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2017 Holiday Guide to Six Great Home Theater Projectors Under $2000 - Part 3

By Art Feierman

On this page of our Holiday Guide, we have two great, higher end projectors for under $2000 and a couple of ALR screens!

Epson Home Cinema 3700 – Bright, Affordable, and 3D Capable!

Epson HC3700

The Epson Home Cinema 3700 is a 1080p, $1,499 bright room projector claiming 3,000 lumens. That’s plenty of brightness to handle less-than-ideal room conditions, such as what is seen in most of our living rooms, media rooms, family rooms, etc. As many do not have the luxury of a fully darkened home theater or cave, the HC3700 will be of particular interest to those who want a projector but are concerned about a washed-out image due to uncontrollable ambient light.

The only real draw of an LCD TV is that it will look bright in any room condition. However, you can achieve a truly bright image by pairing the right projector and screen. For example, this Epson has 3,000 color and white lumens, which gives it a truly bright image. Paired with an ambient light rejecting screen, say, the recently-reviewed CineGrey 3D material by Elite Screens, and it will perform well in a room with just decent lighting control.

The Epson HC3700 has the brightness, rich, on-point colors (in most modes), and improved black level performance from the older version, the HC3500. It includes advanced image processing found on higher end models, and improves upon the picture in regards to its predecessor. It also has 3D, and the brightness to pull it off!

Plenty of inputs and connectors, including HDMI with MHL for streaming devices such as Roku, Google, Amazon, etc. The HC3700 has a pair of 10-Watt speakers, which is enough for your living room, but… you already know our view on getting a decent sound system. Those speakers will be desirable for, say, backyard movie nights.

If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party, the HC3700 may just be your new best friend. With all that brightness, you’ll be able to enjoy sports in the light rather than cooped up in a dark room. And, paired with an ALR screen, those sports games will look even better. The lamp has a long life – 3,500 at full power, 5,000 in ECO – but Epson’s lamps are among the most affordable out there, so replacing will be painless. The Epson Home Cinema 3700 has a great 2-year parts and labor warranty with two years of rapid replacement.

Where can you find this little light cannon? It’s available online on Amazon and projector specialists, but can also be found at places like Best Buy and Walmart, Epson authorized dealers, and other brick-and-mortar locations. Consider the HC3700 for your bright room!

Read the full review of the Epson Home Cinema 3700.

Screens for Rooms with Ambient Light

Got a bright room? Fear not – we’ve got a couple of screens for you to consider (are screens not just oversized stocking stuffers?) this holiday season. These two are called Ambient Light Rejecting screens, which means they absorb the unwanted ambient light coming from inside the room or leaking in from the windows. Now, they won’t absorb all the light, but what light they do absorb makes one heck of a difference. Both are rather impressive, and designed for different types of projectors.

Elite Screens CineGrey 3D Ambient Light Rejecting Screen

Elite Screens CineGrey 3D Review

The first screen has already been mentioned – Elite Screens’ CineGrey 3D material. This is an ALR screen designed for normal throw projectors. That is, projectors that sit roughly ten feet back from the screen. The CineGrey 3D screen material can reject up to 65% of off-angle ambient light. It only absorbs light from off-angles – above, below, and from the sides – and not from directly in front, which is where the projector’s light comes from. What you end up with is a rather impressive image despite less than idea lighting conditions.

As for price – for a fixed screen, you can expect to pay anything from $400 to $1100, give or take, depending on size. This material comes in a good variety of sizes, 92”, 100”, 110”, 120”, 135”, 150” and 200” diagonal in 16:9 format, and in 103”, 125”, and 158” for the 2.35:1 wide screen format. You can get this material with a motorized screen, but it will undoubtedly cost more.

We published a review of the CineGrey 3D ALR screen just prior to the publishing of this guide.

ViewSonic BCP100 UST Ambient Light Rejecting Screen

ViewSonic BCP100 ALR Screen

The second screen is by ViewSonic, called the BCP100, and is made specifically for ultra short throw projectors – those that have a 0.3 throw ratio or less. Those kinds of projectors sit right up against the screen, within a foot or so. These projectors are particularly popular amongst gamers. This ALR screen comes in a 100” diagonal, 16:9 format.

