great in rooms that have very good lighting control but lack the dark walls, floors and ceilings, and total light control that a dedicated home theater offers. Just be sure to use the right screen for those somewhat brighter rooms.

The VW885ES I got to review and play with for the better part of a month, didn’t get calibrated. It looked so good out of the box, that, while probably improvable, I didn’t think was worth the cost for our review purposes. Of course, if you are buying and having a $25K projector installed in your home, it’s almost certain your dealer will calibrate it for you, for the absolute best color. Just remember that in our review, those photos were all taken with “right out of the box” default settings.

The Sony VPL-VW885ES lives for 4K HDR content and BT.2020 expanded color. Oh, it looks great and really sharp on normal 1080i and 1080p content, but pops in Passengers, or Ghostbusters 2016, or Hunger Games: MockingJay Part 1, and it will blow you away.  I’m talking the great color and the highly dynamic picture with excellent black level performance. A.K.A: This Sony is the whole package!

So, if you are lucky, you’ll find that package under your Christmas tree or Hanukah bush.

I must confess, in the past two years, there has only been one projector to set foot in my home theater that surpassed this Sony. And that, of course, was the visit from Sony’s VW5000ES – their $60,000 flagship home theater projector. It, too, is a laser projector, but with twice the VW885ES’s 2500 lumens.

Think of the VW885ES as a bargain. Better than movie theater picture quality, yet you can own it for five years for less than fully featured Toyota Camry.

I certainly would much rather have the VW885ES under my tree and a BMW 3 series in my garage, than a BMW 5 series in the garage and some tiny 50 or 70 inch LCDTV in my home. If you agree, you might point that out to your partner before they make the wrong shopping decision when the big holiday car sales promotions start showing up!

‘Tis the season to be immersed – in amazing movies, in your home, thanks to the Sony VPL-VW885ES laser projector.

“Wrapping It Up”

That’s a wrap for our 2017 Holiday Guide to Four Great Home Theater Projectors Over $2000! With four excellent choices, ranging from the affordable to the ultra-high-end, you’re sure to find the right fit for your home theater this holiday season! No more watching on a sub-par projector or worse, an LCD TV.

Give yourself, or a loved one, the gift of home theater! Nothing says “I love you” more than excellent black levels…

If you found these projectors to be a bit above your budget, or are simply, a curious person, check out our 2017 Holiday Guide to Six Home Theater Projectors Under $2000. This guide features six projectors that can handle rooms with less than ideal conditions, ranging from the low price of $499 to $1,999 for a 4K capable projector!

Happy Holidays from Projector Reviews!

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