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Your 2018 Holiday Guide to Six Great Home Theater Projectors Under $2000 – Part 3

By Nikki Zelinger

Sony VPL-HW45ES – Serious Home Theater Projector With Gorgeous Color

Sony HW45ES

The Sony VPL-HW45ES is a home theater classic. Its list price is $1999.99, putting it right up there with the Epson Home Cinema 4010 in price, but it can be found online for about $500 less. That’s one great deal for this projector! It’s got a healthy 2,000 lumen claim, so it can be used in rooms other than a dedicated home theater, but the picture quality deserves the honor of its own dedicated home theater.

Sonys are well known for their excellent color, right out of the box. In fact, nowadays we rarely even bother to calibrate the Sony projectors that come in for review, because the color is so accurate that we don’t see the need. They do come with full CMS controls, however, so if you want to tweak it yourself to get that goldilocks color that’s just right for you, have at it. It probably isn’t worth the extra expense to hire a calibrator for this Sony, though.

I don’t believe there’s another projector that can rival the natural looking accurate colors this Sony produces around this price, especially when you consider you can find the HW45 online for less than its MSRP. It has excellent black level performance (something you really need a dark room to fully appreciate) – so good, in fact, that I’d call the black levels impressive for a projector without a dynamic iris.

The Sony VPL-HW45ES has a 1.60:1 zoom lens, as well as a lot of lens shift. This offers a lot of placement flexibility – something that will be much appreciated when mounting this projector in your home theater. It also has Sony’s Reality Creation, which is their advanced image processing and detail enhancement, and is seen on all of their higher end projectors (and even a business projector of theirs we recently reviewed).

This Sony has support for 3D, though you’ll need to get your own 3D glasses. These days, however, those run less than $20 a pair, so you’re looking at less than $100 for a family of four. Not bad. You can get the projector and a handful of 3D glasses, and still come in below the list price. Might as well throw in a Home Theater in a Box as well to get some really great sound out of the HW45ES!

The Sony VPL-HW45ES has a clean image with natural skin tons and color that’s about as perfect as you could hope for. And it does this right out of the box without any adjustment! 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, tell us!

ViewSonic PX700HD – A Low-Cost 1080p Gaming Projector


One of the things I so appreciate about ViewSonic is how they provide some of the lowest cost HD projectors around. This is something that caused quite the rift between ViewSonic and competing manufacturers, when ViewSonic came out with what was, at the time, the lowest cost 1080p projector on the market. The other manufacturers were baffled as to how ViewSonic was able to make any money!

The PX700HD is another one of ViewSonic’s gaming projectors, priced a couple hundred lower than the PX706HD at $399 (down from $499 – what a deal!). It claims a 16ms input lag, but I’m willing to be that it would measure at around 16.4ms if the input lag of the PX706HD is any indicator. Again, that low input latency allows for smooth gameplay and a high framerate, and is desirable to those gamers who compete in leagues or online.

It is exceptionally bright, with a brightness claim of 3,500 lumens. That’s plenty to cut through some pretty serious ambient light. In addition to gaming, all the usual home entertainment needs will be able to be handled by the ViewSonic PX700HD. Movies, TV shows, sports – they should all look great and be rather enjoyable. Do you Superbowl? What better way to watch the biggest NFL event of the year than on the big screen?

This projector is just as portable as the PX706HD, so it, too, can be brought to whatever location you want to game in. Whether it be a friend’s house, back and forth from a college dorm room to your parents’ place, or on vacation for those who need to continue their Odyssey in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (my jam right now). It has a 2-watt mono speaker. Not as loud as the PX706HD’s 5-watt speaker, but will probably be enough for your needs. If not, you can always get a pair of external speakers. Just know that the projector is short through, so those speakers will leave a trail of cables to wherever you place them. Time for a groovy rug, perhaps?

The ViewSonic PX700HD has a lamp life of up to 15,000 hours, but that’s in SuperECO mode. Without it, you’re looking at around 5,000 hours. That’s on the higher end of lamp based projectors, so if you do have to use full power, it’ll still be a long time before you have to switch the lamp out. Lamps barely cause a dent in the budget, though, so that’s awesome. Still, if you don’t need all those lumens – like at night, in a fully darkened room – kick it into ECO to add an extra year or so to the life of that lamp.

The PX700HD has a 1.20:1 manual zoom lens. That’s not a whole lot, but it does go a longer way on a short throw projector than on those with a normal throw distance. The inputs and connectors are pretty much the same on the PX700HD as they are on the PX706HD. this home entertainment projector has two HDMIs, two different types of USBs, a VGA connector, RS-232 port, and an Audio In and an Audio Out port. It does not have a S-Video port. Oh well.

The warranty is the same as the PX706HD. It’s that three years parts and labor with one year warranty on the lamp, and one year of their Express Exchange if you register the product. This projector is a great choice for the gamer on a budget, especially since ViewSonic is currently offering the PX700HD for just $399! That’s less than many pocket projectors on the market, and you’re getting about 3x the lumens, plus a low input lag. Game on!

“Wrapping It Up”

That concludes our 2018 Holiday Guide to Six Home Theater Projectors Under $2,000. With six rather excellent projectors to choose from, it’s no doubt that you’ll find at least one that suits your needs. If not, there’s always the Over $2000 Holiday Guide…

Either way, give yourself, your family, and your friends the gift of the big screen experience for the holidays! Projectors are the gifts that keep on giving – think of all that money you’ll save on trips to the movie theater, replaced with making a lifetime of memories in the comfort of your very own home theater.

If you do have a bigger budget and want to see what other options are out there in the higher end market, check out our 2018 Holiday Guide to Four Home Theater Projectors Over $2000. This guide features some great projectors designed 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!

Your Chance to Win!


Win one of 2 pico projectors, or one of 2 pieces of home automation gear! This holiday season, we’re giving away one of these products to FOUR lucky winners.

Acer C200 Pico Projector
ViewSonic M1 Pico Projector
Lightify FLEX RGBW Light Strips
Lightify LED Flood Smart Bulb

Enter via the pinned post on our Facebook Page.

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