The BCP100 is also a grey material, and is designed to reject high amounts of light so that you can enjoy a vibrant image, even amid an ambient light nightmare. That it works with ultra short throw projectors is a plus, because that CineGrey 3D does not play nice with UST projectors at all. It mistakes the light being projected upward by the projector as being off-angle ambient light. No problem with ViewSonic’s BCP100 – you’ll get all the benefits of an ALR screen in a decent size. 100” diagonal is of the most common screen sizes, so consider that a plus, too.

This screen will pair nicely with ultra short throw projectors like the ViewSonic LS820 and the Epson LS100, as well as UST projectors in a more affordable price range. Speaking of price, the ViewSonic BCP100 costs $1799.99 – I found it online for $1,199.99 though, from B&H, and you may be able to find an even better price by diving deeper into the internet.

Epson Home Cinema 4000 – 4K and HDR Capable, and Under $2000

Epson Home Cinema 4000 Front

Epson has a UMAP minimum price of $1995 (or is it $1999?), so the HC4000 just slides under the $2000 threshold. As the most expensive of the projectors in this guide, it also happens to be the most capable. That is, it’s not just a great projector, but it is just dripping in features. The Epson Home Cinema 4000 could best be described as the younger brother of Epson’s almost-legendary Home Cinema 5040UB – the latest in their UB series.

This Home Cinema 4000 is essentially identical to the $2699 HC5040UB (featured in our 2017 Best Home Theater Projectors Report and this year’s Over $2500 Holiday Guide), but for two differences (besides the price). More on that in a minute.

The HC4000 starts off with, well, just about every feature found on a home theater projector today. The motorized 2.1:1 zoom lens and lots of lens shift provides more placement flexibility than any other projector under $2K. Part of that is Lens Memory – so that if you are a movie fanatic, you can choose to go wide screen (2.35:1 ratio) for all those Cinemascope-shaped movies!

When we reviewed the HC4000, the “right out of the box” color was excellent in several of its many modes. We, of course, calibrated the projector, but it was already more than “close enough.” Excellent color overall.

It’s bright enough to play in living rooms, media rooms, and family rooms with reasonable lighting control and the right screen for the room. It is certainly at home in a cave or dedicated home theater.

Extras? 3D – built in. Just buy some 3D glasses! It does a really good job on 3D.

But the real hot ticket is 4K – and this 1080p pixel shifting projector is very nicely 4K capable. Hook it right up to a Blu-ray UHD player, and you’ll find the Home Cinema 4000 supports 4K, with HDR – high dynamic range, and the expanded color space called BT.2020. That’s the standard for your local movie theater, too. Talk about step up performance!

Before I finish up, I promised to tell the difference between the HC4000 and the Epson 5040UB.  Folks, the $700-more UB has higher contrast 3LCD panels for deeper black levels. It is a significant difference, but it is also the one of only two differences. If you are in a room with any ambient light, that light will negate most of the difference, which makes the HC4000 an especially great value for those with less than ideal rooms! The other difference is lumens – the 5040UB has a 2,500 lumen claim, while the HC4000 has 2,200. Not that big of a difference, but it’s there.

This Epson projector comes gift wrapped with a 2-year parts and labor warranty with a rapid replacement program. Have a warranty problem in the first two years? Epson will ship you a replacement projector which you should have in two business days. No muss, no fuss, and no long downtime waiting for repair.

We consider Epson’s HC4000 an excellent all around value. Just tell your significant others that the only other thing you’ll need are some stockings stuffed with Blu-ray UHD discs (and a Blu-ray UHD player to play them on). Hurry, and you can enjoy the large screen experience watching NORAD’s Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve with your Home Cinema 4000.

Check out the review for deeper discussion of the projector's features.

“Wrapping It Up”

That does it for our 2017 Holiday Guide to Six Home Theater Projectors Under $2,000. With six rather excellent choices, you’re sure to find the right projector for your fanatic, or yourself, this holiday season. Either way, it’s time to retire that LCD TV to the kitchen (or garbage…).

Kidding aside, you can see how watching movies and gaming at 100” is infinitely more immersive than watching on a regular 60” TV. Give yourself, or a loved one, the gift of home theater, and you’ll be very glad you did.

If you’ve got a bigger budget, check out our 2017 Holiday Guide to Four Home Theater Projectors Over $2,500. This guide features some awesome projectors for dedicated home theaters, and other rooms with good lighting control.

Happy Holidays from Projector Reviews!

For those that wonder how Santa’s going to get all this gear to you, and gifts to the other billions on the planet, here’s a link to a classic:

For Your Holiday Pleasure: The Physics of Christmas – I discovered this online almost twenty years ago, and it still blows me away!

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